I was recently fortunate enough to travel to Alaska for the fishing trip of a lifetime. Amongst all of houses and small cabins that dotted the small fishing town that we stayed in, I wondered what sort of fishing treasures of yesteryear existed.
Antique fishing lures and equipment can be highly collectible, with certain items bringing hundreds or even thousands of dollars each. For quick reference, most of the “good stuff” is from the mid 20th century and earlier, so if it were handed down from your father or grandfather, there’s a good chance it’s of the right time period.
Lures tend to be the most attractive items left behind in old tackle boxes, especially if the original box was saved, too. The earliest lures are typically carved from wood, although there are some highly desirably metal spoons and even a few glass lures, too. Some of more collectible manufacturers include Heddon, Shakespeare, and Pflueger (all are still in business today), although some of lures produced by regional manufacturers or individuals can command strong prices as well.
Old fishing reels can sometimes produce eye-popping prices, too. The most sought-after reels tend to be either early fly fishing or baitcasting reels and typically need to be in very good to excellent condition to command top dollar. Unlike lures, most reels have their original manufacturer and model number stamped on their sides, so it may be possible for you to look-up their values online if you are interested.
The most popular types of fishing rods to collectors tend to be old bamboo fly rods. You’ll typically find these rods in 2-3 sections kept in their original cloth rod sleeve or metal travel tube. Collectors enjoy them due to their craftsmanship as well as the additional action they can provide while fighting a fish. These rods frequently sell for hundreds of dollars each, with the most coveted examples capable of selling for several thousand dollars.
So next time that you’re poking around the garage or attic, take a few minutes to look at those old poles or the rusted tackle box that’s been sitting in the corner for ages. Who knows what fishing gems you may have laying around, collecting dust?