Our History



Mako Reels began in the late 1980s as an idea. Jack and Judy Charlton wanted to produce a world-class fishing reel, and started the design of reels that would become the Charlton Reel Company. Jack had been involved early on in the evolution of CNC machines used in the aerospace industry, where Jack was considered an expert in their operation. He brought that expertise to the creation and manufacture of his reels when he founded Charlton Reel Company in 1993.

By 2000, Charlton reels had become the gold standard in fly reel design and overall quality.  Charlton reels are considered one of the highest quality, most valuable fly reels available in the market, and are fast becoming collectors’ items.


Some of what makes the Charlton/Mako Reels most special includes:

-  Charlton reels featured the first sealed drag system, which has since set the standard for such  systems. Mako Reel drag systems are incorporated in the only reel manufactured today that can stand up to harsh saltwater conditions and the toughest, fastest fighting gamefish found in remote areas of the world, such as the Seychelles, Christmas Island and Costa Rica.

 -  Charlton reels featured the best anodized metal finish among their peers in terms of both function and aesthetic beauty. Charlton was the first reel company to offer a true Type III anodized finish as well as a beautiful Type II finish. The key to the quality of the anodized finishes is in the way Jack prepared the 6061 aluminum parts prior to anodization. The Charlton/Mako proprietary metal finishing equipment and procedures are the key to the anodizing outcome.

 -  Charlton reels were the first to incorporate a “configurable” design that allows for the substitution of more than one spool for a given frame, allowing just one reel to be used for a variety of applications and with a wide range of backing and line weights with various spools.


How Charlton became Mako

The above features and more found in a Charlton reel have been carried over to the Mako product line, but the path to get to the modern Mako wasn’t a straight line.

In 2000, during the height of the high-tech boom, Jack and Judy were approached by an industry insider to combine Charlton Reels with about a dozen other fly fishing companies into a public company, StreamWorks. StreamWorks soon thereafter approached 3M Corporation in an attempt to add 3M’s Scientific Anglers Division to its portfolio. As often happens, the target becomes the acquirer, and 3M purchased StreamWorks in 2001.

From 2001 to 2003 Jack and Judy made Charlton reels as employees of 3M. In 2003, the Charlton’s and 3M parted ways when the manufacturing operation was moved to Minnesota. After completing a two-year non-compete agreement with 3M, the Charlton’s started a new venture: The Mako Reel Company was established in Burlington, Washington, in 2005.