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You've gotta hand(line) it to these local reel makers  Rating:  Rating
 Posted: Mon May 12th, 2008 04:57 am
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Joined: Fri Oct 21st, 2005
Location: Sterling Heights, Michigan USA
Posts: 944

The Great Outdoors By Mike Zielinski

PUBLISHED: December 30, 2007

Handline trolling for walleyes in the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers is a truly unique technique with a tremendous local history.

There have been a number of Michigan-based producers of handline reels over the last 70 years. They include the Redcap, The St. Clair Trolling Reel, Goldcap, Schaller Reel, A&S, Riviera/Kachman and the River Rat.
Today there are only two handline reels currently being manufactured, the Riviera/Kachman reel by Off Shore Tackle of Port Austin and the A&S reel made in Ecorse by Paul Rakecky.
Both reels come fitted with a boat clamp, nylon coated line, trolling shank, sinkers and instructions to get the angler fishing.
Bruce DeShano, a former local resident, and the CEO of Off Shore Tackle began mass producing his reel about five years ago. It was once being manufactured by Bob Kachman, an Aerospace engineer, in his spare time. That reel is called the Riviera/Kachman.
The Rakecky A&S handline trolling reel is considered by many anglers to be the top of the line.
It is a compact unit manufactured from aluminum and comes in an anodized finish featuring four different colors, red, black, green and blue.
Rakecky has made few changes on the reel since taking over production.
"One of the things we have done is to improve the gearing on the inside of the spring," he said. "There used to be a bit of runout on the inside diameter which could make it slightly cocked to the shaft of the mechanism.
"We also added a clutch to the release spring.
"Failure here was one of the few actual problems with the reel."
Rakecky said the national exposure that handline trolling has received due to the many walleye tournaments held along the Detroit River has affected his company
"It certainly has changed the way we do business as demand for the product now emanates from all over the Great Lakes, Canada and a few places out west." said Rakecky. "We are selling through distributors both here in Michigan and Wisconsin."
Rakecky has moved his business, A&S Manufacturing, into a brand new facility at 4420 High St. in Ecorse.
The A&S reel is a genuine local product and the business has been located in Ecorse since 1935.
For the last 18 years, Rakecky has been at the helm of A&S since taking over from his stepfather, Bryce Graham, who bought the business in 1987 from the Taylor brothers.
As the story goes, the name A&S comes from its originator, Albert Sporket, who used to recondition industrial machinery for resale from a small shop in Ecorse.
As a sideline when things went slack, Sporket would make fishing lures, fishing rod holders and meat slicers.
A new, spring loaded trolling reel was selling like hotcakes all over the area.
Sporket decided to get into the business. Eventually, partnering with a die maker by the name of Jim Switzer, the pair needed several years to develop the tooling for the new reel. Sketchy records indicate the company produced about 700 units per year at its height.
Al Taylor ran the shop until his death in 1968 at the age of 78. The business then reverted to Taylor's two brothers who soon offered it for sale.
Bryce Graham was always interested in the shop and purchased it.
At one time, Rakecky was also producing the River Rat trolling reel for longtime fishing tackle retailer John Menhart. At one time Menhart also owned Tackleland on Dix in Lincoln Park and eventually was part owner of the Fishin' Hole in Taylor. This business closed when the entire corner of Telegraph and Eureka was razed for the new shopping mall there.
Menhart continued wholesaling out of a warehouse and when Menhart died several months ago, the River Rat ceased production.
According to Rakecky, "A&S reels will take a lot of abuse, however there are some things they should not be subjected to.
"Never place a reel in a container that is exposed to the elements and could capture rainwater. Eventually the water will soak down into the reel mechanism and cause major problems."
Snags, too, can be troublesome.
"Our mainsprings are very powerful," said Rakecky. "but they won't stand up well when attached to a snag while the boat is pulling against the snag at half throttle.
"Either the line or the reel is going to go. Instead, circle over the snag until you free the line or recover as much as possible and then cut the line."

Wishing I was Fishing
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 Posted: Mon May 12th, 2008 06:07 am
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Joined: Wed May 31st, 2006
Location: Eastpointe, Michigan USA
Posts: 127
Great history on handlining reels. :)

Tim Harris, LSCWA Member
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 Posted: Thu May 15th, 2008 01:26 pm
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Wire Line the Detroit River

Joined: Wed Nov 2nd, 2005
Location: By The Water Or In St. Clair Shores, Michigan USA
Posts: 3385
I came across the link to the story as it appeared in the newspaper.

Carpazoind, aka: Alex Vitek
Proud to be a wire liner fishing the upper Detroit River
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 Posted: Wed Nov 1st, 2017 02:04 pm
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Joined: Wed Nov 1st, 2017
Location: USA
Posts: 5
Thank you for your posts! Very interesting!

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