So you are doing a little spring cleaning and you come across an old tackle box that belonged to someone in the family. You open it up and you are surprised to see a number of what appear to be antique fishing lures.
Your first thought is, what do I do with these old lures? Should I just chuck them? Should I sell them in a garage sale? Are these old fishing lures worth money?
In this post, we are going to answer that question as well as other concerns you may have about what to do with your old fishing lures.
Are Old Fishing Lures Worth Money?
The answer: Yes, old fishing lures are worth money. In fact, by doing a quick search on eBay you will notice that antique lures can go for a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. Take, for example, the super rare Heddon 150. It has been known to reach a value of anywhere between $500 dollars to a $5,000 dollars. That is a big chunk of change.
3 Things That Will Affect The Value Of Your Antique Lures
Now that we know that can get some money for our old tackle, let’s talk about a few things to look for in order to get top dollar.
It is all about the condition. As fishermen, we are proud to show off the teeth marks left on a lure after a long battle, however, most collectors aren’t going to want to see that. For that reason, they need to be in tip-top shape in order to get the most money.
And if you think about it, this makes sense as most people who are going to be paying thousands of dollars for a lure, aren’t buying it to go fishing. They are buying it most likely to put it on display.
Just to emphasize just how much the condition of the lure plays on the price, let’s take a closer look at the previously mentioned Heddon 150. As we mentioned earlier it has received an evaluation between $500 and $5,000 dollars.
However, one weekend in November 2009 an auction was held in which a lot old fishing tackle was sold and this super rare lure was among the many things that were sold that weekend. My question to you is, How much do you think it sold for? Would you be surprised to know that it only sold for $70? Why the great difference? It all came down to the condition of the lure.
A previous owner had drilled 3 tiny olds in order to attached bristles to the top of the device. Those are 3 very expensive holes.
This example nicely shows us just how much the condition of the lure affects its overall value.
Rarity. The next criteria that is going to increase the value of your lure is the rarity of your lure. How rare is the lure? How difficult is it to find? Are there many of the same exact lures available on the market?
Many people get confused when they heard that word market. They might think that it is referring to the whole fishing world and because their lure isn’t super rare, it doesn’t have much value. However, we need to think about that word a little differently. We need to think about it on a much smaller scale.
For example, let’s say that you go to a local fishing tackle auction. You walk in with hopes of selling your rare lure at top dollar, but quickly notice that there are several people who are wanting to sell that same lure that same day.
Obviously, your lure is going to be valued less at that auction because there are other options on the market. In simple terms, it isn’t rare, that day or for that market.
However, let’s say the next weekend you go to a different auction and you find out that you are the only one selling that particular lure on that particular day. Now, your some-what common lure and just became a rare item. Not only did it become rare, but it will also sell for a much higher price. Find the right buyer and you will have no problems getting top dollar.
Don’t forget about the color. Why is color so important when we are talking about old fishing lures? We need to remember that making fishing lures back in the day, isn’t like what it is done today. Today, machines can pump out hundreds of lures at a time, with the same exact color, shape, and design.
Back in the day, many of these lures were handcrafted and hand painted. It is because of this, that each lure is unique in its own way and as we mentioned earlier, uniqueness adds to its overall value.
One such thing that makes a lure truly unique, is its color.
Sure, there might be many Heddon vintage lures available on the market today, but one in that super rare Heddon Bar Perch color is going to get a higher value.
How Much Is My Old Tackle Worth? – Getting Top Dollar
If you have some vintage lures lying around the house and you are wondering how much money you can get for them, I would definitely recommend that pick up a price guide.
One such guide I would recommend is the Old Fishing Lures & Tackle: Identification and Value Guide.
In this guide, there are more than 2,000 pictures to help you not only identify your lure, but it will give you an idea of how much it is worth.
One of my favorite parts about this book is the in-depth guide on grading the condition of your tackle. As we mentioned earlier, condition plays a huge part in how much money you can get for your old tackle, so you want to make sure you get this part right.
After reading this price guide you will be left with little doubts as to whether your lure is in excellent, very good or just an average condition. Lastly, you will have a good idea at just how rare it is and how much you can get for it.
What Are The Most Valuable Vintage Fishing Lures?
While there are a number of options that we could mention in this post, let’s take a look at 3 of my favorites.
Heddon Jenny Mohawk. Possibly one of the priciest vintage lure ever sold is the Heddon Jenny Mohawk. It resembles a mix between a modern-day jerkbait and crankbait.
It is so rare that it sold not for $5,000, not even $10,000. It sold for a whopping $20,000 dollars.
The craziest part of this story is that the owners were initially going to sell it for $5 at a garage sale. Read the whole story here.
Heddon Frog. Probably one of the oldest wooden lures is the Heddon Frog.
These frogs sure weren’t made like we see them today. They were made from 100% wood with a treble hook hanging off its stomach and two single hooks on each leg.
It is believed that Heddon carved this lure himself in the late 1800’s and there are only a few still around today (less than 10).
They have an estimated value of 30,000 + dollars.
Giant Haskell Minnow. Lastly, let’s talk about 1859’s Giant Haskell Minnow.
One thing that really made this lure unique/rare is that it was made of copper with lifelike scales and fins.
While this might not sound like a big deal, back in that day, most lures were just spoons or spinners. So you can imagine how the fishermen felt when a lure can out that not only looked like a minnow but also moved like one.
It is believed there is the only one available and it was auctioned off in November 2003 for over $100,000.
(Another interesting read: The Best Bass Lures Of All Time – A Look Into The Past)
Who Buys Old Fishing Lures?
Now that we understand that our old lures have value and we know where to go to find out just how much they are worth, where can we sell them?
Ebay. One of the most convenient ways to sell your old fishing tackle is Ebay. Ebay is an online auction website.
Similar to a real auction, you can set the opening bid and the amount of time that you want to take bids. In addition, you are able to set a reserve. If it doesn’t meet the reserve it doesn’t sell.
Once the reserve is met, it goes to the highest bidder. The best part about eBay is you can do all this from the comfort of your own home.
Antique Shops. If you don’t like the idea of selling your antiques online, the next best place to start might be right down the road at a local antique shop. Depending on the area, you may or may not get the most money for your fishing gear, but they are great places to get your lures appraised or at least find out if they are indeed worth money.
Auctions. Auctions are another great places to see your old fishing gear go for a good price. However, unlike other places (such as eBay or antique shops) you don’t have too much say as far as the price goes. They just sell for what the people are willing to pay.
Garage Sales. Last and probably my least favorite way to sell any antiques is at a garage sale. The reason I wouldn’t recommend this approach is that most fishermen that know a thing or two about fishing tackle probably aren’t going shopping on Saturdays. They most likely are out on the water, fishing.
Will you sell your gear at a garage sale? Sure. Will you get top dollar? It is unlikely.
In addition, be sure that you know exactly how much your lures are worth. The last thing you want to happen is what could have happened to the original owners of the Jenny Mohawk lure.
Do I Have To Sell My Antique Lures?
No, you don’t. In fact, if you can’t get top dollar for them, I would recommend that you just hold on to them. If anything they will only be worth more money the longer you hang onto them.
Just get yourself a nice display case such as this one found online. In such a case they will be protected and at the same time, you can display them proudly.
Now it is your turn? What do you do with your old fishing lures? Have you ever sold any antique lures? Please share your comments in the section below.