Friday, October 1, 2010


I traded for a pristine version of the reel pictured in the bottom photo, a Garcia Mitchell 300. I couldn't find a great pic of the version of the 300 that has the free spool lever as shown in the bottom photo, so otherwise it looks like the new reel as shown in the Garcia Mitchell advertisement which has a different later model free spool lever.

Though a stroke of luck, a friend emailed several weeks ago to announce he had obtained a NIB (new in box) Garcia Mitchell 300, complete with extra spool, and that it actually appeared unused and NIB. He said he knew I'd be wanting that reel, and bought it just for me. Or rather, to trade with me.

I met my old freind David in the late 80's, as both of us would be hitting the same estate sales and garage sales in all parts of West Houston from Montrose to Rice to West U to Bellaire to Tanglewilde and all sorts of nice neighborhoods in between. We had different tastes in what we were looking for, and were about the same age. I was in law school and he was working as a police officer.

My fishing buddies and I had stumbled upon a garage sale one day, with some nice fly tackle. I ended up with a pristine 9 weight Sears Ted Williams Fly Rod (note to fisherman who like old gear: The Ted Williams brand was reserved for the best of Sears fishing tackle) and a great Pfueger fly reel for $10. We basically did a pick of who got what and I lacked a heavy bass and light to medium saltwater rod and so that was my first pick.

I decided that this was a great way to buy old sturdy tackle for a reasonable price. Sort of being able and having the money to buy all the fishing toys I wanted in my youth, but for a much reduced price. I've always worked on my own lures, rods and reels, particularly cleaning and maintaining reels and seeing how they worked mechanically. I have restored partially one bamboo pier rod of my granfather's, and I'm just lacking the proper sized handle or the repair part to fix his handle, which is leather wrapped and was such good leather despite being over 70 years old it cleaned and restored to near new with very little effort.

So I digress.

My friend had an ulterior motive in excitedly telling me about this Garcia Mitchell 300 that he had, new in the box. Since the mid-90's, Dave has wanted an Garcia Ambassador 5000D reel that I've had and that was in about 95% condition.

He has wanted it bad. I've made him offers on other items of small tackle or .22 rifles that he had but we've never been able to reach common ground on something to pry my hands off my 5000D. He once had a nice copy of a Browning .22 that loads through the stock, and I offered some cash + the 5000D, but he wouldn't hear of it.

I bought the green 5000D (stands for Direct Drive) in the mid-70's when still in high school working at K Mart with my employee discount when my regular red with pearl handgrip Ambassador wasn't cutting the mustard going after largemouth bass in the upper jungles of Lakes Conroe and Livingston.

I used the 5000D for many years for that purpose, but sometime in the early 80's I cleaned it and put it away in it's box where it has remained ever since. I sorta moved away from chasing freshwater large lake bass at that time, moving towards saltwater and freshwater trout. I was not the greatest large reservoir BIG bass fisherman. I could occasionally get onto some sizeable fish, mostly wormfishing, but was much more successful with other kinds of fishing both in big impoundments and in rivers, creeks, small lakes, and any kind of saltwater fishing.

For a time in the mid-70's, the green Ambassador 5000D was THE REEL you saw on every Texas bass lake and in all the tournaments on TV. Back then, my bass lake fishing was limited to Conroe, Livingston and Palestine, and that's what I saw everyone using and after buying one, I saw why. It had the gear muscle to horse bass out of thick cover and had a great drag.

I saw several big time bass fishing tournaments when I was young, and noticed that endorsers for other tackle brands always seemed to have a few of the Green Ambassador 5000D's attached to some rods in their covered rod storage area. Out on the boat would be their endorser gear, but I always suspected that when they were in the backwoods of the jungles of Lakes Conroe and Livingston out of public view, they were using the good stuff like the 5000D.

In the late seventies through the present day, fishing tackle has become big business and the advances in quality of all kinds of fishing equipment, like everything else in the world, has brought about some amazing products. There are so many good makers of spinning and bait casting reels that I can't list them here. During the early boom of the "new" fishing tackle products in the US, Lew Childre came out with some amazing product. Daiwa began selling tackle that was even better than Garcia, in my opinion, as the quality of Garcia began dropping over the years from being one of the best general tackle makers out there to selling stuff that wasn't near as good as the old stuff, with rare exception on some of their baitcasting reels.

