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    • The American Museum of Fly Fishing

      This is the first fly reel that Lefty Kreh ever bought, purchased in 1947. Lefty improved the line drag by cutting a thumb insert in this Pflueger Medalist reel. From the collection of AMFF courtesy of Lefty Kreh.

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    Gurgler fly Invented by the late Jack Gartside, this surface fly can be used to catch just about every variety of saltwater fish there is—and likely any freshwater fish as well. This example was tied by Gartside himself, and is one of more than one hundred flies Gartside bequeathed to the Museum.

    Fin-Nor’s Wedding Cake reel, designed by Gar Wood, was one of the first fly reels specifically created to handle the rigors of catching large saltwater fish. It was also one of the earliest to feature truly effective drag and excellent corrosion resistance.

    "Strike Near the Mangroves" by Arthur Shilstone. Watercolor on paper, 18” x 23”.

    Hallie Thompson Galaise was born and raised in Manchester, Vermont. Like many of her contemporaries, she sought a job in the fly-tying shop of the Orvis Company. She began working for Orvis at the age of sixteen, and was the last Orvis tier to have been tutored by Mary Orvis Marbury. Until her death, Hallie Galaise tied dozens of flies each day without a vise and with the assistance of only a small pair of scissors. This fly was the last one she ever tied

    Tenkara, which means "From Heaven or From the Skies," is an ancient form of fishing in Japan dating back to the 8th or 9th century B.C. This 5-piece raw bamboo Tenkara rod, made in Japan by an unknown rod maker, is 15 feet long—fairly typical for this rod type. The unique carved handle, part of which is seen here, also served as a case for the unassembled rod.

    Edward Ringwood Hewitt (1866-1957) is one of the great figures of 20th century angling. He wrote voluminously on trout and salmon fishing, was an early exponent of dry fly fishing for salmon, and was also one of the first to help promote catch-and-release fishing. It is currently believed that Hewitt built 22 fly reels; at present, only seven Hewitt reels are known to exist, including this one once owned by Maxine Atherton, wife of artist and author John Atherton.

    Bogdan reel 2001.042.019 3 3/4" by 1 1/4" by 2 3/8" wt 13oz. Aluminum frame, champagne colored. Adjustable drag. Model No. 2 salmon reel. c. 1980. Stanley Bogdan, born on December 16, 1918, was renowned for his intricate, custom-built salmon, saltwater, and trout reels. According to biographer Graydon Hilyard, he created a handmade brake design so complex, it would never require patent protection.

    This Jock Scott was tied c. 1920 and is part of a collection from the New England Aquarium donated to the Museum in 1976. While hooks with metal eyes were readily available at the time this fly was created, silkworm gut eyes, such as the one sported by this fly, remained a popular option for professionally dressed salmon flies well into the 1900s.

    This weather vane was crafted by Warren Gilker (1922-1998), and commemorates the second-largest Atlantic salmon ever legally caught in Canada, a 55-pounder brought in by Victor Albert Stanley. Gilker, a third-generation blacksmith, began making weather vanes in 1980. Formerly a camp manager and head warden on Canada's Grand Cascapedia river, Gilker crafted his first weather vane in 1980 at the request of Jane Engelhard, who wanted to commemorate her late husband's largest salmon catch.

    Fenwick graphite rod. Accession No. 2005.006.003. In 1973, Fenwick introduced HMG—the first high-modulus graphite rods—in spinning and casting models, ushering in a new era in rod construction; Fenwick's fly rod model debuted the following year.

    This is the first fly reel that Lefty Kreh ever bought, purchased in 1947. Lefty improved the line drag by cutting a thumb insert in this Pflueger Medalist reel. From the collection of AMFF courtesy of Lefty Kreh.

    Dan Blanton’s Whistler fly, dubbed for the sound generated by the open hole in the pinhole eyes as it sailed through the air, is typical of the more densely tied West Coast saltwater patterns. Blanton engineered the fly to emulate a bucktail jig used for striped bass in San Francisco Bay, tying the fly "in the round" (i.e. without contrasting topping) to ensure a proper profile no matter the viewing angle.

