Our History



Every great innovation starts with a hunger – a desire to break the mold and do something in a new and better way. For Mako Reel Company, the story begins with Jack Charlton, an aerospace engineer with a passion for fly fishing who took his expertise in precision aerospace machining and applied it to an antiquated piece of fishing equipment. The result? A state-of-the-art fly reel that has changed the experience of fly fishing forever.


Early Charlton Reels featured the very first sealed drag system, setting the standard in the industry. At Mako Reel Company, we’ve continued Jack Charlton’s legacy, while continuing to innovate and develop the best reels on the market. Sealed, carbon fiber drag systems are at the heart of every Mako Reel – the only reels manufactured today that can stand up to harsh saltwater conditions and the toughest, fastest fighting gamefish in the world. Our goal is to provide the very best equipment so you have an exceptional experience whenever you go out on the water.

 Charlton Reel Company was the first to offer a true Type III anodized finish (black) adding to the exterior durability. The Charlton/Mako proprietary metal finishing equipment and procedures remain one of our secret weapons today.

Charlton Reels were also the first to incorporate a configurable design that accommodated more than one spool for a given frame, freeing users to use one reel for a variety of applications with a wide range of backing and line weights with various spools. Mako continues to explore ways to maximize your reel so we’re always your go-to when you go for the big fish.

A Mako Reel is a lifetime investment – a heritage piece you can pass down for generations. Mako Reels stand the test of time as things of true beauty and superior function. Early Charlton Reels have kept their value and are fast becoming collector’s items. Mako Reels promise to do the same.

When you choose a Mako Reel, you step into fly fishing history.



A Timeline...

 1965 – Jack Charlton begins a career in precision aerospace machining in the Los Angeles area.

1974 – Jack establishes his own precision aerospace machining company, acquires state-of-the- art CNC equipment and becomes a supplier to major aerospace and medical manufacturers.

1980 – Jack designs his first fly fishing reels and establishes Charlton Outdoor Technologies.

1991 – Jack moves his aerospace machining facility to the Pacific Northwest, where he can pursue his passion. While commuting by ferry from San Juan Island, new ideas for reel designs go from sketches on napkins to industry-busting innovations. 

1993 – Jack decides to focus on his innovative fishing reels full-time, founding the Charlton Reel Company in Burlington, WA and launching into physical manufacturing.

2000 – Charlton Reel Company joins forces with StreamWorks, a soon to be public company made up of about a dozen fly fishing companies.

2001 – StreamWorks is acquired by 3M. Jack and Judy continue to make Charlton Reels under the umbrella of 3M.

2003 – 3M moves their manufacturing to Minnesota. Jack and Judy retain their designs and, after a two-year non-compete with 3M, they reclaim their independence.

2005 – Charlton Reel Company is reborn as Mako Reel Company. 

2011 – Jack Charlton passes away. His wife Judy takes over the company.

2015 Judy Charlton retires and Mako Reel Company is purchased by Jack’s best friend and business partner, Mark Vorobik.

2018 Mako finds new ownership. Nick Garcia takes over as Director of Operations and launches an exciting new era for the company.

2020 – Mako moves offices and manufacturing operations to beautiful Bellingham, WA.