The Zebco Model 76

Originally posted by Reelcrazee on 3/31/17, imported to on 9/24/17

I had mentioned earlier I may do a blog on my Model 76 reels and here is what I know about them. They went into production in 1972 with the first color combination being a grey rear body cover with a black front cover. These reels were for the most part targeted for the kids. They are super simply made and yet would fetch fish just as well as about any kids reels. I’ll bet some of the ice fishermen used this reel too, just like they did the Model 77. They were made cheap and sold at a low cost. Somewhere around 1977 or 78, they changed the color combination to a whitish light green front cover with a dark green rear body cover. Basically the same reel with a new look.

Below is a picture of the two reels I spoke of as well as an all black one. These three reels are the only ones that I know of that has the Model 76 printed on the top of the rear body cover. The all black reel is a harder one to find. If I remember right, they made these for Berkley as gift reels. I’ll have to brush up on that, I forget how that went. I need to get one of these with the paperwork so I can remember easier.


Here is a picture of the 3 different boxes I have



Here is one pulled apart……..



Can’t get much simpler than that.

Here is the schematic for the black and grey reel.



This is the schematic for the green one……..


Below are some reels that were made for other companies and such, using the Model 76 body mold

Here is one marked Dolphin on top……


This one is marked Apollo…….


This in my Apollo that I put together from parts and had a Snoopy FC on it and just put a Black one on it. The White TB and Red Handle was what I had and Tommy’s is probably right. His is Redder than it looks, but since mine looked good and Red, here it is. There are others out there. Jim

Here is a Dk. Green back w/Black Front Cover, Thumb Button, and Handle. Tommy thought he had one, but now thinks he doesn’t so he’ll want this one too. LOL Jim

Here is a Mustang that I got about 1995 from Aaron Clapp at the Robinson, IL. Flea Market, Tommy wants this one also. Jim

This one, Mercury……..


Here is a Spirit. I also bought this reel on the rod. I don’t think I have ever seen another one with the rod. the rod is marked Keystone and says Spirit of ‘76 on it and is candy cane striped. It isn’t the best of shape, but it is a good example. I have a feeling that they chose this combo because it is a Model 76 body and possibly was ordered for sale in celebration of the bi-centennial in 1976, but who knows……


Here is the rod…….



Here are my 2 Woodstock reels that Tommy wants to talk me out of one. I told him he could have the one that is the most dis-colored. LOL Jim

Jim, Below is the schematic for the Woodstock reel. Notice it is a Model 83

Here is a Blue Mickey Mouse that was used on the separate rod before the 77 combo. Jim

The next reel is a Snoopy reel. Also, below it is a picture out of the 1981 Catalog……



I find it interesting that they even made a schematic for the Snoopy reel. Also, it shows to be a Model 81. (below)


Below is an example of a boy’s combo in the package, that has a 76 style reel in it. The back of the package says 1996. That doesn’t sound old at all, but that was 21 years ago already!


And, here is the girl’s model……


Now, here are the three Hot Reel combo’s, that used the 76 body mold. Each rod was color coded to match the reel………


These were advertised in the 1993 catalog (below)

Here are the three in the package. You could buy the combo as well as just the reel. These packages are dated 1992 on the back.


I also discovered this a while ago. I was going through the catalogs that I have and found this fold out product sheet that advertises the Model 76 in it. The past information we had was that they made these reels from 1972 through 1982, which counts up to 11 years of production. Since I found this in a 1983 product sheet, I think they may have produced, or at least sold these reels through 1983 in a 12 year stretch. I don’t know this for sure, but was an interesting find.

Below is a picture of the brochure bent over so it will show the year as well as the reel down in the corner……


I am by no means an expert on these reels, but just wanted to show what I have collected so far and as always, looking for more I don’t have yet. Now, If I can just get Jim to turn loose of that Mustang………..and…………..Woodstock.


So… what do you think? Please leave me a comment.

Johnson or Zebco Part 3

Originally posted by timmy on 11/23/14, Imported to on 3/17/17

Well, here I go again… I thought there was room for yet some more discussion on these two fishing reel companies. Those of you who have read parts 1 and 2, you know that I am very partial towards one of these companies. However, this time I want to take a closer look at how these manufacturers evolved over time.

Both Zebco (originally known as the Zero Hour Bomb Company) and Johnson (originally known as the Denison-Johnson Co.) started production of their inventions in 1949. While both of the first reels of each company are clearly spincast reels, they were very different in their design and certain features of each reel would eventually come together to become the spincast reels we know today.


The first Zebco was called the Standard and looked pretty much like every spincast reel the company ever made. There was little creativity when it came to the shape of the reel. It released its line from the front of the reel; the line was released by pushing a button on top of the reel that disengaged the reel’s drive allowing the line to be released. To re-engage the drive, you pushed in on the crank handle.

The Standard used a rotor line pick up with multiple pick up points molded into it (2). The reel used a second spinning disc on the back side of the main shaft. A small portion of this disc was exposed on the backside of the reel through a thumb hole in the back cover. To cast the reel, you placed your thumb on disc. Then you pushed the button on top of the reel. Your thumb would keep the line from releasing until you cast forward. Then, you released your thumb for the line to cast. Placing your thumb on the disc also acted as a drag. The Standard also had a bait alert clicker that could be turned on or off.



The first Denison-Johnson reel was called the Model 10 and is very different from later Johnson reels. The Model 10 was a sidewinder, meaning it mounted so that the line was released from the side of the reel rather than in front like the Standard. The Model 10 had a center button that both released the line when pushed and acted as a brake when held in, so the line would not release until you let go of it when you cast forward. The Model 10 used a rotor line pick up with a retractable pin. The reel also had a drag adjustment that worked against the spool. Additionally, the Model 10 could be used on both a casting rod (on top) or a spinning rod (underneath).


A comparison of Zebco and Johnson

Each reel company made changes to their original design over the first few years. Then, around 1954 or ‘55, each company released what are considered their magnum opus. For Zebco, it was the 33 that got it right and for Johnson, it was the Century Model 100.

Both companies would establish themselves as the 2 dominate players in the spincast market over the decades. When looking at the various models released by both Zebco and Johnson over the years, it is obvious that they took turns borrowing features from one another. Despite the fact that these 2 reel companies evolved alongside one another, the fact is that both Johnson and Zebco took different paths in the development of their reels

I have caught many fish with reels from both companies. I own nearly 50 Johnson reels and around a dozen Zebco’s, but I quit using the Zebco’s long ago because their quality and performance were very disappointing to me. I have an older brother who completely disagrees with me on this issue and greatly prefers a Zebco over anything else.

One more thing I wanted to mention is that both of these companies also produced rods, lures and all sorts of fishing gear. Personally, I feel the two companies were much more evenly matched when it comes to these products, with each company producing many quality products that have greatly improved the fishing experience for a countless number of anglers.

What are your thoughts?

