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Vintage Fishing Lures – Are They Worth Money?

If fishing is your passion, you will probably have collected quite a number of both old and new fishing lures. Coming in terms with a priceless antique lure could turn into a life-changing experience. There are thousands of old fishing lures out there whose purpose is just to lure fish.

But there are a few rare and priceless pieces that can be worth more than you can mouth it! For all you know, it could be lying peacefully in a tackle box in your garage. If you want to find out whether your old fishing lures are worth anything, keep reading. Who knows, you could be a lucky jackpot winner!

Are old fishing lures worth the money?

Questions: Thomas, I’ve got about a dozen old-looking fishing lures, and it seems to take up space. I can’t decide whether they’re valuable or just junk I’m better off without. I don’t know how old they are or what brand exactly they are. All I know is that they’re handed down generation-wise. Is it true that old lures could be worth a fortune?

John Mahone, 26.

Miami, Florida.

Answer: Hi John, Since you mentioned about your fishing lures being handed down generation-wise, the chances are that they are quite old. And when anything is old and ancient, they become priceless. If I were you, I wouldn’t consider discarding them before I do my research on them.

But just as you said, trying to understand if they are worth anything or not is quite a daunting feat. And it can set anyone on the edge of frustration, especially when you are on a cleaning spree. So, without further ado, let me show you if old fishing lures are worth money.

If you didn’t know yet, fishing originated back in the 1800s, and the first wooden fishing lure was made by a beekeeper called James Heddon in 1898. The first fishing lure, however, wasn’t a worm or a fish; it was a frog carved out from wood.

With the success of his lure rose the popularity of his name in the fishing industry. The first plastic fishing lure was produced in 1932 and was called the “spook.”

Most of the fishing lures are mass-produced even in the olden days, so there isn’t much of any rarity and uniqueness. But there are some priceless antiques that are carefully hand-crafted with much passion and dedication, and these kinds of lures are fetching handsome prices today.

So what should you look for in an old fishing lure that might reveal if it is worth money? First things first, you will want to know who made the lure. There are certain companies that are more favorable than the rest because they are ancient and ancient means priceless.

These brands include Creek Chub Bait Co. or CCB Co., Pflueger, and Heddon. So if you have any old lures of these brands, you will want to start assessing them right away. Some of the priceless lures feature a wooden body with glass eyes. Some of the rarest lures could be worth up to $20,000.

There are three main things to look for in an old lure to determine whether or not it is priceless.

Things To Look For


Know that the valuable vintage lures are never made from the cheap and ordinary plastic material. In fact, the use of cheap plastic leads to economic failure, thereby creating a production break. You can check if your lure is made of plastic or wood. If it is plastic, it will be considerably lighter than a wooden one and will be perfection.

In ancient times, people carve fishing lures by hand with the materials available to them at that point in time, which can either be wood or metal. So if your old lure is made of wood and is attached with old and weird wires, there are higher chances that they are priceless. Likewise, if copper plays a big role in your lure, it is another likely sign that it will be worth money.


 The eyes, or in some cases, no eyes are like a window to the origin of the lure. Any lure with glass eyes indicate an ancient touch to it and may fit your quest for a valuable vintage piece as most dates back to the 1950s. You might also come across lures that have no eyes at all. This is also indicative of how ancient they really are.


Although this may seem secondary, knowing what type of box the lure comes in is a great way to determine its worth. See if your lure is contained in a paper box or a cardboard box or a plastic one. Note that plastic was non-existent during the old times, so if it comes in a plastic box, you can eliminate your quest. However, if it is a paper or cardboard box, it is likely that the lures are rare.

If you want a study on the identification of old fishing lures and if they are worth money, I highly recommend this guide book Old Fishing Lures & Tackle: Identification and Value Guide by Carl F. Luckey and Fishing Lure Collectibles by Dudley Murphy and Rick Edmisten. For a more comprehensive study, I would suggest Richard L. Streater’s The Fishing Lure Collector’s BibleYou can get them from the links I have inserted.

Now let’s see what the most valuable vintage fishing lures known to man are.

Giant Copper Haskell Minnow

This particular lure tops the list as this is the one that started the whole business of valuable fishing lures. The worth of this Giant Copper Haskell Minnow is what led people into believing that all old lures are valuable. There is only one of these rare and exotic lures known to exist, and it was crafted by Riley Haskell in 1859. This lure sold at an auction for a whopping $101,200, an unrivaled price, making it the most expensive vintage piece in the world.

Heddon Frog

When James Heddon made the Heddon Frog lure in the late 1800s, he did so with a lot of care and effort to get the best out of fishing. The success of the lure led him to make more of them. But since he hand-crafted them, there aren’t many in existence today, making them a valuable collectible. The Heddon Frog has become one of the rarest vintage lures of all time with a worth of $30,000. If you have one of these valuable pieces with you, you have hit a fortune!

Kent Wooden Minnow Lure

This lure could trick you into believing that it is just recently produced because of the modern look it possesses. But don’t be fooled. These priceless pieces of lure were made in Ohio in the 1900s and have only a few remaining. If you are one of the lucky holders of the Kent Wooden Minnow Lure along with the box, then you can be a proud holder of $10,000. Without the box, the price could descend to half of what is mentioned above. Like I said, the box matters.

Heddon Underwater Expert Lure

Produced in 1890, the four and a half-inch Heddon Underwater Expert fishing lures are a hot item today! These babies are worth $9,000 with a lone front propeller and five treble hooks. There is another 1904 version, which measures two and a half inches and is at $7,000. Vintage is vintage, no matter what. If you own any of the versions, it’s time to come across some big bucks.

Creek Chub Bait Co. Deluxe Wagtail Lure

Lures that belong to Creek Chub Bait Co. usually inscribe their brand name on the lip. It can also be seen as CCB Co. The Deluxe Wagtail Lure is made of wood and has a glass eye. There are few pieces of this lure, and each piece is worth different. It is usually worth around $75.