Bronson Fly Reels
On this page can be found all the fly reels produced by the Bronson Reel Co., from 1933 to 1973. The “Symploreel” line of fly reels, acquired in the purchase by Bronson of the Meisselbach-Catucci Mfg. Co. in 1931 and offered in catalogs from 1932 to 1940, are not included on this page. They can be found in the “Meisselbach-Catucci” section of this website. “Trade” reels produced by Bronson for any other companies can be seen at the bottom of this page.
“Model 99” Fly Reel by Bronson
These were made in Japan right around 1965-1966. They were never offered in catalogs as a regular member of Bronson’s line-up, but rather were promotional reels offered for a very limited time. The only known listing is from a C.1965 promo mailer titled “Promotional BRONSON RODS & REELS Made In Japan For Bronson”, with the No.99 selling for $3.00. It is shown below, along with the reel and the rare original box. These rarely show up for sale
“Royal” No.360 by Bronson
The Royal No.360 single action perforated spool fly reel was first introduced in the late 1950’s. They came in different colors, with silver/green and black most often seen. The green spool versions are the earliest. A solid green example is shown also shown below, with original box, along with the listing from Bronson’s 1960 catalog. They were last offered in True Temper’s 1973 catalog, years after they had purchased Bronson. Pictures are courtesy of Jonathan Kring.
“Royalist” No.370 by Bronson”Royalist” No.370 by Bronson
The No.370 “Royalist” was first seen in Bronson’s 1951 catalog, which is shown below. These single action perforated spool models can be found in maroon anodized aluminum, a maroon/silver combo, a red/silver combo and a bronze/silver combo (seen in the last photo with the original box). These were last offered in the 1973 True Temper catalog, a 22-year run for these reels.
“Multi- Royal” No.380 by Bronson
The “Multi-Royal” No.380 was also introduced by Bronson in 1951. It would be their highest grade fly reel. It had a 2-1/2-to-1 gear ratio and also finished in maroon and chrome. A photo of the original listing is shown below. These would only sell until about 1957 or so, the most short-lived of any Bronson fly model. The scarce original box is also shown below.
“Royal-Matic” No.390 by Bronson
These were the first automatic fly reels ever produced by Bronson. They were first offered around 1953 and would last be seen in Bronson’s 1967 catalog. The earliest examples were in the blue-green anodized finish, while later models were found in a bronze color (shown in the 1962 catalog listing). The original box and instructions are shown in the last photo.
“Royalite” No.395 by Bronson
The “Royalite” No.395 was first seen in Bronson’s 1965 catalog. It was an economy automatic fly reel that would only sell through 1967, so we don’t see near as many of these. Two versions of the original later blue Bronson box are shown below. The 5th photo is of the 1966 catalog listing.
“Four Aces” No.1400 & No.1500 by Bronson
As one of the three models in the original series of fly reels introduced by Bronson in 1933, the “Four Aces” is by far the hardest to find, as it was discontinued after the 1934 season. This economy skeleton reel would sell for $1.10 in 1933, then for $1.50 in its final year. The No.1400 was the 80 yard version, while the No.1500 was the 60 yard reel. They were identical otherwise. The last two photos show each catalog listing (1933 and 1934). Reel photos courtesy of Picker Jim, Northern Wisconsin.
“Flylite” or “Single Action” No.1600 & No.1700 (BRASS Version) by Bronson
Another of the three original fly reels introduced by Bronson in 1933. This BRASS raised pillar skeleton model would be called the “Flylite” up until 1938, after which it would simply be referred to as the “Single Action” in catalogs. This brass version would only sell through 1938 and is much more desirable than the steel version. The rather unique spool design for this skeleton reel is instantly recognizable by collectors, as many of these can also be found unmarked, or rebranded as trade reels for companies such as Shapleigh’s Hardware of St. Louis (called the “Beacon”) and Allcock, Laight & Westwood of Toronto, Canada (called the “Litewaite”). The No.1600 was the 80 yard size and the No.1700 the 60 yard size. They were identical otherwise. The last four photos are from, in order, the 1934, 1935 and 1938 catalogs. These are the only known listings for the Brass version.
