The Real Story!
The Rogue® reel is unique in that it used a floating drag/disc brake similar to those on an automobile. And you were able to actuate the brake with a finger lever. Other than some prototypes that can be found occasionally, there were three models. The model 200 fly/trolling reel, the model 300 that was essentially a wide spool model of the 200 and the Model 150 spinning reel that used the same brake system as the 200 and 300 reels.
The common thought is that a man named John J Shaw of Grants Pass Oregon was the inventor, builder, and seller of the Rogue Reels. Shaw was in fact a crucial part of the Rogue® Reel history and production beginning in 1960, but the actual designer of the Rogue was a man by the name of Bert H Parks. Parks was born October 25th 1889 in Greenville Texas. He was an inventor all his life and is credited with inventing the credit card stamping machine, if you are old enough you can remember “swiping” the old school credit cards. He also invented and developed the National postage machine and the first Omni postage meter machine in the United Sates. Another invention of his was an embossing and plating machine for making military “dog tags”. While living in the NE he combined his love of fishing and his inventing skills to create his own reels. On September 28th 1946 Parks applied for and received, on May 22 1951, patent 2,553,784 for a fishing reel, later to become The Rogue® Reel.
Parks moved out west in the late 50’s and landed in Berkley California. While in Berkley he applied for additional patents and apparently began some sort of production of the reels. It was at this time that Parks became involved with Shaw of Grants Pass Oregon.
On April of 1960 at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Medford Oregon, Shaw and Parks outlined their vision for the creation of Rogue® Reels Inc. and Savage Rapids Manufacture Company Inc. which would include a stock sale. They also told of seven different models to be made. In November of 1960, Rogue® Reels Inc. was registered in California under #C0405365 but I cannot find that the Savage Rapids Manufacture Inc. was ever created.
Apparently Parks was a very reserved, quiet individual and shunned the salesman/promoter lifestyle whereas Shaw thrived in it. Shaw began to promote and advertise the reels hooking up with the likes of Stu Apte, a 2005 inductee to the IGFA Hall of Fame. Some of the fliers produced by Shaw show “Capt Stu” beside a 96 pound tarpon caught by a client with a Rogue® 200 reel with another showing Stu holding the reel and an 86 pound sailfish. Stu told me that, “he allowed Shaw to use his name and likeness free of charge”. He also says he was the one who gave the suggestion to anodize the reels black and that the brake lever should be removed. All of the reels that Stu used personally had the brakes cut off.
Shaw continued making Rogue® Reels after Parks death in 1968 under the name Rogue Sport Products Inc. into the 90’s. In the later days he would put a small add into fly fishing magazines and with that plus word of mouth he was able to continue putting together and selling the unique Rogue® Reel.
Prior to Shaw’s death in 2001 the Rogue Sport Products inventory was sold, but the buyer never pursued making or selling the reels. When contacted he explained that he sold all the reel parts but to whom he could not remember. I’m still hopeful to find that treasure trove of parts, someday maybe…….
Very rare "display" box. Gary Waller collection
Early Model 200
Model 150 Spin Reel
Gold anodized Model 200 Presentation reel.
"Prototype" 2 Speed Reel A large heavy reel. Gary Waller collection.