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Digital Subscriptions >  Blog > Legendary Tackle - Mitchell Match 440A Reel

Legendary Tackle - Mitchell Match 440A Reel
Match Fishing

Legendary Tackle - Mitchell Match 440A Reel

Posted 01 January 2015   |   17178 views   |   Sport We check out the Mitchell Match, which became the must-have reel for a generation.

No Legends issue would be complete without mentioning perhaps the most iconic reel of all – the Mitchell Match. Released in the 1970s, the Mitchell Match 440A was a reel way ahead of its time. It was the first to incorporate the finger-dab function, for which this reel became famous. This design feature meant that the bail arm was simply opened by lightly pressing it and releasing it through the cast. This helped it become an essential tool for float anglers, and even today you will see them being used on a number of river matches.

However, the Match’s finger-dab bail arm wasn’t the only feature that made these reels so desirable. They were supplied with shallow match spools that would be perfectly loaded with 100 yards of 1lb to 4lb main line and these were also “extra-wide”, which helped light lines peel effortlessly from the spool. At the time, these innovations were revolutionary and led where other reels have since followed.

The Match wasn’t without its drawbacks, though – ask anyone who used one about getting the bail arm back over after hitting into a chub when trotting a river and you’ll hear some tales. With no manual closure, the bail had to be wound over with the reel handle, and there was always a sickening moment when contact with the hooked fish was momentarily lost... and a sigh of relief when it was felt to be still on.

This, how ever, was something willingly put up with by its legions of users and admirers. If you were to pick a Match up today you would instantly realise that the reel was somewhat ‘wonky’ – the reel spins in the opposite direction to what you would normally see on today’s models. They also featured a rather charming wobbly ‘grind’ to them, although many anglers solved this by taking them apart and liberally applying WD-40 to the internals. Get one working properly, though, and it was possible to back wind a float down the peg, holding it back smoothly in the flow.

Another ‘quirk’ was the reel’s bail-arm roller. This was introduced into some of the intermediate models in the reel’s history and actually caused terrible line spin. Anglers again turned engineer to solve this and often glued the roller in place to prevent the spin. The earlier Mitchell 300 was also a popular reel; this had a much slower retrieve, though, and really slowed the angler down, so it was generally used more for feeder and tip fishing. The 440A, by comparison, had a fast, 6:1 ratio, which was a dream for the stick-float and waggler anglers as they could make so many more ‘runs’ throughout a match.

The blue colour was also a large part of the 440A’s attraction, although some versions were supplied in black. The Mitchell Match is still widely used to this day by die-hard river anglers and there are always one or two to be had on eBay, where they still draw a fair price – so why not buy yourself a piece of match fishing history? (Assistant editor Joe Carass did just that!)

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About Match Fishing

Match Fishing is THE magazine for any angler that wants to catch more fish and gain an edge! All aspects of competitive fishing are covered, with in-depth features, advice and stories covering lakes, canals and rivers. No matter where you fish or your level of ability, there is something for you to enjoy, each and every month, in Match Fishing!
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