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Mitchell Reel Collectors International


The Renaissance Reel, Mitchell's 498
Part 1
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M498
When spinning became in vogue during the 1940/1950’s, with it came a new wave of anglers who saw the spinning reel as an excellent “tool” for casting plugs and other artificials more effectively! Its design was simple, allowing the caster to make repeated casts without the problems associated with conventional tackle. Manufacturers capitalized on this new product by producing a full assortment of spinning reels to fit just about any situation and budget.  Of the various types of spinning reels manufactured during those years, only a few companies offered a reel specifically designed for the surf.

Mitchell’s 30th Anniversary Reel – Issued 1999

One of those manufacturers was Carpano & Pons, owners of a well established engineering and mechanical component company in northern France. Realizing the need for a better fishing reel, they secured the services of Monsieur Maurice Jacquemin, an engineering genius who was considered by many in the industry to be a modern day daVinci. Monsieur Jacquemin was charged with the responsibility of designing new reel concepts. He would later be credited with inventing the original Mitchell reel, among others, and was the chief architect of Mitchell’s premier surf reel, the 498.

Mitchell in concert with Garcia, a US vendor for Mitchell products, explored different venues for their product lines. Using research and corporate “brain storming”, they developed specific reels to fit certain applications. It was in the mid 1960s when Garcia realized there was a potential market for a quality surf reel. Not wanting to detract from Mitchell’s very successful and profitable Model 302, Garcia Mitchell conceptualized a reel that would be disciplined for one purpose; to handle the intensity and challenges of the surf.

Competition from other reel manufactures at that time was fierce!  Penn impacted the sport with their venerable 706MP, 700 and 704 reels. The Luxor Mer-Saumon and the Crack 300, both products from the house of Luxor, became the main stay for surf fishing from the late 1950s until the early 1990s. You would be hard pressed not to find one on the beach, even today. Germany's DAM Co. produced a very powerful model 270 and two speed model 275. They were a masterpiece of engineering with a gearing system that was exceptionally strong and non yielding. Rumer’s Pacific & Atlantic surf models were excellent and developed a following on the West Coast in the US, in parts of Europe, and Canada.

Mitchell’s time honoured 302, and Daiwa’s big SS series of surf reels of the 1970s, captured a very demanding and lucrative market. In the early 1990s, a new company entered the field, Van Staal Engineering.   They make a reel using aerospace technology and materials that is truly outstanding. Mitchell, realizing the task at hand, manufactured the 498 after many years of development. Their final product was superb.

The year was 1969 when Mitchell officially introduced their model 498 surf reel. Mitchell, wanting to be innovative, yet competitive, designed the reel & it's components specifically for the surf. The 498 was fitted with hardened bronze gearing, weight balance ratio, a strong and multiple bearing point system, an extended manual pickup arm; later changed to a retractable system, an extra long handle to increase torque and retrieval speed, and an extra capacity spool to handle “heavy” line. The entire package was well suited for the event and received good results. From its début, it established itself as a premier surf reel that was capable in all situations, and achieved an enviable record of success in such places as Mexico's Baja Peninsula, Europe's volatile North Sea, and the turbulent surf at South Africa's Cape Horn. We would be remiss if we did not mention the great Mecca of surf fishing, Montauk Point in the US.

Over the years, the 498 went through a series of refinements, a sort of renaissance period, both internally and externally. Collectors divide the 498 into 4 different periods of change. The first period starts at 1969 until 1978. This is when “Mitchell” was inscribed on the bodies. The second period, from 1979 until 1992, is when Mitchell switched to raised lettering and introduced different body colours. The third period is from 1992 until 2001. This period is identified by the inclusion of the letter (X) next to the 498 logo and a re-sculpturing of the body to have smoother lines. The fourth period is from 1997 until 2000. Reels made at this time were special issue 498’s that were produced in addition to the standard 498X model.


To celebrate the Millennium, Mitchell produced what is considered the ultimate 498! 
What is so different about this reel is the paint design. This was a unique paint application that incorporated layered finishes using different colours that produced a marbleized / granite finish depending on who is looking at the reel. The making of this reel was the beginning of the end for the 498 and represented the last special issue 498 that Mitchell manufactured. Only 4 special issue 498’s were made since 1997 and all were produced in limited quantities. This reel only came with a standard spool matted in colour to the body.

M498

Mitchell's Marbleized Millennium Reel
 Issued in January 2000


anti-reverse

One of the more important modifications Mitchell completed was the redesign of the anti reverse system. Collectors can determine early versions by properly identifying this change. The original has a raised “circular hub” on the body where the handle connects to the gear shaft. This raised portion allows for seating of the main gear. On the later versions, this was modified, and can be identified by the small “U” shape impression above the circular hub as shown here.

