Mitchell Reel Collectors International

The Renaissance Reel, Mitchell's 498
Part 2
We continue our review of these “dread-noughts” of the surf. As the years passed and refinements completed, the 498 takes on a new look! The year is 1980 and Garcia is no longer the owner of Mitchell in the US market. Mitchell, prior to Browning’s involvement, makes a significant change to the reel. For the first time, the reel was painted completely black! (Collectors refer to this version as “black-out” due the lack of any other coloration on the reel.) Early versions have the words “Mitchell 498” in black as well! This particular version only sold in Europe for a very limited time, less than one year. In 1981, Browning becomes partners with Mitchell and decides to change the reel color back to sky blue. This change only lasted for two years at which time Browning, for no apparent reason, switched back to an entirely black 498. This version of the reel includes some decorative embellishments to contrast with the all black color. In the few short years between 1980 and 1983, the 498 went through three-color changes.

In 1984, Mitchell Sports USA takes over from Browning as the North American distributor of Mitchell products. The 498 remained black with decorative colored lines and wording until the year 1991. It was during Mitchell Sports era that the Pro versions are introduced. In 1992 a new owner takes over the Mitchell name in North America, Johnson World Wide. From this point forward, the 498 and other select models are discontinued from distribution in North America. The 498 is only offered in Europe.

Mitchell selects to keep the reel black until 1997. At this time, Mitchell offers the buyer an option to purchase the 498 as a special Pro version with the new dynamic paint scheme of a black and gray “gun metal” finish. The availability of the double issued multi-colored Pro models continues for 4 years until the year 2000. It was during this year that Mitchell announces that it will discontinue all special Pro models for the following year. In 2001, Pure Fishing enters the picture as Mitchell’s North American partner and owner. Mitchell offers only the standard all black 498 still available only in select areas of Europe. As of this writing, 2002, Mitchell officially discontinued the 498. For 33 years the 498 became a permanent fixture as a top of the line dependable surf reel. I am sure Mitchell’s new entries are sure to fill the gap of this unique and powerful reel. We will miss this “captain of the sea.”

M498 Mitchell 498: 1980
Mitchell, in 1980, before Browning’s involvement, was still producing its full product line. Reels were sold to Garcia-Mitchell of Canada Ltd, who remained in business as the sole distributor of Mitchell products in Canada until 1984. For approximately one year, Mitchell produced a number of reels that were sold only in Europe and not to Garcia.  One of those models was a generic 498, identical to the Browning version shown below. The reel was all black with raised lettering. Early versions of the model had the wording, Mitchell 498 also in black. Collectors refer to this version as “ black-out”. It is believed this 498 was the only version that was made by & for Mitchell and sold exclusively in Europe for less than a year. Sleeve type roller and wire line guide.

Browning Mitchell: 1981-1982
When Browning became involved with Mitchell in the later part of 1980, they decided a “face-lift” was needed to help the marketing of their new product line. Browning revamped the 498 to encompass a change of reel color to sky blue, and the noticeable absence of the Garcia logo preceding the word Mitchell. The raised lettering remained intact but the spool color changed to gray in lieu of Garcia’s white. The line guide remained metal. Very few were sold of this version. Marketed only in Europe and Canada.  Sleeve type roller and wire line guide.

Browning Mitchell 498: 1983-1984
Browning only produced two variations of the 498 during their tenure with Mitchell. Their second offering was somewhat different from what was considered normal for the 498. Midway through 1982 to1983, Browning decided to change the colors of most of their reels to black. Only a few of their saltwater models stayed sky-blue but the 498 was not one of them. Now supporting their new black body, rotor and spool, Browning hoped to entice a new following for their saltwater models, particularly in the 498. This version maintained the metal line guide and a non-adjustable roller guide that was designed using a screw center pin as the axis for rotation. New to the reel was the addition of a dark chrome handle and black plastic locking nut. The lettering was white and
raised.  Only sold in Europe and Canada: Scarce.

Mitchell Sports 498:  1984-1989
When Mitchell Sports USA, became involved with Mitchell of France in 1984, many changes occurred in the form of new products and the refinement of existing reels. The 498 was continued from Browning’s original offerings which is basically the same reel as their 1984 version. The only differences between the two reels are the gold lettering on the reel body, and the red colored band and gold lettering on the rotor. Additionally, the spool was made out of graphite in lieu of metal (first graphite spool). Aside from these few changes, both reels were the same. Becoming difficult to locate. Screw type center pin roller guide.

Mitchell Sports 498 Pro: 1986-1990
As Mitchell Sports refined their existing inventories, they also made new models. One of the new entries was the very successful 498 ProPum. Mitchell made five different pro models during this period with the 498 their “flag ship” in the series. Supporting many esthetic changes, the 498ProPum was featured with an emblem on the side cover plate where a person can inscribe their name. A wood handle knob, gold and red colors, and a metal spool were added to the reel to separate it from the standard 498. Made in limited quantities for the US and European markets. Extremely rare product. Note this was the last 498 that was offered for sale in the US. Screw type center pin roller guide.

Mitchell Sports 498 Tournament: 1990-1991
In 1992, Mitchell Sports USA was out and the new owner of Mitchell, Johnson World Wide; an outdoor sports company in the US, was the new provider of Mitchell products in the US. What made this company different was they did not sell the full line of Mitchell products to the US. Most, if not all, Mitchells sold in the US came from the Pacific Rim and not from France. Unfortunately, the 498 was never offered in the US from that point forward.  Mitchell Sports Euro did flourish in France and continued their own line of reels including the 498 models. Mitchell introduced for the first time a tournament-casting version of the 498.  During the last 2 years of production, using a standard 498, Mitchell Sports added a tournament spool as an optional feature.  After 1991, the reel was discontinued.

