25 Most Valuable Antique Fishing Lures: Complete Value Guide

You may want to look for the old tackle box that holds your grandpa’s old fishing lure. These antique lures should not be left wasting away in the attic because they are serious collectibles today that are worth serious money.

In this article we’ll show you some of the most valuable antique fishing lures. We’ll also tell you how to identify them and how to spot valuable antique fishing lures. Let’s get started with 25 of the most valuable fishing lures!

25 Most Valuable Antique Fishing Lures Ever Sold in History

No.
Name
Year
Price
1
1905 Wiggletail Smith Minnow
1905
$14,000
2
Hardy Interchangeable Casting Minnow Box
1904
$12,500
3
Hardy’s Silvered Minnow Box
1920s
$5,000
4
Silver Creek Floating Pikaroon
1926
$4,800
5
Moonlight Deadnought
$3,300
6
Welch and Graves Changeable Fish Bait
1894
$3,100
7
Uncatalogued Moonlight Torpedo
$3,000
8
Creek Chub Wagtail Special, 200 Wiggler
$3,000
9
Original Creek Club Crawdad Store Display
1952
$2,800
10
Chapman “The New Combination” Bait
1870
$2,800
11
Early W.D. Chapman Spinner
$2,700
12
Chapman’s New 1897 Bait
$2,700
13
Shakespeare-Worden Bucktail Spinner Box
$2,600
14
Paw Paw Decoy and Moonlight Box
$2,500
15
Michigan Life-Like Minnow
1908
$2,400
16
The Moonlight Chautauqua Little Wonder
$2,400
17
The Manitou Minnow
$2,300
18
Moonlight’s The Trout Bob
$2,200
19
The Blee and Helmkamp Submarine Bait
1913
2,000
20
Moonlight 1200 Series Casting Bait
$1,900
21
SeaGull Wobbler
$1,800
22
Moonlight Single-Hook Pikaroon
$1,800
23
Early Seagull Trolling Bait
$1,600
24
Silver Creek SeaGull Flyrod Lure
$1,600
25
Moonlight’s “The Bug – 1916’s Newest”
1916
$1,600

1. 1905 Wiggletail Smith Minnow

Year: 1905

Price: $14,000

1905 Wiggletail Smith Minnow
1905 Wiggletail Smith Minnow

This is an American classic designed by Charles Smith of LaGrange, Indiana. It was patented on February 7, 1905, making it a true antique. 

The fishing lure is wooden and measures 3 1⁄4 inches. It has yellow glass eyes, a green back, hand painted green-yellow side stripes, and a white belly. While most lures have hooks as fins and tail, this classic is unique with an intricate tail mechanism and a top fin. 

Importantly, it is in fine condition. Only paint loss on the belly weight prevents its grading from being “Ex-”. 

2. Hardy Interchangeable Casting Minnow Box

Year: 1904

Price: $12,500

Hardy Interchangeable Casting Minnow Box

This fishing lure from the Artificial Bait Co. of Monticello, Indiana, is one of the rarest and most valuable you’ll find. The package includes not one but two minnows, the original box, and instruction paper.

This fishing lure is one of the earliest miscellaneous baits as it was patented by William Hardy on July 19, 1904.

It comes with two extraordinary minnows. The first is wooden, and features a dark red back that blends to yellow sides, and a white belly. The second is aluminum, and features a dark green back that blends to yellow sides, and a white belly.

Both have yellow glass eyes, two internal weights, and hand painted red gills. The measure 2 ⅝ inches. The grading of both minnows is in “VG+” to “Ex-” range.

The box shows significant wear, but “minnow plus box” is a rarity. Then there’s the instruction paper, which is in near excellent condition.

3. Hardy’s Silvered Minnow Box

Year: 1920s

Price: $5,000

Hardy’s Silvered Minnow Box

This fishing lure is historic. It was made in the 1920s, and was one of the first to make use of a course finish with silver flitter. It features yellow glass eyes as well as large brass hangers.

It’s in excellent condition (Ex- to Ex+). Amazingly, it also comes with the original box (which features Jonathan A. Hardy on its body). It also comes with the original instruction paper. While the box is quite rough, and the paper is stained, the “minnow + box + paper” combo is very rare.

4. Silver Creek Floating Pikaroon

Year: 1926

Price: $4,800

 

Silver Creek Floating Pikaroon

This rare Pikaroon is a beautiful piece with a yellow finish and black stripes, black eye shadow, and a blush of red on the nose. It is lined with 5 treble hooks, 2 at each side, and one on the rear spinner.

