Montague “Made” Freshwater Multiplying Casting/Utility Reels

  All of these reels were made by Montague for all of the distributors listed in BOLD print.

With the information listed below, you should be able to identify your reel model by the properties described for each reel.


All handles should be considered counter balanced unless otherwise noted.

All reels should be considered of the round style unless otherwise stated.

This a long list so to minimize the scrolling, I have linked your reel alphabetically

Click on the letter that matches the first letter of your Reel’s name and a page will appear. If the letter is not underlined, there are no reels beginning with that letter.

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O   P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z



Possible Montague Reels

(These reels all show similarities but we don’t know for certain if Montague made them.)


American Swiss Fernwood     

60 yd., nickel plated brass, 2 jeweled oil caps, click on back plate, pillared foot

Lucky Lure                             

(no size), nickel plated brass, 2 oil caps, click on back plate, pillared foot 2 jeweled oil caps

Shure Winner                         

60 yd., nickel plated brass, 2 oil caps, click & drag on back plate, pillared foot 2 jeweled oil caps


(no size), nickel plated brass, 2 jeweled oil caps, click on back plate, pillared foot


(no size), nickel plated brass, 2 jeweled oil caps, click on back plate, pillared foot, double handle 2 jeweled oil caps




Montague Four Screw Reels


Abbey & Imbrie Deluxe                      New style                    *

Abbey & Imbrie The Dolphin             New style                    *

Abercrombie & Fitch                          New Style                    *

Bullard & Gormley Geneva                Old style                      *

Casting                                                Old style                      *

Congress No. 10                                  New Style                    *

CSG Co.                                               Old style                      *

Fox Lake                                              New style                    *

Habich’s Castwell                               New style                    *

Habich, Gus                                        Old style                      *

Jay Harvey                                          New style                    *

Jupiter                                                 New style                    *

Kentucky #3                                        Old style                      *

Marshall Field & Co.                           New style                    *

Michigan                                             Old style                      *

New Record Casting Reel                   Old style                      *

Our Very Best Casting                        Old style                      *

President                                            New style                    *

Reed, H.C. Co. Casting                        Old style                      *

Schmelzer’s Blue Eye                          Old style                      *

The Crown Casting Reel                      New style                                            1926 Wm. Mills

The Minnesota                                   Old style                      *

The Pennell                                         Old style

The Pennell #30                                  Old style                      *

V.L. & A. Expert #3                              New style                    *

V.L. & A. Ne-Pee-Nauk                        New style                    *

Van Uxem, James L. Geneva              Old style                      *

Vee Bee AA-1                                      New style                    *

Veribest                                              New style                    *

Wilkinson                                           Old  style                     *

The Rise and Fall of the Montague City Rod Company


 This may sound like a couple of other posts but this article adds more depth and comes with credits.

In 1872, brothers Leander L. Bartlett and Eugene P. Bartlett both born in Pelham, Massachusetts, began working in the fishing rod factory of Joseph G. Ward. About nine years later in May 1881 the brothers bought Joseph G. Ward’s fishing rod manufacturing business in Pelham, Massachusetts. J. G. Ward had been manufacturing rods for thirty-five years prior to the sale. Thus was the started the largest company in the world to become engaged in manufacturing both rods and reels. They offered a reel imprinted with the “Montague City Rod Company”,  “Amhurst, Mass.”, stamping which was based on what was advertised as the Edward Follett patent although this patent probably didn’t exist.


In 1882 they built a factory in Montague City, MA for manufacturing split bamboo rods. Leander managed this factory and Eugene the Amherst factory. Joining them were Charles W. Hazelton and B.N. Farren. In 1885 a two story addition was added to the Montague City factory. The Montague City Rod Co. was incorporated October 24, 1885 with $21,000 in capitol.


Early in 1891 Thomas H. Chubb’s factory in Post Mills, Vermont, which manufactured rods and reels, was destroyed by fire for the third time. In July 1891 Montague City Rod Co. purchased what remained of the Chubb factory. Montague was marketing exclusively on a wholesale level and needed a retail outlet. T.H. Chubb stayed on for a year after the fire, directing the reconstruction of the new factory and aiding as needed. This company continued to be known as the T.H. Chubb Rod Co. Montague possibly/probably began making reels at the Chubb factory on a limited basis. In 1899 Montague purchased the reel making plant of U.S. Net and Twine/Frederick Malleson/A.G. Spaulding & Bro., the waters being somewhat murky here, located at 163 Grand Ave. in Brooklyn, NY. Now the manufacture of reels began in earnest. The reels were often stamped with the names of the retailers but never with the Montague name. Others were not stamped on the reels at all but on the box itself.


Leander L. Bartlett’s death in 1922 had little effect on the business. Montague was at its peak or manufacturing in 1925 when the death of Eugene P. Bartlett (born 1853) sounded the beginning of the death knell for the company. Upon his death a re-organization became necessary in order to settle his estate, and the following year Charles W. Schuler became president, W. Bruce Pirnie chairman of the board of directors, and Raymond P. Bennett became assistant to C.W. Schuler, and later the assistant treasurer and a member of the executive committee.


