The History of Florida Lure Makers

History of Florida Fishing Lure Makers

The History of Florida Lure Makers

Florida's history is rich with individuals and small companies that were involved in early lure making. These cottage industries sprang up all over Florida in the 1920's and 1930's. The popularity of bass fishing in the area with the locals and with the northern visitors created the demand for these lures. Often these lures were sold off the front porch of the maker or out of the trunk of his car. Their apparent workmanship and folk art quality make them highly prized among collectors today. Names like Ammie Lee, Barracuda, Eger, Robinson, Pfeffer, Flood, Bender, Garland, Superstrike, Earl Gresh and Roane are a few of the larger and well know companies from Florida. The oldest wooden lure made in Florida were by Grover Cox and sold at his Cox's Sporting Goods store in Tampa. Lures made by these early makers are of value and sought by collectors today.

The first commercially available lures were made in Michigan and in Ohio. Heddon and Pflueger dominated the market from the early 1900's to the 1940's. Other companies like Shakespeare, Creek Chub Bait Co., South Bend and Paw Paw also enjoyed a share of this market. The story goes that the invention of the first wooden lure was by accident. James Heddon was sitting along side of his favorite lake in Dowagiac, Michigan. He tossed a piece of wood he had been whittling on into the lake and it was immediately struck by a bass. And so an industry was conceived.

The history of fishing reels goes back a little further than that of the wooden plugs. The earliest ones being made in England and exported to the United States. These simple winches were used to store the line when fishing with a live minnow or a tin squid. It was American know-how that took these primitive devices and made them suitable for casting. Kentucky holds the honor of being the location where the first American reels were made. In the early 1800's, watch-makers and jewelers were the only ones that had the tools and the talent to make these works of art. Names like Meek, Milam, Talbot, Sage, and Gayle can be found on them.

The interests of tackle collectors spans the whole range of angling related items. Although most collectors are interested in lures and reels, there are a large number that seek only split bamboo rods, fishing creels, old catalogs, and old fishing tournament patches and medals.

For any questions about antique fishing reels, lures or tackle, please feel free to Email or Call me. I always like to talk about old tackle.

Email me at: or Call or Text me at: 407-496-7940


Ron Gast

Orlando, FL

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