A TAMBOUR FIXE (1/3)    


          Except the attractiveness produced by the old angling implements and whatever the reasons to collect them and so to preserve them are, what is undeniable is that they have all played a great part in the angling history through their conception, ingenuity, aesthetics and interestedness.

          If most of us take an interest in the reel range described by Jean Huillet in his book “Les Leurres Légers”, and more particularly in the first French fixed spool reels which have been patented (in 1935 let’s quote chronologically Vamp de Causse, Capta de Dubos, Luxor 1er modèle, etc.) yet we must keep in mind the precursor of the French fixed spool reel : Viscount Henry de France and its ingenious invention that is le Moulinet Rustique also called ‘the Green peas tin”.

          Viscount Henry de France died in 1947. he was 75 and lived in his forefathers’ house the old castle of Arry, in Somme.

          The angling newspapers of that time render him a national homage : “in this man of a so great culture, with such a marvellous simplicity coming from the highest traditions the angling world loses someone passionated, pure, an apostle, a pioneer. France loses one of its great brains in the same time as one of its noblest sons, in all meanings of this great and beautiful word.”

          Angling was not the only passion of the Viscount. His workings on dowsing and on water-diviner art show it. He was besides the president of several international congresses on this matter.

          Following an invitation to test the famous tip reel on the Viscount ponds, Tony Burnand has written an article in ABDE (Au Bord De l’Eau) magazine. He wrote these few words : “Henry de France isn’t only an inventor, not only a dowser, he is a well read man, he is the scholar that countries had wanted before the war to lead entrancing conferences and studies.”

Arry, the castle.


          He was irrefutably an inventor. The creation of this reel with end unwind and the ingenious system which recovers the lure thanks to this rod which is an integral part of the fishing rod are good proves.

          But who better than him could talk about it ? here is an extract of a letter Henry de France wrote a few months before he died.

          “I have recently had the idea of looking for the origins of the reel with fixed spool. The ancestor of all those existing now is the Malloch one (which name comes from a fishing maker in Perth). I had learnt it in a fishing trip in Scotland in 1903. When I had come back I had the idea of arranging it my way, without gimlet. I have resulted to this rod reel. I mostly used it for pike and white fishing because I have no trouts home.

The Malloch.
Ce moulinet était de prix élevé et l'on devait constamment
retourner le tambour pour éviter le vrillage de la ligne.

          I presented this reel to the Casting Club show. By consulting the year books I can read that 1910 I carried the first prizes off for the distance castings with 40 gr. and 48m550 with 15 gr. what is a record for that time. 1913 I wan a prize for a 43m500 casting with 7gr50. We indisputably are in the limits of light casting. 1910 I take a detail prize too (for 20, 25 and 30m. with 15gr.).

          1913 I described my first reel in a book called sport fishing, which had one edition and wasn’t published again. I thought I had improved my system by describing a tip that wasn’t fixed on the fishing rod. Since I have come back to my 1st model which seems to me more convenient while fishing.

" La pêche sportive "
dont on sait que le titre signifie exactement :
"La façon de pêcher sportivement par tous les procédés recouvrant au lancer,
y compris donc la coulée à une certaine distance".


          1914 war burst. We didn’t hear of reel with fixed spool for several years. Except if I make a mistake this reel seems to come back from England around 1932 following Illingworth workings (which were mostly contemporary to mine) but which were carried on and manufactured contrary to mine). I was very disadvantaged on that point. The tip reel even provided with an appropriate rod was very cheaper than an equipment with a crank reel. Then it is no surprise that it was the only one to be chosen. It’s nearly the same as for books. A popular brochure has less success than an expensive big book that permits booksellers to allow important discounts.

          I know that the unusual aspect of the tip was reproached to my system. But experience shows that one isn’t long in being good at using this system as well and as quickly as a crank one especially when one has taken care in trying to handle this tip, at first with no line.”