Mitchell’s Hybrid “Wedding Cake”

Tournament Casting Spool     

  By: Ron Elsenaar, Jan Haanstra & Dennis Roberts  


When you think you finally have it right, along comes another dent in that armor of certainty. We think the uncertainty of not knowing what Mitchell produced (including many of their specialty / custom order models) is what drives this hobby to the limit. Not knowing if and when another oddity will rise from the shadows provides that adrenalin rush that makes the hobby exciting.   

Mitchell Hybrid "wedding cake" Tournament caster

I received an email from a friend who while fishing in Sweden, came upon this special tournament reel; a sort of hybrid of the original “wedding cake”. Our conversation with its owner, Ron Elsenaar revealed some amazing details about its pedigree. The reel is identical in all aspects to that of an original “wedding cake” minus the ridged spool. Now the question becomes, did Mitchell make a tournament model having a smooth “wedding cake” type spool? If you think about it, line that is used for casting is very fine and has minimal cohesion properties. This makes a spool having ridges a better choice for keeping line in place; or does it? If we look at the two-stage conic tournament spools offered by Mitchell, you will see a very smooth surface and a noticeably increased angle of incident as compared to the “wedding cake”. So why did Mitchell make the “wedding cake” spool smooth with a slightly different geometry?

Angled View of Tournament Reel

We posed that very question to a one of the leading authorities on tournament casting and spool design, Mr. Bill Burke. Bill, for the most part, agreed he too had never seen a “wedding cake” spool like this and offered his perspective.  We can see from the attached pictures that the 3-step manual pickup is original. The smooth spool pictured below has a slight taper for the entire length of the portion holding the line. This spool is minus the two separation lips that exist on the original “wedding cake” spool that act as an end stop at the end of each pickup’s travel.  For the MP system to track the line properly onto the spool, this spool would have to be about 1/8 inch shorter than the factory original because of the spacing between pickups.  

Smooth Wedding Cake Spool


Original Wedding Cake Spool


Our guess is that when spooling on line, there will be a gap between each pickup that may compromise the line formation on the spool.  Also, you will note two other distinct differences in this spool from that of the original “wedding cake”.  Count the grooves on the shock portion of the original spool shown below.  There are 8 grooves while the factory original “wedding cake” has only 7.  The second major difference is the width of the spool just behind the shock cone area on the original factory spool – it appears to be much smaller than the middle area.  In comparison, the smooth “wedding cake” spool adjacent to the original below does not have this pronounced decrease because it has a continuous taper from front to back. It would also appear Mitchell did not compensate for line placement when they removed the lips on the spool.

Angle view of smooth wedding cake

Locking ring on handle

Reverse side of housing internal gearing

Internal gearing

It is our collective opinion that this is a one-of-a-kind Mitchell tournament casting spool, more than likely, produced as either a proto-type / experimental piece that was never intended for circulation or it is a custom built hybrid as part of a special order for a tournament caster wanting a spool like the two stage conic models but using a “wedding cake” design. I think the premise of making a smooth spool was to increase casting distance similar to its two stage counter-parts.

The story does not end here as additional information should be forth-coming that may provide some insight from Ron Elsenaar as to why the spool was built this way and not with dividing lips.

Rear portion of smooth wedding cake spool

 A special thanks to Ron Elsenaar for sharing the historical information about the reel and spool and to Bill Burke for his assistance with this article.    

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