The practice of attaching the other end of the line to a rod, at first probably a stick or tree branch, made it possible to fish from the bank or shore and even to reach over vegetation bordering the water.
For over a thousand years, the fishing rod remained short, not more than a few feet (a metre or so) in length.
As with the earliest rods made from streamside branches, the first longer rods were made of wood, which would continue as the dominant rod material well into the 19th century.
Kirby and his fellow hook makers eventually established factories in reel, based on the wooden lace bobbin devised in the lace-making town of that name.
It was a wide-drum, free-spooling reel, ideal for allowing line and bait or lure to float downstream with the current and suitable for certain kinds of sea fishing.
By 1770 a rod with guides for the line along its length and a reel were in common use.
The first true modern reel was a geared multiplying reel attached under the rod, in which one turn of the handle moved the spool through several revolutions.