Getting Started With Centrepin Reels

Getting Started With Centrepin Reels

Also known as the single action reel, a Centrepin Reel is a free spooling, hand- controlled reel that is used in British Columbia for float fishing on rivers and streams for Salmon and Steelhead.

In 1894, centrepin reels were first introduced by Samuel Allcocks in the UK. From the UK to North America, centrepins have evolved into a major tool for float fisherman. They have been used religiously for the past 50+ years for Salmon and Steelhead throughout the province.

Now in the 21st Century, centrepins have become an even bigger tool for most anglers because they have evolved into more modern styles, and are used by more people.

Why Use a Centrepin Reel?

You may ask, "Why use a centrepin if it is a single action and dragless?" Well, there are a couple of reasons why centrepins are extremely nice to fish in our waters.

The biggest reasons for most anglers are the better line control, smoother drifts and a better connection to the fish than you would have with a set drag reel. You will land more fish on the centrepin versus a casting or spinning reel for the simple fact that you control it all.

Not only is it effective in landing fish, but it is more fun to play a fish on a reel like this. Another way a centrepin can assist you is in slower-moving water. As we know, a good majority of our rivers are fairly gradient and fast flowing, but we do find ourselves in slow moving bodies of water.

When float fishing, your best drift is going to be drag-free, allowing your bait or presentation to be as natural as possible going downstream. When we find ourselves in slower water, it can be difficult to match a perfect drag-free drift but having a centrepin will absolutely maximize your ability to match that.

With very little resistance on the line and presentation caused by the downstream movement of the water, your centrepin will immediately begin to free spool as you control your drift. This will give you the best drift possible with the least amount of resistance on your line.

There are two main types of centrepin reels available on the market. They are bushing and bearing reels. While both reels are effective, they do fish a bit differently.

It is all personal preference when it comes down to it, but as a general rule of thumb, bushing reels are more desirable for most anglers. The big difference between the two reels is the start-up spin. Bearing reels have a slower start-up and take a longer time to load before they really spin, and bushing reels have a smoother and quicker start up than a bearing reel. Regardless of the start-up, both reels are effective.

Read our Islander Centrepin review blog post.

In this day and age, it can be tough to find bushing reels as many of the newer centrepins are bearing style. If we take a look back into the 1940’s era, we are introduced to some very well-crafted centrepins by makers such as Hardy. Hardy Silex, Hardy Superba, and Hardy Super Silex reels are all good finds for an older, but easily usable reel if they are in good condition.

If we go through the period of the last 40-50 years, many bushing reels were made. JW Young brand and Avon are a couple. Nowadays, very few bushing reels are made, but one that really stands out that is locally made in British Columbia, is the Milner Reel, made by John Milner in Cranbrook. John uses the finest materials and components when crafting his reels, and they have become a staple in the centrepin angler's arsenal. Built in sizes that are most desired for our waters, Milner reels are tough to beat. That being said, there are many other reels available on the market in a bearing style, such as the Okuma and Islander Reel.

While not as pricey as the Milner Reels, these manufacturers produce a solid reel for our West Coast Rivers. Again, there are different models available to suit your needs.

Milner Reels (Made in Cranbrook, BC, Canada)

Models Available:

  • The Talisman (4″ -4 1/2″) Bearing or Bushing
  • The Kingfisher (4″, 4 3/8″, 5″) Bearing or Bushing
  • River Wraith (3 3/4″) Bearing
  • The Manx (4″) Bearing or Bushing

Islander Reels (Made in Saanichton, BC, Canada)

Okuma Reels

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by email, by phone at 604-931-5044 or stop by Sea-Run Fly & Tackle at #110-1140 Austin Avenue in Coquitlam BC.

Good luck on the water.

Follow and Like Us

Like us on Facebook:
Follow us on Instagram:
Email us:



  • by James Morrow

    Surprised to hear the bearing reels are a slow start up. Not my experience.

  • by Bernie Chico

    Hi Andrew I’m looking at JM Manx 4” bushing if you have them in your store let me know, I’ll come and check it out

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing

You have successfully subscribed!
This email has been registered