Hardy Tournament Reels
John Drewett’s book “Hardy Brothers” dedicates a whole chapter to Tournament reels up to 1955, and this article is only to bring people up to date on new information available since the book was published.
James Leighton Hardy wrote his history of the company “The House the Hardy Brothers Built”, and once the manuscript was complete, he decided to sell the balance of reels and other items he possessed.
Most of us will recall the superb tournament reels sold at Sotheby’s some years ago. These were from James Hardy, and we thought that was it. However, Sotheby’s sold only part of J. L. Hardy’s collection, leaving the less critical and personal reels. It is those models and some of the associated items that I intend to cover here.
Early in its existence, the company had recognised the importance of participating in tournaments and, more importantly, winning. Competitors’ success using the Silex reel contributed significantly to making it the dominant reel in its class.
Before introducing the Silex, makers like Allcock’s and David Slater mainly provided the winning tackle. Once the Silex appeared, they were only successful in the float casting events, and Hardy’s would dominate the European competition for the first half of the century.
Hardy Hardy & Captain Tommy Edwards on the casting platform at Crystal Palace.
It was John James Hardy who launched the company into the world of the casting competition, and it was no coincidence that it was the same man who steered the company into its pre-eminent position as tackle makers.
Most family members seemed to have taken part at some time or another. Harold Hardy, a solicitor, would compete as an amateur. Later, he would look after the Hardy retail outlet for Tunny fishing at Scarborough. In 1936 at the Bedford Casting Tournament, he won the ½ ounce Bait Distance event and, at the same time, set a new world record. Phillips Auction House will sell the seven tournament reels I will cover in this article in January 2000.
Tournament Reel Auction by Phillips Bayswater January 2000
J L Hardy's Exalta Reel with special foot.
Three Hardy Jock Scott reels converted for tournament work.
The first reel in the photograph is a standard Hardy Jock Scott reel converted for tournament work. J.L Hardy used this from 1956 until 1966 in the 5/8-ounce accuracy bait casting events. The Hardy engineers modified the reel, removing the felt pad adjuster, and the mechanism is disabled but still retains the rim regulator; the side plate cover is held in place utilising two knurled nickel silver screws, thus alleviating the problem of getting out a screwdriver every time the governors needed adjusting – vital during an actual competition!
Centre is an XLM Hardy Jock Scott Tournament reel used by Barry Welham at Scarborough in 1960. Barry broke the British National Professional 5/8 ounce distance record at this competition, with the longest cast being 103 yards. It is a 2 1/8 inch diameter reel with the face plate and foot somewhat crudely engraved “WELHAM” and stamped XLT 12.54. Like the other Jock Scott Hardy engineers had modified the reel, removing the felt pad and regulating system and a milled brass rim-mounted lever fitted; additionally, the engineers had removed the capstan star drag. The foot is a grooved alloy with two milled nickel and silver screws for the fitted cover plate.
The last of the Jock Scott’s is another 2 1/8 inch XLM model, again designed for the 5/8 ounce distance events. Once again, the Hardy workshops removed the standard rim-mounted regulating mechanism and the felt pads. With a twin ebonite handle, the capstan star drag has been removed and replaced with the Altex fixed spool handle housing. It also has a micro drag end flow adjuster fitted, together with an ultra-thin spool. It has a milled nickel silver rim-mounted free spool lever and a single nickel silver milled nut to remove the side plate and adjust the governors.
This was the reel that J. L. Hardy used at World Casting Championship at Scarborough in 1959 to win 5/8 ounce Distance, Long Cast and the Average Professional Championship events. He also broke the British National Professional Long Cast and Average Records at Zurich in 1960.
J L Hardy's fixed spool Tournament reels Left to right.
Altex No 1 Mk IV, Altex No 2 Mk V, Exalta, Altex No 3 Mk V
JL Hardy used the four fixed spool reels in two competitions, the 3/8 ounce and the 30-gram distance events.
J. L. Hardy employed The Exalta at the 1959 World Casting Championships in Scarborough by J. L. Hardy to win the British National and British All-Comers Professionals 3/8 ounce distance events. It maintains many of the features of the standard Exalta reel except that it has a longer traverse spool, nickel silver finger pick up and a bizarre foot. However, this construction aims to give the user a better grip on the rod and reel set-up when launching the cast.
Left L.R.H. Lightweight Tournament Conversion reel Right Harold Hardy Tournament Casting Medal.
J.L. Hardy used the Altex No. 2 Mk V for the same Tournament events before 1959. Once again, it does not differ significantly from the standard production reels, except for removing the bale arm mechanism and replacing it with a finger pick-up.
The Altex No. 3 Mk V is like the previous reel, a standard one with the bale arm removed and the anti-reverse to reduce the reel’s weight, fitted with a nickel-silver finger pick-up mechanism and has a two-step conical spool specially designed to accept the shock leader.
The initial action of the cast releases tremendous forces, those of you who have been carp fishing must have looked on in horror as your four-ounce bomb cracked off like a bullet heading into the far distance. JL Hardy used this reel to set the 30-gram World Professional Long Cast record at Scarborough in 1959.
The final reel is an Altex No 1 Mk IV, again designed for the same event. This reel, stamped inside E. B. For Eddie Broadfoot, I wonder if he carried out the modifications. This reel has had considerable changes carried out on it. The engineering department fitted a manually operated variable line pick-up and removed the spur gear and bale arm. Also, we can see the introduction of a more pronounced conical spool similar to the ones that later appeared on the Abu 444, DAM Quick 330 and Mitchell 300 tournament reels.
Extracts from the Tournament Rod Book Top Left Special Rings for Capt. Tommy Edwards Bottom Left details of No3 Salmon Line Right 5 foot 8 ½ inch Accuracy Tournament Rod
For years, Hardy utilized Captain Tommy Edwards as the professional caster for competitions and demonstrations.
One page of the tournament book, an entry for 25. 1. 36, shows how much trouble he had to produce tournament tackle. His “Semi Experimental” salmon line consisted of no less than 16 separate sections of line spliced together – this must have taken hours to make.
Another entry for 1936 shows the design of four stand-off tournament rings used on a baitcasting rod with an Altex reel, manufactured of 11/32 inch thick Dural and weighed 6 drams.
The number of rods they made is astounding and reflected in the amount of faith the company put in keeping the Hardy name at the forefront of tournament events. The minute detail on every rod is incredible and precise – look at the design of the 5 foot 8½ inch Accuracy Tournament Rod weighing one ounce. It must have been a joy to use.
Phillips Auction House Bayswater will sell these items, amongst others, on the 25th. January 2000.