Newell Reel Research

Through my work on Newell reels over the past few months I thought that I would pass on what I have learned to those that can use it.  This is for the Newell buyer intending to use the reel.  This is not intended to be a comprehensive review for collectors.  First, some history of the reels, credit to

Aluminum reel bases, spools, posts, star and handle. The spools had a metal hub for the metal clicker. The posts had holes bored into them to decrease weight. The handles were all solid aluminum.

– SS parts included: jack handle, main gear, pinion gear, dog, clicker set, bearing cups, bridge assembly, bridge sleeve.
– Gear ratios – 4:1 and 5:1
– Unitized bridge assembly
– Main Gear/Bridge Sleeve – The bottom of the main gear was recessed so as to be able to accommodate a 4th fiber washer. This fiber washer made contact with a fixed ss washer on the bottom of the bridge sleeve. Therefore, this was a 4-stack drag system with jigmaster size washers.
– Model Numbering System – There was no letter to designate this series…i.e.) 220-F
In addition to the F designation, there may have been a T designation . F designated 5:1 and an M designated the reel as 4:1 All model numbers as well as the “Newell” and “ball bearing” logos were inserts.
– Models: 220-F, 229-F, 235-F, 322-F, 332-F, 338-F, 338-J (or FJ), 344-F, 344-J (or FJ). The J stood for jigging. These “J” models came with a ss top bar.

P SERIES (approximately early 80’s thru mid to late 80’s)



– Aluminum reel bases, spools, posts, star and handle. The star, though still aluminum, was slightly different and the aluminum handles now had holes bored into them. The sideplates were redesigned to be thinner and not as rigid as the blackies.
– SS parts were the same as the blackies. In addition, Carl added ss rings to the new sideplates.
– Model Numbering System – The P was the letter designation in front of the model number – i.e. P220-F. In addition to the F, I believe there was also an M and T designation after the model numbers. The models came in 5:1 and 4:1 gear ratios. All logos on the plates were still inserts.
– Models – Same as the blackies except for the P designation. Also, the 400 models were introduced – P440, P447 and P454.

G SERIES (approximately late 80’s to early 90’s)
The 3rd generation of Newell’s were made with a new idea in mind, namely, to make the most corrosion resistant reels made. Graphite composition was to become Carl’s new obsession. Beginning especially with the G series, minor changes were made to production reels without changing series.

G’s also retained the P main gear, therefore it could accommodate a 4th washer. Later on, the main gear was no longer recessed on the bottom, therefore, this was now a 3-stack system. The bridge sleeves were now brass without the fixed ss washer on the bottom for the 4th washer. The ss bearing cups were unchanged.
– Model Numbers – Same as the P’s except for the G designation

“NO LETTER” SERIES (approximately early 90’s through mid 90’s)

4th generation Newell reels. There weren’t many changes in this series from the G series except for one very important factor…..Quality control. While this was still a fairly decent series when it came to quality components, the quality control begins to fall apart about this time.
– SS Parts – The jack handle retained the graphite top. The clicker set was plastic. This was the last series to retain the ss bearing cups.
– New Models – 500 and 600 series….533, 540, 546, 550….631, 636, 641 and 646.
– Gear Ratios – 200/300/400 series came in 3.6:1 and 5:1. The 533 came in 4.6:1 and 5.5:1. The 540 came in 3.2:1, 4.6:1 and 5.5:1. The 546/550 models came in 3.2:1 and 4.6:1. The 600 series came in either 3:1 or 4.2:1. There was also a short run of 322-5 and 322-3.6 size reels made. Some were designated as 322-5 (or 3.6) while others were designated as “300”. These were the numbers engraved onto the sideplates. Old P series aluminum spools were used. Some spools spread due to incorrect mastic mixing at the factory. Most spools, however were leftover P series spools and they were fine.
– Unitized bridge assembly – No major changes.
– Main gear/Bridge sleeve – 200/300/400 main/pinion gears retained the same 3-stack jigmaster size drag system. The 500 models used a larger main/pinion gear that had 4/0 size drag washers, actually a bit larger. The 500’s used a 3-stack system. The 600’s used the same size drag washers as the 500’s but the main gear accommodated a 5-stack drag system.
– Model Numbering System – The “no letter” series didn’t have a letter in front of the model numbers. Also, instead of an F, M or T to designate the gear ratio, the actual gear ratio number would follow the model number. I.e.) 220-5
– Model Numbers – No pre/post letter designations. 500 and 600 models were added to this “no letter series (see New Models).

