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Antique Fishing Lures: Not just for collecting anymore

Updated on March 26, 2013

All about antique fishing lures

Collecting antique fishing lures for me began when I was a very small child.  It was just one of those things that we did.  I had a very active grandfather that played a major role in getting me started.  He was my partner, my fishing buddy and is dearly missed, but I know he's found that prestine bay in the sky. I owe a lot to him.  He had a very extensive collection that we'd ponder and look at and wonder just what it was that made a fish attack it like it was the last morsel in the water that the fish would ever see. 

1904 Heddon Slope nose antique fishing lure

1904 Heddon Slope nose antique fishing lure
1904 Heddon Slope nose antique fishing lure

The Definitive Antique Fishing Lure Guide - You better have this

Old Fishing Lures & Tackle: Identification & Value Guide
Old Fishing Lures & Tackle: Identification & Value Guide

This is actually the very first book I bought when I started collecting fishing lures. Since then, I've picked up a few others but this one by far is the most comprehensive one that I've found. Not only do you get what you need, but it also contains quite a lot of history to go along with the lures. If you are a lure collector you need to know what you're stuff is worth and this is THE book that you need to have. This is the guide of guides for anyone who collects antique fishing lures.


Other Antique Fishing Lure Guides

Some antique fishing lure guides differ from one another. Most have everything but some are lacking a few. It's always a good idea to have more than one guide and draw your own opinion.

Heddon Dowagaic
Heddon Dowagaic

Getting Started

3 Ways To Get Started

If you are exploring collecting vintage fishing lures, then there are a couple of things you will probably like to know, prior to diving in. Below are some things that every serious antique collector need to know about.

1) The first key is to consider names in antique lures. In the gold period of fishing draws there was a group called "The Big 5". These are commonly recognized names and you most likely wont go wrong by learning as much as you can about these. Among the biggest names is Heddon. Enter any antique dealers or a convention, and simply discuss the name Heddon and everybody will understand exactly what you are discussing. They were most likely the first big lure company. So it might be an advantage to find out a bit about Heddon lures. Another big name to get to know is Shakespeare. They presented some distinct attributes in their appeals and their relevance can't be overstated. The "Swimming Mouse" is among their more famous lures. When you come to know a few of the big players and exactly what they produced, then this will assist you in the following action which is - constructing your network. Here's what you need to understand to get to that step.

2) Building your very own individual network of lure collectors is not just important ... its imperative. It helps you find chances, and your pals can protect you from scam artists. Typically when people do not have others to help them out, that's when they get into difficulty. Here are a few suggestions to assist you construct your own personal network. Learn more about nationwide companies like the National Fishing Lure Collectors team or NFLCC. They are found throughout the nation, and you shouldn't have any problem discovering members who can answer concerns you have about lures and collecting. An additional idea is to get to know neighborhood collectors. With regional deal with collectors, you can just get the phone and call somebody close by to show you tempts, or have them look at appeals you have. Having someone nearby is constantly the very best method to learn about a new endeavor. Especially with gathering classic attractions. Now you understand a few of the big stars in attractions, and the teams that you can see. If you wish to find out even more about antique appeals, below's what else you need to understand.

3) The last thing has to do with value. Just an attraction is old, and since it may be antique doesn't indicate it's valuable. How do you figure out worth? Generally there are a variety of factors that identify value in a fishing attraction, but there are a couple of that are the most crucial. One of the big ones is demand. Exists a big need for a lure. And are there restricted amounts? If the company that made them was little, and whole lots of collectors want their lure (which was in limited supply), then there's probably visiting be a greater price because of that demand. The other item is current market costs. Learn more about these due to the fact that this knowledge will assist secure you from scam artists. If you understand a market cost is too low, and you do your research and learn its the "real thing". then you'll understand whether to get on it, or pass on it.

Now that you know a bit more about the relevance of names, costs and your network, its time to put this to use. You most likely know more currently than lots of collectors. Especially, bear in mind for more information about the big 5 names, being familiar with residents in your area, and the NFLCC, then finally start learning even more about the pricing of different vintage attractions. So the next time you are in a pawn store and see a lure on the table, you'll know if you are looking at some unique find that nobody else understands about!

Heddon Antique Fishing Lures - A Collector's Dream

To start off with, it seems like anybody who's a collector of fishing lures has some kind of "Heddon" in their collection. I know I do and most folks that I know do as well. These lures first started becoming available widely spread throughout the land around the early 1900's. It's getting harder and harder to find the older ones, well, one because they are old and two, probably if somebody had them back then, they were actually using them because they caught fish. One of the first commercially available models was the "Dowagaic" and there's a pretty interesting story behind it. Supposedly, these lures came about out of happenstance as Mr. Heddon was actually waiting on a fishing partner and incidentally tossed in a small piece of wood into a nearby pond. When it hit the water, a bass actually hit the piece of wood. Thus bringing about his intuition to take that little piece of wood further and dress it up and put hooks on it to create the first top water plugs.