The company was administered by the First National Bank of Amherst which sold the stock to a brokerage firm in Springfield which bled the company dry. On September 20, 1927 the company name was changed to Montague Rod and Reel Co. and the reel making machinery was moved from Brooklyn to the Montague City factory shortly thereafter. Stock was sold to the public. Also in 1927 they decided to give name recognition to their rods and may have used the fish and talon logo on their rods. The logo appeared on the cover of the 1927 catalog for the first time and they started offering level wind reels that year.


When the holding company bled Montague dry the company was in serious trouble with the crash of 1929. Many orders from former customers were cut back and others cancelled any future orders altogether. Montague also did not make their top of the line reel, a Kentucky style to compete against makers such as Horton and Talbot, after 1929. Over the life of the company they produced casting reels with over 450 different names stamped on them and some 150 reels of a different design with the same name stamped on them. This did not include the fly reels or salt water reels. In 1930 Montague Rod and Reel Company had capitol of $600,000 preferred and 20,000 shares of common stock of no par value.


By 1930 they began offering a cheap line of non-level winding reels stamped with the Montague name. The Montague level winding reels with the hard rubber side plates were not stamped with their name. This was the first time Montague company had put the Montague name on a reel since before the turn of the century.


The 1932 Wilmarth Tackle Co. catalog, of Roosevelt, NY, had an advertisement offering new closed out Montague reels for a bare fraction of the original cost. Montague was eliminating their reel inventory for pennies on the dollar. The Pelham facility in Amherst, MA was officially closed on June 21, 1931. The Thomas H. Chubb factory was closed in 1933. By 1934 the stock was controlled by the principals of the Ocean City Reel Company, Paul J. Johnson and his father-in-law, Louis M. Moskowitz. The reel operation was moved to Philadelphia and the reel inventory was carried in the Ocean City catalogs until it was sold. Ocean City continued to sell Montague rods. Also by the time Ocean City acquired the Montague company many reels were being stamped with the Montague logo which were not of the Montague design. This continued for a number of years during Ocean City’s ownership.





The Reel News Vol. 7, No. 3 Fall 1997. (Phil White)

Fishing Collectibles Magazine Vol. 1, No. 4 Spring 1990 pp. 9-10. (Rick Stringer)

A Treasury of Reels by Jim Brown p. 82, pp. 83-4, pp. 113-114, pp. 126-27.

Classic & Antique Fly Fishing Tackle by A.J. Campbell p. 157, pp. 162-63.

The American Fly Fisher Vol. 7, No. 4 fall 1980 pp.12-18. (Mary Kefover Kelly)

The American Fly Fisher Vol. 11, No. 3 Summer 1984 pp. 3-5. (Mary Kefover Kelly)

History of Massachusetts Industries Their Inception Growth and Success Vol. 1

(Orra L. Stone 1930 – Boston)

Excerpts from: 1930 Montague City Rod & Reel Company Financial Report.

Horace Gray & Son – The First Fishing Rod Factory (PDF file) Pelham Historical Society

Various tackle catalogs.

Research by James K. Garrett & Lenard Brooks

Genealogical research.

On the REEL side of Montague

Here is a fairly accurate list of Reels made by The Montague Reel Company, Brooklyn New York. This list does not contain the higher quality collectible Montague Reels like the Montague 4 Screw seen as our Logo Reel

Note: A good number of these “Names” were also used by other reel Makers


RP= Raised Pillar, NLW= Non Level Wind, SW= Salt Water, KY = Kentucky

Reels Listed in alphabetical order: this is a long list so I linked you to the pages to alleviate scrolling madness. If the name of your matches a letter, just click the letter

A  B  C  D  E  F G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N   P  Q  R  S  







The “Silkien” Rod

The “Silkien” rod is made by hand from the most carefully selected and thoroughly seasoned Calcutta bamboo.

When the rod is ready for the varnish and before mounting, each joint is tightly and closely wound from end to end.

It then undergoes a treatment that firmly binds the silk to the bamboo and makes  the winding so transparent that the grain and color of the bamboo can be clearly seen underneath it.

  • The invisible winding is covered by patent, and its’ advantages are:
  • It greatly strengthens the rod, while making it possible to lessen the weight since the joints and tips can be worked finer.
  • It increases and protects the elasticity of the rod.
  • It clasps and protects the glue joints at all points so that they cannot separate.

The silk is a holding ground for the varnish, so that it does not crack or chip off, thus protecting the rod from dampness and from taking a set.

These rods are made in Trout Fly and light Bass Bait.

Best German silver mountings: Hand made reel plate: welted ferrules. Put up in a felt covered wood form and canvas bag

Ref. 1904 Montague Catalog

With the passing of time and the improvements in ferrules and other hardware , along with the advent of Tonkin cane which was straighter stronger and more resilient than Calcutta Cane. I suspect that the Silkien rod became a thing of the past.

