Are Old Fishing Lures Worth Money?

Fishing has been around since ancient times and has been used for food, and sport ever since. There have been different types of fishing ranging from spearfishing from shore, and net fishing from the shore and boats, to finally figuring out fishing from a hook and fishing line.

Some of these relics are very hard to come by and some of them did not survive that long because a lot of them were made out of wood, rock, and vines because string had not been invented yet. One thing that is particularly interesting is how people made hooks and even the lures that were made to entice fish so they could catch more.

These devices were made out of rock, and wood because they were the primary sources of what people had to work with, and finally, different metals to make real hooks and loops to attach to these lures. One question that I always get asked is if any of this old fishing tackle is worth any money, or if it belongs in a museum.

Since almost everything from books to lamps that are old are worth money, it should be said that antique fishing tackle is worth money right? In this article, we are going to take a look at if your grandparents’ old fishing tackle is actually worth any money, and what to look out for if it is. People out in the world collect everything, so it would be safe to say that people would collect antique fishing lures, right?

Are old fishing lures worth money? Yes, antique fishing tackle is worth money, and some of them bring in top dollar from collectors. The average antique fishing lure can bring anywhere from $10 dollars up to $10,000 dollars depending on the fishing lure, and the current market. Antique lures were handcrafted back when they were first put out to the public, so there is a lot more attention to detail in them. Since lures are made by big machines, painted by robots, and almost identical, you do not get the uniqueness that you would see in a vintage lure. People love the fact that each lure is just slightly different, so you will not find the same paint job for lures made back then.

What To Look For

The first thing you want to look for is that it is not made from cheap plastic, and has more of a handmade feel to it. If it is made from plastic, it will usually be lighter than older lures and will look almost perfect. People made lures by hand out of wood and other metals that were available to them so that is a huge thing to look for.

If you see anything that is made from wood and is connected by an older looking wire, buy it. The same is true if you see anything made from older metals like copper, and anything used with older feathers, it is a good sign it will be worth money. Another big thing to look for is if the lure comes with a cardboard or paper box with it. Remember that plastic was not around back then, so everything was put into paper and cardboard boxes.

Anything made from wood or glass is also going to be a great sign that it is old and probably worth something. Anything with glass eyes is going to be pre-1950’s so you have a gem in your hand and should probably buy it. If a lure has no eyes, that is also a good sign because some extremely old lures do not have eyes on them. Here is a small list of things to look for when trying to identify if a lure is antique and possibly worth money:

  • Type of box the lure came in
  • Made of wood
  • Made of glass
  • Has no eyes
  • Made from old copper
  • Has glass eyes

These simple tips will help you quickly identify whether or not you have a lure that is antique and possibly worth more than about $100 dollars, depending on the condition it is in. There is a great guide that will help you identify older lures that you can find HERE.

What Is Not Worth Money

When trying to identify lures, there is a lot more that make them not worth money than stuff that makes them worth more than a few dollars. Anything pre-1950 is probably going to bring you more than what a new lure costs today, so if you are in the market for collecting, look for anything before 1950. Here are a few ways you can tell if the lure you are looking at is not worth as much as you think.

  • Did not come in a box
  • Has painted on eyes
  • Is made of plastic
  • Has glued on eyes

If you are at a garage sale and see a box of lures sitting there, go through it and see if any fall in the two categories above, and just by these simple tips, you will be able to go through and pick out the most valuable lures in there. Wood and glass are great, so anything made from that or old metal like copper is going to demand a higher price in the long run.

Antique Fishing Rods And Reels

Along with antique fishing lures, Antique rods and reels are also valuable and can demand money. There are some old casting rods and reels that are extremely rare that will bring in money if they are in the right condition for a collector. The two most valuable types of rods are fly rods and casting rods because spinning rods were invented after those two types. Here is how to gauge whether or not your rod is worth money.

  • Has the original fish with no issues
  • Functions with no problems
  • Still in the original packaging
  • No missing parts
  • Grips, guides, and reel seats are in perfect condition

Some of the older rods and reels can command big money and are very good collectible items. Fishing is very popular and vintage fishing equipment is highly desirable and collected by a lot of people in the world.

What Are Antique Lures Made Of

When it comes to finding and collecting valuable lures, as we said above, what the lure is made of, how it is packaged, and the eyes will tell you everything you want to know about how collectable it might be. Here is a small list of materials that make lures more collectible than others worth no money:

  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Older metal (like copper)
  • Old feathers
  • Brushed paint
  • Bone

Wood is the most common type of old lure because the wood was very easy to come by back then. One good thing about wooden lures is that they floated, so you could make nice topwater lures like frogs that would float on top of the water to attract fish. Copper lures were nice because the metal is not super heavy, but was also shiny when polished so it too would attract fish. glass was used for eyes back before 1950 so those will also attract more money.

Fly fishing lures are made from very old feathers and string and are a bit harder to identify as collectible, so look for anything that does not look lifelike. Remember, they did not have robots and machines to make these things and was all handcrafted by a person, so look for anything that looks original.

Where To Sell It

There are several places to sell your old fishing lures after you have identified that you got something with some real value. eBay is by far the biggest and most well reputable place to auction off your lures. Because you can sign up for a free account, and not have to pay a royalty when selling, this is a great place to put up your old lure, even if you have a reserve price and get millions of people coming to it every day.

There are other places like Craigslist, and Facebook now has a marketplace where you can sell on, but still does not have the presence like eBay does. The last place you can try is to actually go to a local auction and see if they will put it up for you, which can come with a cost.

copper fishing lures

Any auction place that you go to will make a commission on your sale, so before just having them sell it for you make sure that you are not going to give 30% or more to the house for their take. It is much more cost effective and beneficial for you to try and sell it yourself, and you will get to keep more of the sale price for yourself.

Can I fish With It?

I am not sure why you would want to try and fish with a collectible lure, but as long as there is no significant damage to it, and the hooks are not missing, they should be fine to fish with like any other lure.

I do not recommend that you take your grandfather’s lure out that he caught fish with when he was a kid because if it is worth money, you have a very high risk of damaging or losing this lure for good. If you do catch a fish with it the fish might bite down on it or shake with it in its mouth and damage the lure causing the value to go down, so this is really not a good idea, and not recommended for anyone to do.

Make sure you check the lure over for anything that might come loose or break off before you cast it. If it is made of wood, and it does snap off, there is a small chance of getting it back it is floating on top of the water, but it will require you to have a boat or swim to get it. All in all, it really is not a good idea to fish with an antique lure because of the value it brings to everyone just having something that old to begin with.

How Old Is The Oldest Fishing Lure

The oldest fishing lure that was produced was made in 1898 by a man known as James Heddon, who was a beekeeper by trade who wanted to make fishing lures to help people catch more fish. His first fishing lure was actually a frog that he made from carving wood from his broomstick. He would take the frog down to a pond and watch the bass attack it.

He is credited for making the first model lures and became a very well-known name in the fishing industry. In 1932, the first plastic lure was created and called the “spook” because of its transparent color, but was poor quality, and was very susceptible of falling apart because of the poor plastic materials they had to make them, so finding originals are very rare, and valuable.

Leave a Comment