The rare lure comes with its even rare box. The 6-inch box is marked “Pat Pending”, and has a stamp of MAR 31, 1926. Though the yellow box shows some wear at the sides and bottom, its top is almost new, which suggests that an over-label has been removed. 

However, with the minnow in Ex- condition, and the box probably in VG+ to Ex- condition, the combo is very rare and valuable.

5. Moonlight Deadnought

Year: –

Price: $3,300

 

Moonlight Deadnought

This iconic red and white moonlight lure is rarely offered for sale. This lure moves away from the fish design. The 4-inch long body features brass washer hardware and spinners and both ends. The very rare lure has some pointers and age lines and is graded VG+.

6. Welch and Graves Changeable Fish Bait

Year: 1894

Price: $3,100

Welch and Graves Changeable Fish Bait
Welch and Graves Changeable Fish Bait

This rare piece is from Natural Bridge, New York, and marked “PAT’D 1894”.

It has a flat fish-shaped frame, with a celluloid centerpiece that is interchangeable. Attached to the lure’s front is the spinner which causes it to rotate. Each hook also retains the original factory wrapped wire which functions as weed control. The lure is in “VG+ to Ex-” condition.

7. Uncatalogued Moonlight Torpedo

Year: –

Price: $3,000

 

Uncatalogued Moonlight Torpedo

This fishing prop from the Moonlight Bait Co. comes with its original 7-inch box. The torpedo has a rare frog-green shine and a yellow belly. It has good glass eyes and red notes on the nose. It features 3 treble hooks – from at the belly, and one at the rear. 

The torpedo has paint missing from the belly weights which will bring its grading down from Ex. The box also shows wear which gives it a VG grading. 

8. Creek Chub Wagtail Special, 200 Wiggler

Year: –

Price: $3,000

Creek Chub Wagtail Special, 200 Wiggler

This fishing lure is a deluxe wagtail that was part of a special order. Unlike the popular hook tails, this comes with an excellent tail mechanism. It has a brilliant green back that blends to a bright yellow at the sides and the belly.

A side burn brings the condition rating down to a VG. However, along with the Wagtail lure comes an early Baby Wriggler lure with chub finish that is in VG+ to Ex- condition. 

9. Original Creek Club Crawdad Store Display

Year: 1952

Price: $2,800

Original Creek Club Crawdad Store Display

This vintage “crab” lure was made in 1952 by the Creek Chub factory in Des Moine Iowa. It was produced as part of a special order, so it measures 18 inches, which is 4x the size of the actual. The tan crab lure has 8 rubber legs and 2 giant black glass eyes. 

It is in excellent condition. Only the fragile legs give it an Ex- instead of an Ex+. 

10. Chapman “The New Combination” Bait

Year: 1870

Price: $2,800

Chapman “The New Combination” Bait

This rare fishing lure dates back to the 1870’s. It is the smallest of the three models made at the time. The 2 ½ body is marked with the number 3 and “Chapman & Son, Theresa N.Y.”.

The lure is an attractive dark patina with hand painted red and blue spots on the shaft and wings. It also features a treble hook and original Chapman swivel. It is in Ex- condition.

11. Early W.D. Chapman Spinner

Year: –

Price: $2,700

Early W.D. Chapman Spinner

This simple lure is an uncatalogued serpent spinner. It has a wool wrapped treble hook. Attached to this is the flat brass body of the lure. It features raised white eyes on top of the head, and slightly curved stubby wings on each side of the head. The arrangement is such that the lure revolves on the shaft when pulled under water.

The 3 ⅞ inches fishing lure is marked “W.D Chapman Theresa, N.Y”. Only a few of this Chapman spinner lure is known, and this one is in fine VG+ to Ex- condition.

12. Chapman’s New 1897 Bait

Year: –

Price: $2,700

Chapman’s New 1897 Bait
Chapman’s New 1897 Bait

This fishing lure has a cute design with extended wings, a grooved body, and a hair-dressed tail. “W.D. Chapman Theresa, N.Y” is stamped on both wings to show it’s an early Chapman piece.

The lure is made of brass, measures only 2 ¼ inches, and has a bright gold colour. The condition is excellent (Ex-).

13. Shakespeare-Worden Bucktail Spinner Box

Year: –

Price: $2,600

Shakespeare-Worden Bucktail Spinner Box
Shakespeare-Worden Bucktail Spinner Box

This is an exquisite aluminum lure. The silver-coloured bait is a bucktail – it has its back treble hooks dressed up in brown hair. The lure is an introductory model, as it is marked “Pat. Appl’d For”. 

It comes with its black original box. It is marked “Patent Applied For”, and features clear illustration of the lure. Both the lure and the box show only light soiling, and are in Ex- to Ex+ condition. 