“C” SERIES (approximately mid 90’s thru late 90’s)
5th generation models are introduced. Quality control is still a major concern. In addition, ss components are now a major issue. Inferior ss is now corroding while sitting in the retail outlets. Bearings are also a weak point. This series is widely considered to be the weakest of all series.
– SS Parts – The last remaining external parts, namely the bearing cups, are now replaced with an adjustable left plastic cup and a fixed right cup. The right cup can no longer be taken off, instead, the right plate must be disassembled to reach the right bearing.
– New Models – None. There was another short run of 322-5 (or 3.6) reels made. The sideplates were designated as “300”. Some of these 322 aluminum spools spread because there was one bad batch of mastic made at the factory. Most spools were taken from leftover P series spools so they were fine.

“S” SERIES (approximately late 90’s to 95)

Graphite bases, posts, spool, stars and handles.
– Changes/Variations – The reel base screws now “go thru” the base. An adjustable left ss bearing cup is available at an additional charge. Also, during this time period, an aftermarket aluminum handle is made in the 400 size. This size will also fit well on the 500/600 models. Make sure you add some locktite to the screw and do NOT let the locktite touch the plastic areas.
– SS Parts – no changes.
– New Models – None
– Gear ratios – no changes.
– Unitized bridge assembly – Changes made, I believe, for the new screws. Plates were also modified.
– Main gear/Bridge sleeve – no changes.
– Model Numbering System – An “S” now preceded the model number.
– Model Numbers – As stated in the C series section, the 400 models may have been discontinued during this time. It may not have affected certain regional markets (i.e. Hawaii).

So what does all this mean for a Newell reel buyers?  Buy an early P, G or no letter Newell with the following features:

  • SS Bearing caps
  • Avoid any model that has frame screws that are flat on either side of the reel as this was a screw that extends through the frame and across the whole reel and is prone to locking in the frame after corrosion.  Buying one of these is a gamble.  If you can get the screws out you can put a Tiburon frame on it with the short screws to eliminate the problem.
  • C models should be carefully inspected prior to purchase.
  • Early P models that had the 4 drag system are superior in performance and value.
  • If its colored, say like purple or red, expect to pay big money for the pretty colors.
  • The 500 series seems to be very popular in Hawaii to fish for Ulua.  They are considerably more money.
  • The Gs have been around a long time and it is hard to find one that has perfect lettering on the labels. The neat thing about those red stripe handles is that the shaft in the knob is actually SS just like the P handles. All the white line handles have aluminum shafts in the knob.
  • The handle side bearing cup is always tight. The other side is used for adjustment. You may need a skinny washer under the bearing on the left side. This is where you really need to know what you are doing. If you put a washer under the bearing and it centers up then there should me no noise just spin.
    With the reel together you should be able to see an almost equal amount of the little spools shoulder on each side.
  • Never grease the ID of the pinion. TSI 321 or reel X for maximum spin speed.
  • Always be careful with the fine thread handle nut. Extremely easy to cross thread and when handle is square the nut will look slightly cocked. Look close.
  • This is where people mess up with Newell’s.   You can add just a tiny bit with an old toothbrush but just a very tiny bit. Greased gears will sound bad and run rough in a Newell. No grease on the dog. It needs to click crisp.
  • Target prices:
    • 220-235 P, G, No Letters in excellent condition $150-$175
    • 220-235 P with 4 stack drags $175-$200
    • 332-338 P, G, No letters $150-$200, 322 are running $250 or more.
    • 400 series $175-$250
    • 500 series $300+

Newell R220-5 Refurb

So why buy a reel that has been out of manufacture and the company is long gone?  They are bullet proof fishing machines that handle the harsh saltwater conditions well, light weight with crazy free spools!  If you get one, you will see what I mean!





About steelheadkiller

Just a fisherman who loves a great reel...

4 Responses

  1. John

    As far as Blackie reels having no letter after the model #, as in 338, my Newell Blackie, on the handle side reads: 344•FJ, for the fast 5:1 gear ratio desirable for jig fishing.

  2. Lomax Chris

    I own about 16 or 17 Newells. I say about, because I have 14 reels, and enough parts to build 2 or 3 more. I started fishing Newells in 1983. After I had 4 “P” series reels, the “G” models came out in 1986 or 87? I got a G 220 from.the initial run, and it was a decent reel. I quickly realized however, that I much preferred the “P” series reels. I started buying all the used P’s I could find. Back in the late 80’s, many of the Newells I bought were almost brand new, from people who never used them. I don’t think I ever paid more than $75.00 for a Newell back then.

    For many years, all my local gear up to 40lb was Newells. In the past few years, I have started to use Shimano Tallicas, but I still always bring a P220 for light line, and a P332 for throwing surface iron on 30lb. I also use a P440, and a P533 5.5 fishing wahoo on long-range boats.

    What is important with Newells, is to service them regularly. It is important to clean off old gunky grease and oil, and replenish with new. Most of my Newells are 35-40 years old, and still fish like new!

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