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Received this from my dear friend Capt. Jake Jordan this morning.


"The passing of my friend Jack Charlton:


On Friday morning June 10, I received a call from Judy Charlton with the shocking, sad news that my good friend and business associate Jack Charlton had passed away from an unexpected illness on June 9, 2011. My heart is filled with sadness and my eyes with tears as I write about this wonderful man, who showed passion for everything which he liked in life. Jack was one smart man, who exuded integrity, honesty, and unending love for his wonderful wife Judy. He also had a passion for sailing the high seas, and spending quality time with friends and family.

Jack will be remembered by those in the fly fishing industry as the person who engineered, designed, built, and fished with the finest fly reels in existence. His Charlton signature fly reels were world class, Jack gave me my first one in 1995. When he told me that he was going to "do it one more time" in late 2004 (Mako Reels), I was thrilled. Jack and Judy Charlton's Mako fly reels are recognized as the standard of excellence today in the fly reel world, Jack will be missed.

Just last year Jack, Judy, and several friends joined me for a rare (for Jack and Judy) vacation to Guatemala, it was Jack's dream for Judy to catch a Sailfish on fly, on a Mako fly reel. Well Judy caught a really big fish on that reel, and Jack was so proud, he captured that fight on his new hi def camera. There are many things that I can say about Jack Charlton, but mostly I am proud to say that he was my friend , I feel like I have lost a family member, and I will miss him a lot. Please keep Jack, and Judy in your prayers.


Jake Jordan"





"Jack Charlton was born on September 16, 1946 in Montebello, Ca. After a childhood in Tucson, Jack moved to Los Angeles and began working in a machine shop at the age of seventeen. His next employer specialized in machined aerospace products. In this job he demonstrated a real flare for precision machining and intricate design, these talents later manifesting themselves in the production of fly fishing reels. Jack met Judy Keen at the Scottish restaurant in Simi Valley (McDonald’s). This led to sailing in the Channel Islands and 39 years of marriage. A purchase of a getaway in British Columbia eventually initiated a move to the Pacific Northwest.


Jack liked to say because of peace breaking out, and because of a challenge, he designed and produced the first Charlton Flyreel in 1993. The first showing was in Livingston Montana, displaying Signature series 8400 and 8500 reels. In 1996 at the Fly Fishing Dealer Show in Denver Jack’s Charlton 8550 received best in the show for his revolutionary configurable reel. In 1999 Charlton Reels joined Streamworks, later being acquired by 3M. Jack continued to work for 3M until 2003. In 2005 he started Mako Reels which has continued to set the standard for the fly fishing industry.


Jack died of a sudden unexpected illness on June 9, 2011, he will be missed by many. Any one wishing to should make a donation to Hospice should make it in memory of Jack Charlton!"



Jake Jordan



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I am speechless and devastated! Jack was a one in a million type guy and exceptionally talented machinist/engineer. He will be very missed .......


My sincere condolences to his wife, family, and friends!

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Jack Charlton was a consummate designer and masterly machinist; his perfect creations exemplify a synergistic synthesis of creative genius, advanced materials, and CAD/CAM technology.


Jack's commitment to excellent design rightfully earns him a seat in the pantheon of modern industrial design.


Jack Charlton is irreplaceable.


Execution is the chariot of genius. Blake



From Jack's website:


Precision Aerospace Machining

Jack began his career in precision aerospace machining in 1965 in the Los Angeles area working for companies producing components for some of the leaders in the high technology arena. With the ensuing period of space exploration and growth of military technology he witnessed a wave of technological advances within the machining industry itself. After establishing his own precision aerospace machining company in 1974, he and his wife Judy acquired computerized equipment (CNC) in 1978. As a result, their quality and production increased to the extent that they became suppliers to many major aerospace and medical manufacturers.


Jack has owned and operated a group of companies over the last 33 years, all heavily involved in the latest technologies of precision machining, computer hardware and engineering/manufacturing software. As a result the latest precision machine tools and computer systems were employed at Charlton Outdoor Technologies that allowed the production of fly fishing reels made to standards of precision and engineering that met or exceeded those of the aerospace work performed for over three decades. Like the original Charlton reels the new MAKO reels are produced in the same facility in Washington State, United States of America.


Reel making?

After many years of fast paced activity in the aerospace industry it was clear that the industry was leveling out and this was an opportunity to employ 40 years of acquired knowledge towards producing a product surrounding the activities he loved. At the same time he could apply his engineering, machining and computer skills to a product that had become antiquated over the course of time; the fly fishing reel.


He believed if current technology and advanced materials were combined with an innovative design, one could develop 'a precision instrument for fly fishing'. After re-locating his aerospace machining facility from Southern California to Washington State in 1991, he began to formulate the original design for the Charlton Signature Series reels. Although conducting the normal business of producing flight control components for missiles on a daily basis; when commuting to and from his home on San Juan Island, he would make drawings on napkins then feed this information to advanced computer software when arriving at work. The result was the original Signature Series reel debuted in Livingston, Montana in August of 1993. The rest is history.


