I read last week that reel maker Stan Bogdan is retiring and closing his business in New Hampshire. While his name may not be well known to most people, in the world of Atlantic salmon fishing he is a giant. For those not familiar with his work the Bogdan salmon reel is considered by many to be the Cadillac of fishing reels. His new reels sell for a impressive price of around $2,000. That is if you can find one to buy. The waiting list is over three years. Now I’ve never seen a Bogdan reel, let alone fished with one, and my name wasn’t on the waiting list. But I wish it was. Would you catch more salmon with a $2,000 reel compared to a $100 one? Not likely. But, if you admire precision craftsmanship, and well made equipment, there is no denying that Stan Bogdan built great reels. Apparently Stan Bogdan is now 92 and his son, who took over the business several years ago, is in his 60s. With no one interested in taking over the reel making business they are completing the last of their orders and closing up shop.
It has been quite a run. Stan Bogdan was a young machinist when he made his first fishing reel back in 1940. Over the years his business grew and his reels were eagerly sought by entertainers and royalty. Baseball great Ted Williams fished with a Bogdan reel, as did Bing Crosby. Demand was always high as only 100 reels were produced by the shop every year. With a long waiting list it is no wonder that second hand Bogdan reels are highly sought after, and demand a high price. Higher, in fact, than a new one. When a new Bogsdan salmon reel was selling for $2,000 a used one demanded $3,000 . A rare model could run up to $6,000. Apparently every part of their reels, with the exception of the springs, was made in their small machine shop. The main attraction of a Bogdan reel, besides its good looks, is the smooth drag which allows a salmon to take line without any starts or stops that can cause a fish to break the leader. The Bogdan drag system consists of two brake shoes which bear down on a disk. As the reel turns the shoes slow it down. The drag is adjustable so you can set it for the size of the fish you are after. At one time Stan Bogdan sold 15 models from small trout reels up to larger reels for salmon. While Stan Bogdan may be retiring his reels will continue to be fished on salmon rivers around the world for years to come. A fine tribute to a great craftsman. Tight Lines.