Small Stream Trout fishing in Michigan

Shakespeare Wonderod

Back when Shakespeare was on the cutting edge of fishing equipment and my grandfather was doing trick casting demonstrations for them at trade shows, they would send Jake free equipment to try out. He stored his arsenal of fishing rods on a rod rack on a wall of his bedroom. Grandma didn’t complain that I know of but those were different times and I can’t imagine what my wife would say. As a little boy the fishing rods were a great source of interest to me and sneaking into his bedroom to look at them was a regular occurrence.

Jake had a favorite set-up – his “go to” rod and reel for most trout fishing and after he passed away it fell into my hands. I store the rod and reel in an old case and have not been tempted to use it even though as a kid I would have done anything to get my hands on it. The brown Wonderod stood out on his rod rack  and had a certain mystique mainly because over the years we associated that rod with Grandpa and many creels full of trout. It was like Minnesota Fat’s pool cue – there must be magic in it.

Back then fiberglass was the new thing – does that date this story? The rod was designed to go with the company’s closed face spinning reels, notably the 1810 and the 1756. The rod has a sliding reel seat over a lengthy cork handle and when the reel is attached it is attached at the butt of the handle. This allows the user to pinch the fishing line against the cork handle before releasing the bail. After the bail is released the cast is made and line released using the index finger – allowing great control over when to release the line and thereby helping casting accuracy. The line is stopped by using the same index finger to pinch the line against the handle – so the caster can stop the lure mid-air over the target. Jake achieved deadly accuracy (trout Point of View) using this set-up along with his underhand flip cast.

If you are a fisherman and ever wondered why 1810 and 1756 reels are mounted so close to the rod, that is the reason – so the line is easy to pinch against the rod handle. Modern spinning reels are mounted a good distance from the rod making manual control over the line almost impossible. I keep waiting for a tackle manufacturer to figure this out but I won’t hold my breath.

I am considering using Jake’s brown Wonderod and 1756 reel this spring as I know there is still some magic there and it will make my brothers jealous.  Note to myself: lock pole in trunk when not in use.

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9 thoughts on “Shakespeare Wonderod

  1. Anonymous on said:

    Placing the reel at the end of the handle also helps with the balance of the rod. With your lure attached, find where you can balance the rod on your middle finger; at that point, complete your grip of the rod. This simple trick will let you fish indefinitely without getting a sore wrist.

    The reel is the counter-weight to the working part of your fishing rod and your lure. Modern rods have the reel forward in the handle. which puts what should be the counter-weight at the fulcrum. Presumably this helps lake fishermen, who can put one hand on the base of the rod and the other by the reel, and double hand cast the lure as far as possible. Accuracy is apparently not relevant.

    Spin casting for trout is done one-handed. The fulcrum needs to be at your hand.

    With rods like the Wonderod, not having a bunch of rod handle behind the reel also prevents the handle from interfering with casting. On trout streams we are not using a two handed cast trying to see how far we can throw a lure. We want to make a precise drop of the lure two inches from an undercut bank 20 or 30 feet away.

    Too bad the only rods made today with a reel seat at the back end of the handle are the ultra-lights, noodle rods, and fly rods. Fishermen who spin fish trout streams have been abandoned by the tackle manufacturers. I sometimes wonder if anyone at the tackle companies actually ever go fishing (o.k., they apparently do a lot of bass fishing).

    While an ultra-light can be a pleasure to fish with, they are pretty much too flimsy to set the hook on a good brown and too short to leverage large fish away from tangles during the fight. Fine for fishing for brook trout on the tight little feeder creeks using a #1 or #0 spinner though.

    The 10 foot noodle rods are not designed for spin fishing small trout streams. They are too long and too whippy to spin cast. I did pick up a 7 ft Okuma a few years ago, which, while still on the long side, was a pleasure to cast. Too bad I broke it on a steelhead. Too bad Okuma no longer has a 7 ft rod.

    Fly rods are also too flimsy to spin cast, though I have done it. If you pull out your fly rod, you might as well fly fish.

    How I would like to see someone pick up the out-of-patent 1810 reel, which would create a market for rods set up like the Wonderod.

    Luther’s antique rod and reel may be obsolete, but they at the pinnacle of technology for spin fishing for large browns on small streams.

  2. Robert on said:

    Well Luth, it was not I that made the anonymous comment on your
    wonder rod. But it does seem to me that there is someone out there that
    fishes the way that we do!!! I have Jakes old tournament level wind rod
    and reel. I have used it several times with vintage lures for Bass and Pike.
    I no longer use an 1810 for trout though I own several including the one that
    belonged to Grandma Lucas. Being the youngest of the boys, I fished with her more often than I did with Jake. Just for fun, I learned to cast underhand
    with a Johnson push button reel on a four foot South bend fiberglass rod.
    Not only did I catch a lot of trout with it, I also caught several large carp
    off the Post office wall on the grand river. My oldest brother Mike still
    uses an 1810 and a white wonder rod for trout. Too heavy for me but I
    admire him for sticking with it! Feral

  3. Rich Kleinau on said:

    Reading this brought back memories of fishing with my dad and his 1810. I still use an 1810 II. Somebody really does need to bring back a reel like these. As you said the casting control is incredible.


    I fish the 1810 reels with a pashion. for a rod i went to the st croix 10 ft 6 . spinning rod for trout, i also fish big browns ,salmon and steelhead with the st croix 9 weight fly rod. the combinations are increadable. in michigan i fish the white river,the north branch, the betsey, the olsolvo and others.(THE SPELLING MAY BE OFF) in new york state it is the salmon river,genesee,oak oarchard and streams within a 50 mile radias of the oak oarchard. i havent seen any other 1810 on the streams but i get a lot of questions about the reel. i probably own about 50(1810 s) and various 1700 up to the 1850s, above all the 1810 dk/fe and others in the series were the premere reel. why someone does not produce it is a question for reel makers, they seem to be all out for bass? thanks for reading this. RON

    • Richard Kleinau on said:

      Funny you brought up that the reel makers are all out for bass. My Dad and I fished primarily for bass back in the early mid 60’s when Rapalas were just becoming popular. Hard lure to finesse with spincast or openface. With the 1810 on a 7′ wonder rod the control was incredible. I currently use an 1810 II as I am a lefty and could never find a left handed 1810.

  5. MJMcEvoy on said:

    I have my father’s wonderod, but never knew that it was a spin cast rod. I didn’t realize that the Shakespeare 1756 went with the rod. I’m looking for a 1756 to use with this rod and fish the streams in Northern Minnesota.
    Thanks for the post, it helped me figure out justr what I had.

  6. A 1776 reel and a Wonderod with a cork handle and sliding rings – it’s retro – but it works! – Luth

    • the 1776, and it”s predicesors are still a great fishing aid. the rod is old technology but the only changes have been in materials. I fish the 1700 series and also the 1910 great reels, I keep up with the best with the old equipment. Shakespeare had great reels in the past, also some in this day and age. I feel that a lot of it has to be of cost of manufacturing. there are not too many all metal reels out there. good fishing to you. RON

  7. This is a grreat post

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