That impulse buying of old fishing gear got a hold of me again and I ‘invested’ a tenner in an old American closed faced spinning reel, a Zebco One Classic Feathertouch. I love the look of these reels and have wanted one for a while now so when I saw this one online I made a silly bid and, hey presto! I won.

I will confess I know next to nothing about closed faced reels and even less about the Zebco range. My understanding is that in the States you can still wander into your local Walmart and buy a new Zebco closed faced reel for a few bucks but like so many other producers the manufacturing operations have moved to the far east and quality is but a shadow of the originals. I think I am right in saying that Zebco were based in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In my mind this reel would work well on a tiny 5 or 6 foot rod for those rare occasions when I free-line a worm or maggot for roach or cast tiny lures like devons on overgrown streams for trout. I went online to see if there was any information about Feathertouch and sure enough  there are avid collectors and enthusiasts aplenty. Even better, Zebco have a great website with lots of good information about their reels on it including short videos on maintenance. I am confident I will be able to keep this old lady in good nick and am looking forward to giving it a try.

Now what is this reel all about? Let’s look at some good and bad points.


  • It is small.
  • It is very light too, meaning it is great for the lightest forms of fishing
  • It seems to be very well made for a budget reel
  • It was cheap (always a good point for me)
  • It looks quirky (as above)


  • Line capacity is miserly so don’t go chasing big fish with heavy lines
  • The drag is basic to say the least
  • It is an old reel so I don’t know how easy/cost effective it is going to be to get spare parts for it
  • I don’t do a lot of very light spinning (does anybody use the term ‘threadlining’ now?)
  • I only rarely fish for Roach or Perch on rivers with bait either, so it is not going to get used very much
A relatively open section of the Clydagh river in Mayo. Access is a real problem on this river so baitcasting may be an option

All my rods are too big/long/heavy for this wee reel and light line so I will treat myself to a new fishin’ pole. I’ll pop down to Frank Bain’s fishing emporium on New Antrim Street and see if he has a sweet little bait casting rod for me to team up with the Zebco. With a rod like that I could even team it up with my old silver ABU Ambassadeur 4500 which I can spool some light nylon on (I knew those spare spools would come in handy one day). Then again, some ten pound braid, a short wire trace and I could use that set up to chase jack pike on the rivers! Suddenly the options open up and that is the beauty of an ultra light spinning outfit, you can fish in places where other methods are ruled out or so damn difficult that all the fun is taken out of it.

The Ambassadeur 4500CB, it will work well on a short baitcasting rod as long as the baits have sufficient casting weight

Going back to the Zebco, this ‘one classic’ model is a version of the famous ’33’ which Zebco built their reputation on. As far as I can make out these reels need to be spooled with nylon and not braid. The spring in nylon is required so the line leaves the spool when casting. I am thinking about using 6 pound nylon to fill this reel. That should be strong enough without compromising casting distance too much.

I will do the basic oil and grease stuff over the winter and have this little lady ready for the new season. My initial examination of the reel shows it has probably not been used for a long time and all working parts are stiff. Arthritic reels are caused by a lack of lubrication so that will be reasonably straight forward to deal with. There are no obvious signs of damage to the outside surfaces and if the innards are in similar shape I will be a happy man.

Sure, where would ye be going for a tenner?




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