So… what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • Chad B.: Another excellent blog here Timmy! Yes I would have to say that these reel manufacturers Johnson and Zebco where neck & neck for a lot of years! And yes I have both many old Zebco 33’s from the early 60’s up to the early 80’s. After about 83, when Zebco changed that 33 to a plastic foot (Body), went away from that cone shaped rotor,the ole 33’s went down hill after that. I’ll tell ya it was that dang Zee Bee series of reels that drove a lot of people away from the spin cast! i.e., the 202&404. It always seemed that after so long the rotor went KAPUT! casting problems to glore,then the age old problem with the line wrapping around the drive shaft on the back of the rotor! I tell ya here we through a lot of those old 202’s & 404’s over the years, they where a cheaper reel that where affordable to a lot of people. If my memory serves me right I think in the late 70’s you coulda had a new 202 or 404 for about 8 to 10 dollars prestrung with line ready to fish out of the box, where as the 33’s or the 100B Johnson models where in the upward swings of $20 or more depending on whose doors you walked through to purchase your fishing equipment! The Zebco 33’s of the 60’s & 70’s where no slouch either,I caught a lot of fish on those bugger’s! If it hadn’t been for Mr. Kamode at the Gambles store in Fullerton Ne. years ago or his competition right across the street Mr. Delancey at the Coast to Coast store, I’d of never laid a hand on a Johnson! Literally! It was at their recommendations that we go to Johnson Fishing reels for over all Quality & Reliability! They where right! Out side of the old 100A that dad purchased back in High school in the Mid 60’s all we ever fished with up to that point was a couple of older 33’s & a hoard of 202’s & 404’s. I still remember bringing home those 2 100B’s in the summer of 1978. We fish & fished & fished with them old 100B’s a good lube job & cleaning once a year with some new stren mono once a year they where good to go as went with them 2 old 33’s we had. I still remember Mr. Kamode telling us “Keep your slips in the bottom of the box from them Johnson Reels”! “If you ever break a part send them back to Mankato, & they’ll fix them up for you”! Never sent them away, always call up to Minnesota for Johnson parts as down to Tulsa for Zebco 33 parts,alway such great folks to work with back in those days,when the parts showed up in the mail box, right to the work bench we went, tear em down, put em back together! Out to the fishin hole on the weekends we’d go again! I still say that in the long run though Johnson had the better reel, I speak from experience! Fished them both over the years. You could feel it on a hand to hand comparison, that Johnson reel was always a little more solid than that Zebco! Even after Johnson in the 80’s went to the cheaper graphite bodies they still in my opinion made a quality reel the Sabra 545 the Sabra 710, the 225 Century, Guide 165, Seville 170, Crappie Pro models, Cast A Country Mile Models. The neighbor kid had a Seville 170, that ole reel refused to die, he wore out 2 rods before that ole Seville ever gave him a problem. “10 feet tall & built like a brick wall”! I can honestly sit here and tell you that over the years, that there was only one Johnson reel that I ever had a problem with,one of the early model 125 Century Lites, that one went back to Mr.Delancey at the Coast to Coast store,gave us a new one no questions asked! Just never had problems with those old Johnson Reels & still fish with 2 of those old 100b’s and an old 60’s Zebco 33 today! When it’s time to go slabbin, (Panfishing) out come one of those 3 old reels, they haven’t failed me yet! I will admit here, I do have 3 of those older 404’s completely restored also for nostalga sake,weather or not I’ll use them remains to be seen! I still have reoccurring Nightmares of the old fishin line wrappin around the drive shafts behind the rotor’s of them old 404’s & 202’s! HAHAHA! I guess with some of those old spin cast reels, that’s the way it goes!
  • timmy:  Chad, I completely agree with everything you said (wow). I have and have used every reel you talked about with the exception of the 545. I can really relate to your experience with the 202″s and 404″s I actually liked them when I was kid, but hated those darn line tangles.
    Those graphite frame reels were the first johnsons i used, i have been (Hooked) ever since the first time I used one. I never really liked the feel of the Zebco after I got my first Johnson reel. I do like both companies, I just like one more than the other. I have actually performed the test you suggested but I wasn’t fishing at the time, the test was performed in the street out in front of my house. I got very similar results as far as casting distance goes. however the 33 and the 100 deliver their line in a different way. the 33 has more of a straight as an arrow approach where as the 100 has more of an arc in its path.
  • skip smith: Wow, Chad, great post! If Johnson were still in business, they should pay you royalties! Agree with you 100%. Like Tim, my first Johnson was a Century 225 in the mid 80’s. I had just thrown 2 new Zebcos in the trash can. The first time I cast that new Century, the difference was so noticeable, I almost wet myself!
  • MoDoc: Hello to everyone,
    I trust that this comment finds you all doing well and that you all are being ‘blessed!’ I am doing G-R-E-A-T!!!
    I remember that the Zebco company had a few repair teams that would travel and set-up in a local sporting goods store or the last time was in a J. C. Penney’s store (when they sold sporting goods) and they would clean the reels (grease and oil), replace parts, replace the old line with new Stren fishing line and all of this service would cost about $4. Sometimes, when you came back to pick the reels up (later in the day)they offered you a ‘newly’ updated version to the one that you dropped off. They did not care if you brought in one (1) or twenty (20). The Zebco company always worked with their retailers when these ‘maintenance’ days were planned and it was well advertized and the retailers always had ’super’ specials in conjunction with ’special’ events.
    You all are right Zebco offered all kinds of fishing items from fishing reels, fishing rods, matched combo’s, fishing lures, Deliar fishing scales, and a multitude of other fishing related items. Plus, they had an official Boy Scouts of America fishing reel for the Scouts, if I remember correctly it was like a 202 or 404; it was red and white (maybe a bone color ?).
    As I mentioned in a previous post you could always recognize the sound of a Zebco 202/404 with its a-a-a-e-e-e-e-e- drag sound when a larger fish was at the end of the line! The Scotty <phone> and had a much more less annoying drag system associated with them a more soft e-e-e-e-e sound and their drag systems were more effective! Then the time came when change came and I do not remember if it was Brunswick that bought them out and then further changes and then the changes of from metal casings and gears, etc. came the plastic and the downfall of another American made product to what I considered ‘JUNK’ when the production was taken overseas and the downward spiral began as it had with other manufacturers during the 80’s.
    I have and have had many ‘old’ Zebco reels, rods, etc. over the years and remember the old foldout, glossy product sheets (1960’s) that Zebco provided to many of their customers over the years showing the ‘new’ products and products available from the Zebco manufacturing company.
    I still have one (1) of the ‘old’ Zebco ‘Zero Hour – Bomb’ huge, metal fishing reels tucked away in one of my fishing closets. I also, have a few of the early spinning reels that Zebco produced but for the majority of the spinning reels I parted company with them many years ago mainly for the reason that I did not really care for them. They were nice reels, but as I remember I did not care for the feel of the reel. All in all Zebco made some fine equipment until the changes came — sometimes change is good and hind sight is 20/20!
    May you all have a ‘wonderful’ and ‘blessed’ day!!
    In His Service,
    Modoc <,*))))><
    Saint Joseph, MO
  • Chad B.: It all came down to who handled what years ago! Another hardware store we had over in Genoa (Gambles) was owned by the Hash family for years, 70’s & 80’s And from what I remember, and for some reason the Gambles-Skogmo corporation always made sure that there retailers store shelves where always stocked to the brim! Sometimes almost to much, it was a rarity to walk into these old Gambles stores years ago and NOT! get skunked very often! Of course before the demise of the corporation in the early 80’s, they where the 15th largest retailer in the United states employing a lot of people, Ole Mr. Hash years ago always had a plethora of fishing equipment in his Hardware store, it was a gold mine! About any fishing product from Zebco you could imagine along with Johnson, the lures the poles, the rod & reel combo’s, the reels, hooks, weights, bobbers, minnow seines, nets, always had what you needed when you needed it! He always had a display case at the front counter, for new products that he would order from the companies he dealt with on the sporting goods side of the world, I still remember when the Omega series of Zebco’s came out the 171’s.the 33 Omega the 181’s the 191’s all shiny and new in that display case, pricey to say the least, that was around about 1979 I believe at that time these Omega’s where expensive for their time around $30 or so for a reel! I can still remember my ole grandpa saying “Who in the heck would pay that much money for a fishing reel”! And as Mr. Hash told him,”Suppose to be Zebco’s top of the line reel for this year, the Cadillacs of the Zebco spincast reels. All I could do was Drool all over the glass case! HAHAHA!!! then there would be the other side of the display case holding the old green faithfuls! The Johnsons! Them 100b’s where sharp when they where new (Drooling)! along with the Century graphite bodied reels he also had on hand, all shiny new with there boxes beside them,It was fishing equipment bliss to say the least! Then people wonder why Zebco & Johnson where so dominant in the market years ago, It wasn’t the highest priced stuff in the world, but yet not the cheapest either! I would like to call it Affordable fishing equipment, that was very well made, and could take a lickin & keep on tickin! More or less distributed to the more conservative folks of the world here in the Midwest. Zebco & the Dennison-Johnson Corporation had it figured out, get the product out and market it in droves & thats what they did & it worked! I can still remember all 3 of these Hardware store years ago, (None of them exist anymore sadly! Last one closed in 1988 after Mr. Delancey commited Suicide, Bless his soul!) Whenever (As Modoc has stated above! By the way Dave! Good post!) a Zebco went Kaput! you could take it back to the store where ever it was purchased and they’d fix it for you! I do commend Zebco on its warranty efforts years ago they had very good consumer relations with they’re dealers! What ever reels they stocked on hand service kits would be sent to the retailer for repair work, and ole Mr. Hash did a lot of them! Several times when the part was back ordered thru Zebco, & couldn’t be purchased through the company, ole Hash’s Hardware would have it on hand! out would come the 33 service kit etc., or what ever reel you had & then it was pick your poison! I vaguely remember only seeing other brands of fishing equipment though only in the bigger cities, Columbus, Grand Island, and you gotta remember here folks this was before the advent of Wally World, Shopko, Target etc., K-mart, plus the old Woolworth department store back years ago in Columbus Ne. always carried a lot fishing equipment outside of the K-mart Sportfisher line, this is where I’d always see the stuff that wasn’t available in our small town hardware stores at the time, outside of the Zebco & Johnson equipment there’d be Daiwa, Shakespeare, Some of the lower priced Penn equipment, some of the older Shimano equipment which was always I thought over priced for the time for what you where getting, even some of the old Mitchell & Abu Garcia equipment was available A lot of Daiwa equipment back then was pricey but some real quality stuff I always thought. When I ‘d go shopping with Mom & Dad, guess where I was in Woolworth or K-mart! The fishing section! It all in the end boiled down to who had what in certain parts of the country years ago! Johnson & Zebco were it! Oh how times have changed!
  • Chad B.:I am not gonna lie to you here. Over the years we went through a lot of Zebco stuff! My aunt worked for the Defense Division of Brunswick back in the late 70’s up to the early 90’s in Lincoln Nebraska. We got a lot of this New Zebco stuff Dirt cheap! Since she would get the employees discount we could get this tuff for pennies on the dollar.Rods,Reels,Rod&Reel Combo’s! It was pathetic how much these department store chains,plus Brunswick at the time marked this stuff up to make money! This is where a lot of my older Zebco stuff came from years ago! When that Quantum line came out, The QMD series of spinning reels where about $45 A piece! We got them for under half that! she would take orders from all the relatives once a year then would literally drive down to Tulsa and haul this stuff back by the pickup loads,the pickup would be full sometimes half way up to the pickup topper&then some! So needless to say I do have a lot of older zebco stuff,some wore out some still fairly new! Its a blast to pull out some of this older stuff at times and go fishing with it,especially stuff that’s been discontinued 30 plus years ago! peoples eye’s about pop outta their head when they see some of this shiny new equipment! “Where in the heck did you get that at”!!!! I just say “Long story”! HAHAHA!
  • skip smith: I grew up 50 miles from the home of Bass Pro (Springfield MO), and they were a big deal when I really got into fishing in the 80’s. I lived in KC MO at the time, but got back to the Ozarks regularly and a trip to Bass Pro was a must on every visit! My God, I was like a kid in a candy store! I’m surprised I didn’t bankrupt myself in that place. Literally HUNDREDS of rods, reels and lures! Mind you, this was pre-Cabela’s and all of the other sporting goods chains that have sprung up in the last 30 years, so Bass Pro was something unique. I’m still using three BP Pro Comp rods that are around 30 years old.