Q&A with Jack on reel design


Why Carbon drag systems?

By definition both Charlton and MAKO reels were destined to be different than any other reel previously produced. The truth was I had been exposed to only two other fly reels before designing my original products and believed that ignorance would be bliss if ingenuity could prevail. Cork brakes on automobiles do not exist for obvious reasons; so why on fishing reels? Thru experience I knew that when the United States Air Force wanted to stop expensive aircraft like the B-1 Bomber they did not choose cork or plastics. They chose carbon. When Indy 500 racers stepped up their efforts to brake from speeds of 200+ miles per hour, they used carbon not cork! So in order to produce 'a precision instrument for fly fishing', it was apparent a modern material would need to be used to provide powerful and predictable stopping. This was just a starting point.


Considering the applications of the modern fly reel, specifically, salt water fly-fishing, it was imperative the reel be absolutely sealed from the elements. To meet these requirements I drew from my experience in flight control hydraulics to create a reel sealed like the pumps on jet aircraft. No water, sand, salt or other contamination was allowed to ruin the performance of the product. With a reel having its' sophisticated mechanisms sealed, the angler does not have to lube or clean drag materials during an expensive fishing excursion. After developing a superior drag system the angler has the joy of dialing in just one turn (360 degrees) the reels full range of performance. No endless turns never knowing what to expect.


Why use Type III Anodizing?

Another issue most reel buyers understandably do not consider is the longevity of their reel. My answer to insuring the reel would maintain its beauty and resistance to corrosion is a process called Type III anodizing. Type III anodizing virtually penetrates the aluminum with near ceramic hardness while building-up on the surface by an equal thickness. Although the cost is many times that of Type I or II, it becomes worth it to the angler to own a reel that appears like new after many years of severe use. All-black MAKO reels come in Type III anodizing only.


Don't all reels have Quick Change spools?

Many small reels have offered a means of quickly removing spools for years. The original Signature Series reels pioneered quick change spools for large salt water reels that could be changed rapidly. It is one thing to retain the spool on a small trout reel but to do so with large spools that experience tremendous loads is another. The new MAKO reels adopt the same principles, making use of our 'taperloc' technology.


What is a "Configurable" reel?

Charlton Outdoor Technologies invented the configurable reel in 1996. This won "Best of Show" at the International Fly Tackle Dealers convention that year after only three years in business. It was possible to fish line weights 1 thru offshore with only 3 of the original Charlton reels. By simply snapping another spool for the desired line weight onto the reel spindle, the angler instantly changed capacity and line weight. MAKO reels are also available with a choice of spools for different line weights.


How can a reel have increased "Structural Integrity"?

All of us have slipped and damaged our gear. Broken rod tips, scratched or bent reels / spools, broken reel handles, you name it. The MAKO design employs a technique used in aerospace called "monolithic design". This concept eliminates the cheap hardware for fastening the mechanical components. Rather than attaching parts to achieve mechanical function, MAKO reels are made of complex and highly machined components that eliminate the need for useless hardware. Appearing as nearly one piece units our reels are comprised of precision machined components fitted together. Although expensive to machine, this provides uncompromised strength and beauty. Thus when under severe conditions the spool does not bend, the handle does not break and the drag system continues to perform flawlessly.


What is your basic design philosophy?


I have a pretty simple approach towards product design; give the consumer their moneys' worth. Make the difference between price and value apparent by building products comprised of the latest technology and produced to the highest standards of quality.

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That is indeed a shock. I had always hoped to meet him some day.


it was Jack's dream for Judy to catch a Sailfish on fly


I am really glad he was able to fullfill that dream. I was hoping to see my daughter catch a big tarpon this year, but her schedule didn't allow the time to get down there. Hopefully, next year will work.


My condolences to his family too.





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Met him at Somerset a year ago, felt like I knew him a lifetime, true gentleman-----very sad, our spot will miss him.

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Never met him personally, but feel as I know him from the descriptions many of you have posted about him over the years.

The world is definatelu short on gentlemen these days.

It's a shame to be short one more.

Prayers to his family.


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OMG I can't believe it...feels like only yesterday Jack was shaking my hand. We'd talked many times about when I'd be able to make it up to Washington as his guest and possibly a trip together to Australia next that will never happen. I'm completely in shock and saddened.


The fly fishing community, no, make that the fishing community, has lost a true legend and innovator and perhaps the finest reel designer ever.


My condolences to Judy and his family and friends.

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This a real tragedy, people like Jack are the culture of our sport, producing stuff that is regarded as the best of it's kind, functional artwork that eventually becomes the collectable legacy of our sport. Jack was a new generation Stan Bogdan, a self taught innovator who was regarded as the best. The sad part for us is that he probably had a lot more to bring.


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