Mystery reel, mystery owner . . .

Discussion in 'Bamboo, Fiberglass & Classic Reels' started by Kent Lufkin, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. I posted this on Clark's Classic Reels forum but will duplicate to see if someone here can help as well.

    I was just given an unmarked fly reel that had belonged to a recently deceased family friend. He had acquired it from the original owner, one C.W. 'Doc' Jones of Phoenix. I'm hoping that some of you might be able to shed some light on the reel itself and it's original owner, but more on the second question in a moment.

    The reel is black, unvented, 3-5/8" in diameter with a 1" inside width spool and heavy at nearly 12 ounces loaded with backing and a WF8F line.


    I'd very much appreciate your wisdom on who made the reel, how old it is, it's market value and any other pertinent information.

    The bottom image shows engraving on the knob side plate that reads "The Record Breaker 'Doc' Jones" The second mystery is who was Doc Jones and what record was commemorated on the reel?

    Thanks in advance for your help in solving the mystery,

  2. If you do a google search for Doc Jones Fly Fishing it comes up with a couple older field and stream articles(late 70's), which then leads you to CW "Doc" Jones and when you google that it leads to a bunch of stuff, no idea if it is the same guy.

    edit: I would start here in this article where it lists some other guys he fished with doc jones record&f=false

    hmmmm also built outboards for racing boats and maybe thats where the record comes from?

    I should of never gotten started on this ><

    Edit 3:

    Call these people, he was the first president of the Arizona Fly Fishing Club so it works with where you got the reel, they can probably help you

    I restore old cars when im not fishing or working and like to have the history of them so I have done a lot of tracking down prior owners, I AM NOT A STALKER... :rofl:
  3. So you SAY!

    Seriously, thanks for digging out the old Field & Stream article. I found the same link to the AFC and have sent the current president an email asking for help in finding out more about the 'Record Breaker'.

    It's odd sleuthing a previous owner of something. I just posted a request for an appraisal on Clark's of the Winston rod that came with the reel (

    As I took the pics of the rod, I kept wondering about how many fish it had caught, how much fun it's owner had fishing it, how many miles it had traveled. I feel a lot of mojo in both the rod and the reel. It seems sad that the rod's still ready to go fishing, but it's owner is gone.

    For me though, casting a big, heavy bamboo rod and nearly a pound worth of reel with an 8wt line all day seems like a separated shoulder waiting to happen. It's not my cup of tea, but it was for somebody once upon a time . . .

  4. That it is, on the car I currently drive I actually traced it through 4 people back to the original owner and talked to them all. One even mailed me receipts he had for over 30 years filed away on the car. Some ask for pictures, some blow you off and dont even want to talk. One gave me a copy of the add he ran in the paper to sell it in the 60's and pictures he took of it back then.

    I am actually working on sleuthing back to the original owner of a car I am finishing restoring now, not much luck though. Prior to 73 it was in California and its like hitting a brick wall.
  5. Cool rod and reel. If it does not break the bank the rod deserves to be restored. Seems the 300-400 estimate is low, even for a bigger rod? Should be more once restored.
  6. I couldn't agree more LD. A very similar rod built for Ted Trueblood is being offered by Rick's Rods in Denver for $1575. Here's an update on what's turned out to be a pretty cool research project.

    Glenn Brackett confirms that the rod was built in 1963 by Doug Merrick in San Francisco. I sent the images I posted on Clark's to him to inquire about stripping and replacing a very sloppy over-coating of varnish applied to the wraps some time ago by a non-professional. The butt appears to have a delamination under the hook keeper that has been held in check by crude repair wraps a couple inches above the winding check. Judging from the photos, Glenn said that the issue is minor and easily repaired at a very reasonable cost (~$100), perhaps without removing the original grip. I propose to have the necessary repairs done and obtain a letter to that effect before proceeding with any sale or consignment. Glenn suggested that once repaired, the rod should be have a market value of about $1000.

    Otherwise the rod sections are of equal length and straight and the wraps are all original with no missing guides. The ferrules fit snugly and there are no obvious structural issues when the rod is cast under load. The rod includes the original tube and sock. The tube bears the name of it's most recent owner applied in Magic Marker. The rod is heavy and powerful and casts like a cannon. I'm not a particularly good distance caster but with a little effort I was able to get most of the 90 foot WF8 out the tiptop.

    Bill Archuleta and a collector friend of his in California have both seen pictures of the reel, but have no idea who made it. Bulldog (aka Ron Mc from Clark's) also came up blank. As you can see from the pictures, it's in what I would consider very good to excellent condition with no wear marks in the finish. The design appears to be based on a Hardy Perfect, but 'beefed up' in key areas, notably the size of the drag adjustment knob. I was surprised to find out how many hand-made reels have been built over the years. Bill's friend apparently has dozens in his collection.

    As an Internet search confirms, the original owner C.W. 'Doc' Jones had a colorful life. He led the team that developed the motor that powered the first outboard hydroplane to break the 100mph barrier on Seattle's Lake Washington in June, 1958. He was the founding president of the Arizona Flycasters Club in 1962. And he was a fishing friend of outdoor writer Ted Trueblood, mentioned by name numerous times in articles Ted wrote for Field & Stream magazine throughout the 1970s. Ted and Doc frequently fished the Snake River for steelhead as well as the then-largely unfished Grande Ronde. Given their size and power, this rod and reel may well have been used on those trips.

