Abraham Coates, from Watertown, NY, patented his little 2-speed reel (#379,683) on March 20th, 1888. Not satisfied with offering just one version of his reel, Abraham offered two set-ups for fisherman to choose from with the same basic design. One, a true side-mount version that would fit on any standard fishing rod, and the other a rod-n-reel combo outfit that would allow a rod end to fit into the handle section. While not the first to produce a multi-speed retrieve ratio reel, Coates is the first to incorporate this feature into a side-mount reel. The very skinny side plates housed gearing, that when used via the screw in handle, would produce a 1:1 1/2 ratio. Having played with this feature, I must agree with A. J. Campbells¹ assessment that many of the pebble sized screw-in caps ended up on the stream bed, never to be found again. The tiny handle is not the easiest thing to manipulate from one post to the other, let alone hold onto and screw in that tiny knurled cap to the vacated handle post. The center post position provided 1:1 action. Manufactured by the Watertown Rod & Reel Company, and advertised in the April 1890 Sporting Goods Gazette as "The Duplex Rod and Reel", with the ad stating "As we make no other fishing rods...", indicating the Coates patent was the only item produced by this obscure company.
¹Classic & Antique Fly-Fishing Tackle, by A.J. Campbell, ISBN#1585744859
Coates Patent page 1
Coates Patent page 2
I'm always interested in adding reels to my collection. If you have a reel you'd like to discuss, trade or sell please feel free to e-mail me at Jim@sidemountreels.com