Fishing lures made prior to 1940 are considered antiques for collecting purposes. Prior to 1940, lures were handcrafted with precision and attention to detail. Fishing lures made after 1940 were mostly mass produced and, while cheaper, these lures do not compare in terms of quality and beauty to their pre 1940 counterparts. Plastics replaced older wooden lures and the beauty and mystique of the new lures was greatly diminished. Antique lures are, therefore, beautiful, unique, artistic and are a piece of living history. Most people start their collections with a special
lure, saved from their grandfather’s old tackle box. Along with the lure, comes a special memory. The fascination with collecting antique fishing lures starts for many in childhood, with a special piece bought, traded or collected. Along the way, knowledge is acquired with each lure. The story behind the lure is as important as the piece itself – careful research will help authenticate and date the lure, as well as tell the collector about the science behind it’s design.
Pre-war tackle made by the greats such as Heddon, Shakespeare and Pflueger are much sought after collectibles. The beauty of these lures is enhanced by their glass eyes and wooden bodies. Because these lures have only recently been recognized as true works of art, very few pre-World War II lures survive, which only increases their value.
An essential first step for the beginning collector is to buy a book on antique fishing lures. The book, Old Fishing Lures and Tackle written by Carl Luckey is considered a classic among serious fishing lure collectors. The hardcover edition of The Pflueger Heritage Lures & Reels 1881-1952, by Wayne Ruby is a comprehensive volume at a reasonable price that provides essential information needed to identify valuable antique lures. Another valued reference book is the second edition of Fishing Lure Collectibles, by Murphy and Edmisten. At 400 pages, this book is comprehensive, fully illustrated and easy to follow.
Join a collector’s club, such as the National Fishing Lure Collector’s Club (FLCC). Collector’s club are a great way to share your finds with others with the same enthusiasm. Attending meetings will give you a great education on what lures are most sought after, where these lures can be collected and give you an opportunity to view others’ collections. Clubs such as the FLCC publish their own educational literature and hold conventions for socialization, trading and acquisition of lures. Actively participate in meetings, socializing with other collectors. The information learned will be invaluable and provide lasting memories.