Farlow Barrett Spinning reel c.1927-40

One obvious and very effective brake device is your finger!

So using this principle, Farlow of London set about developing and filing a Patent application for the Barrett spinning reel.

Initially appearing in 4” it soon became available with a 4-1.2” diameter drum.

The idea was genius. We all know that finger pressure on any spool not only gives control but more feel of what is happening at the fishy end.

Drum style spinning reels like the Hardy Silex relied upon simple to intricate brake and over run systems. Many worked and some did not but the reel did it all with just a little help from the external brake lever and rim tension dial adjuster.

The Barrett however relied upon the angler’s experience and touch to increase or decrease the brake pressure on the spool backplate to set the tension required.

In the 1930’s Farlow tackle guides, a full page was dedicated to explaining the principle of the reel.

It suggests holding the rod by the fore grip with the right hand, the left hand sat behind the reel and the extended index finger neatly settles in the first brake hole.

It goes on to say “in practice it has been found that the braking action of the little finger is sufficient even when playing heavy fish.“

This finger braking could also be employed on casting heavier baits, leads and tackles to prevent overruns.

Two distinct styles of the Barrett are shown here.

The first model has a natural alloy finish with black handles and lacks any on/off check button.

The second edition by J W Young (sometimes called the Wye model) shows the typical JWY check and handles features, it’s JWY all over. Additionally, some of their Barrett reels had ¼ rim cut out to further assist the braking effort. How big were these fish?

Personally I prefer the earlier model for looks and simplicity. As always, the more time passes, makers just couldn’t leave alone a perfectly simple idea.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?


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