14. Paw Paw Decoy and Moonlight Box

Year: –

Price: $2,500

Paw Paw Decoy and Moonlight Box
Paw Paw Decoy and Moonlight Box

The rare lure from Moonlight Bait Co. has a 5 ⅛ inches wooden body and yellow painted eyes. It features 3 internal belly weights. The fishing lure which is dotted with black allover has a greenish back that blends to golden sides and a white belly. The absence of hooks makes this lure unique. It comes with 2 metal fins from each side, and a greenish tail. 

One thing that makes it really valuable is that it comes with the original Moonlight Bait box. The bait is in VG+ to Ex- condition, while the box is in Ex- to Ex+ condition.

15. Michigan Life-Like Minnow

Year: 1908

Price: $2,400

Michigan Life-Like Minnow
Michigan Life-Like Minnow

This iconic fishing lure is from Jacob Hansen of Muskegon, Michigan. It features dark glass eyes, and a dark green spatter finish back which blends to white sides and belly. It has five treble hooks – two at each side, and another hooked to a rear three bladed prop which is marked “PAT Feb 5th 1908”. The life-like Michigan fishing lure is in shiny Ex condition. 

16. The Moonlight Chautauqua Little Wonder

Year: –

Price: $2,400

The Moonlight Chautauqua Little Wonder
The Moonlight Chautauqua Little Wonder

This “little” wonder is by no means little. It is a relatively large 11 inches long lure made as a special order for the Chautauqua Lake Region in New York. It features a red scale finish, big glass eyes, and a hook design in the front (between the eyes).

It shows wear (soiling, chips, and age lines). So, its condition grading is VG-. However, with only a few of these giant lures made, it’s a rare piece that will excite any moonlight collector.

17. The Manitou Minnow

Year: –

Price: $2,300

The Manitou Minnow

 

This design was patented by Bailey and Elliot in 1905. However, because of a patent dispute, only a few were produced. So, it’s very rare today. 

It features a light green back and sides that blend to a white belly. It has yellow glass eyes and three belly weights

The lure comes in its original card box box which includes its instruction flyer, and everything is in excellent (Ex- to Ex+) condition. 

18. Moonlight’s The Trout Bob

Year: –

Price: $2,200

Moonlight’s The Trout Bob

This is a very rare floating flyrod size bait from The Trout Bob. It was introduced in 1911, and discontinued almost immediately after. 

The miniature fishing lure comes in brass washer hardware with luminous finish, and a small feathered treble hook. The minnow is in excellent condition. It comes in its original box which also has the original fold out paper. While the box and instruction paper themselves are rarer than the minnow, they are also in excellent condition. The Ex-graded “minnow + box + paper” makes this package very valuable.

19. The Blee and Helmkamp Submarine Bait

Year: 1913

Price: $2,000

The Blee and Helmkamp Submarine Bait
The Blee and Helmkamp Submarine Bait

 

This aluminium submarine bait was patented on March 18, 1913. It is a unique lure with a valve mechanism with which to control the flow of water in and out of its hollow body. This lets you control how deep the lure goes into the water. It also features a brass nose and a spinner as its tail.

The 4-inch submarine bait is in Ex- to Ex+ condition. While the lure is rare enough, it also comes with the original box to make it really valuable.

20. Moonlight 1200 Series Casting Bait

Year: –

Price: $1,900

Moonlight 1200 Series Casting Bait

The moonlight bait has a body similar to the Pikaroon which is lined with 5 trebles. It was made about 923, and is one of the most sought-after lures amongst collectors. 

Measuring just over 3 ¾ inches, this lure has a yellow body with black stripes. It also features a blush of red on its nose, and blemish-free glass eyes. It is in excellent Ex- to Ex+ condition. 

21. SeaGull Wobbler

Year: –

Price: $1,800

SeaGull Wobbler
SeaGull Wobbler

This beautiful lure is designed as a perch – a fish species with dark vertical bars on its sides and a touch of red or orange at the tip of its fins.

The Wobbler has a dark green back, with dark green vertical stripes across its yellow sides, and a red belly. It has two treble hooks on its belly, and one attached to its nose. The shiny lure is Ex- grade. Taking its value even higher is that it comes in its original box, which is in Ex- to Ex+ condition.  

22. Moonlight Single-Hook Pikaroon

Year: –

Price: $1,800

Moonlight Single-Hook Pikaroon
Moonlight Single-Hook Pikaroon

 

This is a must-have lure for Moonlight collectors. It is a rarely seen single-hook Moonight model with a beautiful golden shiner finish. The small 4 ¼ inch lure has blemish-free glass eyes. Its bright yellow colour is accentuated by the black around the eyes, and the red blush on the nose. 

