The oft-told Heddon fishing lure creation myth goes something like this: Once upon a time in the late 1800s, no one is exactly sure when, James Heddon was whittling by the side of a lake. Having had his way with the small piece of wood, he casually tossed it in the water where, to his surprise, it was attacked by a big, beautiful bass. Thus the idea of carving a piece of artificial bait, known as a plug, from wood was born.
It’s a nice story, but in an article from the 1921 issue of American Angler magazine, Charles Heddon, one of the sons of Dowagiac, Michigan’s famous James Heddon and Sons, confessed the following: "When asked who made the first wooden bait or plug, my father used to always exhibit two types of wooden minnows used by his grandfather… as far back as from 1850 to 1855."
Whether or not James Heddon was present at the moment of conception for antique fishing lures, he was a fishing-lure force to be reckoned with. The reason is the sheer inventiveness of Heddon plugs and lures, their craftsmanship, and, above all, the fact that they worked.
One of the earliest Heddon plugs was a hook-laden painted frog, carved from a broomstick, with a bottle cap for a head. That was in 1890. By 1902, Heddon was making lures for sale in his family kitchen. The first of these were named after his hometown, Dowagiac. The Dowagiac lures had sloped noses that were painted blue to contrast with the rest of the lure’s white bodies and red aluminum collars.
Perhaps the most interesting accident to come out of the Heddon kitchen was the crackled-paint effect, sometimes called "fancy back." To meet the demand of his customers, wet, freshly painted lures were often hurriedly dried in Mrs. Heddon’s oven. The resulting crackled surface of the lures was deemed a feature rather than a mistake.
Almost at the beginning, Will Heddon joined his father (the company’s 1903 catalog reads "James Heddon and Son" to reflect this change) and a few years later, Charles came on board (the 1909 catalog refers to the firm as "James Heddon and Sons").
By now the Heddons had moved their operation out of Mrs. Heddon’s kitchen and their lines of lures had grown to include the oval-shaped Dowagiac Underwater lures of 1904, with th...
For collectors of antique Heddon lures, the only thing more prized than one of these early lures, in good shape, is a lure in its original box, made of cardboard or wood. Rarer still is a lure in its box with the original information sheet describing the care and use of the lure.
Other rare lures from the first decade of the 20th century include the Underwater Expert with its exterior belly weight, the #450 Killer, the #50 Artistic Minnow (its tail was made of deer hair, and it was sold with a casting weight), and the #400 Bucktail Surface Minnow (it was only made from 1908 to 1909). At the end of the decade, Heddon introduced the #20, a series of smaller, squatter minnow lures.
The 1910s brought a bulbous-headed lured called Radiant Moonlight Bait; very few of these appear to have been made since they don’t appear in any of the old Heddon catalogs. This was also the decade of the Woodpecker, the #1300 Black Sucker Minnow, the #210 Dowagiac Minnows, and #1600 and #1700 Deep Diving Wigglers.
In the 1920s, Heddon expanded its repertoire to include bugs made out of wood, Weedless Pork-Rind lures made out of Bakelite and, later, of a plastic called Pyralin, Musky Minnows, Tad Pollys, Deep-O-Divers, Lucky 13s, Bassers, and Luny Frogs. Of particular to collectors are the #8500 Bassers from 1922 stamped with the words "Head-On Basser." Those are more rare than the later ones that were simply stamped "Basser."
Also popular in the 1920s were the various Vamp lures and the #8300 Zig-Wag lures. By the end of the decade, fly fisherman were hooked on Heddon’s Tiny Tease lures, which featured a single hook that dangled below the lure floating on the surface.
After World War II, Heddon continued to innovate with bass lures, fly lures, and better rod technology. By the time the company was sold in 1951, it was producing as many as 15,000 lures a day.
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Tournament Masters: Otis CoblentzKayak & Canoe News, April 15th
Go-To Lure: Heddon Zara Spook Jr, in bone this lure has always worked well for all typs of fishing freshwater or saltwater. the zig zag or walk the dog action and rattle of the Zara Spook can't be beat for making the fish strike. I fish every...Read more
NW National Fishing Lure Collectors Club gathering Saturday in KelsoLongview Daily News, April 4th
More than 100 collectors of fishing lures, reels and other tackle will descend on the Red Lion ballroom Saturday for the 15th annual spring meeting and show for the National Fishing Lure Collectors Club's Northwest region. The participants are hoping...Read more
Fishing ReportTallahassee Democrat (blog), March 27th
Both trout and reds will also attack a topwater lure. Those with good side-to-side action like Hall 'em In B29s or Peanuts, Rapala Skitterwalks or Heddon Super Spooks get the nod. Lear said that although none have been reported just yet, pompano should...Read more
Heddon's victory leaves Hexham in danger zoneHexhamcourant, March 26th
The Heddon goal is under siege during a Hexham attack in the Tyne Valley derby on Saturday. Seven days on from losing 2-1 to bottom club Willington Quay Saints, a slender 1-0 loss to second bottom Heddon plundered them right back into the relegation...Read more
Favorite Hardbaits?BassResource.com (press release), March 24th
Spot and Bill Lewis Rattle Trap. Jerkbait - Rapala X-Rap : Honorable mention - Smithwick Rattlin' rogue and Lucky Craft Pointer 100. Topwater - Storm Rattlin' Chug Bug : Honorable metion : Heddon Super Spook Jr. and Rebel Premium Pop-R. Back to top ...Read more
National Trust invites walkers to take part in an Exmoor Navigation DayNorth Devon Journal, March 17th
To help tackle these issues, the National Trust is running a new event on Saturday. Exmoor Navigation Day is a fun and practical training day aimed specifically at people new to map reading, or at those who have ... With eight walks based around...Read more