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A recent conversation about what was the better vintage carp fixed spool reel resulted in mixed views . On a more in-depth study several reels came to light but from the old school type there was a preference to the Mitchell 300 reel over the J W Ambidex which was seen as a cheaper alternative.

Ambidex Mk 2

Ambidex Mk 2

Having never owned an Ambidex it would be wrong for me to pass a judgement but several well-respected anglers do show an affection for the British made reel. The Ambidex 1 and 2 with their half bail arm and metallic olive livery have a following but most seasoned carp fishers I know fish with an Ambidex Mk 6 that came in a metallic Kingfisher blue. When asked as to why they prefer the Mk 6 it was for the pur when retrieving. The Ambidex was well made if slightly heavier than its French competitor.

Over the years the Mitchell has become a sought after reel for those that prefer vintage reels to their more modern counterparts. Without overlooking the respected Abu Cardinal range were the Cardinal 54 and 55 have their place in the hall of fame.

The Ambidex 1 and 2 came to the market in 1959 the very year I was born. It was precision made from the best alloy available, had a left or right hand wind by an easy change handle and had an adjustable tension check by adjusting the front of the drum. Later versions like the Ambidex 1FP had additional features and a compleat bail arm. The Ambidex 3FP had a folding handle and a reverse line stop. The Ambidex 4 then had a 3 1/2 : – 1 winding ratio, helical gearing provided superb and silent transmission by all accounts. It also had increased line capacity and improved streamline design to the body.

These reels were to be frequently seen on the river banks and lakes of our pastoral landscape. J W Young were a dominant force in reel manufacturing having supplied reels to other brand names before the Second World War and then after 1946 decided to trade under their own brand name. During the war years they supplied parts to the aviation industry and notable point supplied the brass surround for the Spitfire gun firing button. It is interesting to understand the relevance of some of the UK’s manufacturers who turned their skills and workforce to the war effort, the machine shops making parts for fighter planes and bombers. You can still find apprentice made reels on auction sites such as eBay, beautifully made centre pin reels are testament to their skills.

Today sees the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial at Hyde Park Corner where after many years of being the Force unrecognised for their sacrifice during the War, where over 55,573 gave their lives both in the air and on the ground. My stepfather’s father Capt. P/O Segeant Leslie Charles Hazell, aged 32 of 9 Squardron was one of those who gave their life and may be detailed on the Memorial. He was a Lancaster pilot based out of Waddington in Lincolnshire. He was killed on 20 December 1942 along with all his crew, Sergeant Edward Arthur Gardiner, Flight Engineer, Sergeant William Thomas Miller, Sergeant Hubert Thomas Tatley, Sergeant Charles Harry Sidney Brooks, Sergeant Emrys Frederick Sharples and Sergeant Eric Wilson Walker. They were on a raid on Duisburg when in darkness they collided with another Lancaster W4259 of 44 Squadron and both planes fell to the ground on Bracebridge Heath. The average age of the other crew piloted by Pilot Officer Vincent Noel Giri was 21, Elgar, McCready, Easton, Gunter, Harmston and Jackson were all 20 years of age.

At least now there is a Memorial to ever remember them. As said by Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris,’There is no parallel in warfare to such courage and determination in the face of danger over so prolonged a period…such devotion must never be forgotten’.

See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/rafbombercomand also http://www.bombercommandmemeorial.co.uk for todays features on the event.

I know Pilot Officer, Sergeant Leslie Charles Hazell is burried in Barkingside Cemetery, Ilford, Grave No. 2879. My younger son see’s his great grandfather as a hero. Having seen the BBMF a few times now he is in awe of the Lancaster especially knowing that his grandfather’s father flew one, at an appropriate moment I will take him to Barkingside as I know he would want to say hello.

During the 60’s the British tackle manufactures found business tough. Facing increasing competition from overseas and with a lack of ability to redesign and retool many manufactures found that they were loosing out. Mitchell of France were making high quality reels along with brands such as Abu, favoured by many is the Mitchell 300 a great all round fixed spool reel and one that I have used for many years and still do to this day. The Mitchell 300 were well and on that point all Mitchell reels. If you have one it is probably still working or if not you can contact James Partridge of Jims Reel Shop and he will sort it out.

Mitchell 300

Until I can get my hands on an Ambidex it would be unfair to say which reel is best to fish with but for carp fishing I use my Mitchell 300 or an Abu Cardinal 54 with a Shimano 5010 GTE Baitrunner in the bag as well. It would be good to hear back from you fishermen out there as to your views so feel free to comment.

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