Geo. G. W. Gayle & Son Kentucky Fishing Reels

Geo. G. W. Gayle & Son Kentucky Fishing Reels

Geo. W. Gayle & Son - Frankfort, KY

George W. Gayle was a silversmith and watchmaker by trade. The 1850 Frankfort, KY US Census shows George did work for Benjamin F. Meek as an apprentice. George went into partnership with his son in 1883 and that is when they made their first reels. The first reel were solid brass. George and Clarence went to work for one of the major reel manufacturers in Brooklyn, NY in 1886 and 1887. When they returned to Frankfort in 1887, the first reels they made for sale were German silver with hard hard rubber end plates. Clarence Gayle was the main person involved in making the Gayle reels found today. His reels can be found made of solid German silver and of aluminum alloy. The "Standard" Gayle reel has a flanged head plate that looks like a man's top hat. The "Frankfort Reel" style Gayle reels are the most ornate and heavily knurled reels. They are of the highest quality. The reels can be found marked G.W. Gayle as well as Geo. W. Gayle. Clarence also made a reels for the famous tackle companies VL&A, Chicago and William Mills & Son, NY. The William Mills & Son models were named "Intrinsic". "Intrinsic" reels came in the "Standard" and "Frankfort Reel" styles and had extra fancy knurling. The Gayle fly reel is made of aluminum and is also sought after by collectors. George died in 1896.

Later Gayle History - Clarence continued to make reels after his father's death up until the 1940’s. Clarence started marking his reels “HAND MADE” in about 1930. The last reels were marked “HAND MADE” and the maker’s name “CGayle” in script. Clarence did make some reels using B.C. Milam & Sons parts he had acquired when that company dissolved in 1928. Typically, these reels have Milam marked head plates with Gayle handles and Gayle style knurling. Clarence died in 1948.

The GAYLE Reels

The GAYLE "Standard" Style Reels

The GAYLE NO. 1 Reel, circa 1900

The GAYLE NO. 3 German Silver and Hard Rubber Reel, circa 1900

The GAYLE NO. 3 German Silver and Hard Rubber Reel, circa 1900

The GAYLE NO. 3 German Silver Jeweled Reel, circa 1900

The GAYLE NO. 3 German Silver "Frankfort Reel", circa 1900

The GAYLE NO. 3 Reel, circa 1900

The GAYLE NO. 3 "Frankfort Reel", circa 1935

The GAYLE 2:1 Multiplying Aluminum Fly Reel, circa 1930

The GAYLE "INTRINSIC" Standard Reel, circa 1915

The GAYLE "INTRINSIC" Kentucky Reel, circa 1915

The GAYLE "INTRINSIC" Reel Variations

The GAYLE Fly Reel, circa 1935

The GAYLE No. 4 "Standard" Reel, circa 1915

The GAYLE No. 3 "Standard" Reel, circa 1910

The GAYLE No. 6 Reel, circa 1915

Marked "Made for VL&A, Chicago, by Geo. Gayle & Son, Frankfort, KY", circa 1900

1900 Ad for THE GAYLE VL&A Pattern Reel


WILLIAM MILLS 1909 Catalog Image of The GAYLE "INTRINSIC" Tarpon Reel

Ad in December, 1888 "Wildwood Magazine" for Gayle Reels

GEO. W. GAYLE & SON 1896 Ad

GEO. W. GAYLE & SON ad in 1897 "The Amateur Sportsman"

GEO. W. GAYLE & SON ads in 1901 "Outdoor Life" Magazine

GEO. W. GAYLE & SON Reels in "1904 VL&A Catalog"

The 1935 GAYLE Reel Catalog

The 1935 GAYLE Reel Catalog

The GAYLE Reel Showing Surface Copper Oxide Patina From the Nickel Silver

To see the January 2017 ORCA Newsletter article by Ron Gast about Clarence Gayle, click on the link below.

Link to ORCA Newsletter Article about Clarence Gayle

To see articles about Geo. W. Gayle & Son in the April, 1946 "The Kentucky Sportsman" and the May, 1946 "Kentucky Happy Hunting Ground" magazines, click on the links below.

Link to 1946 Kentucky Sportsman Article

Link to 1946 Kentucky Happy Hunting Grounds Article

To see magazine articles written about the history of the Kentucky Reel, click on the links below.

Outing Magazine, "Evolution of the Kentucky Reel", by Dr. James A. Henshall, Dec. 1900

Forrest and Stream Magazine, "History of the Kentucky Reel", Interview with J. L. Sage, Jan. 1915

Forrest and Stream Magazine, "More About The Kentucky Reel", Dr. James A. Henshall, Feb. 1915

Field & Stream, "The Kentucky Reel", by Robert Lincoln Page, March, 1930

Field & Stream, "My Old Kentucky Reel", by A.J. McClane, January, 1953

For any questions about vintage antique fishing reels, lures or tackle, please feel free to Email or Call me. I always like to talk about old tackle.

Remember, I'm always buying old vintage fishing lures and reels!

Email me at: or Call or Text me at: 407-496-7940


Ron Gast

Orlando, FL

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