Antique Lure Collecting Terminology

Antique fishing lure collecting, carries with it buzz words unique to the industry. This special jargon creates terminology specific to antique lures, and often used to describe their condition. Study and learn this proprietary jargon used by collectors, and you will become more successful in the art of antique lure collecting yourself. Here are the most common antique fishing tackle terms:

Worm Burn

Old rusty fishing lures

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Worm burn results when a plastic worm or bait is left against a lure’s paint for an extended period of time. The lure’s soft plastic melts a burn-like mark, similar to a cigarette burn, into the painted metal, significantly decrease its value.


Antique fishing lure shined

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‘Whizzed’ is term used in antique fishing lure collecting when describing a lure that is rubbed or polished extensively, beyond the point of practicality. Antique fishing tackle that appears whizzed shows outside varnish or finish partially or completely removed, which greatly devalues the item.

Hangs Well

Vintage lure hanging off log

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The common term for antique fishing tackle presentable only on one side is, ‘Hangs Well’. The side that appears outwards away from the wall is nice while the inside may show significant defects. Chip’ is basically paint loss of varying degrees. It is a term used to describe flaking, scratching and chipping away of paint on the outside of a vintage lure. 

A ‘rub’ or a ‘scrape’ when dealing with antique lure is shallow minor paint or varnish loss from rubbing. It is often caused by an abrasion from a large object the lure may have rubbed against.

Touch Up

Antique fishing lure after being touched-up

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A ‘touch up’ refers to items polished with new varnish or touch-up paint, as in case of gill markings. A touch up is frowned upon in this business as it detracts from the lure, often rendering it useless as a collectible. Antique lures are meant to be collected and displayed in their current unaltered, unabridged condition.

‘Pointers’ are marks left by lure hooks caused from normal use while fishing. Often they can be minor scratches or tiny punctures in the paint or varnish. Minor pointers or pointers of a slight degree are not that serious.


Old fishing lure with crazing

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‘Crazing’ is a term used in antique fishing lure collecting when grading and indicates a minor separation of the paint, or varnish, which occurs over time. Crazing is not to be confused with deep splits or cracks in the paint. According to the experts, vintage lures like the Southbend or Heddon, which were heavily varnished in original production, should show natural crazing today and are an indicator of age. 

Online Sources

Be sure to peruse online sites such as Etsy, Bonanza and eBay when searching for collectible antique fishing lures.

Hook Drag

‘Hook drag’ is another term used to describe the markings left by the lure’s hook on the varnish or paint of the bait. The degree of hook drag is relative to the overall condition. If there is only very minor or light hook drag, it may not necessarily detract from the value of the collected lure.

A ‘beater’ is what collectors refer to lures too poor quality condition, not suitable for collecting. A beater may be useful as a parts lure; the experts point out that often beaters are stripped down and redone with the help of an artist and occasionally passed-off as new lures, but the expert eye can usually tell the difference.

The Buzz on Boxes

Vintage fishing tackle box

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A lure box is nearly as important as the lure itself when it comes to a collectible. Since factory box is the first thing to deteriorate, it may be the most valuable part of collections today. Terms like ‘faded lettering’ indicate a common problem with lure boxes where the ink has faded from sun and age. Insect damage can occur to boxes as well. Because they are made of paper, they are easily damaged by insects.

‘Markings’ is another term used for lure boxes. The original price is often handwritten on the box and may be an interesting indicator as to the value of these baits. ‘Joints’ is used for box collectors; since cardboard boxes are overlapped at the corners with paper, they are often the weak and the first to deteriorate. Box joints never be repaired with tape as this drastically reduces the value of your collection.

‘Water Marks’ are unusual color changes or marks that appear on the box and are indicative of a box stored in damp environment. The extent of water markings is important as they may also indicate overall condition of the lure itself.

‘Oil Saturated’ describes soiled boxes that show damage from dirt or debris sources. Some lure boxes may appear old and dingy as a result of dust and mildew while oil can saturate a box to the point where it is un-restorable. Collectible lure boxes may also be as ‘stiff and hard’, the sides appear wavy as opposed to straight and have a mushy feel because moisture damage. 

Final Word

Antique fly rod and net

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As you see, antique lure collecting is very descriptive when describing the overall condition, possible damage of their collectibles. Learn these buzzwords of the business and you will be a more successful collector of antique fishing tackle. Be sure to read our other feature on antique lure collecting.