  • Chad B.Been there twice skip! My wife about shot me when I walked out of that place! Smiling from ear to ear! Boy it was sure fun spending money in there though good god!
  • skip smith LMAO,Chad, I’ve walked out of Bass Pro grinnin’ like a possum eatin’ s**t in the moonlight, myself! Difference is, I got no wife wanting to shoot me! Next time you’re in the neighborhood, holler! Monett’s 45 miles west of Springfield. Come fish the Ozarks!
  • timmy: I wonder if there are any zebco collectors out there ?
  • skip smith: Good question, Tim. I’ve never heard of any. Zebco made such a plethora of models, I’d think collecting an example of every model would be a monumental task. Have you googled it?
  • Chad B.: I myself guys have a lot of Zebco equipment, (Reels), just recently my brothers mother-in-laws boyfriend Leon has just hit me up about doing some repair work on some older Zebco 88’s that he has, says that there all metal? These would have to be back in the early 70’s If not older? He had a good friend that just passed away down in the Milford Nebraska area last year. His good friend left him all the fishing equipment, a whole van full to be exact! Lots of old Shakespeare,zebco,abu Garcia, penn, & Mitchell products where in that hoard of stuff. I just recently did a trade with him for 2 old level winders, A Penn Peer 209,Olympic Dolphin 625 LW. He wanted in trade 2 of my old 33’s that where still in the boxes these would be pre 1966 33’s with the bevel gear set ups,they’ve been used, but lightly,Them old 33’s from back in that era where bulletproof&reliable as all get out! When he saw these old reels he was like a little kid at Christmas time! Excited to say the least! I’ve never seen a 66yr. old man that excited in my life. It was a good day!
  • skip smith: Chad, your description of how excited Leon was to get those 33’s made me laugh! When a man gets to his late 60’s (I’m 67), old fishing reels or old cars are about the only things that DO get us that excited. For most of us of that vintage, women don’t do it any more. ;-{D
    You’re right about those older Zebco 33’s. I’ve never fished with one, but I’ve serviced them for others, and they’re built like a Sherman tank! Scoring 2 of them in the box would equal striking gold!
  • MoDoc: Hi Chad B., Skip, Timmy and everyone,
    I trust that this comment finds you all doing well and that you all are being ‘blessed!’ I am doing G-R-E-AT!!!
    Zebco once had a pretty good slice of the fishing market. Their history of becoming a ‘reknowned’ fishing reel and fishing equipment manufacturer is very different than most of the other reel manufacturers! If you have not read the conception of the Zebco manufacturing company you should look it up on the Internet and read it as it is very interesting!
    I used many Zebco fishing reels along with many of their other fishing products: Spinners, fish scales, etc. and in the early days their products were built with the American ‘know-how’, the pride, the workmanship and everything like the ‘old’ slogan that was used by one of the old-time manufacturers used was “the pride and workmanship plus the quality goes into the product before the name goes on!” The is almost non-existent with many of items that are available on today’s market available to the public as there are too many products surviving today on the laurels of their past predecessors and Zebco is one of them. It does not make any difference whether it be an ink pen, washer/dryer units, cars just to mention a few; We live in a disposable world and ‘things’ are not built to last as they did 20 or 30 years ago. The ink pens use to be fine quality writing instruments in the day, washers/dryers and other quality appliances were built to last more than 3 – 5 years and cars and trucks, etc. could be driven for years with regular maintenance and could be repaired with mechanical knowledge without any specialty tools or electronic equipment! DO NOT get me wrong I am not against advancement in any shape or form, but what once was made with ‘integrity and intestinal fortitude’ does not exist as it once did! The younger generation does not and will not have anything to compare this/these things to as we once did and the only they thing/s that they will will know is to ‘buy and dispose’ of once it breaks, etc! i am proud to say that I am thankful for the ‘yankee ingenuity’ that I have and manifest it to others when something is broke — fix it if possible as this was instilled in me during my formative years and I am extremely thankful for that characteristic in my life. I am sure that there are many of us still kicking that possess these traits, but we are a dieing breed as many of the younger generation do not possess this trait!
    I still have several Zebco products in my fishing closet. Chad B. is right about the 30, 40, 50+ year old Zebco’s being built with ‘quality’ metal parts. Skip is also correct with saying, that ‘they were built like a Sherman tank!’ The ‘older’ Zebco’s like many other fishing reels were built to last a lifetime which cannot be said about many of those being manufactured today!
    Well, I had better get off of my ’soap box’ and get on with my day as our ‘kids’ are going to make their way home for Thanksgiving from the Omaha, Nebraska area.
    May you all have a ‘blessed’ Thanksgiving! Also, may you all have a ’splendid’ and ‘blessed’ day!!!
    In His Service,
    MoDoc <,*))))><
    Saint Joseph, MO
  • skip smith: Happy Thanksgiving to all “Fishingtalkers”
  • Chad B.: Amen Dave! You just put it all in in a nut shell there partner!
  • omer.kishanovI cant express enough how much I enjoy this forum as all I use is spincast and I am begining to explore vintage, as for todays reels I have 2 omega z03 for 2 seasons and even though all metal like I mentioned in another post the drag is cheap , for me diawas goldcast and silver are it for today reels, I love the history lesson on this post and I can agree the original 33 was a great reel and I never had a johnson I am looking at some vintage ones now due to this forum ,great topic and discussion!!
  • skip smith: Omer, I’m glad you’re enjoying this forum as much as the rest of us do! I’m practically addicted here! Isn’t it great finding others who enjoy spincast reels like we do? I know Timmy shares your sentiments about the Diawas. I’m so crazy about the Johnsons, I’ve never thought about trying another make.
  • Chad B.: My father-in-law owns quiet a few Zebco & Daiwa spincasts! Im due to clean them up here any day now I guess! He wants them serviced! I think there’s 2 Daiwa Silvercast spincast reels 100 & 120 and a couple of late 70’s 191 Omega’s. Never been into a Daiwa spincaster before,but no time is better than the present time to jump into it and get both feet wet! Omer I have 2 Z03 Zebco spincasters my daughter uses! Pretty stout little reel. I serviced them late this summer, built much like the old omega’s years ago, pretty good little reel, parts are very expensive for them lil’ buggers though, but all in all alotta reel there for the buck! It actually is a very impressive little spincaster!
  • rick tosch: Why can’t they remake the zebco omega 181anymore I can’t even find a used one the best reel I ever had used with my rhino poles great for smallies and walleye
  • dustyjoe: This is for rick tosch, I am a new member on here and my user name is dustyjoe. I have been using and collecting Zebcos since the black 33 came out in 1955. As Chad B. can tell you, I have a ton of them. I have 10 each of the 181 and 191 modles not counting my boxed reels. They are 2 of the best reels Zebco ever made and I have quite a few parts for them also. I have 33XBl, Omega 33, Omega 181 and Zebco One, Omega One, and Omega 191. It would leave an open spot in my 181-191 box but I might turn loose of one, but don’t give them away. I could sell you one for less that the junk they make today sells for though and it seems you already know how good they were. I couldn’t find you as a member so if you aren’t, sign up and PM me if you are interested. It’s free and a lot of nice guys here to help you. dusty
  • dustyjoe: Timmy this is for you, You know I’m a Zebco fan, so I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t have proof. I noticed that you said that the Johnson Sidewinder 20 and the Zebco Standard were both the first spincast reels. This is not exactly true of the Standard. I can’t say about the Sidewinder because although I think I have one, I can’t find it. But since Zebco is my forte and I have Standard, Model 11’s & 22’s in the original boxes, I can say this as a fact. Those first 3 models, until the 33, were not true spincast reels. The Standard and 11 boxes say “Zebco Casting Reel” on the box and the Model 22 says “Super Zebco Casting Reel” on it’s box. The reason for this is that although they are a fixed spool reel, when you disengage the gears and cast, the spinnerhead and centershaft turn and you can’t get the distance of a spincast reel. I have them and have fished them so I know this is true. There is too much drag because of this which make them cast like an old Bait Caster. Zebco’s first true Spincast Reel was the 33 that came out at the same time as the Johnson Century 100. Take a Standard, 11, or 22 out in the yard and try it and you will see what I mean.
    One other thing I want to comment on is your statement that ” Zebco chose to produce cheaply made reels”. This is not completely right. The 33 used the brass bevel gears into the 60’s and then changed to steel. They were good but not as smooth and quite as the brass. Then about 1968 they dropped the aluminum body for the Lexan, Fiberglass filled plastic body with the hardened aluminum foot. They tried 4 styles between 1968 and 1983 to stop the problem of the body cracking through the rivets, when they completely redesigned the reel and introduced the 33N which is not a bad reel for the price but can’t hold a candle to the original 33. BTW, I made a mistake in my earlier post about the 33 by saying that the body was Delrin. Delrin was the plastic that the covers of reels like the 808 and others was made of. I have quite a lot or Zebco catalogs and other literature that I can make copies of for guys who want them.
    I would never knock the Century or other Johnson reels. I know and have known many guys who swear buy them and I have used them and they are fine reels. Like I say, it is like Ford and Chevy lovers. I have always been a Chevy man, maybe because my dad had a 1947 Chevy when I was a kid and when it had a dead battery one morning in 1960 when we got in it to go fishing he bough a 1957 Chevy and by Christmas I had the body off the ‘47 and the motor in the basement. LOL I did get it back on the road in 1964. I now drive a 2002 Subaru but own a 1997 Ford F150 3 door 4×4 which my youngest son is using at the time.
    Back to Zebco, I have been mad at them ever since they dropped the original 33, but they did make some fine reels like the 44 which is a trigger spin model of the 33, the 33XBL that became the 181, the Zebco One which became the 191, the 700 Hoss which was like a wrecker winch, the 89 which was the forerunner of the 808 & 888, Oh I almost forgot the big 55 which was a 33 on steroids with brass bevel gears and all, the Scotty 66 which became the 606 and finally the 600 with the plastic body but still had the aluminum foot, and even the little 113 which became the 171 was good on an ultra lite rod. The 202 which came out in 1961 and the 404 in 1963 were good reels for the money. Some hate them and some swear by them. Oh BTW Timmy, that problem of the line getting under the spinnerhead is caused by too much line. Rule of thumb is fill them to 1/8″ from the top of the spool.
    Hope you guys can tolerate my love of old Zebcos. The Johnsons are good reels too, I just grew up with Zebcos. dusty
  • skip smith: Plenty of room on here for everyone, dustyjoe! Actually, the website has been needing a Zebco lover/expert to assist with Zebco questions. Chad B. fishes with both makes regularly and is pretty knowledgeable, too.
  • timmydustyjoe, its very interesting to me that you feel the Standard is not a true spincast reel. that is a first, usually some one would argue that the early Sidewinders aren’t true spincast reels. Let me say that I agree with you on the Standard and disagree with those who would argue that the Sidewinders are not true spincast.
    I have never caught a fish with my Standard, but I have spent some time yard casting the reel and I noticed the drag created by the moving spinner.
    However, my model 10 A is a true spincast reel. When you push in the line release button the spinner pops out, allowing the pick up pin to retract, which in turn allows line to Spin off the spool. I realize that I have been rather hard on Zebco in my assessment of the company’s reels. Much of my feelings towards those reels is based on the 202’s and 404’s I had when I was a kid. I found those reels to be very frustrating. Once I tried my first Johnson reel I never really wanted to give another cast with a Zebco. I did however purchase 3 808’s in the early 90’s that held up very well, I still have 2 of them and both still work well, though I haven’t used either of them in some time. I’m starting to come back around on the Zebco reels and I am looking forward to learning more about them. Its been over 2 years since I wrote my first blog on this subject and i really expected a Zebco guy to show up before now. ( LOL ) I am very pleased to have an expert Zebco guy among us here at fishing talks….
  • dustyjoe: Hey Timmy, I just remembered where my Sidewinder is. It’s in a 5′ long 4 1/2′ tall plate glass front showcase on the top glass shelf along with a Century 100B. Also many Zebco Combos in their original packaging, split bamboo (including a Japan kit rod in wooden box), pocket fisherman NIB, St. Croy Fishing Machine, Hurd Supercaster (Wood Handle), Bronsons, Pfluegers, Penns, Heddon Winonas, Indiana style reels, Lures, and many others. There is too much stuff stacked behind it for me to get the Sidewinder out but I’m glad I remembered where it was anyway. I will send you a pic of the Zebco Standard, 11, and 22 boxes to show you that Zebco called them a Casting Reel. Ya gotta call a Spade a Spade. LOL

