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Grading Old Reels

The system shown in the table below has been adopted by both ORCA and NFLCC as an official "shorthand" means of grading old fishing reels. The system requires that a reel be rated by two sets of criteria: appearance (or cosmetic criteria) and mechanical condition. A reel is ranked on a scale of 1 to 10 for each set of criteria. Although the system comprises a convenient means of providing an overall rating, it should never be substituted for a detailed description of the reel. The descriptions in the table include examples only, and they do not include all of the defects that may be encountered on old reels. A description of an "average" used reel might be expressed as "A7/M6."

Collectors bidding for reels in online auctions or who are buying reels by mail, sight unseen, would be wise to ask sellers to describe their wares according to these criteria.




Mechanical condition


Original factory condition; accompanied by evidence the reel was never used.




Unflawed. Looks mint, but no guarantees as to whether or not it was ever used.


Excellent. All functions work perfectly; no wear.


Excellent used condition. Hard rubber still polished; edges sharp; markings sharp; machining marks crisp; plating intact; no corrosion, pitting, chips, or scratches. Clean, though may have patina.


All functions work well, though some wear apparent. Spool fully adjustable; strong click; strong brake; smooth level wind. Worthy of use.


Very good used condition. Occasional light scratch; minor, normal plating wear; rubber edges may not be sharp; minor foot imperfections; clean; crank knobs tight


Very good. All functions work well, though complete adjustment may not be possible. Slight spool "dinging;" some click wear; brake pressure might not be maximal.


Very good but with minor flaws. Small chip(s); some plating wear; screw slots obviously used; light cleaning required. If recently polished, some surface defects.


Normal use and wear. Spool "sloppy;" click weakening; level wind wobbles slightly.


Good used condition. Chip(s); small dent(s); scratches from normal use; light corrosion; foot filed heavily or bent severely; some screw heads buggered.


Good. All functions work, but some may be fairly worn. Some gear noise; click may slip or be very weak; brake pressure weak; level wind needs new pawl.


Good, but with more serious flaws. Larger chips and/or scratches; heavier corrosion; light pitting; slight bends in pillar, crank; knob pin(s) bent or loose; may need small replacement part such as a screw, nut, or bearing cap. Easily restorable.


Functions work, but with some difficulty. Click or brake not functional; level wind jams; broken gear tooth or worn gears. Restorable with minimal effort.


Fair. Has significant problem. Heavy corrosion; buggered screws; cracked rubber plate; small broken part(s); missing major part(s) such as pillar, line guide, click button; foot seriously damaged.


Fair. Functional problem(s) requiring manufacture of minor part(s) if not replaceable from "parts" reels.


More serious problems. Broken foot or other frame part; bent or badly dented plate(s). Major restoration needed.


Major functional problem(s), possibly due to missing or broken parts that are not easily replaced.


Poor. May be useful for parts.


Poor. Major problems requiring major restoration.


No aesthetic value.


No mechanical value.

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