It was 1992 when Mitchell made a major change to the mechanics of the reel.  They eliminated the external one-piece metal pickup arm and replaced it with a retractable two-piece arm that allowed the user to retract the manual pickup prior to casting in order to prevent the line from snagging on the roller.  After the cast was complete, the retractable arm can be reset into its normal position and the line replaced on the roller.  This feature is without doubt one of the premier innovations Mitchell incorporated into their reel design.
PUM
PUM
The 498 was designed as a Manual Pickup (MP) system. The Europeans referred to this as a PUM (Pick Up Manual).  Mitchell made many changes to this system over the years. The first roller guide was an exposed ball-bearing roller that could be adjusted from the back and front screws to tighten or loosen the race that held the bearings.
The second type of roller guide is known as a Sleeve system. This single shaft mechanism retained the geometry by the placement of a C retainer on the top of the post with a locking nut on the backside. The third change to the MP system was with the use of a carbide roller. This type of roller was made from a different material and did not incorporate a C retainer or screw for adjustments. 
PUM
PUM
It was a non-adjustable Sleeve type mechanism preset from the factory.  The backend nut was recessed into the retractable arm on later models.  The final change incorporated a single screw-like center pin held in place by a backing nut that was recessed into the pickup arm (picture not available).

All images of Manual Pickups by courtesy of Bret Costin.

Spool
Spool
Mitchell manufactured four types of tournament spools, each slightly different than the other. One was made from aluminum, one from graphite and the other two from plastic. Mitchell originally conceived the tournament spool concept in the late 1950’s.
It evolved from a steep conic design found on the early model 300 casters to the slightly tapered shape with a concave rim and a full inner core. Only the 498, 402 & 300 had special tournament grade spools. The metal spool was a special application order designed for actual tournament casting. The white plastic spool with the pronounced conic design was for the same purpose.
Spool

Spool





~ Garcia Mitchell 498:  1969 - 1977 ~

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M498
In 1969, Mitchell, in concert with Garcia, introduces their first “super large” surf reel. The concept behind this was to design a reel specifically for surf fishing that would provide the necessary strength and line capacity to handle any game fish found in the surf. Mitchell was right on target with this model as it filled a nitch with fisherman who demanded toughness and dependability of a good surf reel. The first version as shown here, was manufactured in Mitchell’s standard dark blue color, which was common for all 400 series reels at that time.  The Manual Pickup; MP, on most early 498’s was of the sleeve type roller with a small percentage coming from the factory with the more desirable ball-bearing roller guide. This version was also sold in the UK with a slight change, the addition of a Special logo decal in lieu of the Garcia sticker.


 ~ Special Mitchell 498:  1969 - 1977 ~

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M498
Produced during the same period as the Garcia version with distribution in the UK. Painted in the standard dark blue color and labeled with the word “Special” affixed to the reel in lieu of Garcia. This “Special” logo labeling was prevalent on Mitchell reels sold in Europe, especially in the UK. The 498 also underwent an internal change affecting the anti reverse system. It is distinguishable by a noticeable “U” shape impression above the main gear indent on the body housing. This particular Special version is an extremely difficult model to locate as very few were produced with this labeling.


~ Special Mitchell 498: (Distance Spool) 1977 - 1980 ~
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M498
This reel is a standard dark blue 498 “Special” made for the European market. What makes this reel so interesting is that the reel was intended for both, professional casting and for those fishing the surf. The spool manufacturer is unknown. It is our opinion that it was made either by Mitchell or by a company that produced these spools for Mitchell. This reel definitely makes for a very interesting and collectable item. The spool was made of special grade plastic in two pieces and “welded” together. Very few of these special distance spools were made and it is believed they were also made for Browning’s early series 498 in 1980/1981.


~ Garcia Mitchell 498:  1979 - 1980 ~
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M498
Garcia Mitchell opted to do a complete aesthetic makeover of the 498 for the first time since its introduction.  Some of the prevalent alterations we see here was the color change to sky blue, the spool color changed to white, the handle was fitted with a new “high speed” decal, and lettering on the reel was no longer inscribed but raised. The spool drag nut and handle was changed to gray.  Some of the mechanical changes included a new line guide made of wire and an adjustable ring at the base of the handle that was utilized during casting to prevent the rotor from turning during the cast until the handle was engaged. Only in circulation for 2 years. Reel utilizes a sleeve type roller.

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