Mako Reels began in the late 1980s, when Jack and Judy Charlton founded Charlton Reels in Burlington, WA, near Seattle. Jack had been involved early on in the evolution of CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machines used in the Pacific Northwest, where Jack was considered an expert in their operation. Jack was professionally involved in CNC precision machining for the Seattle area aerospace industry. After a successful career in this industry, Jack founded Charlton Reels in 1993.
By 2000, Charlton reels became 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 becoming collectors’ items.
- Charlton reels featured the first, sealed drag system that has set the standard for a completely sealed drag system. This has become the foundation for Mako reels manufactured today. Mako reel drag systems are incorporated in the only reel manufactured today that can stand up to the harsh saltwater conditions and toughest and fastest fighting gamefish found in remote areas of the world such as the Seychelles, Christmas Island, Costa Rica, etc.
- 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 an extremely beautiful Type II finish. The key to the quality of the anodized finishes was in the way that Jack prepared the 6061 aluminum parts prior to having them anodized. The Charlton, and now 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 allowed the substitution of more than one spool for a given frame, thus allowing one reel to be used for a variety of applications and with a wide range of backing and line weights with various spools.
All three of the above features and more found in a Charlton reel have been carried over to the Mako product line. In 2000, during the height of the high tech boom, Jack and Judy were approached by an industry insider to roll up and package about a dozen fly fishing companies and take the combined company public. This offer was made in combination with a former Microsoft executive and industry insider. Jack and Judy, like the other company owners agreed to the scheme where they received equity in the new company (StreamWorks) in exchange for their company. StreamWorks soon thereafter approached 3M Corporation in an attempt to add 3M’s Scientific Anglers Division to its portfolio of companies. 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, 3M informed Jack that the Charlton manufacturing operation would be moved to Minnesota and that he and Judy would have to move with it. They refused, and completed a 2 year non-compete agreement with 3M. They then designed and started a new and improved reel company - The Mako Reel Company was established in Burlington, Washington in 2005.