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]

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]

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]

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]

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 Tackle Box Full Of Lures Heddon Creek Chub Jitterbug Crazy Crawler DecoyShakespeare Waukazoo Fishing LureVtg. Shakespeare 1280 T 2 Piece 7' 9 Wonderod Fiberglass Fly Rod W/orig. CaseVintage Shakespeare Wonderod 5'2" One Piece Casting Rod Usa Vgc Box Of Vintage Tournament Casting Items, 4 Shakespeare Reels, Trophy, Plugs ! !Vintage Shakespeare No. 1810 Wondereel Fishing Reel - Great Old Fishing ReelVintage Shakespeare 2062-2 Spinning Reel/in Box/tough!Vintage Shakespeare 1827 Tru-art Automatic Fly Fishing Reel W/ Box & Paper WorkAntique Shakespeare Revolution *type Spinner With 1896 Patent Unknown LureVintage 1980 Shakespeare President Ii Bait Casting Made Usa Fishing Reel 2600 Rare Vintage 1920's To Early 1930's Shakespeare Evolution Bait Vintage Shakespeare Sigma Supra 2500 Ck 070 Spinning ReelVintage New In Box Shakespeare Spinning Reel Model 2062nlVintage Shakespeare Midget Underwater MinnowVintage Shakespeare 1837 Gb Silent Tru-art Automatic Fly Fishing Reel New In BoxShakespeare 1930s Hydro Film Reel In Box, Paper, Nice!Lot Of Trolling Lures Crankbaits Flatfish Foxee KwikfishVintage Shakespeare 1800 Ii Under Spin Reel / With Box And Manual - Rear DragVintage Shakespeare 1958 Triumph Fishing ReelVintage Shakespeare 2062 Spinning Fishing Reel. Very Good!Vintage Shakespeare Midget Underwater MinnowOld Vintage Shakespeare Marbled Marhoff 1964 Hd Reel Nice! Fishing Tackle BoxOld Vintage Shakespeare Criterion Deluxe 1960 Ge Reel Nice!! Fishing Tackle BoxVintage Old Wood Shakespeare Pup Fishing Lure For Your Tackle Box Nice!!Two Spare Spools For Pflueger Medalist By Shakespeare No 1498 Size 001 Fly ReelVintage Shakespeare President 1970a Level Wind Bait Cast Fishing ReelGrab Bag Collection Of 8 Vintage Fishing Lures-heddon-shakespeare-unmarkedOld Vintage Shakespeare Ocean Prince 2226 Reel Saltwater Fishing Tackle Box LureVintage Shakespeare No. 1776 Deluxe Push-button Wondercast Reel/in Box/tough!Shakespeare Kalamazoo Cartridge Oiler Vintage Fishing Hunting 30/06 CartridgeVintage Shakespeare Wonderod Fishing PoleShakespeare 2052 Vtg Shakespeare Wonder Spin No 1785 Open Face Spinning Fishing Reel With LineWood Florida Old Fishing Lure Shakespeare Props Bullseye On BellyLot Of Cordell Red Fin Crankbait Lures Stick Bait JointedVintage Heddon Shakespeare Paw Paw Fishing Lure Antique Tackle Box Bait Bass Shakespeare Wonderod No.sp- A500 6' 6" ProfessionalVery Nice Vintage Shakespeare Intrinsic 1959 Lw Fishing Reel With Original Box Tough Shakespeare Midget Oregon Fly Rod Minnow LureOld Vintage Shakespeare Aluminum Imperial1957 Hj Reel Tough!! Fishing Tackle Box2 Vintage Shakespeare Fishing Lures Special No. 6546 & Slim Jim Honor Built UsaOld Vintage Shakespeare Sportcast 1977 Gd Reel Narrow Spool Tournament FishingVery Nice Vintage Shakespeare No. 1905 Duece Lw Fishing Reel With BoxVintage Shakespeare Wonderod Fishing Rod, 6' 6". Vintage Shakespeare Special Wood LureGood Used Shakespeare Wondercast No. 1771 Eb Spincasting Fishing Reel-vtg Three Antique Skeleton Single Action Fly Reels - Incl. Shakespeare KazooShakespeare 1776 Deluxe Push-button Wondercast Fishing Reel W/box Info SheetVintage Shakespeare 1969 Model Eb Fishing Reel Very Clean Made In UsaOld Vintage Shakespeare True Blue 1956 Fk Reel Fishing Tackle Box Lure RodOld Vintage Shakespeare Acme 1901 Eh Reel Nice! Fishing Tackle Box Lure Rod Vintage Shakespeare Swimming Mouse Jr. - 2 Inches - BrownVintage Old Wood Shakespeare Genuine Swimming Mouse Fishing Lure Black/whiteShakespeare Swimming MouseVintage Old Wood Shakespeare Mouse Fishing Lure For Your Tackle Box Red/whiteOld Wooden Shakespeare Dopey LureVintage Shakespeare Wondereel 20- Tiny Reel In Custom Wood Box W/paperworkShakespeare Cmf Catfish Catch More Fish Catfish 7' Spinning Rod & Reel ComboVintage Shakespeare Wexford Invisible Spinning Line 2 Spools Nib 6 Lb. TestLot Of Vintage Casting Reels. Spinning Reels. For Parts J A Coxe, Shakespeare