1328 A fishing reel is a fishing reel is a fishing reel. Right? Hell no! I can’t ever forget when a company that used to sell the gear-shift mechanisms on “stingray” bicycles started to sell fishing reels in the United States. The reel was a Shimano Bantam (something-or-other-model-number).

However, it was silver-colored and had a rod to match. Bass Pro sold it…I gobbled it up and I still have it and use it. As I recall, it was the first baitcasting reel with a ‘backlash-control’ mechanism–and it worked pretty well. I’ve no clue how many largemouths I caught with it, but it was a ton. Before that, though, was the Garcia-Mitchell line of spinning reels.

First, there was the Garcia-Mitchell 300 and, as I recall, 300c which was left-handed. My brother opted for a 410, which was a totally awesome spinning reel. He used it. Abused it. And he still has it. Me? For my 8th grade graduation, I asked for a Garcia-Mitchell 440. This Cadillac of all reel featured an automatic bail. To cast, all you had to do was touch the bail, rear back, fire forward and take your finger off the bail—great reel. Later, I bought a 308 which was the ultralight version of all of the above–lots smaller. Every one of those spinning reels were built on the 300 base. What a reel. Are there any others really, really like it?—Gerry Bethge, Deputy Editor