It may not be well known that Montague Catalogs are scarce to the point of being “Rare”.  “Prior to 1927, Montague (most likely) only sent catalogs to dealers and or distributors.  From 1927 on, they produced retail catalogs for their re-sellers, and offered the catalogs to the public as well”.

The featured Image at the top of the article is the cover of a 1939 Montague Catalog.

The Varney Rod

Only one cut of about five feet of the large end of the finest selected Calcutta bamboo is used. It is split or rifted by hand with a knife following the grain thus avoiding any cross grain. The enamel or outside covering of the bamboo is left intact, except what is necessary to remove in finishing. These rods are mounted with Varney’s patent waterproof and resilient tongued ferrules. Ferules are hand mandrel drawn from seamless 100% German silver tubes, a process which makes the ferrules nearly as hard and spring like as steel. The resilient tongue forms at the junction of the wood and metal a cushion by which the strain is transmitted gradually throughout the rod, thereby preventing the rod breaking at the ferrules. The exposed end of the glued sections is covered by a metal cap which prevents dampness from affecting the glue joints. Perhaps the best proof of the worth of the worth of our waterproof and resilient tongued ferrule lies in the fact that in its use of nine years we have yet to learn of the first instance of a “Varney” rod breaking at the ferrule, or the glue joint being damaged by moisture. The reel plate is made from the same quality metal as the ferrules. The ribs and reel pocket are brazed with pure silver solder. No pains are spared to make the “Varney” rods the best that human skill can produce.

The Fine Art of Fishing

“A good fly-rod is worth every cent you pay for it — and more; also it should be said that good tackle of any sort is not only its own reward but is absolutely essential if you would have the best of the sport. Shoddy tackle conduces to careless work on the stream and consequently to poor success. On the other hand, good tackle tends to interest one in its proper handling, both in casting and also fishing the flies,  and as a result the angler finds his interest and success increasing rather than otherwise.”

from The Fine Art of Fishing,  Samuel G. Camp, 1911

7GDF “Gaspe”

A good quality salmon fly rod. Also suitable as equipment that will handle Steelhead, and in salt water, small Tarpon, Striped Bass & Bonefish.

Stock: Three joints and extra tip of flame finish split ‘bamboo.

Ferrules: Straight, hand welt, serrated

Reel Seat: Titelock, chromium plated

Guides: Hard one ring butt guide, other guides Tungsten steel snake, all chrome plated.

Tops: Chrome plated, hard steel, pear-shaped.



 Photo Credit to Mark Frey Photography & Bamboo Rod Works


Montague Reels

MONTAGUE,   also known as Monty for short. was one of the major reel manufacturers in the  U.S. However, most of their products do not bare their name. C.
The birth of Montague started in 1881 when Leander L. and Eugene Bartlett bought out the J. G. Ward fishing rod business in Amherst, Massachusetts. In 1882 the Bartlett’s opened a factory in Montague City, Massachusetts to make split bamboo rods. By 1885 they added two stories to the Montague City factory and were incorporated as the Montague City Rod Company.
In 1891 further expansion took place as Montague purchased the Chubb Fishing Rod Company of Post Falls, Vermont, which they operated until the 1930’s. In May of 1899 an agreement was reached between the Montague City Rod Company and Frederick Malleson whereby Montague purchased the Brooklyn, NY factory of Malleson/Conroy/The U.S. Net & Twine Company (take your pick – the exact details seem to depend upon which author you read),
In 1927 the company name was changed to Montague Rod and Reel Company. At this time some of the reel making machinery was moved from Brooklyn to the Montague City, Massachusetts factory. This historic fishing tackle
company came to an end in 1934 when Montague was purchased by the Ocean City Manufacturing Company, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Montague City factory continued to produce fishing rods, but all reels were produced in Philadelphia.
In 1955 the name was officially changed to Montague-Ocean City Rod and Reel Co.
Montague manufactured reels of all types and price ranges. Apparently, with a minimum order, you could have reels stamped with just about any name you wanted.  Montague “generic” reels were sold by many of the most prestigious tackle houses  – Edward Vom Hofe,  Abercrombie & Fitch,  V. L. & A.,  Abbey & Imbrie,  and so on.
Montague made them all from “Gayle Style” raised gear cover Kentucky reels in German silver, to hard rubber and German silver fly reels that are often thought to be the product of one of the Vom Hofe brothers.
Their hard rubber and German  silver surf reels are often marked with the Edw. Vom Hofe shop name and these are fine looking reels. This great variety of names, quality and types of reels is what makes the study of Montague reels most confusing, but very interesting

Life before Chubb

The birth of Montague started in 1881 when Leander L. and Eugene Bartlett bought out the J. G. Ward fishing rod business in Amherst, Massachusetts. In 1882 the Bartlett’s opened a factory in Montague City, Massachusetts to make split bamboo rods. By 1885 they added two stories to the Montague City factory and were incorporated as the Montague City Rod Company.