When you look at the wide selection of bass lures available today, it’s fascinating looking back at where it all started. Bass fishing with artificial lures started in the 1800’s, but really became popular the 1930’s and 40’s.
Although these antique lures will still catch bass today, they are treated more as collectors items now. And depending on their condition, they can be pretty valuable, especially if they are still in the package.
Vintage Lure History
The oldest lure patent on record is dated 1859. It patents one of the oldest fishing lures still known today, the Haskell Minnow. This is a metal lure that looks like a fish, with two hooks facing up right in the rear. These vintage lures are very rare and very valuable.
Early artificial lures were made out of wood and metal. Over the years companies eventually started making them out of plastic. However it took some time for the quality of plastic to get good. Some of the really early plastic baits if found now are mostly disintegrated.
Lure manufacturing didn’t really ramp up until the 1930’s, that is until World War II began. During the war there was shortage of metal and bait companies couldn’t make baits.
It was right after the war ended that baits were back in production. Not only because of the restored metal supply, but the abundance of labor that was now back in the United States.
Antique Lure Value
Determining the value of a vintage lure comes down to its age and condition. Because lures take so much abuse, it’s rare to find a used antique lure that’s in good condition.
A lot of times these lures would be stored in tackle boxes with rubber worms. The problem with this is after some time the rubber worms will start to adhere to the lures. This fusion destroys the finish on the lure. Collectors refer to this kind of damage as “worm burns.”
Vintage Lure Companies
In the early days of lure making, there were six companies doing the majority of the manufacturing in the United States. What’s interesting, but understandable, is they were all located around the Great Lakes.
A few of the companies you will probably recognize because they are still in business. The others were bought out by the ones that are still in business. Here is the list of companies, known as “The Big Six.”