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The Reel Story Posted 2/5/2005

Chances are that you have never heard of Onesimus Ustonson. No one seems to know much about Onesimus. But anglers everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to this mysterious man with a peculiar name.

A London tackle merchant and manufacturer who died in 1810, Ustonson was the father of the multiplying winch, a fishing tool we now call a baitcasting or revolving-spool reel. Artfully crafted from brass more than two hundred years ago, Ustonson reels are exceedingly rare and very valuable. At last count only four such windes are known to exist.

Several have insisted that multiplying reels were an American invention and the creation of George Snyder. Between 1810 and 1820, Snyder did indeed produce this nation's first multiplying reel, but historians now are fairly certain it was patterned from a Ustonson design.

Although the use of fishing reels dates back to the thirteenth century China, the first English reference to the devices appeared in the Art Of Angling, a book written by Thomas Barker in 1651.

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