Getting Started With Centrepin Reels

Getting Started With Centrepin Reels

Introduction to Centrepin Reels. Also known as the single action reel, this is a free spooling/hand controlled reel that is used here in British Columbia for float fishing our rivers and streams for Salmon and Steelhead. In 1894, centrepin Reels were first documented and introduced by Samuel Allcocks in the UK. From the UK to North America, centrepins have evolved into a major tool for float fisherman and have been used religiously for the past 50 years or more 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.

So you may ask, why use a centrepin if it is a single action and dragless? Well, there are a couple main reasons centrepins are extremely nice to fish in our waters. The biggest reason for most anglers is the feel of using a reel like this, being that you control every movement of the reel, and can control the fish without the reel have a set drag. You will have a tendency to 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 overall effective in landing fish, but it is even 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 a drag free drift, 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 resistant on the line and set-up 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 float set-up.

There are two main types of centrepin reels available on the market; Bushing and Bearing. While both reels are effective, they do fish a bit differently from one another. 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 startup spin. Bearing reels have a slower start up, and take a longer time to load up before they really spin, and bushing reels have a smoother and quicker start up than a bearing reel. Regardless of the startup, both reels are effective.

Read our Islander Centrepin Blog Post.

This day in age, it can be tough to find bushing reels as a good majority of newer centrepins are a bearing style. If we take a look back into the 1940’s era, we are introduced into 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 such as JW Young brand, and Avon to name a couple. Although now a days, very few bushing reels are made, but one that really stands out that is locally made here in British Columbia, are Milner Reels, made by John Milner himself in Cranbrook. John uses the finest materials and components when crafting his reels, and they have become a large staple in many BC centrepin fishermen’s arsenal. Built in coordinating sizes and shapes 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 Reels. 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)

Models Available:

  • Steelheader (4 1/2″) Bearing

Okuma Reels

Models Available:

  • Aventa VT -1002 (4 3/8″) Bearing
  • Raw II – 1002 (4 3/8″) Bearing

Please call 604-931-5044 or email us at for pricing. Mail order available.


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