Johnson Or Zebco, Part 2

Originally posted by timmy on 4/21/13, Imported to on 9/25/17

I thought this topic is worthy of some more discussion and in this post we will take a look at some different aspects of this story.

Lets go back in time and take a look at the inventor R.D Hull, I have found published information describing him as an inventor. It appears that Mr. Hull had many inventions, most all of which were commercial failures. His first attempts at inventing a backlash free fishing reel were no exception.

His first fishing reel was called ” The Texan” and only a few were made in the late 1940’s. this reel apparently did not work , however with a few changes Hull was able to attract some investors for his second attempt at a backlash free reel. This reel was produced and marketed as ” The Lashmaster”. the reel was a complete market failure, no one bought it because like the Texan, it did not work and the investors lost their money ( more than $ 50,000 dollars ). But Hull was absolutely determined to invent a fish reel that would make him a name. Hull supposedly came up with yet a 3rd version of his fishing reel that was improved. he took the reel to his investors again to show them his latest try at a working reel, but they were not impressed and refused to provide any funds.

It is at this point that I asked myself why did the investors choose not to put up money for Hull’s third reel ? Could it be because like the Texan and the Lashmaster, it didn’t work ? I think this is the case and it was at this point Hull was becoming desperate to get his invention to market. When he found that Henry Dennison and Lloyd Johnson were going to demonstrate a fixed spool spinning reel he rushed to Minnesota to have a look at it. There had to be some function he could not quite figure out. But after looking over the Johnson model he was able to figure out what he needed to do in order to get his invention to work properly. This is what I believe took place.

Has anyone ever seen A Texan or a Lashmaster ? I highly suspect both reels look like a Zebco. When we look at this information it is obvious that Mr Hull was attempting to invent a closed face spinning reel that was backlash free, however his attempts were failures and before he was able to get a WORKING REEL to market, He was beaten to the punch by the Dennison Johnson company, who’s first reel was a commercial success.

I sure hope that Timmy won’t mind me answering his question, yes I now have seen 1 White “Lashmasters”, 3 Black ones, and a White “King Caster” sell on eBay in the last few months, (today is 3/17/17) and they brought a pretty penny. I started a blog on these a while back when there were 2 one eBay, I will now ad more to it and you can check it out if you’re interested.  Jim

Another thing we need to look at here is that the Zebco company adamantly exclaim there claim of inventing the first spin cast reel, the company has published it’s own history proclaiming this.. They are very specific about dates while writing there own history. It seems to be greatly important to Zebco to portray this image of being the inventor of the spin cast reel. If the Texan really was produced in 1947, then Hulls attempt at inventing a fixed spool reel predate the introduction of the first Mitchell spinning reels in 1948, I don’t buy the date. On the other hand, the Johnson reel company has NEVER it seems had any interest in claiming they created the first spin cast reel, in fact finding any history on the company is extremely difficult. My stepfather hated the Zebco company because he felt they were dishonest in there claim. He was equally distraught at the Johnson reel company for not challenging Zebco’s claim. I will never forget his exact words – ” I know **** good and well the Johnson came first”. It is my firm belief that the worlds first commercially successful, WORKING closed face, fixed spool spinning reels were produced by the Dennison Johnson company, Zebco came in second. Had my stepfather not told me that Zebco’s claim was false, I would have never questioned it. What do you think ?


So… what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • RonI have new respect for spin cast reels. I have never owned or used one and always thought of them as kid reel. I have to find one and give it a try. Interesting stories behind the reels. Thanks.
  • flyguy: There will never or has there ever been a spincasting reel built better than the Johnson 100. AMEN
  • timmyRon, I am very pleased to learn that my writings have had an influence on your view of spincast reels. You have had similar influence on me, as recently I have been practicing lawn casting my old Penn 85, I can only get better.
    Flyguy, I am absolutely thrilled that you have posted a comment to this blog. it was one of your well written articles that popped up while I was searching for Johnson reel history that originally introduced me to this website. and let me add another AMEN to your statement.
  • Ron: It is so great to have all the regular moderators back Flyguy, Liphooked, and Philip. It is also great to add Timmy as a moderator give us some new views on fishing. A thank you to Ruscatrods, Preston, Gene, and all the other older and newer members which I have not listed have really contributed to Fishing Talks. 
    I really hope that we can add more moderators and members to Fishing Talks.  That way we can all learn from each other.
  • Jim ParryLike your site – do you know where I can get a model 60 handle?
  • timmy:  Jim, glad to hear you are enjoying the site. there are still some places around that have parts for some of the older Johnson models, however none of the places i know of have parts for any of the side winder reels.
    I took the handle off of my model 10A and my model 80 and found that they are basically the same handle. This leads me to think that they used the same handle on all the sidewinder models. so a model 10, 20, 40 etc should fit the 60 but I’m not certain. I am going to provide a link below to an ebay auction for a whole model 60. Tim
  • rogo: Here is what I think Zebco must have made the first spincast to claim they did. If not Johnson would have filed suit against them really fast. Wouldn’t you if you was Johnson? Would you let the competition spread there lie and steal your thunder? A person could probably look up the dates each was patented on the web.
  • rogo: One last note I find funny back in the 50s everyone wanted a new spincast reel and they weren’t cheap a Zebco 33 sold for $19.50 in 1962 in today’s money thats $157.00. Guys back then were throwing away there backlashing baitcasters and going to spincast in droves now today everyone wants to go back to the backlashing baitcasters or your not a pro also I find funny they say the spincasters are not strong well the gears dont have to be to strong in any of them no stronger then the test of your line say 10lbs cause if the tug on the gears gets over 10lbs your line breaks so why does a bait caster need steel gears like a winch to pull 10lbs cause you just aint a pro unless you got the newest baitcaster that birdnests but they will put magnets on it and servos and anything else to try to convince you it will only do it less.