What made them so unique and so collectible today is that they were constructed out of wood and had some fabulous glass eyes!!

Antique Dowagiac Box - Sometimes the box is worth more than the lure

If you ever run across some old fishing lures, you're likely to every now and then run across an old box as well. Don't simply discard those boxes! In fact, some of them are quite rare and depending on the condition of it, can actually be worth quite a bit of money. Especially if you find the ones with the inserts still in them. Those are rare finds indeed when you start talking about lures made back in the 1920's and 1930's.

Chub Lure Box - They can be rare and very valuable

From Dowagiac to Chubb, most all lures if they were vintage and made back in the early days, came in some sort of box. These days, they get packaged up in plastic wrap and plastic boxes, almost making them lose some of there appeal. For me, nothings better than finding a vintage beauty with it's original box packaging and insert.

A Typical Collection Show - Watch this video to find out what you can see at a show

Never been to a show? Check it out and see what you can find. It's a little corny in spots but well worth the quick look and listen. Well, it's not really quick, it's actually quite long but very informative. You'll find people from Japan and all over the United States as well as a bunch of specialized collectors who can tell you pretty much all you ever wanted to know about specific lures.

Heddon Plastic Lures: Identification & Price Guide - For The Modern Collector

Heddon Plastic Lures: Identification & Price Guide
Heddon Plastic Lures: Identification & Price Guide

One of the great things about this guide is that there is lots of pictures and corresponding information on what makes some lures more collectable then others. Although they do talk about color a little bit, when you start collecting plastics, you cannot underestimate the importance of color. It makes all the difference in the value of these lures. Overall though, it's a really good guide with lots of information on what's out there.


Lure Display Box - Shadow Box - Yes, It's Hot Wheels, But It Works Great For Lures

When you start collecting lures, you gotta figure out how you are going to display them. One great way that I've found to display some of the better ones that I have collected over the years is using a display box or shadow box. The trick is finding one that can take to the size of the lures. You can't really use the thimble shadow boxes because they are simply too small.

Hot Wheels Matchbox 1/64 scale Diecast Display Case Cabinet Wall Rack w/UV Protection (Oak Finish)
Hot Wheels Matchbox 1/64 scale Diecast Display Case Cabinet Wall Rack w/UV Protection (Oak Finish)

One of the ones that I've found extremely useful and easy to use are the Hot Wheel shadow boxes. Yes I know, they were made for the toy cars, but the actually work really well for antique fishing lures as well. This type of box doesn't have the individual compartments that most of the other type of shadow boxes do. Instead, it's basically lined with shelves that you can set your lures on and be able to display them reasonably well. There are other ways you can use to display lures too, but for the good ones, I like to keep them like this.


Creek Chub Antique Fishing Lures - Some Of The Earliest

Like any other type of collectible, sometimes it's pretty hard to determine a value as so much of it depends on other qualifying material. Things like scarcity, age, condition, and the plain overall desire of the people looking for that particular model or brand. And sometimes, when you're lucky, you'll stumble across one that may be extremely rare or even a one-of-a-kind, simply due to their age. But most of the time you'll likely just see those as a show piece by the owner in a collectible show who would never even dream of parting ways with that particular one.

Over the past few years though, there's been a rapid rise in the value of one particular brand, Creek Chub. Some of these little babies have even tripled in value during that period and still trending upwards. So if you are in it for the pure monetary factor, it's there, but it does fluctuate. I, for one, am not. Although I do like to see the overall values of my lures going up over time, I don't collect them simply to watch my bank account grow. I like them because fishing is a passion of mine and I like to hold on to it's history, plus they look darn cool to me.

Collector's Around The World - Here's a video from a Canadian Collector

This person actually has quite a collection. Loving the Lucky Strike lures and boxes here.

Novelty Antique Fishing Lures - For The Eclectic Fisherman

These are what they are, a novelty. Some of the older ones hold quite a bit of value though. For me, you gotta take them for what they are worth. I personally don't collect them but I do have a few. For the most part you'll find these as part of a collection not based on the novelty, but on what the owner is particular for. You'll find them made from major beer manufacturers to sports teams even to stupid little figurines. The ones that I do have in my collection revolve around sports teams, they are my favorite college and NFL teams. No I'm not going to tell you what they are here because I don't want to get into a debate over my teams better than yours. But I will say that both my teams are on the rise.

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    • grayth lm profile image

      grayth lm 8 years ago

      Great lens on antique fishing lures I wrote one as well come by and let me know what you think.

    • Teddi14 LM profile image

      Teddi14 LM 9 years ago

      Nice lens. 5 *'s from me! I love the toilet seat and the toilet roll holder! I added you to my lens about Michiana under "Featured Lenses" About Michiana or about something in Michiana since you have Heddon Lures on your site from Dowagiac. I hope that is ok with you. Click here to check out my Michiana lens