In early 2008, I contacted
Eric Milner of John Milner Reels with an idea... Why not take an
already solid foundation of design and manufacturing, the Kingfisher
bearing model, and lighten it up bit? We conversed over the course
of several emails and then things simmered down. Our electronic
silence was broken many months later when Eric introduced the beta reel
via a post on our forums and soon after the reel arrived for product
testing. "The Manx" was born. Eric and his father, John, had taken the Kingfisher, in a 4"
diameter, and reworked it with a rather unique finish and porting pattern. Named after the iconic Manx Norton Motorbike.
These 495cc single cylinder motorcycles were designed and tuned for the
sole purpose of racing in the most prestigious 264 mile race of the time
(1950's), The Manx TT, held on the Isle of Man. The bike established
a reputation for strength, reliability, ease of repair, speed and handling
that was unmatched in Europe.
Does the reel live up to the
heritage and legacy of its name? We will soon find out! Right out of the box, I
recognized the design cues shared with the Kingfisher centre-pin line.
A careful movement up and down in the hand and I felt impressed with
overall mass. A quick flick of the spool set the spool spinning for
what seemed like an impossible amount of time. The larger spool body
holes were perfect for retrieving line via a finger flick (a prerequisite
for me) and the
clicker was strong and loud when engaged during a spin.
The beta design that we
received for testing shares cues from
The Kingfisher which include (in varying degrees) the clicker mechanism,
spool retention screw, the reel foot, the handles, the brass handle cups,
the porting holes along the edge of the spool, and the check lever.
Where the reel veers toward its own uniqueness is the abundance of large
hole porting (both spool and back plate) and the unique anodize finish
color. However, the production model differs in a few areas:
It has a ported arbor and “Snipe” style brass handles that allows easy
handle removal with a standard flat-head screw driver. In the quest for
lightness, the brass saddle has been replaced with an aluminum one. The
back plate is anodized in gun-metal blue and the spool in gold. John has
also changed the front face on all his bearing reels.. They now all have
the recessed “Snipe” center screw. In the future, expect to see
Talisman’s, Kingfishers, and Manx’s with the same Snipe center screw. Giving the spool a good push reveals bearings that run
smoothly with minimal (if any) mechanical noises. Peering at the
spool as it spins, it is quickly revealed that the pin has been built with
just as much attention to tolerances as any other Milner reel.
Pulling and pushing on the spool body in an attempt to create separation
between it and the back plate is futile as "slop" is not an
included facet of the design.
To state it short, sweet and fairly plainly...If you
have ever had an opportunity to fish or own a John Milner bearing reel and
like it...you'll love this little runner! Why would you need a reel
this diminutive? Easy, for small stream 'pining! When the main
tributaries are rip roaring with a deluge of flood waters and the need to
get a fix is too great to wait for the levels to drop, hit the tributaries
to the tributaries! With minor changes to the tackle, a centre-pin can
easily become a fish catching machine on spring fed streams bloated with a
mix of natives, residents and stockers.
I had the opportunity to put
the reel through its paces and, at the same time, through the ringer on a
several double digit steelhead and small trout expeditions. The reel
performs flawlessly on streams both locally and in neighboring states.
Regardless of the flow rates, I found that the reel kept pace and even
keel with what was required for line flow, trotting or otherwise.
The weight of the spool and overall weight of the reel seemed to fit
perfectly with the rod's I mated it too, performing best on anything from
9' - 11'6".
Production Model & Specifications:
Reel diameter: 4"
Total reel weight: 7.2oz
Frame weight: 4oz
Spool weight: 3.2oz
Bearings: Abec 7
Quantity Made: 99
Includes: Number matching hand made leather reel pouch and
certificate of authenticity
Cost: $750 CAD
I believe that you'll find
this reel is as impressive as I have. It is no mystery that I (and
many of the anglers I wet lines with) find 'pinning small streams an
enjoyable experience. Maybe the excitement is being the first to use
this technique in remote areas, theorizing that I'm the first to show the
resident species something that they had not ever witnessed before.
On streams that derive the majority of their flow from percolating springs
and contributions from underlying aquifers, the reel is everything I could
ever want. On larger rivers, on home waters, when the summertime
heat has reduced things down to a half or less of fall steelheading
grandeur, I found the reel battled 30" catfish and 18" smallmouth without
hesitation. Given the collectibility of Milner's reels, this
offering in a well engineered line of offerings, is a special as any other
of their limited runs. I would get one while you have a
The Manx is a limited edition
reel and only 99 will be made. It will include a Certificate of Authenticity
and a numbered matching leather pouch. The first batch is sold out and is
recommended you see your dealer and get on the waiting list for the next