The shiny lure is also in shiny Ex- to Ex+ condition. Adding to the rarity of this antique fishing lure is that it comes in its original yellow “Moonlight Brand Minnows” box. The box shows wear, which gives it a grading of VG+. 

23. Early Seagull Trolling Bait

Year: –

Price: $1,600

Early Seagull Trolling Bait

 

This Seagull lure is a simple lure with a yellow body and blue head. Its unmarked body measures about 3 ¾ inches. It features one rear and 2 underbelly treble hooks. 

The double-colour lure is most likely unfished, so it is in excellent (Ex- to Ex+) condition. It comes in its original box. The large 5 ⅞ inch box, which is marked “Pat. Pending”, is also in Ex condition.  

24. Silver Creek SeaGull Flyrod Lure

Year: –

Price: $1,600

Silver Creek SeaGull Flyrod Lure

 

This extremely rare fishing lure is from Silver Creek Novelty Works. The small lure is trapezoidal and has a dark green back that blends to a yellow belly. It features painted yellow eyes, and a feather/ brush fly which hides a single hook. The lure appears to be unfished, so it’s in Ex condition. 

It comes in its original marked box. Though it shows some fading, it is in VG+ to Ex- condition.

25. Moonlight’s “The Bug – 1916’s Newest”

Year: 1916

Price: $1,600

Moonlight’s “The Bug - 1916’s Newest”

 

The Bug is a 1916 piece from Moonlight Bait Co. Measuring just 2 ⅞ inches, it features a simple wooden body design, with a single treble hook, and a red and white finish.

The bait shows soiling, and a chip, so it’s graded VG+. Its value comes from being a rare piece, and having its original box. The clearly marked box shows discoloration and is also graded VG+.

How to Identify Antique Fishing Lures

When it comes to antique fishing lures, it is all about the age. Generally, antique fishing lures are very very old fishing lures. They are usually about a century old. This means that fishing lures manufactured in the 19th and mid-20th century are antique fishing lures.

Determining the age of a fishing lure should not be a problem because they are usually marked.

However, there are a few exceptions to this. Sometimes, fishing lures that are only a few decades old can be considered antique. Examples include:

  • Lures made as part of a special order.
  • Lures whose production were quickly discontinued

How To Spot Valuable Antique Fishing Lures

The value of fishing lures depends on generic collectibles characteristics like age, rarity and condition, as well as lures-specific characteristics like material type and types of eyes. 

In terms of lures-specific characteristics, the most valuable fishing lures are made from wood and have glass eyes.

In terms of generic characteristics, valuable fishing lures are those that are very old, hard to rare, and have condition grading.

Age: As mentioned earlier, the older a collectible is, the more valuable it tends to be. This is because the older a collectible is, the harder it is to find. 

Rarity: Simple economics explains that something that is hard to find will command a bigger price than something that is readily available.

It is “rarity” that makes some fishing lures very valuable despite being only a few decades old. For example, if only a limited number of lures are made as part of a special order, in only a few decades, they’ll be very hard to get.

Condition: It’s easy to understand that a new item will be more valuable than a used counterpart. The better the condition of the lure, the more valuable it’ll be. For this reason, look out for antique fishing lures that are unfished.

Even when fished, they can still be in fine condition and be very valuable. However, so that there is no confusion about the condition of fishing lures, the National Fishing Lure Collectors Club (NFLCC) has established a grading system as follows:

  • NIB (New in Box) – Unused with original box
  • M (Mint) – Unused without box or carton
  • Ex (Excellent) – Very little or no age cracks. Very minor defects
  • VG (Very Good) – Little age cracks. Some minor defects
  • G (Good) – Some age cracks. Starting to chip. Small defects
  • AVG (Average) – Some paint loss and/or chipping. Showing age
  • F (Fair) – Major paint loss and/or defects. Much chipping
  • P (Poor) – Parts missing. Poor color and/or major chipping
  • R (Repaint) – Original paint covered in part or all

Another element when considering the condition of lures is whether or not they have their original box. The box usually when available usually adds to the value of the lure. However, the condition of the box is also considered.   

Final Thoughts

If your dad or grandpa loved fishing. It’s time you look around for those old fishing lures as they can be worth serious money today.

The worth of antique fishing lures ranges from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. For example, on our list of 25 most valuable fishing lures are the 1905 Wiggletail Smith Minnow and the Hardy Interchangeable Casting Minnow which command 5 figure fees.

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