“Flylite” or “Single Action” No.1600-S & No.1700-S (STEEL Version) by Bronson
Same as above, except made of steel construction. These Steel versions were first introduced in Bronson’s 1935 catalog. In 1935 they were still named the “Flylite” but, starting in 1938, they would simply be known as the “Single Action” model. The brass version was discontinued after the 1938 season, but this steel version would go on to sell through 1961, a 26-year run. Both pre-war (top) and post-war (bottom) examples are shown below, each with the scarce original box. An early example, with the earliest known box, is shown in the last photo. Click on the photo to see the entire image. Photos courtesy of Mark Williams.
“Symploreel” Fly Reels No.370-No.378 by Bronson, See Meisselbach-Catucci Section
“Union Jack” No.2000 by Bronson.
The No.2000 “Union Jack” is the third reel in the original group of fly reels first offered by Bronson in 1933. It would become one of the most successful, longest-running models in the industry, spanning an incredible 40 years. These perforated spool reels were economy models in every respect, selling from 39 cents each in 1933, to a whopping $3.25 in 1970. They would be offered in both nickel plated and gun metal finishes over the years, with the originals having a black frame and nickel finish spool. Both styles of the original boxes are shown below. Starting in 1963, the “Union Jack” was redesigned with just the single red grasp and an example can be seen in the last two photos. Pics courtesy of Arne Soland and Jonathan Kring.
Bronson “Trade” Fly Reels
Because the Bronson Reel Co. was a rather late entry into the fly reel industry (1933), they don’t have a long history of producing fly reels for the “trade”. In fact, at the present time, we know of only a few models for certain. There are likely more that will surface over time. Contact us if you believe you know of others.
Sears, Roebuck & Co. “J.C. Higgins No.312.31130” Trade Reel by Bronson
Produced by Bronson for Sears, sometime during the late 1950’s or 1960’s. The No.312.31130 was virtually identical to the “Royal” No.360 from Bronson’s regular line, except for the color. Photos are courtesy of Arne Soland and Mark Williams. The original box is shown in the last two photos and is marked No.3113.
True Temper No.160 “Tempest” by Bronson
These were produced by Bronson for the True Temper Corp., who would later buy the Bronson Reel Co., sometime during the 1950’s or 1960’s. It doesn’t show up in any post-1967 True Temper catalogs (after the Bronson purchase) or in our True Temper 1958 and 1963 catalogs. We can only be certain that it was built after 1951. Other than the color scheme, it’s identical to the No.370 “Royalist” from Bronson’s regular line-up. Shown below with the original box.
“Beacon” Single Action Skeleton Trade Reel by Bronson
Bronson offered a trade version of the No.1600 “Flylite” single action skeleton reel, restamped the “Beacon”, to at least a few different retailers and wholesalers during the 1930’s. Among them were Shapleigh Hardware of St. Louis, Union Hardware & Metal Co. of Los Angeles and N. Shure Co. of Chicago. An N. Shure Co. catalog listing, listed as a 50 yd. model, can be seen below on the left. The other photo is a catalog listing from Union Hardware & Metal Co. for an 80 yd. version. An example with the rare early original box is shown below, with the same model number used (#1600).
“Litewaite” Single Action Skeleton Trade Reel by Bronson
Identical to the Beacon above, but rebranded the “Litewaite” and supplied to Allcock, Laight & Westwood of Toronto, Canada.
“Sport King” Model 88 by Bronson
Another model like the one above, identical to the regular No.1600 skeleton reel. These were made for Montgomery Ward & Co., starting just after WWII and throughout the 1950’s. An ad from the 1953 Wards catalog can be seen below.
Unmarked Single Action Skeleton Trade Reel by Bronson
These were unmarked versions of the reels above and can be found in great abundance. Bronson must have produced and supplied these to dozens of wholesalers, retailers and jobbers across the country. A nice unmarked example is shown below, courtesy of Richard Lodge.