Johnson Or Zebco ?

Originally posted by Timmy on 2/23/13, Imported to on 9/24/2017

Do you know who invented the spin casting reel? Both the Dennison – Johnson Company and the Zero Hour Bomb Company (Zebco) claim to have invented the spin cast reel, often referred to as closed face reel in 1949. How can that be? I am going to share some information that will clear up the confusion created by the multiple claim.

I grew up in a family that loved to fish and so naturally I learned to love to go fishing at a very young age. The Zebco 202, or maybe a 404 were the only reels I knew of until I was about 12. Then my mother got remarried to a fine gentleman who introduced me to the Johnson reel. That was about 1978. It was from this man who was my stepfather that I learned the story I am about to share.

Back in 1949 Lloyd Johnson an avid Minnesota fisherman was trying to come up with a fishing reel that would eliminate backlash and other problems the reels of that time had. Using an old alarm clock housing and some other spare parts he invented the worlds first spincast reel. He took his new invention to a family friend who’s name was Henry Dennison. Dennison was a successful business man who owned a chain of sporting good stores. The two took the new reel to an outdoor sporting goods expo in Minneapolis for demonstration . While at the expo a young fellow who was amongst the crowd that had gathered asked if he could have a closer look at the new reel so as to understand the internal workings. The young man who introduced himself as R.D. Hull was very impressed with the new reel. He was an inventor and watchmaker from Oklahoma. He was at that time out of work and looking for some new ideas. after the expo he hurried back home to Oklahoma where he made up some drawings of a similar invention of his own. Once he had the specifics of his new invention down on paper, he set about the city of Tulsa in search of someone who could manufacture the devise for him. He found the Zero Hour Bomb Company. The company was struggling as their products were not selling well, so they were more than eager to take on the project.

Now some of you might ask how did my stepfather know that R.D. Hull was at the expo were the Johnson reel was first seen by the public in 1949? He was standing right next to him when he introduced himself and asked to see the reel that day. The first Johnson reel factory was in the basement of the Johnson home, . Now R. D. Hull and the Zebco company started advertising their reels around the same time. however an article I read about 4 or 5 years ago led me to believe that the Zebco company had trouble getting their reels produced and into the market place. this seemed to jive with what i had been told . I have looked and looked and can no longer find that article, it appears to have been deleted.

the fishing reel that would have been demonstrated that day back in 1949 would have been the prototype model made from an alarm clock housing. surely it must have been Johnson model 1. obviously Lloyd Johnson thought the reel needed to be mounted sideways in order to prevent backlash. clearly R. D Hull thought different and believed he could do better. I believe that after this encounter the race was on to see who could get to the patent office first and start producing reels for the market place. according to my stepfather the Dennison Johnson company won this race on both counts.

in closing i would like to say that both of these companies have put a smile on many a faces. they were both very instrumental in making fishing a great American pastime. both companies contributed many innovations that led to what we call a spin cast reel Today. I certainly have fond memories of both. who do you think invented the spin cast ? the fisherman from Minnesota or the watchmaker from Oklahoma ?


