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"The Reelsmith's Primer"

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Product Description

"The Reelsmith’s Primer – the Art of Hand-crafting Fly Fishing Reels"

NOTICE: The Reelsmith's Primer is no longer in print after a run of 10 years. We are considering a limited reprinting or offering the book in PDF format. Please contact us if you are interested.


148 pages • 107 photographs and illustrations • full-scale reel plans and design templates • 8/5″ x 11″ softcover • spiral bound to lie flat on your workbench • Third printing

Preview the Table of Contents and Chapter 3 - Building the Brass Frame Reel.


In The Reelsmith’s Primer, author Michael L. J. Hackney has finally made reelsmithing accessible to the inspired angler. With a few basic hand tools, an electric drill, and Michael’s proven techniques, material selections, and clear step-by-step instructions, the reader will learn how to create functional and beautiful fly reels.

Following introductory chapters on the tools, materials, and techniques used, the aspiring reelsmith completes the four basic reel sub-assemblies: the frame, spool and drag, handle, and reel foot. The book’s task-oriented approach helps the reelsmith stay organized and keeps the process enjoyable. The final chapter, Reel Enhancements, presents ideas to customize the basic reel and techniques to help the reader design their own fly reels.

“Here is a delightful project. With a few, basic tools, anyone can make a family heirloom for generations to come. You will be captivated by this book, inspired to make a gleaming piece of angling history and art, the fly reel.”

– Darrel Martin, from the foreword

Michael L. J. Hackney is a self-described Eclectic Angler. He resides in central Massachusetts near his home waters, the Squannacook and Nissitissit Rivers. He is the founder of The Reelsmithing Forum and The Eclectic Angler.

More Reelsmithing Information

The Reelsmith's Primer includes access to a support forum for registered owners on The Reelsmithing Forum. This special forum includes designs and drawings for other sizes and styles of reels as well as errata and additional information. The book also has a fan page on Facebook.

Please Note: We can ship this item via USPS Media Mail to US destinations only. If you would prefer this shipping option, please order here.


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. Clear directions! perfect for the beginner! 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 6th Jul 2018

    I have very little experience with this type of craft. However, after just perusing this book, I am excited and confident that I will be successful in crafting my first fly reel. I can’t wait to get started! Thanks!

  2. Ingeniously simple 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 14th Feb 2017

    I had thought about building a fly reel myself, and decided to check the internet for any reference materials. I found this book, ordered it, qnd am very pleased with the purchase. My only suggestion is to use thin kerf hole-saw bits to cut the frame and spool sides to save time and effort. Great book!

  3. Great Jumping Off Point 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 12th Jun 2015

    There is not very much information on this topic out there. This is great for the basics, but also provides a solid foundation for getting creative and moving past the basics. Thanks for making this available.

  4. Excellent Deal 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 7th Dec 2012

    For the die hard do it your self outdoors man, this is one of the greatest books to ever hit the market. Precise proven instructions that help you skip all of the mistakes for the first timer. Saves time and more important it saves a lot of mistakes.

  5. This book will be popular for a very, very long time. 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 13th Aug 2012

    I just received my personal copy of "The Reelsmith’s Primer", and I am so very impressed! Even though I was made aware of most of the features of your book, and knew basically what to expect, I was taken back from the moment I unpackaged it and pleasantly amazed from cover to cover. Your book is completely flawless in every aspect throughout. A fine example of dedication, attention to detail, and leadership at its best. This book will be popular for a very, very long time.

    Once again, thank you so much Michael for all you have done to make reelsmithing a reality for me and so many other inspired reelsmiths.
    ~ Wayne C.

  6. Well Done! 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 13th Aug 2012

    I have to say something here. I am new to reelsmithing and this was a 1st step for me. I have NO INTEREST IN THE COMPANY, BOOK SALES, ETC. but I received my package yesterday and must say that I was surprised.

    This is a must have if you have any interest in making your own reels.
    The materials package has everything, and not only everything, it is all QUALITY materials.

    I can not say enough about the book itself. I haven't been able to put it down. Step by step instructions, diagrams, layouts, you name it, it is there.

    You won't be disappointed with this package. Well done.
    ~ Art P.


    Posted by on 18th Nov 2011

    Hi Michael,

    I received your book today! Superb. I see that you followed the "KISS" principle!

    (keep it simple stupid) so even I can follow this) You deserve 10 out of 10 for the work that has gone into this.

    Reading Ch 4-6 and then get started. Thanks ever so much. Good man.

    Everyone in the world should have one!!

  8. Every Fly Fisher Should Own This Book! 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 1st Mar 2011

    Dear Michael,
    Since I have a little machining experience, I can say you have done a very good job. It was a lot of work to make what seems like simple operations "simple".

    This book sets a high standard; it should be a part of virtually every fly fisher's library, not so much as people should make reels; but rather to know a little about what it takes to make the line holder that balances the rod.


  9. Excellent. Far exceeded my expectations 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 18th Nov 2010

    I recently purchased "The Reelsmith's Primer" and the materials for making my first reel. I cannot imagine how much time was put into this book and how many mistakes it will save me.

    Michael leads you step by step through the entire process and includes everything you need to know to build your own fly reel.


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