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Great Unknown
Lew Perkins
Worden Belly Reel

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©2000-2007 Phil White

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.

The belly 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.

This unique 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.

The Belly 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.

The Worden 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 Excellent condition

Worden also 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.




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