Here’s one for you reel aficionados. DAM Quick Corporation (Deutshe Angelgeräte Manufaktur) started business in 1875 as a manufacturer of fishing tackle. They produced their first spinning reel in 1937 but World War II came and production of fishing tackle ceased. After the war, D.A.M. Quick started back up, this time in West Berlin (Germany became two countries from 1945 to 1991 – remember) and started manufacturing reels made to tight German standards. Reels that would challenge anything on the market.
Known mostly for their spinning reels, D.A.M. Quick decided to give the casting reel market a challenge and came out with their Champion casting reel series in the early 70s to compete with ABU’s series of Ambassadeur reels. The reels were made with standard German craftsmanship – tough to the bone and very dependable.
The Champion reels, models 700, 700B, were the same size as the ABU 5000 and 5500 reels, while the 800 and 800B matched the ABU 6000 and 6500. The B-series reels were high speed, probably around 4.7:1 gear ratio, while the standard series, black in color, was probably around 3.8:1. If anyone can give me certain specs on these reels, I would be grateful. There is nothing on the internet with respect to the reels or their history and I am only going off of memory.
As I alluded to previously, the Champion series reels were a lot like their Swedish counterparts. In fact, they were so much like the Ambassadeurs that it was rumored certain parts could be interchanged between the two. I seem to remember my boss back in the day replacing main and pinion gears from a Champion with a set of ABU gears.
The nice thing about the Champion series is they cost about half the price of a comparable Ambassadeur and held up to the pressures of continuous fishing just as well as their Swedish counterpart. They truly were remarkable reels.
There was a drawback, though, in the form of a design flaw – at least from my point of view and the point of view from our customers at the tackle shop.
That design flaw can be seen in the series of photos of the West German reel in Figure 1. Can you tell me what’s wrong with this picture? Let me state that the design problem wasn’t a problem until bass boats started coming with raised casting decks and anglers strapped their rods to the deck. Was that a good enough hint?
Okay, time for the answer.
The design flaw that hurt the sales of the Champion series reels was the placement of the freespool button. If you look at the picture, you can see the button was placed nearly on top of the reel. What’s the big problem with this, you might ask?
Well, when an angler would strap their rods down to the deck, a lot of the time the freespool button would depress, putting the reel in freespool. Then as the angler drove the boat down the lake, sometimes the bait would fly out of the boat and result in one of two different scenarios. The first was the line would be ripped from the reel, leaving the angler with nothing or two; the bait would hit the water and create a bird’s nest of biblical proportions. Neither of which was fun to deal with. By the mid-80s, we had Champion reels in our reel case that were over 5 years old – we couldn’t give them away.
The reel, originally manufactured in West Germany in the 1970s and ‘80s, went through a design change in the late ‘80s to rectify this attribute. You can see from the next series of pictures (Figure 2) that the free-spool button had been moved to the back. But there’s another interesting piece of history in these pictures – manufacturing had left Germany and went to Japan. I am not sure as to when exactly this happened as well as what company was manufacturing the reels in Japan.
By this time Shimano and Diawa were in head-on competition with ABU. You also had Lew’s, Zebco/Quantum and Ryobi trying to make their mark on the industry. A look into the magazines of this time reveals all of these companies advertising their wares to the consumer – all that is except for DAM Quick. This tells me their sales of casting reels in the U.S. were either too low to worry about or that the reels were discontinued.
If anyone out there has any solid history on DAM Quick, please let us know here at the Bass Fishing Archives.