So… what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • Sigi: Thanks for sharing this story, did he ever try to publish this story to let people know the truth was with the Johnson’s?
  • timmy:As far as I know he never tried to publish the information. but everyone around him was aware. All the old boy’s who fished with him were the same, they were passionate not only about their Johnson reels, but also about the fact that they were first. I am glad you enjoyed the story
  • PapaD: This is very interesting. I would like to hear more about this from anyone who knows. I write a spin-cast blog that explores such things. I see incorrect information posted all over the Internet that credits Samuel C. Johnson of Johnson Wax, and later of Johnson Outdoors with inventing the spin-cast reel that became known as Johnson reels. This is so bogus, but it has apparently been picked up as fact and re-posted over again until it is considered fact.
    It was an entirely different Johnson, Lloyd Johnson, who invented the Johnson reel as we know it. It was not until much later that Samuel Johnson was involved with these products. I suppose it is naturally confusing due to the similar last-name. But this is a good example of how history gets it wrong. this needs to be corrected before it gets out of hand.
  • gene:  Published information that I have shows the name as R.D. Hull and not R.D. Hall. The first Zebco reel called the standard went into production in May 1949. what was the very first Johnson model and year?
  • Ron: Were patents ever taken out on these reels? If patents were taken out, the patent dates may help determine when the reels were first produced.
  • PapaD: I recall looking this up previously, and concluding from the patent dates that ZEBCO filed the first patent that even resembled todays spinning reels. Neither of the first attempts of either Johnson was very similar to what we recognize as spinning reels, but both had closed faces. The early ZEBCO looked a lot like the later ZEBCO reels, but instead of any kind of line release button, it had a hole you stuck your thumb through much like a casting reel spool is handled with the reel on the top of the rod. The early Johnson was mounted sideways and hung below like a spinning reel. You basically managed the line just like you do a spinning rod. Both of these patents had features different that they were able to receive patents, but either were very unique, building on previous patents that were not commercial successes, either.
    It was the Johnson Century Model 100 that was patented in 1955 (I think) that revolutionized recreational sport fishing with a design that is so similar to today’s spin-casting reels that any new features are mostly just revisions of the Johnson Century. Berkley and Abu Garcia, both now entities of Jarden Corp, and apparent heirs to the production rights of Johnson Century Patent, sell reels, made in China, called the Johnson Century and the Abu Garcia Johnson Century respectively, that are recognizable as the original Johnson Century design, although it is made of different materials and produced using mass-production methods that were not available at the time. I haven’t examined one of these internally, but I am guessing that they are virtual copies of the Johnson Century.
    ZEBCO followed suit with a design of their own that had a release button. I have no way of knowing if Johnson authorized the use of its design to other manufacturers, but the Garcia Abumatics that became available about the same time are very close copies of the Century design too. These companies appear to have continued to manufacture very similar reels for decades. All other spin-cast reels since then are essentially similar in design as well. ZEBCO appears to have targeted the cheap, beginning reel part of the market, where Johnson appears to have appealed more to more serious fishermen. Johnson made a valiant attempt to cater to the new professional bass fishermen during the late sixties and early seventies.
    I consider the Johnson 160 Guide Accu-cast to be the apex of the Johnson reel evolution. It was made for professional and/or serious fresh-water sport fisherman. It was way ahead of its time. Professional bass fishermen could easily have used it successfully for about any needs they encountered at the time.
  • timmy: First, this story was told to me when I was a teenager, ( 16 ) by a man whom I would say was one of the most decent honest individuals I have ever known and that is why I believe to this day that the Johnson reel came first. this man also told me of how excited he and his fishing buddies were to try these new reels. they were all equally excited to try out the new Zebco model, but they waited and waited and waited and when they did finally show up on the store shelves the Johnsons had already been available for quite some time.
    the first Zebco’s are different, kind of a closed faced baitcast reel with a thumb brake. today’s word for that is crossover. the first Johnson reel however is a spincast reel in every sense of the word, just mounted sideways.
    I do think both of these reel makers came up with some very innovative reel designs around the same time. however based on what I was told, Zebco had trouble getting there product to market and were beaten to the punch by the Johnson reel company by a considerable margin.
    Gene I think you are correct and I miss spelled the name as hall rather than hull.
    papa D . I agree with you in many ways on the model 160. absolutely incredible reel. but in some ways I think the model 170 is even better.
    the most unfortunate part of this whole thing is that I can’t prove any of this story, my stepfather died back in 2004 he was 84. so I can’t go back and ask him any more.
  • PapaD: Tim, I don’t doubt the authenticity of you story. Some sources already have it all over the Internet that Samuel C. Johnson of Johnson Wax was the inventor of the spin-cast reel. This is why I am so interested in getting this info tracked down and documented before there are likely sources still living who can get it right. It amazes me that things can get so wrong so fast.
    The only 170 model reel that I am familiar with is the Abu Garcia 170, which is a great reel. I am not familiar with the Johnson 170. If it is better than the 160, it has got to be good. I look forward to learning about it. That’s the thing, I am certainly no expert. I am just an interested user of old spin-cast reels, mostly Johnson, but some Abumatics. I like history, and I see history being rewritten the wrong way. I also see young fishermen who turn their noses up at spin-cast reels without ever understanding how sophisticated spin-cast reels once were.
    I enjoy and look forward to all of your posts, Tim, and others who have information, insights, and opinions about these old reels. It is fun to learn about all this stuff. Maybe collectively we can get some of this stuff sorted out and put right. I hope so. Tim, I know you have visited my spin-cast blog and commented. I hope many more will share their knowledge there and here as well.
    My blog deals only with old spin-cast reels, so it is pretty limited. But I think it is an important and so far overlooked topic.
  • timmy: Papa D, you and I have much in common with our love of the spin cast reel. You are correct that Lloyd Johnson was the man who started Johnson reels. He did sell the company to the Johnson wax family in the late 1960’s. But have no doubt that he was still very much involved in his company until he died. I know he was an engineer by trade and a quality one at that because it shows in all the designs he came up with.
    I enjoyed your blog and will continue to visit.
    I am going to post a new comment on Johnson reels and add a couple pictures of the 170 for you the system won’t let me add any more pictures to this blog post.
  • timmy: Gene the first Johnson model was the model 10, production began in 1949, but I don’t know any exact dates.
  • gene: The foot on the Zebco standard is stamped pat. pending. by 1954 Zebco had brought 4 spincast reel models to the market. standard. 22, 11, and the first push button the black 33 with the chrome push button. to cast the first 3 models you pushed the tiny button on the top and that takes the handle and gear out of engagement put thumb on that plastic ball in the back cover to keep lure from falling and cast, to reel in you push in on handle to re-engage——- no drag or anti reverse on these.———- so did Johnson have a push button spincast on the market before the first Zebco 33.
  • timmy: I have seen both the standard and the 22 . With Zero Hour Bomb Company stamped on bottom of foot. The early Johnsons had a center push button that released the bail it was on the side of reel in center of the crank and operated in a similar way to the modern push button but looked very different. The century was the first forward facing rear push button reel Johnson introduced in 1955. Did Zebco have a push button before that? I do not know . Good question gene, just wish I had a better answer for you.
  • timmyI decided to do some editing to this blog, mostly because I felt that my wording was not well thought out. so, I made a number of corrections and some what toned down some of my more emotional comments to help the reader better draw his or her own conclusion from the story. Thanks to everyone for your interest and your questions and comments on this subject. this is I believe, I very important piece of fishing history and I am open to all comments, praise or criticism, the truth is what I hope to find and document. Timmy
  • gene: I am going to eat a helping of crow here and offer an apology to the readers and members for mistaking the facts on a post made yesterday.
    I had stated that the Zebco 22 had no drag but that is wrong as there is very clearly an adjustable drag on that model.
    So thank you all and keep on reading the forums and keep on fishing.
  • PapaD: I look forward to seeing the new post with the pix of the Johnson 170 spin-cast reel Timmy. I have never seen one. I did not even know it existed. I’ll keep a look out for it. Thanks
  • Ron: When a blog is written, pictures can not be added by readers.    Only the author can add pictures.  Please use “topics” if you want to add pictures. The Admin. maintaining this site is aware of this issue, and will try to add this feature with the next upgrade.
  • timmy: Papa D I have already posted pictures of the 170.. use the search feature in the upper right corner of the page and search for ‘ reel pictures ‘ . Let me know if you can’t find it. Tim
  • timmyGene, please don’t eat crow! Or at least don’t eat all of it, just in case I have to eat a helping to. Tim
  • gene:  Easier to eat at 80 that it was at 50, one Seville sold on eBay back on march 3 for 33.50, I have a 165 guide and that looks like the Seville.
  • Rob MartinJohnson Century, great little reel…
  • omer kishanov: Great history from all you guys as I find all interesting , now I have heard great things about the Johnsons, but never had or seen one except in pictures , which was their top model or most popular ?
  • skip smithOmer, the top model of Johnson (or any other make, for that matter) is a question that involves opinion, and we all know about opinions; everybody has one. ;-D. Timmy and Papa D are of the opinion that the Guide 160 and 170 were the zenith of Johnson design. I’ve never fished with either model, but I have 3 examples of their “little brother”, the Guide 155, that I think is an awesome reel. As far as most popular, my vote would have to be the Century 100 series. There are more Century 100’s on eBay than any other model. As mentioned earlier in the post, Century 100 was introduced in 1955, designated 100A in 1956, upgraded to Century 100B in 1964 or ‘65, and continued in production until 1979! A 40th Anniversary model and a 45th Anniversary model were made in the 1990’s. The Century is a model of simplicity in it’s construction and use, built like a Mack truck and as reliable as sunrise. I’d encourage you to pick up one of these little jewels from eBay and give it a try! A good Century can be had for $15-20. The 100B is my fave.
  • skip smith: Gene, Timmy, in my experience, the wine that goes best with a meal of crow is a cheap Chablis, served chilled. Personal experience. 😉
  • timmy: Without a doubt the century 100 B is the most popular because it is rugged, works well and is fairly simple in its design. skip is correct that I very much like the model 160 guide and the model 170 Seville. but my very favorite and most used reel ever is the Sabra model 130 B . I also really like and highly recommend the 710 and 150 commander. one more reel that I really think the world of is the big brother to the century, the citation model 110 B .
  • skip smith: Tim, you’re talkin’ my language here! I have single copies of Sabra 130B, 710B and Commander 150. I’ve fished with 710 and 150, can’t remember whether I’ve used a 130 or not. Most of my fishing is for panfish and the like, so don’t use the heavier equipment that much. I’ve never fished with a Citation, but I’ve gone a buying binge recently and now have five of ‘em! I’ll definitely have a Citation on a rod next spring, likely rigged for bass. Can’t wait!
  • Chad B.Wow! guys, great info here! This summer I fished quite a bit at the lake the father-in-law lives on while panfishing always had a rod set out with one of my Johnson 340 force reels that I’ve really takin a likening to, plus messed around quite a bit with a 130B Sabra on a 7ft catfish rod with 17lb test. That reel will hog in catfish 10lbs plus like nobodies business,(Snapping turtles too!)As does that little Force 340! I have a 160 guide here that’s mint condition, I don’t think it’s ever been fished along with a 150A commander the same way, That commander I pickup from a neighbor that was gonna throw it away! All it needed was some TLC, works pretty good now, Looks good too! Have a 710B also that’s pretty good shape never fished it though! Maybe I should break it out and give it a try! I keep telling the boy I’m gonna take that Sabra 130 out to the river next spring catfishing, he just laughs and says “In that heavy current you’ll hook into something 15lbs or bigger and it’ll just bust your line”! It may not be a good idea either as we do hook into a lot of bigger fish in the river in the spring time of the year! It’d be fun trying though! Even the boy will pick up one of them old Johnson 100B’s or A’s when we pan fish though, even over my old Mid 60’s Zebco 33’s,says he prefers the Johnson 100A’s or B’s over everything else, why I don’t know! And he’s only 18yrs old! There was just something about these Johnson spin caster’s! they gravitate a lot of people towards them for some reason! Plain and simple the best spincast reels ever made bar none! That’s Bible!
  • skip smithWow Chad, that’s quite a selection you have there! I have four reels new-in-box, never been on a rod. A fancy-schmancy Century 2000 that I got about 15 years ago, a 40th Anniversary Century and two Century 100B’s, one of them from the 60’s and I think the other is maybe early 70’s. I inherited my Dad’s lightly-used 710B and Commander 150. Years ago, when my collection was bigger I fished with a 710 and a Commander, but I sold most of the collection when I moved back here from KC MO. Kinda stupid. At any rate, I’ve got 40-something Johnsons to choose from now, probably will rotate them every year or two.
  • Huckster37Timmy or Papa D if your still watching this site. Can I get the link to Papa D’s spin-cast blog
  • timmy: I will try to post a link to papa D’s blog, but had no luck last time. if the link works great. but if not try searching for : golden age of spincast reels. …….. …………………. <email> /
  • Huckster37: Thanks Timmy, the link didn’t work but I googled golden age of spincast reels and it took me right there.
  • dustyjoe: Timmy, I’m glad that Dennis commented on this blog because I must had missed it last year when I was reading all your blogs comparing the 2 companies. I personally don’t know what the real truth is. I think Gene is right that the Standard was in production in May of 1949, so if RD did see Lloyd’s reel at a show, it must have been early in 1949. Zebco’s story is that RD got the idea at a butcher shop when the guy was pulling string off a spool to tie the wrapped meat. It is also said that his prototype was housed in a beer can, but I’ve also seen it said that it was a soup can ? Maybe Dick Braun could shed some light on the subject.
    Johnson and Zebco reels are like Ford and Chevy cars and trucks. Which ever one a person started out with, they usually stayed with. I rode in a Chevy growing up and dad bought a Black Zebco 33 in 1955 when I was 8 years old and I have always been a Chevy and Zebco lover and user. Things change though, now I have a 1997 Ford 3 door 4×4 and a 2002 Subaru. Of course if might it have something to do with the fact that both were given to me, ya think ? LOL Anyway, I’m glad I finally found this blog and have enjoyed it. Thanks Tim. Jim
  • timmy:  Jim, glad you liked the blog. One of these days I will get around to writing part 4, I feel I need to do another one because I know so much more now about both companies than I did when I wrote this one. I feel I was a little to hard on Zebco and maybe should have spent more energy pointing out the flaws in the Johnson’s. I wrote this because I felt there must be some Zebco people out there that could help spread some light on this subject and there just was not anybody here talking about them when I wrote this. I started out with a Zebco and now find that I will be using them again when the chance arises. I was pretty biased when I wrote this but I have come around quite a bit. like you I was raised up in a Chevy and still drive them but I also drive Oldsmobiles and Jeeps and such, whatever works…

The Rare Zebco Model 406


The Zebco model 406 is quite a tough reel to find, especially in good condition. It was commissioned by a company called Oklahoma Tire and Supply Company. Also known as OTASCO. The OTASCO company was started by 3 Jewish Lithuanian immigrant brothers, Sam, Maurice and Herman Sanditen. They opened the very first OTASCO store in the town of Okmulgee, Oklahoma, in 1918. In 1925, they moved their headquarters to Tulsa, Oklahoma which is about 35 miles north of Okmulgee.

