Vintage Garcia rods and reels?

zuren

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
Messages
83
Reaction score
0
Is anyone here experienced with the vintage Garcia Conolon Companion rods?  Were they any good, and would they be considered decent-to-adequate today?

My first "adult reel" was an old Garcia Mitchell 300 that my dad gave me.  I still have the reel, a couple extra spools and the original manual.  I'm not sure when or where he got it but it is very old.  Via the serial number I was able to date it to 1954.  Despite its age and lack of bells and whistles, it's a solid reel in good condition.  I would like to put that reel back into light use with a matching Conolon rod (if they were decent) or modern replica rod (I've dabbled in rod building; I would build it to appear old with underlying modern spacing and materials).  As for the Garcia rods, there were a few rods listed in the owner's manual that would be a match to the Mitchell 300:

#2101 - 6.5' - Light Action - 4-10# line - 1/4-1/2 oz. lure
#2102 - 7' - Medium Action - 6-10# line - 3/8-5/8 oz. lure
#2112 - 7' - Medium Fast Taper Action - 8-15# line - 5/8-1 1/4 oz. lure
#2508 - 6.5' - Light Fast Taper Action - 4-8# line - 1/4-1/2 oz. lure
#2609 - 6.5' - Light Fast Taper Action - 4-10# line - 1/4-5/8 oz. lure

Here are some examples of Conolon rods, but not sure from what year as the model numbers do not align with what is in my manual:
http://www.networkdimension.com/GarciaMitchellAds.htm

I'm leaning toward the #2101 or #2508 for my uses.  The easy approach is find a Conolon rod, probably on the auction sites, but only if they were not junk.  There seems to be some demand, but I'm not sure if they are being purchased as nostalgic wall hangers or being put to use.  The harder option both financially and time wise, but would be modern, is building something custom.

If you have any insight, I would appreciate a history lesson!  Thanks!   
 

LDUBS

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
4,284
Reaction score
111
Location
Clayton California
I have/had a Garcia Conolon surf rod. I'm not sure of the exact age, but that rod was older than my son (in pic below) so I would say at least 35 and maybe even 40 years. I liked that rod a lot and was still using it up until earlier this year when I got a new fancy graphite surf rod. I did replace the tip and the guides but other than that it held up well. I gave the old Conolon to my son. The only thing I will say is it is a lot heavier than the newer high-tech material rods -- important for an old guy like me.

BTW, I bought an old Mitchell 300 at a garage sale last year. It is one of the French made ones. Paid $15. When I was a kid, having a Mitchell 300 was a pretty big deal. Took me to 70 years, but I finally got one! Haha.


Conolon.png
 

Tinny Fleet

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 13, 2017
Messages
143
Reaction score
5
Location
Florida and New England
LOCATION
Melbourne Beach
Well this is an old thread, but perhaps it's not too late to offer some observations.

First, I would match the rod length/strength to your application. For most purposes something in the 6.5' to 7.0' range will do just fine. IIRC the vast bulk of the freshwater Conolon spinning rods were in the 6.5 length, so don't feel like you are missing something if you can't locate a "just right" 7' version. I always liked the 2506 and 2508 models.

Second, all of these rods were well made for the time. Maybe Alpha, but running behind the Fenwicks and Brownings. AND they were not only color coded but for some years they had a "star" rating up to five stars. IIRC the progression was green (1 star), Blue (2 star), Brown (3 or 4 star), then gold (5 star). The quality of the components would go up with each of the colors/stars, except I do not remember any quality difference between the green and the blue models. Just color. However when you went from the brown to the gold, the ferrules improved from chrome plated to the featherweight sizeamatic style (aluminum with o-ring). Also the reel seats improved as you went up the food chain. I owned and fished a bunch of the conolons (still do have a few).

Guidewise, the lowest models had a chrome plated "stamped frame" (unbraced) while the brown and many of the gold models had a quality chrome plated guide like a Varmac or a Mildrum, and were braced in the heavier models. Some of the gold models, especially earlier, had agate guides (precurser to more modern "insert" style guides).

I'm also a rodbuilder and have a couple of Conolon "finds" in blue and gold waiting for a make-over. When it comes to priorities for makeovers, I'll always lean to the golds. over the others: the starting basis is just a significant step up over the rest of the pack.

Hope this helps!
 

LDUBS

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
4,284
Reaction score
111
Location
Clayton California
Well this is an old thread, but perhaps it's not too late to offer some observations.

First, I would match the rod length/strength to your application. For most purposes something in the 6.5' to 7.0' range will do just fine. IIRC the vast bulk of the freshwater Conolon spinning rods were in the 6.5 length, so don't feel like you are missing something if you can't locate a "just right" 7' version. I always liked the 2506 and 2508 models.

Second, all of these rods were well made for the time. Maybe Alpha, but running behind the Fenwicks and Brownings. AND they were not only color coded but for some years they had a "star" rating up to five stars. IIRC the progression was green (1 star), Blue (2 star), Brown (3 or 4 star), then gold (5 star). The quality of the components would go up with each of the colors/stars, except I do not remember any quality difference between the green and the blue models. Just color. However when you went from the brown to the gold, the ferrules improved from chrome plated to the featherweight sizeamatic style (aluminum with o-ring). Also the reel seats improved as you went up the food chain. I owned and fished a bunch of the conolons (still do have a few).

Guidewise, the lowest models had a chrome plated "stamped frame" (unbraced) while the brown and many of the gold models had a quality chrome plated guide like a Varmac or a Mildrum, and were braced in the heavier models. Some of the gold models, especially earlier, had agate guides (precurser to more modern "insert" style guides).

I'm also a rodbuilder and have a couple of Conolon "finds" in blue and gold waiting for a make-over. When it comes to priorities for makeovers, I'll always lean to the golds. over the others: the starting basis is just a significant step up over the rest of the pack.

Hope this helps!

When you do a make-over on one of those old Conolon rods, do you keep the original look?
 

Tinny Fleet

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 13, 2017
Messages
143
Reaction score
5
Location
Florida and New England
LOCATION
Melbourne Beach
Try to. But the outcome is never "correct". Materials are so much better now that I'll often upgrade. Example: to guides with inserts, and EVA handles instead of falling-apart-cork. I try to stay close to the original color format though. Anyway, the outcome is satisfactory to me at least, and I get to relive my "yout-ful" days when I take them fishing.
 

LDUBS

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
4,284
Reaction score
111
Location
Clayton California
That's great. I replaced the guides on my old Garcia Conolon but didn't even try to match the old colors or pattern. I just used a color I thought was a nice contrast to the color of the rod. And I added a hook keeper.

I guess I'm stuck in my ways (some might even call me a dinosaur). I know the newer materials are superior but I still like cork handles. And, at the risk of causing all kinds of eye-rolling, I just can't get into the split-grip handles. :)
 

Latest posts

Top