Line for fishing on a vintage casting reels

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DanNichols
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Line for fishing on a vintage casting reels

Post by DanNichols »

Hi Everyone:

I've refurbished a couple of my dad's old casting reels (a Pflueger Akron 1893L and a Shakespeare Professional 1965).
I thought it might be fun to pair them with a vintage casting rod and try fishing "old school" style.

I'm wondering what kind of line I should use on these?

The Pflueger has an aluminum spool so I believe mono would be safe. I can't really tell on the Shakespeare (although a magnet doesn't stick to it).

I was thinking that modern braid (with a mono leader) would be an option but I'd need to go up to 40lb before the braid line diameter made much sense. Should I go with something else like Dacron?

Am I over thinking this?

I'd appreciate your feedback.

Thanks,

-Dan-

Stunt Fisher
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Re: Line for fishing on a vintage casting reels

Post by Stunt Fisher »

Dan,

I too am very interested in this. Last week I fished with a couple old casting reels that I refurbished and I used mono in each. I was very disappointed. Maybe I did something wrong, but the rat's nest problems were intolerable. I was just looking at an old reel that I haven't refurbished yet and it still has some old line on it. I might take the line off that reel and put in on the reels I refurbished. I am assuming it worked on this reel at one time.

Teal
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Re: Line for fishing on a vintage casting reels

Post by Teal »

I would go with a vintage braided dacron or nylon line; you can type in "Vintage Braided Fishing Line" on eBay and come up with many fine choices (I'd only buy a sealed, unused spool, like the popular Gladding Invincible). For those reels I'd go with #10-#20 braid and no mono leader. Pick up a nice True Temper steel casting rod (the Professionals are incredible, ask Bill Sonnett about them) and you'll be very happy with the combo.

-- Dr. Todd
Last edited by Teal on Thu Aug 19, 2021 1:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Shellbelly
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Re: Line for fishing on a vintage casting reels

Post by Shellbelly »

I would humbly add that practicing in the yard or back 40 may help you get the feel of these. The over spooling can be a buzz kill on the water.

Paul Roberts
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Re: Line for fishing on a vintage casting reels

Post by Paul Roberts »

I’ve yet to get out onto actual water with mine, but have been acquiring, reading, and practice casting a fair amount. Bill Sonnett recommends braided nylon. He prefers the old stuff but I cannot find any. So I’ve gone with new Mason “Legend” purchased direct. Bc of problems with nylon mono’s, stronger spools appeared by the 60s suggesting that these lines may not be a good idea.

PE braids are too thin and too strong for most early reels, apt to cause line getting behind spools, or damaging spool spindles by sheer torque (hook-setting or snagging), or by cutting into the levelwind guides. Again, this is gathered from recommendations from others.

Some have recommended Dacron, which can also be purchased new. It’s low stretch would likely be an advantage, especially at distance. But Bill and others have said it doesn’t lay or cast as nicely as braided nylon. Braided nylon also gets nicer to handle when wet. (I wouldn’t know). Dacron also degrades quicker than nylon although one of Bill’s complaints with Mason nylon is that it’s a loose weave that frays too easily. A mono leader is likely needed. Another complaint of Bill's is that the Mason’s loose weave absorbs and carries too much water.

All this said, I’ll be experimenting with modern lines too, with care.

As to casting, proper cleaning and lubing is critical, as is proper set up of the reel’s spool balance and AB tension. Get it right and they will cast quite well. Nearly all my DD reels with throw 100ft with a 3/8 to 1/2oz weight and a dry line. Some will cast 5/16 well. I’m using 10,12,15 and 20lb lines, depending on the particular reel. I too have an 1893L, among many others, and like it especially well.

All this said, I’ve yet to get out onto actual water. And it will be some time yet before I do. :( Just dying to get out and get to actually fish with these wonderful little machines. I’m an experienced caster and angler so I’m not too concerned about handling the equipment. The one drawback, or big limitation, I see to these reels will be retrieve speed. Nearly all provide only about 16ipt.

Hopefully, we are both overthinking this.
Last edited by Paul Roberts on Thu Aug 19, 2021 4:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Mike N
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Re: Line for fishing on a vintage casting reels

Post by Mike N »

On the rare occasion I fish with one of my 100+ year old Kentucky reels, I never use anything but a period cane rod and vintage silk casting line.

