The Worden Belly Reel
One of the
weirdest looking fishing contraptions has to be a spinning reel developed in
the Pacific Northwest, The Belly Reel. Picture a fisherman making nice long
cast with his fly rod, but then you notice that there is no reel on the rod.
When the fisherman starts to bring in his line you realize he is reeling the
line into a huge reel attached to his waist by a canvas belt. This is your
introduction to the Belly Reel, and “Jet Cast Spinning”.
The Belly Winder reel was
first developed by Clarence G. Lindgren of Yakima, Washington. Lindgren
patented his reel on November 6, 1948 (No. 2,574,216). The patent drawings
and description shows a reel very similar to the finished product. It is
unknown at this time if Lindgren ever produced his reel.
reel eventually ended up being produced by Bob Worden of Granger,
Washington. Warden manufactured this reel and a series of spinning lures as
the Yakima Bait Company.
reel was touted as the best thing since sliced bread. Worden claimed in his
catalogs that it was the answer to everything from fly casting (using a
shooting head for steelhead or salmon) to surf fishing and trolling. The
catalog was filled with “dead fish” pictures extolling the virtues of the
reel and testimonials backing up his claims.
Reel was manufactured of die cast aluminum alloy. It had brass gears, with
oilite and roller thrust bearings. Other internal working parts were made of
stainless steel. Because of the quality construction quite a few belly reels
are still found “in the wild”, mostly in the Pacific Northwest.
Due to the
large diameter of the spool, it probably did as good a job as any spinning
reel in handling heavy weight monofilament lines. The spools were not only
large in diameter, but also large in capacity. The belly reel would hold 400
yards of 6 pound test monofilament, or 250 yards of 20 pound test line.
Jet Cast Spinning reel, complete with belt and line cost $35.00, or $29.50
for the reel alone. Extra spools, which just snapped into place, were $4.50.
Today the reel usually sells to collectors for $100.00 to $150.00, in
sold a line of “Jimmy Green” rods to go along with the Worden Belly Reel.
These were a fiber glass rod, with no reel seat. They were available in both
spinning versions and fly rods. The spin cast reels ranged in size from 8
˝ to 12 feet long. The Fly rods were either 8 ˝ or 9 feet long. The rods
were quite expensive, ranging from $29.50 to $44.50.