Like many pursuits, collecting antique fishing tackle is both a passion and a labour of love for avid collectors. Unlike some other pastimes, antique lures requires vast knowledge, a good eye and a dose of luck. For thousands of weird and wacky treasure hunters, the idea of stumbling across a rare lure from days gone by is just the thing to keep them going.

Vintage lure collection

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The fanaticism over collecting antique fishing tackle only came about in the last 20 years, where the law of supply and demand was an overriding factor. As with an original oil painting, the age of the work, the artist’s name and reputation, as well as the rarity and collectability of the piece are all factors to be considered.

Antique Lure Collectors

Antique bait casting reel and diving plug

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Those folks who call themselves antique lure collectors are among the most dedicated in the fishing world. For diehards of the industry, monetary value is only a consideration rather than a motivating factor. It is that treasure-hunter excitement of capturing a small part of history that draws people to this pastime. Although the US are pioneers of vintage lure collecting, Canada has followed suit with some historic tackle. Sit back and enjoy this stroll through fishing tackle history. 

The “What For and Why”

Woven fishing creel and closed face reel

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What motivates the collecting antique fishing tackle is summed up by world-renowned collector, Michael Echols. Echols is considered one of the foremost authorities in vintage fishing tackle. He finds lure collecting to be a great investment. For those wanting to get into the lure collecting, Echols emphasizes the need to do background research. Start from the ground up and look for items such as early boxes, as opposed to complete lure sets. 

Greenhorn Pointers

Vintage casting plug/jerkbait

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Try to look for interest patterns or areas where people show a great affinity for a certain lure line. You do not need spend a lot of money on given fishing tackle unless you feel it to be a good investment. Put yourself in the mind of other collectors—is that old wooden plug something that may appeal to other treasure hunters?

Money and Much More

Two antique fishing reels

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Money is a factor when collecting antique fishing tackle. You may have a few extra dollars and want to buy all the old lures that you see right off the bat, but keep in mind that, as with many other antiques, condition is perhaps the most important factor. Another important aspect is workmanship and complexity. Some of the more complex lures of the early days are those with greater appeal today. Collectors look for the oddities in a set rather than the run-of-the-mill generic looking fishing plug.

Collection of antique trout spoons

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Focus on one specific production year, you will see the law of supply and demand come into play. For those dates with low supply the demand will be very high and therefore the item will prove to be a great addition to any collection. Since taste and interest fluctuate naturally over time, once desirable lures may later become  of little value to a collector. Keep on top of the trends and find out what is hot and what is not.

Check out eBay as a source for thousands of antique fishing lures bought and sold!

Holy Grail Lure!

Photo of World Record selling Haskall minnow

Source: Auction House


Antique lure collectors worth their salt spends long hours in search of that ultimate prize! It is those needles in the haystack that are rumoured about. There was one in particular called the Haskell Minnow. The Haskell Minnow was made by Riley Haskell of Painesville, Ohio in the 1950s, and this unassuming fishing lure fetched an incredible $101,200 at auction! The South Carolina family who purchased the famous fishing lure set a new world record for the highest price ever shelled-out for a single fishing collectible!

Auction held with a bidder

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Tracey Shirley was ecstatic with the acquisition and later said they were willing to go as high as $150,000 for the rare lure. This special Haskell’s minnow was truly a one of a kind and stored in its original box with R. Haskell stamped on one end. Only a dozen or so of any Haskell’s minnows have ever turned up. 

Final Word

More trout spoons

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You have seen what drives/motivates the antique lure collection world, in the next edition of Antique lure collecting, we will examine terminology, and what collectors look for specifically in old lures. Stay tuned folks, plenty more vintage lure collecting on the way! If you enjoy fishing articles, please read our feature on fly-fishing in the US.