Vintage fishing tackle



2015-06-26 10:32:02

Fishing tackle refers to various items related to fishing and includes rods, spears, baits, lures, nets, traps, gaffs, hooks, lines, and sinkers. With the gravitation of people towards the big cities, fishing has evolved from being a livelihood to a recreational activity. For some, fishing is a way to go back in time when life was less complicated and unhurried. For many, their idea of a holiday get-away and family inter-generational bonding moments would undoubtedly include fishing.

Collectible fishing tackle

Hand-crafted decorative elements have a folk-art appeal that many collectors find appealing. Of primary interest to collectors are lures. Others seek rods, decoys, reels and fishing licenses.

Heddon, Shakespeare, Pfueger, and Creek Chub are some of the pioneering recreational fishing brands that are quite popular among collectors. The list here is not comprehensive but is more of a primer on collecting antique and vintage fishing tackle.


Lures are usually very colorful and meticulously-made so they look like fish prey. There are rubber, bone, plastic, and even bronze lures but the ones most popular with collectors are the wooden lures.

Wooden lures first became available in the market by the end of the 19th Century and those that are desired most are made from 1915 to the 1950s. This is considered the golden age of wooden lures because back then, wooden lures were all hand-made by craftsmen. As in the case of most collectibles, a “mint condition” lure would fetch a higher price though the rarity of the lure based on color and design could also increase the value. Repainted lures or those whose paint have mostly faded are valued less.

Rods and reels

Vintage rods and reels are also collector magnets. Some rods had bamboo tips but those originally made from Europe had two-types of wood fused together. Rods made entirely of bamboo didn’t appear until the 19th Century. Rods made of fiberglass and steel have also caught the attention of collectors.

Reels, those cylindrical devices used to let out and wind up the fishing line, by such makers as Hardy, Milam, Conroy, Vom Hofe and Meek, are prized by collectors. These highly desirable reels are of the fly and casting type. Reels by Shakespeare, Pflueger, Bronson, and South Bend are less costly. The most sought-after reels are the single action fly and multiplying fly. Casting reels of the level wind and non level wind variety are also collectible. Automatic fly reels receive less attention from collectors.


Decoys, as the name implies, are artificial animals that are used to entice fish into spearing range. Antique decoys made in the style used by North American Indians were popular in the 1800s until they were prohibited by law in 1910. The Depression gave way to the abolition of the ban so that food can be brought to the table. Decoys made by Yock Meldrum and Harry Seymour are sought by collectors for their beautiful and artistic designs.


Before they were replaced them with the paper variety, little badges were issued by state governments to fish anglers and hunters from the year 1910 to the 1940s. Those from Connecticut, North and South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Mississippi, and Hawaii are the most desired by collectors.

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