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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Recent Article about John Milner.

The Building of a Legendary Reel

John Milner was born in 1938 in Birmingham England. He was a master machinist and immigrated to Canada in 1963. It didn’t take long for John to start repairing reels and making plans to design his own reel. In 1964 John finished his first center pin. While working and repairing reels John spent the next ten years dreaming of a reliable, durable reel.
In 1977 John released a small batch of 17 bronze bushing reels called the J.E.M 77. This reel and John›s reputation left the public wanting more. This led to the 1979 release of the now iconic reel called the Talisman.
John eventually retired, moved from Vancouver to Cranbrook B.C and opened John Milner Reels. He continued making reliable, precision hand made reels. As the market started to grow and spread, other reel makers started to pop up and fill local needs. John once again had to evolve and answer to public demand and competition.
In 1999 John responded with the release of an open-faced bushing reel called the Kingfisher. Customers in center pin shops in the U.S and Canada couldn›t stop talking about this reel’s durability and tight tolerances. This back and forth relationship John shared with the public wasn›t common among reel makers. Everyone else put their reel out and hoped the public bought them. John always left you thinking he was making a reel just for you. That relationship is what pushed John to take a risk and redesign his biggest success the Kingfisher.
In 2006 the first 10 ball baring Kingfishers hit the market. I myself remember thinking “What am I doing forking out the cash for a reel I›ve never seen?” The demand for one of these 10’s was so high it was necessary for me to buy one just to have the opportunity to see it. I finally had my hands on one and it was everything I had imagined. It was the classic look of a Kingfisher with a redesigned hub and couldn›t have been any smoother. As far as center pins go this became my first love.
In conjunction with his son Eric, John started a new project. They started with the solid design of the Kingfisher, ported inside of the drum, spool and back plate. The result was a much lighter reel with great start up. In 2008 the Manx was born. It was named for the Manx Norton Motorbike. Just like John’s other reels it had the reputation of reliability, strength and ease of repair.
Today John is still making small batches of hand made reels. This still allows him to make changes or fill requests from reel buyers. He offers the same reel with a variety of options. Almost all his options started as a special request from friends, family or other fisherman. His line up includes a 3.75 inch trout reel called the River Wrath, a 4 inch Manx, a range of 4, 4 3/8 and 5 inch Kingfishers all with a variety of porting options including one named after my dog called the Labrador, and the classic full framed reel the Talisman. Today collectors and fishermen alike prize John Milner’s reels pictured here in the following order: Talisman, Kingfisher, Manx and Labrador.
Craig Lewis
Craig Lewis

Craig Lewis



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