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 Old Wood Early Shakespeare 3 Hook Minnow Fishing Lure Glass Eyes Nice!!Contents Of Old Tackle Box - Heddon * Creek Chub * Shakespeare * Pflueger * ReelOld Vintage Fishing Rod Reel Shakespeare Standard 1977 Narrow Collectible LureVintage Shakespeare No. 2062 Spinning Reel With BoxVintage Shakespeare Direct Drive 1924 Baitcasting Bass Fishing Reel Bass Trout3 Lot Vintage Fly Fishing Reel L.l. Bean Pat Pend. & No. 110 Shakespeare 2531Lot Of 4 Vintage Shakespeare Spinning Reels 2052 (2), 2062, 2065Shakespeare Wonderod Fly RodShakespeare Kazoo Early Single Action Fly ReelTackle Box Loaded Full Lures Reels Antique Hundreds Of Items Hedron Shakespeare Superb Vintage Shakespeare 2-pc 6 Ft "wonderod" Fishing Rod Made In Usa - FineOld~vintage~fly~fish~fishing Reel~kazoo Shakespeare~skeleton FrameT21) 6 Vintage Wood Fishing Lures, South Bend, Shakespeare, Paw Paw NrT48) Early Vintage Shakespeare 2-hook Minnow Fishing Lure B-notch Props RoughVintage Shakespeare Pad-ler 2 Mouse Musky Lure Made In UsaLot 5 Vintage Shakespeare Wonderod Fly Fishing Rod Spinning Casting Look !!Vintage Halik Junior Frog Fishing Lure With BoxPenn Reels Garcia Kingfisher Shakespeare Lot And Moore No Reserve!Antuque Shakespeare Fishing Reel And Vintage LuresVintage Shakespeare 2052 Spinning Reel W Box , Manual Good ConditionVintage Shakespeare Nu-crip Minnow Fishing LureShakespeare Kazoo Vintage Fly ReelVintage Shakespeare #-2062-nl Spinning Reel Made In Usa Vgc+++Vintage Shakespeare 1766 Push-button Reel Model Ee W/original Box & Instructions(5) Vintage Shakespeare Swimming Mice All DifferentVintage Shakespeare Feather Weight Trout Fly ReelVintage Pflueger Heddon Paw Paw Creek Chub Shakespeare South Bend Unknown LureVintage Shakespeare Casting Reel: Model Marhoff Patent # 19642 Vintage Casting Rod Handles Shakespeare & Langley Complete & Ex- Cond.Hard-to-find Shakespeare Box For #534 Ss Jointed JacksmithHowald #1390 8'6" Wonderod By Shakespeare W/original Case & Decal Vintage Shakespeare Wonder Rod 7' Straight Fiber Spiral Markings Fishing Pole Shakespeare Wood Lure LotVintage Shakespeare 2052 Model Ee Spinning Reel Made In UsaPflueger Metalist 1492 Cj Fly Reel By Shakespeare Japan / Japon Single ActionVintage Mother Of Pearl Spinner Lure Fishing Old Tackle Antique Fish Shakespeare No. 1975 Super ReelRare Old Vintage Fishing Rod Reel Shakespeare Criterion 1960ga. Collectible LureVintage Shakespeare 2062nl Spinning Reel New Old Stock In Box Paper Work Nice!!!Old Sturdibilt Metal Box & 10 Vintage Fishing Lures Heddon Cisco Ike ShakespeareShakespeare Spin-wondereel No. 1756 Vintage Fishing ReelOld Vintage Shakespeare Mono Spool Fishing Reel 4 Rod, Tackle Box, Lure DisplayVintage Old Wood Unmarked Fishing Lure Glass Eyes Moonlight? Shakespeare? Nr!!Shakespeare Acme 19014 Vintage Shakespeare Service Reels 1944's And A Mint 1946mOld Vintage Antique Shakespeare Oil CanShakespeare Aluminum Fish Grabber GaffAntique Shakespeare Pioneer 100yd Stamped Foot 1918 Model Baitcasting Reel OldShakespeare Push-button Wondercast 1797 Model F.b. U.s.a. For Parts Or RepairVintage Shakespeare 7' Spiral Wonderod Spinning Rod NiceVintage Paw Paw Pumpkinseed Lure Heddon Shakespeare Unknown Lure Heddon Lure ?Shakespeare Vintage Casting Reel, 1907 AcmeShakespeare Push Button Wondercast No. 1797 Fishing Reel - Model FbShakespeare Fishing Lure Tackle Box Find Estate Lot# BsmtOlder Shakespeare Noris #2115 Spinning Reel-workingFisherman's Vintage Lot, Shakespeare Reel, Martin Fish Reel And Bob-bet Worm BoxVintage Shakespeare Ball Bearing Fresh Water Casting Reel C(g)Shakespeare 1797 Fb & Shakespeare 1788 Heavy Duty Ee Spin Cast Reels, UsaFishing Vintage Fly Reels. Martin, Shakespear, Oreno O MaticVintage Shakespeare 7' "ugly Stick" Spinning Rod - Medium Action - Excellent