Yesterday we looked at the baitcasting gear Garcia had to offer in their 1962 fishing annual. Today in Garcia Spinning 1962, we take a look at their spinning gear. When it came to casting reels back in 1962, there was no substitute for ABU. Every serious angler had the 5000 and those who didn’t, wish they did.
But when it came to spinning reels, there were several choices but to the serious angler, there was only one choice. The Garcia Mitchell. Zebco had just purchased Langley reels for their spinning reel designs and those reels were of a high quality. And, of course there was Luxor, Alcedo Micron, and Orvis, who all made fine spinning reels.
Garcia even had a quick turn with the ABU spinning reel in 1960 but due to business circumstances, most likely with Mitchell, they didn’t continue to sell them after 1960. I often wonder if they ever looked at that decision as being wrong a decade later.
Mitchell reel owners were rabid about their support for the French manufactured reels. I can’t fault them, they made sturdy reels.
Starting with the most popular of the series is the Mitchell 300. I would venture to guess that there are few reels ever produced that sold more than this one reel alone. The Cardinal 3 and 4 may have sold as more annually after their introduction but I would find it hard to believe they sold more since the 300 had more than a decade headstart.
The 300 had a goofy trait, though. Its bail turned backwards compared to the normal way a spinning reel drum turns. To a kid who was just shown how to wind line using a professional line winder, the first three spools I put line on were spun on backwards. My first introduction to the 300 was not good and my distaste for the reel hasn’t grown rosier over the last five decades.
Other than being backwards, the 300 was the perfect size reel for all bass fishing. Small enough to handle ultralight line and big enough to handle 12-pound with no problem. The reel came with two spools, one shallow and one deep, each having a quick-release button for easy changeout of spools.
The standard 300 had a 3.5:1 gear ratio while its high-speed brother, the 350, had a 5:1 gear ratio. I don’t recall ever seeing a 350 in the 10 years I worked at the shop and wonder how many were made. The 350 appears in my 1960 Garcia Fishing Annual but is no longer present in the 1965 Fishing Annual.
Next in the line of popular reels amongst bass anglers was the 308. This ultralight sized reel was perfect for throwing 6- or 8-pound line and small topwaters or crankbaits. Unlike the 300, it had a 5:1 gear ratio and this reel sold. I’m not sure why anglers liked this reel with the high-speed gears and not the 350. Today, it’s a much different story, in fact, we’ve gone overboard on high-speed reels.
The final two reels that were sized for bass fishing but were more suited for the trout stream were the 304 and 314. These reels were essentially the same on the outside, but their differences were all internal. Different gear systems and different quality parts were what separated the modest quality 314 from the budget-minded 304. Also, the 304 came with only the large-capacity spool where the 314 came with both large- and small-capacity spools. There was a third option for the 304, that being an ultra-small-capacity spool.
Garcia also had a line of Conolon rods made for these reels for the angler who wanted to go Garcia all the way. Most serious bass anglers at this time, though, went total custom when buying a spinning rod. Blank makers such as Fenwick, Silaflex, and others catered to the custom rod market, where the maker would take a standard rod blank, cut it to the desired length, action, and power, and then place top-end components on it. These accoutrements, such as full cork handles with no rings and Aetna Foul Proof guides added minimal weight to the rod and preserved its inherent action.
Garcia, on the other hand, used lower quality cork, placed rings on their all-cork handles, and used heavier guides that ruined the action of the rod.
Still, I’m sure Garcia sold enough of their spinning rods to make it worth their while. Conolon had a good name when it came to blanks and that name should have carried their rod sales.
Their spinning rods were classified in the same manner as their casting rods were, with a Star series. Rods that would be considered good bass rods were only offered in two-piece models, hence why the serious angler would always tend towards a custom rod.
That ends it for the look back at Garcia Spinning 1962. In a few days we’ll conclude the series by featuring the entire catalog. For those of you who haven’t experienced one of these annual catalogs, they were much more than that. It was more like a magazine with how-to articles from famed writers and anglers and the entire lineup of gear offered by Garcia at the time. For example, this 1962 catalog was 100 pages in length and would have been an important part of a serious angler’s library in the day. So stay tuned for that.