As years went by, bait casting reels by other reel makers, notably the Shimano Curado, for me eclipsed both Ambassadors I usually used in freshwater, the red 5000 and the green 5000D reel and so I relegated them to storage and occasional use on fishing expeditions with Billy Ray..

My friend knew I would hardly be able to resist this trade. Over the years he had offered one after another Garcia Abumatic or Garcia Mitchell 300 or another in the Mitchell 300 series as a trade for the 5000D. My friend knows well my intense affection for both the Garcia Abumatic 290 and 170 as well as the family of reels from ultralight to saltwater in the Garcia Mitchell 300 reel range.

And so we did the trade and I'm sure each of us feel much better about our end of the deal. He thought this reel was from the 70's or 80's, but upon checking this website, it seems that this reel is from the time period between 1958/59 (begin serial numbers at 1550000) and 1967/68 (end serial numbers at 7900000. My serial number falls squarely in the 58xxxxx range, so I guess it would be an early to mid 1960's reel in pristine NIB condition.

Another person might covet and collect this reel, knowing it's value will increase, but I plan to use it as intended, to fish. The way I see it, to quote the Matrix, it's the reel's KARMA to go fishing and catch fish. Machines are not alive, of course, but really, how much stuff can I collect and not use?

I have no unfired guns. No unused knives. No unfished rods and reels. I do have a box of lures that my grandfather had that were NIB and some lightly used reels and braided dacron fishing line to load them with that I have set aside for making a display to him, with some pictures of grandpa mixed in to give El Fisho Jr and the Princess.

But I use my stuff and like using my fishing gear. Every now and then, when I pass a garage sale, I see fishing gear and I stop. 90% of the time it's generic stuff or in bad shape, but every now and then there's a deal on a tackle box or rod or reel.

So now that I am the new owner of a brand new 45 year old (give or take) Garcia Mitchell 300 plan to mate it with my Texas made American Rodsmith spinning rod that I won in a charity auction last year. Earlier this year, I had found a later 1980's model Mitchell 300 used that was not made in France to use with this rod, but this new reel mandates that the 1980's Mitchell will be assigned to another rod. The 1980's Mitchell is a great reel, but has a mostly plastic or composite instead of steel case and many interior parts are plastic and not steel or metal.

My first Mitchell 300 has been more or less permanantly mated to a Lew's Speed Stick spinning rod that I got in high school. That reel was purchased new a few years before buying the rod, using lawn mowing money. It's been a great reel and was made for the Lew's rod. I especially like the Lew's spinning reel grip used on the Speed Stick. It covered the foot of the reel in a soft plastic/rubber sleeve, thus making the entire grip the Pachmayr equivolent of a fishing rod handgrip. Comfortable and very slip free. I don't understand why another rod maker has not either bought or adapted this handle design for spinning rods since Lew's stopped using it in the early 1980's.

Here's another website where I got my serial number information from: and the home page for the Mitchell Collectors site is here

I figure that if I sold the 5000D on ebay toiday, it could've fetched somewhere between $75 and $150, depending on how motivated a buyer was looking for it. In today's economy, I would have considered myself lucky to get an even $100 off of it but in the late 1990's and early 2000's there is every chance that the 5000D would have brought over $200 in an ebay auction. I would put about the same value on my end of the trade, the Mitchell 300 reel, perhaps more since it is a Second generation reel that is NIB.

Note that the picture from shows a picture of a used reel the same series as the one I got. Except mine is in the box and is new. Notice the selector level for the free-spool feature of the reel does not resemble the selector lever used in later editions of

1 comment:

  1. aS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED A mITCHELL 300 is the best reel on the planet! All the new stuff is crap. I also have a few Garcia 3000 reels that are fantastic and great for bigger fish. I hitch hiked 40 iles when i was 9 years old to buy a used 300. I.m 70 now, still use that reel and no amount of money will buy it!