What to look for in Vintage Fishing Lures

October 22, 2014

As you walk through the tight lines sections of any fishing or sporting goods store, you are bombarded by any number of colorful, sparkly, plastic, and metal modern lures. Sure, you can go that route and pick up one of these for your tackle box, but what’s the fun in that? Why not give it a try with a True Temper Crippled Speed Shad.

What? Never heard of that? Well keep reading.

Why You Would Want a Vintage Lure
By definition, these fishing lures are more than 25 years old. In the past century, more than 300 companies have come and gone during that period with several large ones remaining. Michigan-based Heddon has been around since 1897 and is a recognized leader in lure production today. They still market several of their legacy designs, such as the Torpedo and Spook. After all, if they caught fish reliably years ago, why change it up now?

The appeal of a vintage lure is in appreciating handmade art. In many instances, especially with lures made before World War II or by small companies, these cranks, divers, spoons, and plugs were created by a skilled craftsman who took pride in his work. These were often painstakingly made and crafted with love by someone who had been doing so for the majority of their life. Further, they are an extension of the bond from our ancient anglers such as our grandfather and great-uncles who fished the lakes, rivers, and ponds of their homes. In short, a vintage lure is no different from a classic car, old single malt scotch, or other thing of beauty in a gentleman’s life.

What to Look for in Your Lures
To sum it up in two words: boxes and paint. These are the two most commonly faked items in lures. If something just looks too “new”, you may have an item that was created last night. There is nothing wrong with inspecting the lure under a good light while wearing a loupe or using a magnifying glass for signs of new paint covering old, or worse, fresh paint or glue on new wood.

Second, give it the sniff test. A lure that came from the maker fifty years ago and probably sat on a garage shelf or tackle box most of its life should not smell like chemicals or paint.

Finally, pump the brakes if the seller is asking an exorbitant price, especially online, as you cannot perform the checks mentioned above until the lure is in your hands. Rule of thumb, if it’s more than $25, be sure of what you are getting. That’s where your research comes in at beforehand. As some of these can run upwards of $30,000 in value, you really should hit the books to see what you are dealing with.

More Lnformation
Robbie Pavey, of Augusta, Georgia runs an excellent site that has a virtual online encyclopedia of both common and rare antique fishing lures. Better yet, he promises to pay up to $5,000 for rare and exotic lures to fill in holes in his collection. Looking for information on a WWII-era Eger Dillinger lure in the rare Victory box? How about a Pyralin Gold Ball Spinner from the 1920s? Better yet, a Trenton Surface Doodler? Robbie has you covered.

Oh yeah, and he has something on that True Temper Crippled Speed Shad, too.



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