The store sold everything from auto parts to knives, appliances, lawn equipment and yes, even fishing tackle. They were very much like the Western auto stores that was here in the Midwest and beyond. They became a community “go to” store in several towns across the lower Midwest.

In 1960, the brothers sold out to another Company and eventually OTASCO expanded across the country with up to 600 stores Nationwide.

Most of the stores have closed now and are long gone, but there is still a handful of them still operating (I think). One of which is in Marlow, Oklahoma.

The Marlow store was started by E.J. Crow and his wife Nancy in 1963. As far as I know their son Mike is still running their store.

Now, back to the 406. It is basically the same reel as the 404, but since it was commissioned by OTASCO, it could only be purchased in an OTASCO store under the 406 model number. The color was changed from the familiar 404 black, to a light gray and the box was blue and yellow, instead of the familiar red and yellow box of the common Zebco 404 reel.

I don’t think they sold this reel very long and again, they are scarce! I was fortunate to find the even rarer box for a 406 reel, in which I already had and at the top of the blog is a picture of the combo together.

Here is a picture of the side view of the box. Notice the reel is grey on the box.


Here is a picture of the price sticker on the box from OTASCO.


And, here is a picture (below) of the 406 box beside the 404 from the approx. same time frame. The price on the 404 is 7.95 and the price on the 406 is 8.95. I guess they figured loyal customers of OTASCO would be willing to pay a dollar more to support their favorite store! Also notice it says spinning reel on both boxes??


I think these reels were on the market in the late 1960’s and I don’t think they sold them long. I guess that is what makes this reel a toughy to find. I am so proud to own this combo! Oh, by the way, it has the paperwork in the box, as you can see under the reel……


I tried to shorten this blog as not to bore you………..Finally this reel has found it’s nest………Hope you enjoyed the info.

Note: This may or may not be 100% accurate, but is what I have derived from studies done on the internet and from other collectors. I just wanted to pass on what I have currently learned.


So… what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • Chad B.: Interesting Tommy, I’ve maybe only saw one or 2 of those in my lifetime, and they where beat beyond being beat! Had no idea that the 406 was made for an aftermarket jobber. To have what you have there is a rarity in itself. Good Eye! On a rare find. A zebby of this caliber would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack! Literally!
  • timmy: Thanks for the great history lesson. Never seen or heard of a 406 until now. I had heard of the otasco stores but didn’t know any of the history . You are very fortunate to have found not only the reel but a nice box and Paperwork …
  • Alpenflage: Congrats Tommy and thanks for sharing it with us. I have certainly heard of OTASCO but didn’t know they had trade reels made for them like some many other retailers back in those days.
    Not to many years ago the Western Auto in Carmi, IL closed. Elmo that owned and ran it decided to finally retire and nobody wanted to take it over. So many memories of that store. It had been there for many decades. Paul
  • Reelcrazee: Thanks fellas. Until I found the 406 box, I had no idea what they looked like. I think this is the first one I have ever seen. With good fortune, it had the paper with it. The OTASCO sticker was icing on the cake too!
    Paul, there was also a Western Auto in the west end of Brazil, In. several years ago and it was closed quite a while back. I remember going there a few times and I sure do miss those old stores. The building houses a Goodwill store now. I believe Western Auto also had fishing tackle among all of the other things they sold. Those were the days!……. Tommy
  • skip smith: Monett, MO had Western Auto and OTASCO both, back in the 50’s-60’s. As close as I am to Zebco HQ, I’m gonna be more alert as to which Zebco models I’m looking at.
    Excellent blog, Tommy!

1993-94 Zebco Parts Manual, Index, Info, & Spincast Section, 68 Pgs.

This is a 1993-94 Parts Manual that I got from Zebco when I was buying parts from them. The first one that I got from them was a 1987 but I can’t find it, only the red vinyl binder that it came in, with the exception of the 3 pages at the end of this one. There is also a 105 page Spinning Section, a 46 page Baitcast Section, a 2 page Fly Section, and a 9 page Spool Price Section, of which the 2 Spincast pages are included here for a total of about 230 pages.

Front Page.

Zebco MotorGuide, Page No. 1.

Zebco MotorGuide, Page No. 2.

Zebco MotorGuide, Page No. 3.

Zebco MotorGuide, Page No. 4.

After Sales Service.

Introduction Letter.

The Zebco & Quantum Discount Schedule.

US and Canadian Warranty Centers.

The Zebco Limited Warranty.

The Quantum Limited Warranty.

Reel Index, Page No. 1.

Reel Index, Page No. 2.

Spincast Section Divider.

The Zebco 101, same as the earlier 76.

The Zebco 1220, Discontinued.

The Zebco 1220N, Discontinued.

The Zebco 164,Discontinued, the largest & last of the Omega Triggerspins.

The Zebco 1 Classic.


The Zebco 2010N.

The Zebco 202.

The Zebco 2020DL, a 2020 w/ a depth locator.

The Zebco 2020N.

The Zebco 2030N.

The Zebco 22.

The Zebco 22TS, a 22 Triggerspin.

The Zebco 257, a 22 w/ a Stainless Cover.

The Zebco 257TS, a 22TS w/ a Stainless Cover.

The Zebco 303.

The Zebco 33 Discontinued.

The Zebco 33AN, Discontinued.

The Zebco 33 Classic.

The Zebco 33N.

The Zebco 357, a 38 w/ a Stainless Cover.

The Zebco 38.

The Zebco 404.

The Zebco 44 Classic.

The Zebco 444, Discontinued.

The Zebco 606, Discontinued, newer version, totally different from original 606.

The Zebco 733 Hawg, newer version of the 700 Hoss.


The Zebco 808, Discontinued, newer style 808.

The Zebco 808N, like the original 808 wo/ the Brake Bar & Ring.

The Zebco 888, Discontinued, newer style 888.

The Zebco 888GW, Great White, same as the 888N, except for color & Logo.

The Zebco 888N, like the original 888 wo/ the Brake Bar & Ring.

The Zebco CGC1, a fancy 1 Classic.


The Zebco CGX33, a fancy 33 Classic.

The Zebco CR40, Discontinued.

The Zebco CR6, Discontinued.

The Zebco CR60.


The Zebco FL44.

The Zebco QG100, same as the 2010.

The Zebco QG200, same as the 2020.

The Zebco QG200DL, same as the 2020, but with a depth locator.

The Zebco QG300, same as the 2030.

The Zebco Shooter 99, a 202 Triggerspin.


The Zebco UL3.

The Zebco UL4.

The Zebco Z1, newer version of the Omega 191.

The Zebco Z20.

The Zebco Z22.

The Zebco ZX10.

The Zebco ZX8.


Page No. 1 of the Spool Price List.

Page No. 3 of the Spool Price List.

The Zebco 33 from the 1987 Parts Manual.

The Zebco Omega 181 & SR 80 from the 1987 Parts Manual.

The Zebco Omega 191 & SR 90 from the 1987 Parts Manual.

Jim, Posted 12/17/16 at 11:00PM


Langley Ads from eBay, 1947 to 1962

Here are some ads that I have downloaded the photos of from eBay. They will help you know what reels were introduced when and show the price change over the years.

The First Year, 1947.

The Second Year, 1948.

The Third Year, 1949.

Nothing yet.

The Forth Year, 1950.





The Fifth Year,1951.






The Sixth Year, 1952.



The Seventh Year, 1953.


The Eighth Year, 1954.


The Ninth Year, 1955.

Nothing yet.

The Tenth Year, 1956.




The Eleventh Year, 1957.





The Twelfth Year, 1958. 



The Thirteenth Year, 1959.





The Fourteenth Year, 1960. 

The Fifteenth Year, 1961.

Nothing yet.

The Sixteenth an Last Year, 1962.

This is Paul’s brochure, but I think I have the same one somewhere or another 1962 brochure. Here the 990 Target was $4.95, the 995 Lynx was $12.95, the 995 SW (Salt Water) was $14.95, the Model 777A was $14.95, and the 820H Spin Flo was $19.95. The Target was Black & Gray while the Lynx came in 3 colors : B had a Black housing, handle knob, & thumb button with Blue covers, G was Gray with Black covers, and R was Red with Black covers and also came in the salt water version. The 777A was two-tone Green with Silver spool and side plate. The 822H came in a new Gray-Gold finish.

The Spin Deluxe 830B was $27.50, the Spinlite Special 852B was $29.5, the Spinlite Deluxe 850D was $39.50, the Spinlite Presentation 850G (New) was $60.00, the Spindrift 860C was $39.50, and the Spinator 870B was $42.50.

The Streamlite 310 was now up to $16.95 and still Black, the Reelcast 500A was $9.95 and was Bronze colored, the Lurecast 330 was now $17.95 and was still Candy Apple Red, and the Whitecap was now $17.95 and still Chrome. The Banderilla bait was still $.95. The Fisherman’s De-Liar 208 was $2.00 and the 228 was $2.50. The Cast Flo 999A was still $16.95 and still Black.

