For fishing buffs, William Shakespeare was the bard of tackle and the poet of the lure. Shakespeare’s gear changed the way the world fished—from his 1896 reel that wound fishing line evenly onto a spool to his 1939 Backlash Brake for the Wondereel, one of the most popular fishing reels ever made.

Shakespeare founded his company in 1897—his patented level-wind reel would be the company’s first flagship product. Shakespeare’s second act came in 1900, when his dozen-employee company introduced the Wood Revolution, a three-treble-hook wooden plug whose bug-like body was divided by an aluminum collar and a pair of spinning propellers.

During the first decade of the 20th century, aluminum versions of the Revolution followed, as did rubber Sure-Lures, Evolution lures, and Frogs (one "mechanical" frog had legs that kicked when the line was pulled). Floating and submerged wooden Minnow lures were also a staple of this early Shakespearian era.

After taking a break during World War I to manufacture mortar fuses and carburetors for the war effort, the company regrouped in the 1920s to expand its line of reels, rods, and lures. The Hercules was the company’s "heavy-duty" reel; the nickel-plated Beetzel was designed to automatically release the line on a spool when the rod was cast. The Marhoff featured elegant black Bakelite detailing (it is a real catch for collectors of antique and vintage fishing reels) while the open architecture of the Shakespeare Hoosier appears downright primitive to contemporary eyes.

The 1920s also saw the introduction of the Bass-A-Lure, whose large, metal, lower lip caused the lure to dive enticingly when the line was retrieved by the angler. The Mermaid lures had white or red heads and shapely bodies, while the Swimming Mouse had glass eyes, a pair of treble hooks for legs, and a delicate, whipping tail.

For Shakespeare, the biggest event of the 1930s, other than the marvelous Jim Dandy, Sea Witch, and Barnacle Bill lures, was the invention of the Wondereel in 1939. This reel would go on to become one of the bestselling fishing products ever—not even World War II, when the company turned its attention to the manufacture of planes, tanks, and jeeps, could derail its popularity.

After the war, Shakespeare focused its attention on fishing tackle rather than lures. In 1947, William’s son Henry, who was now running his father’s company, introduced the first fiberglass fishing rod, blowing the competition out of the water. A push-button Wondercast spinning reel followed in the early 1950s, and by 1966 Shakespeare had purchased one of its biggest competitors, Pflueger.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Joes Old Lures

Joes Old Lures

Joe Yates' website is a great showcase for hundreds of old fishing lures, providing high resolution photos and in m… [read review or visit site]

Mrlurebox.com

Mrlurebox.com

Take a big bite - you won't want to just nibble at Robbie Pavey's gallery of over 300 antique fishing lures, many w… [read review or visit site]

AntiqueLures.com

AntiqueLures.com

This extensive site features over 500 pages of information on pre-1940 wood fishing lures and lure boxes. Start wit… [read review or visit site]

Oldfishinglure.com

Oldfishinglure.com

This site is sure to snag you with its great collection of fishing lures from the early 1900s. Includes lures from … [read review or visit site]

