Earlier today I took a short drive south down the M3 to Cove in Hampshire. I had recently purchased a Hardy De Lux 7′ 6″ fly rod that was in immaculate condition. I had decided a while back to reduce my collection of heavy duty fly rods as I seldom fish on large rivers or lakes, opting to fish far lighter tackle, shorter rods and smaller reels. My journey was in order to collect a small Hardy Marksman #3/4 reel which I thought would balance well with the Hardy De Lux rod, the seller was a seasoned fisherman who was selling a collection of tackle from the estate of a fellow fisherman.
On arrival I was greeted and shown to the garage, as the garage door rose I could see a collection of fishing equipment, bait tubs, waders and in a corner a collection of rods. I was presented with a small green neoprene pouch bearing the Hardy castle logo, within was a clean Marksman reel and what seemed to be a barely used ivory double tapered line, certainly it was as described, little used, but did have the odd mark from where the reel had once been placed on the ground.
Having taken my De Lux rod with me to check that the reel seat would fit the reel fitting, it was to be a perfect fit. I pulled the line through the eyes of the rod just to check what weight the line was, it wasn’t evident if it was a lighter #3 or #4 but after a few false casts it was clear that it was a #4 and again a perfect match for the rod. Having agreed to purchase the reel I was then presented with a few other items just in case they were of interest, most of what was left of the collection were coarse rods and reels, however one reel caught me eye, an early Dave Swallow Centre Pin, bearing The Swallow motif and the words Custom Tackle Manf. Ringwood Hants. I had previously heard of Dave Swallow as I recall his reel featured in ‘A Passion For Angling’ a notable series made by Hugh Miles in 1993 and featured Bob James and Chris Yates. It was in this BBC 2 series that Bob James was featured using a Swallow Centre Pin.
There has been much written about the reels produced by Dave Swallow, Aaron Littlefield for one has written about them, Tim Lennon wrote a The History of the Swallow Centre Pin – the MK2 reel. Other detailed articles have appeared on the barbel.co.uk forum, qualityvintagetackle.co.uk ,and I’ve seen several over the years for sale, the last one in fine condition on the Thomas Turner Fishing Antiques website. Certainly this 4-1/2″ reel is set to be a classic. The reel has undergone development over the years, the first examples evidently had plastic parts which were then developed using brass. The early ones were made from separate plates and the later ones from one single machined piece of alloy which then incorporated a drag system. Some reviews don’t rate them as there was play in the back plate and spool reflecting how it was manufactured. Today Ringwood Tackle service and repair these reels and I will look to enquire further. Using a bearing these reels run freely however but prone to wobble a little, I’m sure with either a replacement bearing or a service they will be a very capable reel for either light river fishing or as demonstrated in the past handle a bar of gold, a barbel.
The Swallow Centre Pin Reel – back plate
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