The Dyna-Matic 444A was now $45.00 & $46.00, the Dyna Flo 470 was $18.95 & $19.95, and the Dyna Flo 490 was $19.95 & $20.95. The reels with a metal spool were $1.00higher than the plastic spool models. The

Zebco Lexan Body 33, Type 1, 2, 3-1, 3-2, & 4 ( 1969-1983 ) 15 Yrs.

I want to break this 15 year period down into 5-3 Year Periods. Now keep in mind that this is the result of many years of collecting these reels and not from Zebco Co. Records. I do think it’s probably pretty close and you can tell if your reel falls into one of these 5 time period.     


The Zebco Lexan Body 33, Type 1, Boxes & Papers.

This was my Box of Lexan Type 1 Reels that were stolen and sold to the Piggy Banc Pawn Shop in Vincennes, IN. by Scott Wagler and then Charlie Davis, the owner deliberately sold them knowing full well that they were mine and the law here at the Daviess Co. Sheriff’s Dept. won’t do a thing about it. What would you do ?

The Reel, Box, and Papers : Of the Lexan Type 1 Reel with it’s Box and Papers.

The Box : Johnny Garland lists this box as the 4th box used, below are the other 3.

Earlier boxes : The last box used for the Aluminum Body 33 is shown on pg. 69 of Johnny’s book and is the same as the 1st one here, but with the price of $19.50 on it. These first 3 boxes : $19.50. $21.95, and the Leaping Bass box all show a man fishing from a boat on the top. The 2 later ones are a solid darker blue with “Stren Fluorescent Mono.” and then “Skill Rated Tackle” on the box.

The Bottom View : This is the 1st Type of Lexan Body 33 Reel with 2 in-line rivets. All of my experience with the 33 reels since 1955 leads me to believe that this model started about 1969 through about 1971 or about 3 years. You will notice that it had MADE IN, U.S.A. stamped into the front of the Mount.

The Front View : The Logo on the Front Cover still says : “ZEBCO, Spinner, MODEL 33” like they had from the start in 1954 and was the last model to use it. It also had a slightly larger line guide than the earlier reels, which started out with a 1/4″ line guide. I have measured several different sizes.

The Rear View : R.D. Hull’s notes shows that for the first few days after they went to the Stainless Steel Covers, they still used the Aluminum Thumb Button that was Anodized and then Painted Black, after which they changed to the Plastic TB.

The Right Side View : Shows the Tear Drop shaped Anti-Rev. Knob below the Handle, the Handle with the Flat Knobs now, but still with the Long Pins, the 5/16″ SS Serrated Acorn Nut, and the Cover Lock above the Handle.

The Left Side View : Shows the Drag Adj. Knob at the bottom and the Bait Click Knob in the middle.


The Lexan Body 33, Type 2, Boxes & Papers.

This was my Box of Lexan Type 2 Reels that were stolen and sold to the Piggy Banc Pawn Shop in Vincennes, IN. by Scott Wagler and then Charlie Davis, the owner deliberately sold them knowing full well that they were mine and the law here at the Daviess Co. Sheriff’s Dept. won’t do a thing about it. What would you do ?

Reel on top of the Box : This it the Lexan Type 2 33 Reel on top of it’s Box.

Top View of Reel : with Box, Papers, and the Cellophane that the Reel came wrapped in.

The Bottom View : This reel has a flat spot on the bottom of the Body where the Mount goes. These 2 reels would have to come from slightly different molds. It has 2 Rivets that are diagonal at 45 degrees from the center line of the Mount. I think this style was made from about 1972 through 1974 or about 3 years. You will notice that this reel also had MADE IN, U.S.A. stamped into the front of the Mount.

The Top View : From the top this reel looks the same as the Type 1.

The Front View : You will notice that now the Logo on the Front Cover says : “ZEBCO, 33.” The next Type reel will have no Logo on the Front Cover, with the first models having a ZEBCO 33 Decal on the top of the Body and the later ones had the Two-Tone Band on the Cover.

The Rear View : From the rear this reel looks the same as the Type 1, unless you notice the flat spot under the Body where the Mount goes.

The Right Side View : You will notice that this reel looks the same as the Type 1, with the exception of the shorter recessed pins in the Handle Knobs.


The Lexan Body 33, Type 3-1, Boxes & Papers.

This was my Box of Lexan Type 3-1Reels that were stolen and sold to the Piggy Banc Pawn Shop in Vincennes, IN. by Scott Wagler and then Charlie Davis, the owner deliberately sold them knowing full well that they were mine and the law here at the Daviess Co. Sheriff’s Dept. won’t do a thing about it. What would you do ?

Top View of a Lexan Type 3-1 Reel : The Front Cover has no engraving on it, but the Body has a Decal with ZEBCO 33 on it.

Top View Comparison of the Lexan Type 2 & 3-1 Reels : The Front Cover has no engraving on the Type 3-1, but the Body has a Decal with ZEBCO 33 on it.

Rear View Comparison of the Lexan Type 2 & 3-1 Reels : Notice the Tabs on the Type 3-1 on the right.

Bottom View Comparison of the Lexan Type 2 & 3-1 Reels : Notice that the Type 3-1 on the right still has the old Tear Drop Anti-Rev. Knob on which Back is Off and Forward is On.


The Lexan Body 33, Type 3 In-between Model

Top, Right Side View : Of a Type 3 In-between Model which has a Plain Front Cover New Style and a ZEBCO 33 Decal on the Reel Body like the Type 3-1, but has the New Style Anti-Rev. like the Type 3-2 Reel.

Bottom View : Showing the New Style Anti-Rev. better.

Rear View : Showing the 2 Tabs going up into the Reel Body. These last 3 photos are of a reel that just came on eBay Fri. night.


The Lexan Body 33, Type 3-2, Boxes & Papers.

This was my Box of Lexan Type 3-2 Reels that were stolen and sold to the Piggy Banc Pawn Shop in Vincennes, IN. by Scott Wagler and then Charlie Davis, the owner deliberately sold them knowing full well that they were mine and the law here at the Daviess Co. Sheriff’s Dept. won’t do a thing about it. What would you do ? Notice that there were 3- Black Special Editions and 4- 25th Anniversary Models and I’m afraid that my Model 34 was in one of the boxes also.

Top Rear View : Of this Type 3-2 Reel and it’s Box and Papers.

The Bottom View : This reel has 2 Tabs on the Mount that go up into the Reel Body and angle toward each other. You will notice  that where the Tabs come off of the Mount, they come out a ways before turning up into the Body. You will notice that now it had ZEBCO, MADE IN U.S.A. stamped into the front of the Mount. Also notice the new style Anti-Rev. Flip Tab that slides up and down.  Up is Off and Down is On.

Top and Right Side View : of this all Black Special Edition Reel that was made some time before 1980 ?

The Bottom View : This reel has 2 Tabs on the Mount that go up into the Reel Body and angle toward each other like the other Type 3 reels. You will notice that now it had ZEBCO, MADE IN U.S.A. stamped into the front of the Mount.

The Top View : of the top this Silver Anniversary Reel ( 1955-1980 ) showing that it looks the same as the other Type 3 Reels with the only differences being the Decal and Band on the FC.

The Bottom View : This reel has 2 Tabs on the Mount that go up into the Reel Body and angle toward each other like the other Type 3 reels. You will notice that now it had ZEBCO, MADE IN U.S.A. stamped into the front of the Mount.


The Lexan Body 33, Type 4, Reel.

The Top View : From the top this reel looks the same as the Type 3 and at first did, but the later ones in the last year or so, used this later style Handle which used the same arm as the earlier ones with the New Style Knobs. In 1984 when they introduced the New Version 33 , the shape of the Handle Arm was changed to a Z shaped arm.

The Bottom View : This reel has 2 Tabs on the Mount that go up into the Reel Body and angle away from each other. You will notice that now it had ZEBCO, MADE IN U.S.A. stamped into the front of the Mount.

Bottom View : Of another reel that came on eBay Fri. night. Many eBay sellers make a big deal out of calling these reels with the large L stamped on them like it’s a big deal. You will find it on many Type 3 reels and maybe all Type 4 reels. The L will be on the rear and the ZEBCO, MADE IN U.S.A. can read from the L or R side. On many Type 3 reels, you will find a Letter & a Number, like the E 5 on this one and usually on the Rear and reading Rear to Front, but no L on it.

This reel is a Type 4 and has the L on the Rear and is double stamped on the Front with E 5 and I 2 off to the side, probably a mistake, and these will read Front to Rear. You will find all kinds of combinations and my best guess is that they are some kind of batch marks.

The Bottom View : This reel has 2 Tabs on the Mount that go up into the Reel Body and angle away from each other. Here is a back view so you can see what I mean.

The Top View : From the top this reel looks the same as the other Type 4 reels, but with Black Wrinkle Finish Painted Covers and a Zebco 34 Decal and Blue Bands on the FC.

The Bottom View : This reel has 2 Tabs on the Mount that go up into the Reel Body and angle away from each other. Here is a back view of the Zebco 34 so you can see that it is the same style reel as the other Type 4 reels. You will notice that now it had ZEBCO, MADE IN U.S.A. stamped into the front of the Mount.

Posted on 3/30/17 at 5:59 PM