TackleCollecting.com

TackleCollecting.com

Larry Nicholson's site dedicated to vintage fishing lures. Features beautiful images of lures and boxes from Fred A… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Antique Tackle Shakespeare 3 Hook Metalized Glass Eye Fishing LurePristine Shakespeare Minnow In Display Box1907 Vintage Shakespeare Gem Clip Ge 3 Hook Minnow Lure Early Longhorn Props Old Vintage Fishing Rod Reel Shakespeare Criterion 1961 Collectible Lure DisplayTh42) Vintage Shakespeare Green Crackleback 3-hook Underwater Minnow LureShakespeare Meadow Mouse Lure In Great Tough Rs Color With Mouse Papers/cardVintage Shakespeare Speedex Fly Reel -- Made In EnglandEx Shakespeare 1910 Model Perfect Fishing Reel 80 Yds.Vintage Shakespeare President 1975 Bicentennial Anniversary Fishing Reel Look!!Shakespeare Wondercast 1796 Ek & Shakespeare 1773 Ej Spin Cast Reels, Usa3 Vintage Shakespeare Wood Sea Witch Fishing- Lures Great ColorsVintage Shakespeare Wonderod 6-1/2' Rod Made In UsaVintage Shakespeare 5 Hook Glass Eye Green CracklebackVintage Shakespeare 1965 Professional Fishing Reel, Antique Tackle Box Lure Vintage Shakespeare President No. 1970a Baitcasting Fishing ReelSet Of 2 Vintage Spinning Reel Shakespeare President Ii Pflueger Rocket 1375( 2 ) Vintage Heddon Hedliner & Shakespeare ?? 2 Pc Fiberglass Fly RodsNice Clean Shakespeare Standard Narrow Spool Sportcast #1977 Casting ReelVintage Shakespeare Sigma Pro 040 Spinning Fishing ReelLot Of ( 16 ) Vintage Fishing Spinning Reels Penn,bronson,shakespeare Ocean CityLot Of ( 26 ) Vintage Fishing Spinning Reels,bronson,belmont,shakespeare,ect.1 Vintage Shakespeare Kasmiroski Wood #562 - 3 - Belly WeightsF13) Vintage Marty's (shakespeare) White Red Head Mighty Mouse Lure With Box NrShakespeare 1924 Model Tournament Fishing Reel 100 Yds.Shakespeare Wonderod Aluminum CaseVintage Old Wood Paw Paw Mouse Fishing Lure For Your Tackle Box Brown Flock Nr!!Vintage Shakespeare Pocket Oiler Fishing Reel Oil Can For ReelOld Vintage Lot Fishing Reel Wrenches Pflueger Shakespeare Bronson Penn No LuresVintage Old Paw Paw Lucky Lures Fishing Lure Box Only 9300 L Nice Nr!!Shakespeare Fishing Lure VintageVintage Shakespeare Fishing Rod, 8' Antique Tackle Box Find Trout Lure, Fly Vintage Shakespeare Wonderod - Howald Process - 2 Piece - Spinning Fishing Rod Shakespeare Mouse Lure Black And White Wooden Glass Eye 1936 Shakespeare Tournament Free Spool #1740 Casting Reel Lot#11Vintage Shakespeare President Tru-axisl Casting Reel #1978t UnfishedVintage Shakespeare 1796 Model No. Wonder Cast Reel Fishing Reel Vintage Nos Shakespeare 1926 Model Fk Direct Drive Level Wind Fishing Reel2 Vintage Fly Reels Automatic South Bend 1130 Shakespeare 1822 Parts Or RepairEx+ Shakespeare #1935 Direct Drive Free Spool Reel Model Ej Beautiful ColorsVintage Shakespeare President Ii 2900 Spinning ReelVintage Shakespeare Tru-art 1836 NibShakespeare Kalamazoo 1918 Ideal Level Winding Vintage Casting Reel Fishing Vintage Old Shakespeare Dalton Special St Pete Fishing Lure For Your Tackle BoxShakespeare Fishing Lure VintageVintage Shakespeare Spin Cast Reel Model 1810Vintage 5' 2" Shakespeare Howald Wonderod No. 1179 Fiberglass Fishing Rod Ex+ Shakespeare #1956 True Blue Reel Model Ge + Box & PapersVintage Shakespeare Model 2062 Spinning Fishing ReelVery Nice Vintage Shakespeare Sigma Pro Spinning ReelVintage Shakespeare Bait Casting Fishing Reel 1964 Marhoff In Box With PapersOld Vintage Fishing Rod Reel Shakespeare Clssic 1972 Collectible Lure DisplayVintage 1-piece 5' 6" Shakespeare Ugly Stik Medium Action Spinning Rod UsaVintage Old Shakespeare Dalton Special Fishing Lure For Your Tackle Box Nr!!Vintage Wood Fishing Lure Marty's Mighty Mouse By ShakespeareShur Strike And Pflueger Glass Eye Minnow Lure Lot Of 2 Shakespeare Criterion No. 1960 In Early BoxVintage Shakespeare Spin Cast Reel Model 1756 EcShakespeare President Model Vintage ReelShakespeare Pop Eye Frog VintageVintage Shakespeare 1973 Sportcast