Treasure in your tackle box
As you clean up your fishing gear for another year, take a few moments to have a look at some of your tackle.
Sport fishing collectables are very popular right now and some of the prices paid at American auctions are mind-boggling. I was reminded of this last week when I read about an auction held of fishing gear owned by the late Bernard “Lefty” Kreh. Mr. Kreh was a famous fly tier, tackle designer, fly casting instructor and writer who was a leading angler of the 20th and 21st century. He was well loved and respected, so his gear was highly sought after by people who wanted to have something to remember him by.
A lure which he had a hand in designing, the Musky Charmer, sold for an impressive US$21,000. While most of us don’t have anything that valuable in our tackle boxes, you never know what you might find. Fishing lures are one of the most popular collectables and, as avid collectors will tell you, there are four main names which are highly sought after:
HEDDON — This company began manufacturing lures in 1902 and, shortly after that, had representatives throughout the United States as well as Toronto.
CREEK CHUB — Named after a small baitfish, this company was formed by three Indiana fishermen in 1906. They applied for a patent in 1919 to spray paint lures through netting. This gave their lures a scaly effect and made them more realistic to fish. This innovation made the company very successful, as did its development of the diving lip, which made the lures “wiggle” in the water. While these innovations changed the face of fishing and are still used today, the company closed in 1978.
SHAKESPEARE — Established in Michigan by William Shakespeare in 1890, the company started out manufacturing only reels and didn’t produce fishing lures until 1901. Its early lures are recognizable by the propellers in their nose and are highly desired by collectors. PFLUEGER — This company started out in an Ohio farmhouse, but grew rapidly and, by 1900, it was issuing a 126-page catalogue. Its main lure manufacturing period was from 1906 to 1930 when it manufactured mainly wooden lures. The company gradually switched over to making reels and was sold to Shakespeare in the 1970s.
As with any antique, the condition is very important and the better shape your lure is in, the higher the price it will command. The highest prices are paid for lures which are in the original boxes and have never seen the water.
Avoid replacing hooks or touching up the paint on any old lures; the more original the condition, the better. Collecting old fishing gear adds another dimension to our sport and the hunt for old gear can be a lot of fun. While old lures are often difficult to find, other tackle — such as fishing rods of bamboo, greenheart and steel, gaffs, creels, flies and fishing books — are all very collectable and available in our area.
If you want to find out more about this aspect of sport fishing, a great online source is antiquelures.com.
Two excellent books are Old Fishing Lures and Tackle, Identification and Value Guide by Carl F. Luckey (Krause Publications) and The Collectors Guide to Antique Fishing Tackle by Silvio Calabi (Wellfleet Press). So, when the fishing season closes, you can still troll the aisles of your local flea market and maybe hook a major find.