M-Pow-R Electric Reels: An Extra Hand for Anglers Who Need One

Many years ago, I wrote a series of articles on Royal Bee electric reels—lightweight, battery-powered fishing reels adapted for use in freshwater designed for folks to fish one-handed. Like many small companies with great ideas but limited capital, the products excelled, but the company eventually faded away.

During that time I passed a few of those reels on to Roland “Doc” Kehr, whose son Nate enjoyed fishing despite a childhood condition that limited the use of one hand. Nate and Roland took many fishing trips together over the ensuing years, with Nate becoming perhaps the world’s foremost field-tester for products of this persuasion.

And for an idea that Roland refused to let get away.

Doc, you see, has not only been my friend and dentist here in Brainerd going on 40 years, but he was also one of the former owners of Lindy-Little Joe Fishing Tackle and still is well-versed in all manner of tackle manufacturing and distribution. And, is someone with a lifelong goal to resurrect that original electric reel concept into a functional and affordable reality.

Fast-forward 20-odd years: Doc has brought that idea back to life with his line of M-Pow-R Fishing, lightweight electric reels, designed to give fisherfolks a hand where one is not available. Basically, M-Pow-R offers several motorized models powered by small, rechargeable 12-volt lithium batteries. The challenge was keeping both their weight and cost down while delivering a product that would hold up to extended use, avoid sucking up battery juice too quickly, provide sufficient power to retrieve lures at normal speeds, haul in small- to moderate-sized fish under power and be able to land larger fish using traditional fish-fighting tactics.

Guess what? He did it.

M-Pow-R has been around a few years now, although you’ll seldom see them in retail stores, despite an obvious, yet admittedly somewhat limited demand. Perhaps it’s best described as a “specialized” demand, not so much for the average consumer but a godsend to those who really want and need one.

We’ve been able to field-test one of Doc’s setups on the Brainerd Lakes Area Chapter of Let’s Go Fishing’s pontoon the past couple of seasons, and with excellent results. As advertised, these are dependable, lightweight, yet surprisingly functional and powerful units that allow elderly or physically challenged folks to pull in modest-sized fish with no problem. With bigger fish, well, you do just like you’d do with a standard rod and reel combo: pump up with the rod, reel down as you drop the rod tip, repeat.

The initial reel I tried a few years ago featured a rheostat on a belt-mounted battery pack that allows you to adjust the speed of retrieve to suit your lure style, say, a spinnerbait or crankbait. Using later versions without a rheostat, I found I could easily control the retrieve speed of lures simply by touching the activation switch on-off with my thumb, more or less pulsing the reel to achieve the desired speed. Forcing myself to keep my left hand in my pocket while casting a triggerspin-spinning reel, retrieving lures and landing fish—I admittedly landed them two-handed—I found it quite easy to adjust to the system. Doc still sells both systems, with or without the rheostat speed switch, providing the degree of control individual customers desire.

Admittedly, M-Pow-R electric reels are a bit on the spendy side, likely to run somewhere in the $350 to $550 range, depending on model and features. Rod and reel combos are available as well. But for folks who need something like them to be able to fish enjoyably and effectively, they are darn near priceless, and are the perfect gift for an avid outdoor person who literally could use a hand to go fishing on their own.

So, where do they sell them? Mostly online from their website at mpowrfishing.com. A surprising number of customers purchase them overseas; not so surprising is that many of their reels go out to customers who one way or the other discovered their existence through their local Veterans Administration office, which is always on the lookout to help injured service members adapt to circumstances that might challenge their activities in the outdoors.

One thing I can say is these products are the real deal. Admittedly, there are others on the market, some of which are quite large and heavy and designed for saltwater use. Others might do the job in freshwater, although likely not as well. Having been around M-Pow-R’s design and field-testing phases and witnessing the evolution of products firsthand, I can say with confidence that they will deliver on both their promises and meet customers’ expectations. I can’t guarantee they’ll find fish for you, but if you operate one correctly in the right place at the right time with the right lure or bait, chances are you’re going to smile at the results. And, putting smiles on people’s faces is what it’s all about.

Recently, Doc showed me some of the other tricks he has up his sleeve: adaptations that allow people to activate the reel by blowing through a tube, etc. Again, not a mass-market, million-seller to be sure, but surely worth a million to the right customer, making all the difference between remembering the good old days and keeping the good old days alive and well, and, looking forward to the next time they put them to good use on the water.