The silk line is available with a simple “vintage silk casting line” search on eBay. Like Dr. Todd mentioned above, see if you can find an unopened spool. Steel rods are fine for a post-WW II reel. Some of the early glass rods are cool too with a 1950s level-wind reel. You can’t beat the whip feel of an early fiberglass rod. Look in the ORCA library for a catalog of the period you are fishing and see what type of line the sporting goods retailers were offering.

For me, putting mono line on a Kentucky reel would be like a civil war reenactor putting on the wool uniform then lacing up a pair of $170 Nike Air Max running shoes so his feet don’t hurt.

Try fishing with the oldest usable linen or silk line and catgut leader you can find and test yourself to be as good as a fisherman in 1890.

Mike N.
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DanNichols
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Re: Line for fishing on a vintage casting reels

Post by DanNichols »

Paul Roberts wrote:
Tue Aug 17, 2021 9:54 pm
I’ve yet to get out onto actual water with mine, but have been acquiring, reading, and practice casting a fair amount. Bill Sonnett recommends braided nylon. He prefers the old stuff but I cannot find any. So I’ve gone with new Mason “Legend” purchased direct. Bc of problems with nylon monos’s, stronger spools appeared by the 60s suggesting that these lines may not be a good idea.
.....

Hopefully, we are both overthinking this.
Hey Paul:

Thanks for the reply.
While I appreciate the advice some members gave me to try and find vintage sealed line on eBay, I'm uncomfortable with that approach since I've never seen that kind of line before...I'd have no frame of reference to evaluate if the line was good or not.

Like you, I ended up ordering some Mason “Legend” as well. It felt like an acceptable compromise between "true vintage" and "vintage style :)

My only option was a 50 yard spools. Was that your experience as well? I don't have an arbor on my old reels so I'm curious if 50 yds will fill it or not.

I've gone through the reels very carefully. They're cleaned and lubed and ready to go. I also picked up a vintage casting rod to pair it with. My buddy and I will be trying it out on our next excursion. If we're able to make it work, we may add it to our standard gear and name it "The Old Billy Baroo" :)

And yes...I'm pretty sure we're both over thinking this.

Cheers my friend.

-Dan-

Shellbelly
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Re: Line for fishing on a vintage casting reels

Post by Shellbelly »

You have gotten very sound and proven advice here. My experience comes simply from the days of direct drives, braided line, and coaching from the Elders in my life. I was given a casting weight and sent to the back yard. I asked why I couldn't just use a Zebco and was told to learn how to use what was given to me. I had this same question when I was "forced" to learn a standard transmission. Now I keep a Shakespeare direct drive ready and only wish I had a "stump jumper" with a standard tranny to get me to the water. Your post has brought out some good reading and memories!

Paul Roberts
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Re: Line for fishing on a vintage casting reels

Post by Paul Roberts »

Dan, since my fishing has been for bass, I figure 50yrds is enough. I either made cork arbors (posted a thread on making them in the restoration section here) or backed with old Nylon or Dacron I’d saved from purchased reels. A full spool helps in casting so I had to make several attempts at spooling the Legend to be sure I had full spools. Takes more backing or arbor diam than I first thought.

Oh yes, I’ve soaked some spools of Legend with Rain-X, hoping to add some further waterproofing. Bill Sonnett complained that Mason sunk too readily.

Not convinced the overthinking is unwarranted bc line is so important in fishing.
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Ron Mc
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Re: Line for fishing on a vintage casting reels

Post by Ron Mc »

again late to the party.
For waterproofed lines ready to go, check ice-fishing braid.

Brian F.
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Re: Line for fishing on a vintage casting reels

Post by Brian F. »

I was advised to try Cortland braid as sort of a compromise. It was relatively easy to find and old enough to reasonably pass for antique. I was fishing with some old nylon braid on a Pflueger Supreme in the recent ORCA National fishing Contest. I've used the same for other contests I've been to. Still manageable and reliable.
Aloha
Brian F.
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ORCA Member 1997
Got a spare reel stamped "Pflueger" or a Montague Imperial?
"Caution, objects in reel view mirror are older than they appear."

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