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"Reels & Making Them" - Softcover Edition

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Table of Contents
  • Example page 3-12
  • Example page 3-39
  • Section on Aerial reels
  • Example page 21-3
  • Back Cover

Product Description

This book is sold out and will not be reprinted.



450 handwritten pages • over 500 color photographs and illustrations • 8.5" x 11" softcover •  • printed in the USA


In creating Reels & Making Them, author John Betts transcribed hundreds of pages of shop notes spanning two decades. The manuscript consists of 450 pages of beautifully handwritten text, hand-drawn illustrations, and over 450 color photographs describing the background, ideas, procedures, and techniques John uses to create hand-crafted reels of aluminum, brass and exotic woods.

Contained within Reels & Making Them is a complete second book entitled Aerials, presenting John's innovative approach to hand-crafting the beautiful and highly functional Aerial reels originated by Henry Coxon in the late 19th century. John's minimalist approach to reel building is based on hand-working tools and techniques and does not require machine tools. The information on laying out complex parts and fabricating them with simple tools and the sections on making screws (including details on John's novel screw slotting jig) are practical and enlightening.

In addition to the wealth of reelmaking information, Reels & Making Them also chronicles John's life as a fly tyer, angler and reelsmith. For example, John recalls meeting famed reelmaker Ari Hart at an angling show in San Francisco, leading to a life-long friendship. Tales of John's childhood raising ducks and stories of fish and fishing will appeal to all anglers.

Reels & Making Them originally was published electronically in sections over a period of ten months. Each handwritten and illustrated page was individually and carefully scanned to capture the authenticity, charm and artistry of John's work. It's all here - the erasure marks, corrections, pasted-in photos and illustrations, and blue-lined notebook paper - as close to the original as we could make it.

Published and distributed by Reel Lines Press, the publishing division of The Eclectic Angler in association with The Whitefish Press. The initial printing is limited to 100 signed and numbered copies.




Other Details

Media Mail Shipping:
$4.00 fixed rate shipping via USPS Media Mail is available to US customers only, please order here.

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Product Reviews

  1. Beautiful book 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 12th Mar 2013

    This book is a keeper and a pleasant surprise. Great drawings and simply unique.

  2. "Good Stuff, REALLY! 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 2nd Jan 2013

    "My fault",I need new glasses. But I'm getting used to the interesting calligraphy. I'de like to have seen better lighting on the photos,some are a bit unclear. Very interesting, informative, fun following his growth and progression. Two thumbs up. I recommend this book to any one thinking of joining this form of creative endeavor. I'm half way through my third "scratch built" reel. I built and started my first two before the book arrived, instant shot of "Go For It! Thank all y'all. Dave Bryant Olympia Wa.

  3. A wonderful chronicle 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 29th Nov 2011

    I just got my copy and as with John's rod book, it's a wonderful chronicle of his reel making over the years. I'm sure there will be numerous tips and insights into reels that will help in my own humble efforts.....great job!

  4. What a fantastic book! 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 29th Nov 2011

    I just received my copy of "Reels and Making Them". What a fantastic book! Tons of information and ideas; all delivered in a unique format. I felt as though I was looking through a private notebook and I'm sure that that's the idea.

    There is a lot for me to absorb in there. Many thanks to John and Michael!

  5. A beautiful book! 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 28th Nov 2011

    It is a beautiful book and the illustrations and hand written pages are truly remarkable. It took mere minutes to be engrossed by it, I was sorry to have to put it down and snap back to reality. Now I'm hoping for the snow storm to materialize and take the power out so I'll have a day uninterrupted on my futon in my office reading it :)

    ~ C.D.

  6. Fabulous! 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 28th Nov 2011


    The book arrived yesterday. Fabulous! Thanks so much for all the work you guys put into this unique volume.


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