    Doc appears to have lived in Boise which would explain his connection with Ted Trueblood as well as with the old family friend and avid flyfisherman to whom he gave the rod and reel. I received them from the friend's estate after he passed away several months ago. I've reached out to Ted's son Jack to see if he might be able to recall Doc and the many trips he and his father took.

    It appears likely that the inscription on the reel refers to Doc's involvement with the record-breaking hydroplane. It's also possible that given Doc's involvement with the outboard motor racing community that he had connections to people with the expertise and resources to fabricate the reel.

    I've sent the pics to Lang's auction house for an appraisal and estimate of their market value. They suggested that the history of the two may play a significant role in their valuation, but we'll see how much once I hear back from them. Finally, the folks at the Arizona Flycaster's Club have expressed interest in acquiring the rod and reel as a part of their upcoming 50th anniversary celebration. It seems only fitting that the rod and reel should return to the desert since their original owner was the club's founding president.

    In a way, gathering all this information turned out to be more of a genealogy project than learning about the rod and reel themselves. I've felt a real bond this week as I learned more about their original owner who was from my own father's generation. I can only imagine how much fun he had fishing them and about the many trips he took them on. I wish I could have been there with him.

  7. Could the reel be a Thompson? I'm not an expert on vintage reels, but in passing have seen a few Thompsons that looked like Perfects. I think they were all black with bright reel foot, just like yours. They were also built in SF, just like the rod.
  8. Dunno. I'd never heard of Thompson reels until your post, but in looking at some on Clark's, they all appear to be identified with a logo and writing on the plates. I'd be surprised if Bill Archuleta, his collector friend or Bulldog weren't able to identify the mystery reel if it were from an established production maker, no matter how small.

  9. Cool reel. I'm gonna guess this was a one-off custom version of some smaller shop reel..

    I have no idea, but it sure looks like there is some kind of pun going on with the "record breaker" thing, b/c the winding plate and spool face look just like an LP (vinyl) record. Maybe something custom made for someone in the music industry, as a retirement gift or something??

    just a guess. I like it.

    With a little elbow grease, a lot of help from some new friends, a bit of luck, and especially the help of Rick H on the ORCA forum, the question of just who made the 'Record Breaker' fly reel has been solved!

    The reel was designed and made by none other than C.W. 'Doc' Jones himself. And not only did he make the one in front of me, he made one for each of his grandchildren as well!

    His daughter Victoria confirmed that her father made the reels and even provided the patent numbers for his design! She lives on Bainbridge Island, WA and I'm already making plans to visit and show her his rod and reel.

    Read more at:

    Thanks to all who helped out with this research project. What a fun adventure this has been!

  11. Glad you found out the history on it. Its a strange journey once you get going on something like that.
  12. Yes it is! The project has acquired a momentum of its own that will probably result in a feature story in a future issue of ORCA's Reel News magazine.

    Stay tuned!

  13. Not so fast big fella . . .

    Turns out that the story behind who made The Record Breaker mystery reel and when is a whole lot more complicated than I though last week. I've been in touch with Doc Jones' family and they're pretty positive that the reel was a gift given to Doc to commemorate his role in several world records by outboard motor powered racing boats. If you're interested in following what's becoming a first-rate mystery, I'm posting periodic updates at

  14. I was wondering if the reel was made from some of the metals off the engine or boat used to break the record.
  15. Dunno. Since we have no idea who even made the reel or when, there's no way to determine anything else other than making semi-educated guesses based on what's engraved on it and who it's owner was.

  16. Hey Kent, is there anymore news on this? It seemed like you might have been closing in on the maker.
  17. Sadly, no news about who may have made the reel. Unfortunately, all the folks with firsthand knowledge of The Record Breaker are now dead. So now the goddam reel just sits here on my desk, taunting me.

    Don Champion in North Carolina has fabricated replacement springs for the reel which should be winging their way to me by early next week. With them in hand, I can then reassemble it and when I pick it up to think about things and idly turn the handle, at least then it'll click.

    I've connected with Doc's youngest daughter Liz who is graciously helping me reconstruct a timeline of where he was at various points in his life. With that as a baseline, I can then start to piece together when he may have started making his own reels. The real guts of the story though are gonna have to wait until I'm in Boise next and can actually visit Liz and examine Doc's own reels in person. I plan to take plenty of pics and then that will become the basis for the story, instead of The Record Breaker. The only firm date I have for our next visit is at Christmas.

  18. It's not uncommon for competition engine builders from that generation to save pistons as trophies. I've seen a lot stranger things made out of old pistons and engraved. I had an neighbor who had 8 beer mugs with custom blown glass made out of his dragster's pistons that broke a couple track records. His favorite passtime was drinking beer. Maybe "Doc Jones" did the same? That ledge and the odd circle pattern make me think of a groove for rings and an attempt to increase surface area. Solid aluminum blocks aren't cheap.
  19. Get the metal tested. Find out what grade of aluminum it is.

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