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The Mitchell 302 was a saltwater spinning reel produced in two different versions by Garcia Corp. The reels were manufactured in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. Like other vintage Mitchell fishing reels, the 302 has a following among collectors and some of these well-built reels are still in use.
Manufacture and Distribution
The Mitchell 302 was made in France and came in a black box with a registration card, an instruction booklet and a manual. Garcia produced more than 2 million of the reels.
The half-bail reel was produced first. It is unknown when manufacturing of this reel began, but it was likely in 1951. Relatively few half-bail reels were produced, with estimates of 4,000 to 5,000 reels, making this version more desirable for collectors.
The full-bail Mitchell 302 was manufactured from 1953 to 1977. Records indicate that 2,192,741 full-bail models were produced.
The spool of the Mitchell 302 was rated to hold 400 yards of 10-lb.-test line, 350 yards of 12-lb. line, 300 yards of 14-lb. line and 250 yards of 17-lb. line.
Garcia touted the Mitchell 302's use of "Planamatic gears," which was a new feature in the Garcia line. Planamatic gears were designed to maximize spool capacity while winding the line evenly on the spool to prevent the line from "biting" into itself. The "biting" problem made it hard for line to come off the spool, causing casting to be very difficult.
The 302 had a smooth, stainless steel drag system, a tungsten-carbide line guide and a bearing-mounted shaft. The counterbalanced handle was designed to reduce wobble upon retrieval, and the torpedo-shaped handle was designed for comfort. The reel weighed 17 oz.
Joe Shead is a freelance writer specializing in outdoor writing. He has written for numerous national and regional outdoor magazines on various topics from hunting to fishing to his pet subject, shed antler hunting.