Collecting Fishing Tackle

Collecting Fishing Tackle

Having had many discussions with dealers, collectors and others involved in this hobby during the last few months, I should get some thoughts and ideas on paper regarding collecting fishing tackle. I will be covering the following topics;


●What to collect 

●When to sell


JW Young antique Simplex fishing reel

JW Young antique Simplex fishing reel.


With the recent shock prices paid at Christie’s. Let’s start with trends. Recently, an article appeared in The Daily Telegraph about Art and new collectors. It required reading a few times, and most of what was said could also be applied to tackle collecting.

It starts – and I quote – “A ritual takes place after every major art sale. Dealers, journalists and the merely curious speculate about who has just spent £10 million over the telephone while the auction houses suddenly become smilingly reticent.” 

Remember Christie’s when the Ell Helou collection was offered for sale, followed by the G Albert Petit collection? They were smilingly reticent because they did not have a clue as to what was going on. Rather than admit to the fact, they just smiled knowingly with that smug “, Well, are we the star performers then?”

The article continues about the number of people in the art market spending over £200,000 annually. The estimate is 1,000 plus worldwide. In the past, people would begin buying art at £20,000-30,000; now, they start at £300,000. If these art collectors look upon a collection of display cases as art, we should not be surprised when they sell for more than £100,000. 

The rumour is that the buyer of the cases at Christie’s was just an art collector who wandered down 5th Avenue in New York, saw the catalogue, and fancied buying them. This interest was then turned to the Petit book collection, hence the crazy prices.

If this continues and art collectors start to look upon old reels as an area of interest, we could be in for a shock – pleasant or otherwise.

Brass bound Nottingham winch with adjustable brake tension.

Brass bound Nottingham winch with adjustable brake tension.

What to collect?

It is no use deciding to collect Hardy all brass perfects if you only have £200 per year to spend on tackle. Likewise, choosing to collect tackle owned by Isaac Walton limits you to a narrow collecting field. I know one collector with a vast range of rods, but as he lives in a small flat, he can’t display them and has difficulty looking at them. 

Most of us drift into collecting – childhood memories of a reel or someone dying, and as a fisherman, we inherit the tackle. Gradually we turn into Fishing Tackle Collector. I bought some usable tackle at an auction and ended up with a brass gaff; I thought it was nice and then found out that a whole group of people was interested in the old tackle.   

We then have to decide on what to collect. My first inclination was to collect the lot – everything I could lay my hands on. The problem was I ended up with vast amounts of junk!

Sometimes we all have to focus on what we want to collect and what we want from the hobby. Once I had decided, the rest was surplus and had to go.

That decision, for many, is a particular company, town, or era. I was pleased with my decision when I eventually made it, as I could collect rods, reels, accessories, books, tackle catalogues and cased fish – anything as long as it fell within my clearly defined field.  


Brass Bound Nottingham Clamp Winch with Twin bone handles.

Brass Bound Nottingham Clamp Winch with Twin bone handles.

When to sell?

One reason for selling is that money is needed, so choosing when to sell might not be an option. If the tax man is breathing down your neck, he might sell it for you – not a pleasant thought. If, however, like one man I know, you have decided to pay for your child’s education, you can plan when to sell.

Some people lose the urge to collect fishing tackle and move on to other collectables, whilst for others, the attraction of collecting goes.

Others need the money to upgrade their collection, or some items lose appeal.

Judging the right time will be problematic if the reason for collecting is profit. I have a friend who bought a painting by George Turner, a Derbyshire artist, for £60. He sold it for £800 some years later. Recently (October 1999), it sold in an auction for £12,000 – he said: “If only”.

What you must decide is do you want to sell. Once an item is gone, you might start regretting it. Trying to repurchase it could be an expensive decision.

Angling Auction selection of items for sale and selling.
Angling Auction hold regular sales of Rods, Reels, Tackle, Book and other fine items.



Have you read through a sales list or auction catalogue and seen descriptions like “a rare Hardy Perfect”? What is the writer trying to say as he thinks about the wording? 

I want to translate with the help of Webster and the Oxford dictionaries.

Scarce. Seldom found, occurring infrequently, not plentiful, insufficient for demand.

Rare. Uncommon, few know to exist.

Unique. Being the only one of its kind, the only known one to exist.

With these definitions, we should be able to try and place a value on an item with the help of a few more factors. These are demand, condition, age and the historical significance of an object. Demand is the most important. Just because something is old doesn’t necessarily mean that it is valuable!