Jack Welch reels were first made after he was hired by James Heddon’s Sons in 1919 to develop a line of quality fishing reels to compete with the Meek reels. Jack had previously worked for B.F. Meek & Sons until the company was sold to Horton Mfg. in 1916. He then went work for Talbot Reel Company in Kansa City, MO before joining Heddon. His contribution to the Heddon line of bait casting reels was the introduction of the level-wind models. He received 9 fishing reel related patents while at Heddon. 8 of the patents were for the 3-25, 3-35, 4-15 and 4-18 reel designs. The other patent was for integral reel rod handle design. The great windshield wiper design reels were sold in 1922 as a No. 4-15 and in 1923 and 1924 as a No. 4-18. The last of the high quality reels made by Heddon were the No. 3-35 (1921 – 1926) and the No. 3-25 (1926 – 1931).
Jack Welch left the Heddon company in 1931. He then made some reels marked “Hand Made” and with his own name also marked on them. He made both a casting reel with a level wind mechanism and a narrow spool tournament reel without the level wind. Apparently Jack did not make his reels for very long due to their scarcity today. It is interesting to note that in the 1920 Dowagiac, MI US Federal Census his occupation is listed as “Superintendent, Reel Factory.” In 1930 his occupation is listed as “Factory Manager, Bait Factory.” And then in 1940 his occupation is listed as “Proprietor, Cigar Store” in Los Angles, CA. He moved back to Dowagiac and was listed in the 1950 census as “Unable to Work.” He died in 1969. Jack Welch reels are considered to be some of the great early reels made in the USA.
JACK WELCH Fishing Tackle Collection
JACK WELCH Tournament and Level Wind Reels
JACK WELCH Level Wind Casting Reel
JACK WELCH Narrow Spool Tournament Reel
JACK WELCH Bait Casting Reel
The JACK WELCH Reels, circa 1932
The Narrow Spool Tournament Reel, circa 1932
The Bait Casting Reel, circa 1932
JACK WELCH Reel Box and Instructions
The JACK WELCH Patents
JACK WELCH’s Grave Marker
Another Great Antique Vintage Fishing Tackle Link: