Antique fishing lure collectors are an inquisitive bunch.
They like to add old-time lures and tackle to their collections. The rarer and harder an item is to find, the more collectors treasure it.
But there’s more to avid collecting than perceived value. These folks can tell you the story behind almost every lure in their collections, including where, how and when it was made, how many were produced and where it was tested. Most even know the background on the company or individual who designed it.
And it’s that part that is driving me somewhat crazy. I recently purchased one of the rarest lures of all. So rare, in fact that not even the most experienced antique lure collectors can identify it.
I’ve been collecting and studying antique fishing lures for just over 40 years, and I’ve never seen another one like it. I’ve spent hundreds of hours studying patent applications and patents trying to discover who made this lure. There are a few lures that share minor details with this lure, but I have not found anything that matches it completely or even comes close.
The 3½ inch red and white lure certainly is unique. It has a propeller under the belly that, when pulled through the water, turns a shaft that runs through the lure body and is connected to a nose-mounted, open-segmented metal “bubbler” than spins on the nose.
It also has an elongated curved line tie that runs off the chin of the lure to keep it from interfering from the churning bubbler. The bubbler agitates the water like a buzzbait. It has high quality hardware and the lure body is made of red or white cedar. The size of the lure indicates that it was either used for bass or pike fishing.
I am convinced that this lure was made between the 1920s and 1940s and was designed by someone who knew quite a bit about producing fishing lures. My hunch is that they made very few of these lures and suspended production because it was too difficult and costly to continue.
The lure was discovered during a national lure auction in Springfield, Missouri, just over two years ago. A woman walked into an antique fishing lure collectors convention with an old tackle box that belonged to her father. All of the lures inside the box were auctioned off.
The mystery lure created a frenzy of interest because no one had ever seen anything like it. Although you can tell the lure has been used, it’s in great condition and all the moving parts still work.
Since purchasing the lure, I have done everything I could to unlock its hidden secrets. It’s been written up in collector’s magazines and blogs yet no information has surfaced. I even interviewed the woman who sold the lure at the auction.
She said her dad was an avid fisherman and loved fishing the Fox River in Illinois, northwest Indiana lakes, and numerous lakes in Minnesota. He was born in 1908, died in 1967 and lived in Evanston, Illinois. That’s all I know about him.
One of the three similar lures I found when searching patents is the Fisheretto. The Fisheretto was manufactured by the Brown brothers of Osakis, who manufactured lures from about 1918 to 1945.
I am asking for help from readers to spread the word and help unearth information about the mystery lure. Perhaps someone has an old advertisement, paperwork or even another mystery lure with or without the original box to help identify the model and/or manufacturer.
If you have any questions or want help identifying antique fishing lures, you are also welcome to contact me any time at 269-325-3519 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.