James Heddon’s Sons Reels – Dowagiac, MI

James Heddon’s Sons reels were made starting in 1917. They hired William Carter to develop a line of quality reels. Carter had just left B.F. Meek & Sons. In 1917, they introduced their first Carter-built reels. They were the No.’s 30, 35, 40 and 45. They were available for only a couple of years. The No. 30 was the most costly and is scarce. In 1920, the Heddon 3-15, 3-24 an 3-30 models were introduced. The top of the line variations of the 3-24 and 3-30 were the full jeweled tournament (FJT) models with sapphire jeweled bearings and aluminum spools. On November 11, 1919, Carter received a reel patent that incorporated an improved click design that was used on his July 5, 1904 patent design while at B.F. Meek & Sons.

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).

One of the most popular reels sold by Heddon was the Heddon “PAL” P-41. This reel was designed by Walter Willman in St. Petersburg, FL. Walter Willman was a famous tournament caster and had many awards in competition. He received three patents for his reel and assigned them to Heddon. His patents were granted in January 1, 1946, in November 28, 1950 and in December 18, 1951. This was a lightweight reel and it had a screw-off ring on the head plate to allow easy access for lubricating it.

The James Heddon’s Sons early reels are considered to be some of the great reels made in the USA.

The HEDDON No. 35 Reel

The HEDDON No. 3-24 FJ Reel

james heddon's sons reels

The HEDDON No. 3-24 FJ Reel made for Schmelzers

The HEDDON No. 3-30 FJT Reel


Heddon 1917 Ad for Carter-Built Reels

The HEDDON No. 4-15 “Windshield Wiper”Reel

The HEDDON No. 4-18 “Windshield Wiper” Reel

The HEDDON No. 3-35 Reel

The HEDDON “PAL” P-41 Reel

WALTER WILLMAN Award Reel and PAL P-41 Patent Reels

HEDDON No. 125 “IMPERIAL” Fly Reel, Circa 1920’s


HEDDON 3-35 Field & Stream Ads