Mitchell Sports 498 Pro Tournament: 1991-1992
Building on the successful 498 Pro Pum issued in 1986, Mitchell Sports Euro, decided to introduce a Pro version of their 498 Tournament casting reel issued in 1990. Mitchell released the same model but this time as a Pro version having the same aesthetic changes as the original 498 Pro. This reel was made in extremely limited quantities with distribution in select regions of Europe. Used for both fishing and professional tournament casting. One of the main differences between this version and the standard 498 Pro Pum was the addition of the graphite tournament spool.

Mitchell Sports 498 Pro (Custom Tournament): 1989
Mitchell had a request by tournament casters for a custom designed 498 made specifically for professional competitive casting. Mitchell produced this model in less than 500 units. A one-year wait for this reel to be completed was a long time, but the results were stunning. Never has Mitchell produced such a reel with as dynamic application as this reel. The reel was a basic Pro Pum 1986 version that was mechanical altered to compliment the pro-caster. The reel was fitted with additional bearings, a special conic anodized spool, and a radically designed adjustable pickup arm combined with a ball bearing roller guide. Without doubt, one of the most intriguing reels.

Mitchell Sports 498X: 1992- 2001
It was 1992 when Mitchell decided to “repackage” the 498 and modify the reel geometry to smooth out the lines. The new design, with the addition of a distinct paint configuration, all added up to a very desirable piece. Of the different 498’s made from this point forward, this version became the standard that was offered every year from 1992 until 2001. In fact, this model was the last version offered before the 498 was officially discontinued by Mitchell as of the end of 2001. The reel was painted dull black on the body with red/gold color markings on the spool. Mitchell redesigned the bale arm mechanism for the first time since the 498 was introduced in 1969. The arm was made to retract during casting to prevent line from snagging.

Mitchell Sports 498X Pro: 1992-1996
As with most 498’s manufactured after 1987, Mitchell made two versions of the same reel. They made a standard 498 and a Pro version. The Pro version, as shown, was Mitchell’s fourth and final makeover of their large surf reel. This particular model was upgraded to include a rosewood handle, a Pro insignia, and gold inscription emblem. We also see the use of a screw type center pin roller guide and the addition of a new bailarm system that was radically altered from the original. One of the unique features of this bale arm is that it is retractable during casting to prevent line snagging on the roller guide.  Only offered in Europe and was the second Pro model offered since their first in 1987.

Mitchell Sports 498X (Tournament): 1992-1996
This was Mitchell’s second version of the non-Pro casting model that was originally introduced in 1990. When Mitchell upgraded the 498 to this current version, they retained the casting spools on select Pro and non-Pro models for a short period. This reel is the fourth generation 498. The non-Pro casting models, as shown here, came with the standard black “coffee grinder” handle knob, 4-point bearing system and no Pro insignia. The body of the reel was basic black with no added features except for the casting spool. This model was offered with the tournament spool until approximately 1996.

Mitchell Sports 498X Pro:  (Tournament) 1992-1996
The Pro casting models came with the rosewood handle, six-point bearings, a gold inscription emblem, and the word Pro shown on the body of the reel, as well as a retractable bale arm. The body was basic black with some esthetic markings on the rotor and graphite spool. This model was offered until approximately 1996. Mitchell took a standard 498 X-Pro, added the tournament spool, and packaged it as complete unit. The reel was marketed and sold in Europe.

Mitchell Sports 498X Pro: (Special) 1997
This 498 version is basically the same reel as the one above except for the paint scheme. Mitchell made some minor external changes that differentiated this model from the standard version. This was the beginning of Mitchell’s radical paint style that continued until the end of production. The reel was fitted with a wooden handle knob and a paint pattern similar to a weave design using black on steel gray. Released in 1998 and only offered for 1 year. All 498 special issue versions, from this point forward, are extremely rare items that required special order from select vendors in Europe. The MP assembly is retractable and can be disengaged to allow for casting without line snagging on the roller guide.

Mitchell Sports 498X Pro Africa: (Special) 1998
Mitchell continued the series of special issue 498’s. The Pro Africa is a very interesting reel. It seems no one is quite certain as to why Mitchell marketed the reel as “Pro Africa”. Probably it had to do with the fact that Mitchell produced the reel, specifically the spool, for braided line that is predominately used in certain regions of the World, especially Africa. The reel can only be purchased from select stores in Europe as a special factory order. Reel is identical to the 498XProPum listed above with the exception of the modified special application spool.

Mitchell Sports 498X Pro 30th Anniversary Tournament: 1999
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 498 (1969-1999), Mitchell produced a unique 498 having an unusual paint scheme of light gray and labeled with the 30th Anniversary logo. Following the same body shape of the new 498 styles, Mitchell wanted something special to celebrate this milestone. To complete this special issue, Mitchell fitted the reel with a standard rosewood handle knob, chrome handle, and a bronze tournament spool decoratively enhanced.  Only sold by special order through European vendors in France. There was also a standard bronze spool available for only the first year. Limited edition – very few made.

Mitchell Sports 498X Pro Millennium: 2000
When this version was released, it could only be obtained by special order through select European vendors. Mitchell outdid themselves by introducing a special paint application never before tried and will probably never be used again. The paint pattern was layered to give the effect of a granite design or marbleized finish. This reel was made specially for the Millennium.  By July of 2000, Mitchell stopped production of this model. By year-end, inventory was sold out. Extremely low volume was produced of this very special version.

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