|The Renaissance Reel, Mitchell's 498
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
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
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.
Issued in January 2000
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.
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.
|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).
of Manual Pickups by courtesy of Bret Costin.
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
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.
~ Garcia Mitchell 498:
1969 - 1977 ~
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 -
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 ~
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 ~
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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