George W. Gayle was a silversmith and watchmaker by trade. The 1850 Frankfort, KY US Census shows
George did work for
Benjamin F. Meek as an apprentice. George went into partnership with his son
in 1883 and that is when they made their first reels. The first reel were solid
brass. George and Clarence went to work for one of the major reel manufacturers
in Brooklyn, NY in 1886 and 1887. When they returned to Frankfort in 1887, the
first reels they made for sale were German silver with hard hard rubber end
plates. Clarence Gayle was the main person involved in making the
Gayle reels found today. His reels can be found made of solid German silver and of aluminum alloy.
The "Standard" Gayle reel has a flanged head plate that looks like a man's top
hat. The "Frankfort Reel" style Gayle reels are the most ornate and heavily knurled reels.
They are of the highest quality. The reels can be found marked G.W. Gayle as well as Geo. W. Gayle.
Clarence also made a reels for the famous tackle
companies VL&A, Chicago and William Mills & Son, NY. The William Mills & Son
models were named "Intrinsic". "Intrinsic" reels came in the "Standard" and
"Frankfort Reel" styles and had extra fancy knurling. The Gayle fly reel is made of
aluminum and is also sought after by collectors. George died in 1896.
Later Gayle History - Clarence continued to make reels after his father's death
up until the 1940’s. Clarence started
marking his reels “HAND MADE” in about 1930. The last reels were marked “HAND
MADE” and the maker’s name “CGayle” in script. Clarence did make some reels
using B.C. Milam & Sons parts he had acquired when that company dissolved in
1928. Typically, these reels have Milam marked head plates with Gayle handles and
Gayle style knurling. Clarence died in 1948.
The GAYLE Reels
The GAYLE "Standard" Style Reels
The GAYLE NO. 1 Reel, circa 1900
The GAYLE NO. 3 German Silver and Hard Rubber Reel, circa 1900
The GAYLE NO. 3 German Silver Jeweled Reel, circa 1900
The GAYLE NO. 3 German Silver "Frankfort Reel", circa 1900
The GAYLE NO. 3 Reel, circa 1900
The GAYLE NO. 3 "Frankfort Reel", circa 1935
The GAYLE 2:1 Multiplying Aluminum Fly Reel, circa 1930
The GAYLE "INTRINSIC" Standard Reel, circa 1915
The GAYLE "INTRINSIC" Kentucky Reel, circa 1915
The GAYLE "INTRINSIC" Reel Variations
The GAYLE Fly Reel, circa 1935
The GAYLE No. 4 "Standard" Reel, circa 1915
The GAYLE No. 3 "Standard" Reel, circa 1910
The GAYLE No. 6 Reel, circa 1915
Marked "Made for VL&A, Chicago, by Geo. Gayle & Son, Frankfort, KY", circa
1900 Ad for THE GAYLE VL&A Pattern Reel
The GAYLE "INTRINSIC" Tarpon Reel
WILLIAM MILLS 1909 Catalog Image of The GAYLE "INTRINSIC" Tarpon Reel
Ad in December, 1888 "Wildwood Magazine" for Gayle Reels
GEO. W. GAYLE & SON 1896 Ad
GEO. W. GAYLE & SON ad in 1897 "The Amateur Sportsman"
GEO. W. GAYLE & SON ads in 1901 "Outdoor Life" Magazine
The 1935 GAYLE Reel Catalog
The 1935 GAYLE Reel Catalog
The GAYLE Reel Showing Surface Copper Oxide Patina From the Nickel Silver
To see the January 2017 ORCA Newsletter article by Ron Gast about Clarence Gayle,
click on the link below.