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 Early 1900s Shakespeare Worden Bucktail Metal Revolution Bullet Lure 1924 Shakespeare Catalog Lures Flies Flyrod Lures Reels, Michigan Kazoo BugsOld Wood 3 Hook Minnow Lure Heddon, Shakespeare, Rhodes With See-thru Flat Wire Lot Of 5 Old Fishing Lures Baits Shakespeare?Vintage Shakespeare 5 Hook Underwater Minnow LureOld Fishing Tackle Lot Lures Line Overland Knife Tool Heddon Shakespeare & More!Vintage Shakespeare Hexagon Bamboo Fishing Fly Rod A 1362 9ft.*vintage Shakespeare Underwater 5 Hook Fishing Lure* Old Wooden 3 Hook Minnow Lure Heddon, Shakespeare, PlfuegerLot Of 5 Vintage Wood Lures 3 Shakespeare No. 6603 Dopey And 2 Similar LuresShakespeare Wooden Mouse Lure Sweet Pearl In BoxVintage Shakespeare Bullet OilerShakespeare Wooden Minnow Series 42 In Beautiful Scale Finish Vintage Shakespeare Spin Wondereel No.1810 Spinning Fishing Reel...u.s.a....Vintage Shakespeare Professional Sp-300 6'6" Fishing Rod Pole 10 Vintage Reel Wrenches:heddon, Pflueger, Bronson,shakespeare,langley, Etc.9 Vintage Estate Fishing Lures Some Glass Eyes Garrett Pike Flasher Shakespeare Super Super Nice Shakespeare Paddler, Rh/white, As Nice As They ComeNew In Box Vintage Shakespeare 2062 Nl Spinning Reel, Burgundy Color, Us MadeVintage Shakespeare Kazoo Fly ReelFour Shakespeare Old Fishing Reels Wondereel Leader +Vintage Old Shakespeare Criterion 1961 Model Hc Engraved Fishing Reel Exc!Vintage Shakespeare Kazoo 5 Hook Minnow Circa 1910 - Over 100 Years Old!1952 Shakespeare Howald Wonderod # 1257 Fishing 2 Piece Pole, Tube, Sleeve Nice!Vintage Shakespeare 2 Pc Fiberglass " 1451 Fcm Wonderod " 8 ' 6 " Fly RodVintage Rainbow 3 Hook Wooden Minnow Heddon? Pflueger? Shakespeare?Shakespeare Howard Wonderod Fiberglass Fly RodShakespeare 1810 Wondereel. Model DkVintage Shakespeare Fishing Reel 2052 With Box - For Parts2-vintage Shakespeare Casting Reels, President Gd #1970, & Direct Drive Fk #1924Vintage Old Shakespeare Spiderweb Engraved Fishing Reel Scarce!Vintage Shakespeare Ugly Stick Sp 1100 6' 6" Spinning Fishing RodVintage Shakespeare Swimming Mouse Wood Fishing Lure In Original Correct BoxThree Shakespeare Old Fishing Reels True Blue & DeuceC.1971 Shakespeare 1797 Push-button "wondercast" Spin Casting Reel In Box W/instWooden Shakespeare Underwateer Slim Jim Rainbow Scale Finish Glass EyesVintage Shakespeare 1969 Freshwater Baitcasting Reel Vintage Shakespeare No. 1935 Direct Drive Free Spool Casting Reel Model Qu Nice!Vintage Large Shakespeare "wiggle Diver" Wooden Lure With BoxShakespeare Ideal 1963 Reel In Seldom Seen Correct BoxVintage Shakespeare Wonderrod Casting Rod Howald Process 5' 8" Made In U.s.a.Vintage Shakespeare Grumpy Fishing LureC.1967 Shakespeare 1771 Push-button "wondercast" Spin Casting ReelVintage Shakespeare Sigma 0001 Bait Cast Baitcasting Fishing Reel Usa Vintage Set Engraved Shakespeare Superior Kalamazoo Reel In Box 1962 Gk5 Mice Mouse Lures Heddon Tiger Shakespeare And Fly.....great For PartsVintage Shakespeare Ugly Stik Xl Sp1150 6'6" M Action RodRare Vintage 1942 Shakespeare Wiggle Diver 6527 Tenite Pearl 2 1/4" Fishing LureVintage Shakespeare Multifunction Fishing Pliers In Leather SheathVintage Shakespeare No. 1732 Spin-wondereel Spincasting Reel - Model EhVtg 1975 Shakespeare Fishing Tackle Catalog~sport Rods, Reels, Lines, Lures~excVintage Shakespeare Big Shaker Fishing LureVintage Shakespeare Criterion Fishing Reel - Level Winding - No. 1960Vintage Shakespeare Dopey Fishing LureVintage Shakespear Criterion Deluxe 1960 & 1960as Fishing Reel Near Mint In Box Vintage Shakespeare Imperial 1957 Reel In Original Box W/paperwork, Wrench4 Vintage Casting Weights, Practice Plugs, Creek Chub, Shakespeare, OfficialVintage Shakespeare Wonder Spin Wondereel Fishing Reel #1750Vintage Shakespeare Ok Automatic Fly Fishing Reel - No 1821 Model GdPenn, Shakespeare Reel Wrenches