The cover of the March/April 1975 Bass Master has a picture of what I thought was just an old antique reel. Kind of a fly reel-looking sort of deal. I figured, “Eh, Bass Master has an article on old antique fishing gear this issue. Cool.”
As I flipped through the magazine and landed on page 20, though, I realized this was no antique tackle article, it was about some guy trying to bring back to life an antique reel – namely the Willoughby.
Okay, I’m all for collecting and/or fishing antique gear. It’s fun and gives you an idea of what the people – a long time before me – had to deal with when they went fishing. For example I have some old Garcia 301s (not really that old) that are fun to pull out every now and then and some old Plfuegar direct-drive knuckle busters with cat-gut line on them that make me feel for anglers of the past. Do I seriously fish with them? No.
Anyway, the article is about bringing back this archaic reel because it retrieves line faster than any casting reel of the time – 20 inches per turn of the handle as opposed to 16 inches by an ABU 5000-series reel.
But let’s look at its other advantages.
The reel has no drag (unless you consider your thumb a drag), the anti-backlash system is manual (i.e.: only your thumb again), it’s a direct drive 1:1 ratio and it holds an unbelievable 35 yards of 20-pound string. :-/
Here are some quotes from the article:
“..but the casts are somewhat shorter in length with the Willoughby than with similar efforts with conventional gear.” Uh, could that be because it doesn’t carry much line?
“The main disadvantage of the set [up] concerns the absence of an anti-reverse set-up,….”
“Also I have some difficulty in chunking a light lure (less than 3/8 ounce) – but it’s possible.”
“No ‘professional over-runs here, any extra accumulation simply falls off on the ground.” Really? That’s an advantage?
One thing I found interesting about the article is there was no byline and it starts out with some pretty heavy ribbing – albeit to probably get the readers’ attention. In any event, it’s no wonder this reel never caught on with the masses. I’m sure there is probably someone out there who swears by them and I’ll get some not-so-desirable feedback or comments for my stance. That’s fine. Like I said before, fishing stuff like this for the fun of it is fine by me but don’t expect me to replace all my Shimanos for this crazy…….reel.