By Bernard and Michele Caminade. Price: €17.10 (9-11 Ave Errepira, 64500 Ciboure, France)
Ask collectors about French reels and they reply: “Mitchell and, er…” A few will add Pezon et Michel, CAP, Crack, Luxor, Mepps, Reflex and Wyers, but that’s where most knowledge stops. However, France has a grand tradition of reel-making, as this pocketbook proves, listing dozens of them with fine names like Moby Dick, Facomel, FOC, Snop, Robur and Steph.
It’s easy to dismiss this book at first glance. There are only two pages of colour photographs, a thing that we take for granted these days in reference books. Even those pictures are very small. And if you think the pictures are small, wait until you try to decipher the type. I thought my near sight was good until I tried to read this.
But criticising it on those counts is missing the point. This is a pocket book, very reasonably priced, which allows you to take it along to an auction, antique shop, boot sale or tackle fair and make a swift check to see whether a unknown reel is worthless or valuable. The publishers have a more lavish edition in colour – but it’s not a size to slip into your pocket.
A smattering of French is important because, as you might guess, it’s written in the language of the reels. But it’s not hard to work out the rough value (in euro), depending on condition. There’s a star system to indicate rarity and some unlikely-looking ones could surprise you, the years of manufacture are also shown, and small photographs in most cases. Being able to read French will give you extra information such as a brief history, and there is a separate section on wood reels, plus a few makes that the authors have been unable to identify beyond the name.
It covers fly and coarse reels, centrepins, multipliers and winches. If you’ve ever picked up a French reel with wondered if it’s worth anything, wonder no more.