Billy Lee from Brisbane, Queensland began manufacturing reels pre-1917. Ads for these reels started to appear in March 1917. In the same newspaper, he had an ad that stated “Casting reels and all parts supplied. Repairs executed at short notice. W J Lee. 130 Stanley Street South Brisbane. Next Atlas Hotel.” Also in the same newspaper, he had an ad for “Lees Reels available at all leading tackle shops” These reels had a ball-bearing pivot mechanism and as seen in the photos, they were available in various sizes. The spools were mainly silky oak with the option of a ventilated spool (patent line dryer). The larger 5.1/4’’ was available with a metal spool with drag. The early reels came with cedar backs. There was also an ad for an aluminium back reel, as of yet none of these have ever been sited. Although a patent line dryer is mentioned in the ads for Lees Reels, we cannot find any corresponding patent.
The following article is out of a Brisbane newspaper in 1928: Mr W.J. Lee. Of South Brisbane. Had a very fine display of fishing reels. His own manufacture, at the recent Royal National Show. Mr Lee gained the coveted ribbon for metal work casting reels against all comers, and he also secured the second order of merit for woodwork casting reels. Samples of these reels are now on view at the business houses of Messrs. Mick Simmons, George Shaw Ltd. Les James and T.C. Beirne and Co. AUG 1928
Included in the South Coast district exhibit at the exhibition in a fine collection of the popular “Lee” and “Lixall” casting reels, made in wood as well as wood and medal. They are a Brisbane production, and are the work of Mr W.J. Lee, the well-known south side angler. In all is reels of varying places are displayed, including two rightly named “Big Ben” for deep-sea and big game fishing. The collection is well worth inspection.