    Made by King Sailfish Mounts of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, this tarpon casting is a replica of the world-record catch brought in by James (Jim) Holland Jr. on May 11, 2000. The fish weighed 202 lbs, 8 oz., and was the first 200-pound tarpon officially recorded as being caught on a fly. During the more than two-hour battle, the tarpon pulled the boat Jim, his father, and guide Steve Kilpatrick were in nearly four miles; it took two people to hoist it onboard.

    Side-mount Fly Reel, Maker Unknown. Accession No. 1973.070.007. Diameter 3 3/4 inches, depth 1/2 inch, weight 8 1/8 ounces. The popularity of the Billinghurst reel resulted in the manufacture of other side-mount styles. This 3 ¾” cast brass side-mount was rugged and functional, and is the product of an as yet unidentified maker believed to have made reels in Northern New York during Billinghurst’s time.

    Samson steel rod. Accession No. 1981.030.001. The Union Hardware Co. offered anglers varying rod length with this telescoping rod. The detachable fly/casting handle increased the rod's versatility even further.

    Steel rod. Accession No. 2013.006.001. This 8 1/2' 2-piece rod of unknown make features blanks constructed with a progression of short steel tubes. Each tube was drawn through a series of special dies to create their taper. These sections were then slid together and brazed, creating a one-piece step-tapered section.

    Gibbs Striper. Accession No. 2010.035.010. Harold Gibbs Striper Bucktail: Originated in the 1940s, it was one of the first attempts at suggesting a specific forage fish, the silversides. Lacking non-tarnishing flash material, Gibbs, a keen observer of marine life, keyed on the bluish-whites tones cast by silversides in shallow water, and attempts replication with a combination of white (first capra hair, then buck tail wing) and blue (first a swan feather, later blue buck tail).

    Crease Fly. Accession No. 2012.035.022. Long Island Captain Joe Blados originated what he describes as "a round popper run over by a truck" in the late 1990s. The Crease has a tall profile with a fairly narrow width except for a big, open mouth. it has the look of many forage species. The fly is built around a cut body of soft foam (usually covered with bright Mylar foil), folded (creased) and affixed (using thick-formula cyanoacrylate glue) to a hook that's been covered with tying thread.

    Bristol rod. Accession No. 1989.015.001. At the start of the 20th century, the Bristol steel rod, built by Horton Manufacturing Co., offered anglers a durable and affordable alternative to bamboo. This rod, composed of three tapered steel tubes, started out as 3 thin strips of tempered steel. These were then bent around a mandrel, the edges in close apposition and not brazed, allowing the rod to not only bend but also twist just as a wooden rod would. Steel rods were popular into the 1950s.

    Blonde Fly. Accession No. 1996.007.020. Joe Brooks's Blonde Series: Tied in the late 50s and 60s (primarily for Brooks by Richmond tier Bill Gallasch), the design features an angled-up buck tail wing tied in just behind the head, a body of silver flash material, and a second pinch of buck tail tied at the hook bend as an extended tail. The pattern facilitates creating a fly with a long profile, simulating larger forage fish.

    Birmingham Fly Reel, Maker Unknown. Accession No. 1986.028.261. Diameter 2 1/2 inches, pillar length 1 inch, weight 6 ounces. This attractive reel, featuring bas relief angling scenes on the plates, was commercially produced in at least two sizes, both as a crank handle reel and as a revolving plate reel. It appears to be a Victorian era British product. The design was reproduced in Germany during the 1970s and it is now difficult to differentiate the original reels from the reproductions.

    William Billinghurst Reel. Accession No. 1985.29.1. Diameter 3 inches, depth 3/4 inches, weight 3 1/4 ounces. William Billinghurst (1807-1880) was a well known gunsmith whose patent for a side-mount reel built of wire and castings is now considered to be the first American fly reel. The unique appearance of these reels has prompted some to refer to them as birdcage reels.

    The patent drawing for William Billinghurst's sidemount reel. From the collection of the American Museum of Fly Fishing.

    One of the many drawings and paintings Frank W. Benson created in the Tihonet Club logbook. The Tihonet Club, based in Wareham, Massachusetts, donated its annual logbooks to the Museum in 2006. From the collection of the American Museum of Fly Fishing.

    Museum curator Austin Hogan and registrar David Ledlie examine some reels in this Museum photo ca. 1976.