Mitchell Reel Museum - Mitchell Mates Discussion Group

Olympic 81 look a like
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Author:  toulady6 [ Sun May 01, 2011 3:15 am ]
Post subject:  Olympic 81 look a like

Hello mates,

I found this Olympic 81 with box and want to know some more about it .
It has a nylon transfer gear inside !.
who can give me more info ?

regards,   Dries ImageImage

Author:  Roy Allett [ Mon May 02, 2011 1:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Olympic 81 look a like

Hi Dries

I don't have any info for you but I can show you another version of the 81

There was also another model, the 29

Kind regards Roy

Author:  toulady6 [ Wed May 04, 2011 5:48 am ]
Post subject:  Olympic 81 look a like

Hi Roy , 

Thanks for showing the other versions .
Do you know in what  year they were made ?

Best regards,     Dries 

Author:  Roy Allett [ Wed May 04, 2011 7:21 am ]
Post subject:  Olympic 81 look a like

Hi Dries

I can tell you nothing from my own limited knowledge, however I have consulted Ben Wright's book "The Wright price guide for the reel man" and I can now tell you that Olympic reels were made in Japan in the 1960's and 70's.
There were three versions of the 81, a black one and a gray one as we have shown, these were both made in the mid 1960's. There was also a half bail version made in the early 1960's.

I also learn from Ben's book that many other Olympic models were made, there are two and a half pages of them listed in the book.

Great book, thanks Ben.

Kind regards Roy

Author:  toulady6 [ Wed May 04, 2011 8:57 am ]
Post subject:  Olympic 81 look a like

Hi  Roy   ,

Thanks for the info , I will try to get a copy of Ben,s book .
I have still many questions about Olympic and maybe collectors  from Japan can help us .
I,m looking forward to see some reactions .....

regards,   Dries 

Author:  piscesman [ Thu May 05, 2011 2:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Olympic 81 look a like

Ben has a brand new updated book out. VERY informational with 527 pages to boot. You can get the info for ordering it from It's a must for anyone collecting or dating spinning reels..................

Author:  toulady6 [ Sat May 07, 2011 1:03 am ]
Post subject:  Olympic 81 look a like

Hi Kim ,

Thanks ,I will take a look at this book .

regards,   Dries 

Author:  Plummerfrog [ Mon Jun 08, 2015 10:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Olympic 81 look a like

I'm in the process of doing an extensive analysis of all Mitchell 300 clones from Japan. While I'm not quite ready to write my planned essay on it, I have acquired a wealth of information so far.

I performed a similar detailed analysis of Plummer and Harrison tackle for my book. I found that an in-depth study of a specific 'secondary' tackle company always brings to light glaring errors in broad-based collectors' references, and Ben's treatise is no exception (I consider companies like Mitchell, Penn, Shakespeare, etc.--those who had high visibility, brand recognition and regularly published full-line catalogs--to be 'primary' companies) The purpose here, of course, is not to embarrass anyone, but to bring the actual history of an item to the collector community. Without the aid of old catalogs, magazine ads and tribal knowledge of specialized collectors, there's simply no way a broad-based reference can get all the details of a secondary tackle company correct--there's simply not enough time for an author to dig that deeply on a peripheral product.

First, the Japanese Olympic 81, manufactured by Ueno Seiko was first produced in 1952-1953 for export to the US. Yes, it's a division of the familiar watch company of that name, and the corporation is the current owners of Daiwa. They are best known in the fishing world for their exceptional fly reels from this early era. They were originally sold as a distinct brand to the trade, then were sold as a specific model under the Compac brand. Later, Olympic became a standalone brand with a full line of reels for import to the US. Although Olympic reels were indeed made in the 60s and 70s, their origin is years earlier. Additionally, there were so many variations in the Olympic 81 over the years (far more than three!) that it appears the company made modifications (and even a few impressive innovations!) with every production run.

From a purist viewpoint, I prefer the terms 'clone' or 'copy' to define these reels as apposed to 'lookalike'. There are over 20 model names (and numerous variations) that were clearly intended to be visually accurate copies of the Mitchell 300. To me, the inclusion of those reels that look something like or reminiscent of the 300 is both unnecessary and distracting.
For instance, I do not consider the Olympic Cheyenne 29 to be a true 300 clone. Beside the obvious difference in body shape, the rotor rotates clockwise (as viewed from the front) like almost every other spinning reel, there is no push-button spool, there is no spring or screw type handle folding mechanism, and the A/R lever is in the wrong position.

Although the angular black 81 pictured does have the correct features, its body shape causes me to label it as a 'quasi-clone'. It was a transitional model that began moving away from the pure clones as Mitchell apparently began cracking down on its patents (we know that by the mid to late 60s, all the true 300 clones had disappeared forever). The grey 81 pictured is the next variation after the black 81. The evolutionary distinction is how the reel was marked--the black 81 shown is the last clone to have the name molded into the sideplate casting, afterward moving to the cheaper adhesive label on the grey (and more flexible for quick removal predicated on possible infringement suits!). There is evidence here that Seiko was responding to looming Garcia and Mitchell infringement suits, but was apparently hesitant to completely abandon the lucrative design, creeping ahead incrementally to see exactly how much they could get away with while not being sued. The angular body was the first such step--there's simply no other explanation to justify it. The change in color from black to grey is perhaps another.

The grey Cheyenne was the next iteration of this pedigree after the black 81, and marked the end of these Japanese clones.

Dating is surprisingly easy on these Olympic 81s. The important point to remember is that the Japanese were trying to copy whatever Mitchell 300 was currently in production. Most would be surprised to learn how many of these clones were actually made in the 1950s. Details like shape of the feet, re-enforced arbor channel, handle knob, and other features all factor in. Handle and bail design are an exception--it appears as if many of the clones abandoned early on the spring loaded handle folding mechanism, 'arch' style bail end with inserted line guide and terminating welded bail ring as too expensive. If you have the box, that's an added bonus as we have a good idea when mfrs moved away from plain boxes with gummed labels to those with graphics printed directly on the box. One of the keys here is to take note that all the true clones have the boomerang A/R lever and the four-lobed drag knob. No true clone sports the three lobed knob or the straight A/R lever introduced in the Series 7 Mitchell 300 1967-68. They were all gone by then. The Cheyenne appears to be Seiko's last attempt to perpetuate some form of clone at this time.

All that said, I'd place the dating of the black angular 81 somewhere between 1959-62 with the introduction of the Series 6 Mitchell 300; the grey 81 with the stick-on label, 1963-67. A look at the baffle plates under the spools would help refine this even further--I personally have not invested in any of these angular reels in my study. The Cheyenne, because of its straight A/R lever and three-lobed drag knob, 1968 to 70s--the evolution in spinning reel designs during the 70s would have marked the end of the Cheyenne.

Hope all this is useful. Of course, any additional info any of you Mitchell mates have is greatly appreciated, since we know in the collector field that new data can change the current picture.

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