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    

17 Vintage Fishing Reels Fly Reels Sea Reels Job Lot Shakespeare Etc + SpareVintage Tackle Heddon, Shakespeare ,pflueger, South Bend Lures For Parts ,repairScarce Vintage Shakespeare Kazoo Raised Pillar Wide Fly Fishing ReelVintage Shakespeare Revolution Bait 4 Inch Aluminum Lure C. 1900'sShakespeare Tantilizer Minnow Lure Series 638 Photo Finish Wooden Tail Ball HookBass-a-lure - Lure BoxRhodes Shakespeare 3 Hook Underwater Minnow Excellent Green CracklebackShakespeare Rhodes Torpedo 3 Hook Underwater Minnow Lure Crazy Color Vintage Shakespeare Fishing Reel Dealer Repair Kit Early Wood Box !! ReserveShakespeare No 1898 Model El Salt Water Fly ReelShakespeare Marhoff 1964 Fishing Reel Nickel Silver Model Ga Celluloid Handles Shakespeare Egyptian Wobbler And Jr Minnow Lure Lot Of 2 Rare Vintage Shakespeare Alpha 1981 Casting Reel Super Clean Model CkVintage Shakespeare Tournament No. 1743 Hk Fishing ReelVintage Shakespeare 1974 Supra Gl Stainless Steel Bait Casting ReelShakespeare Jim Dandy Wobbler Minnow Lure Glass Eye Vintage Shakespeare Fly Fishing Rod And Reel Shakespeare Uncle Sam 1914 Model Fishing Reel Kalamazoo Mi 230372 Vintage Shakespeare Fiberglass WonderodsShakespeare 1810 Model Wondereel Closed Face Fishing ReelShakespeare Jim Dandy Floater Minnow Lure Circa 1936Vintage Old Wood Shakespeare Sea Witch Fishing Lure Very Nice Color Nr!!Vintage Old Wood Shakespeare Sea Witch Fishing Lure In Correct Box Nr!!Very Nice Shakespeare Egyptian Wobbler Lure In Silver Sparkles 194012 Old Vintage Fishing Reels Shakespeare Marhoff South Bend Ocean City Fly ReelVintage Lou Eppinger Dardevle Klinker Fishing LureAntique 1924 Shakespeare Universal Precision Fishing Reel Kalamazoo Original TinVintage Shakespeare Noris #2110 Fly Rod Fishing Reel Scarce Vintage Shakespeare Wondereel De-luxe Reel #1922 Model Gk NrVintage Shakespeare Bullet Reel Oiler6- Vintage Daiwa-penguin-shakespeare Spinning Reels Made In JapanVintage Old Shakespeare Glo-lite Pup Fishing Lure In Correct Box Nice Nr!!Shakespeare President Baitcasting Reel, No. 1970 Model Gd.Antique Pocket Reel Oiler Sewing Machine Gun Oil Can Old Display Tackle Box BaitShakespeare T Robb Spoon New On Card Vintage Shakespeare Wonder Rod—casting RodShakespeare Marhoff Ge 1964Shakespeare Special Series 6546 And Slim Jim Glass Eye Minnow Lot Vintage Old Wood Shakespeare Pup Fishing Lure For Your Tackle Box Nr!!Vintage Froglegs Surface Model Fishing Lure With BoxVintage Old Wood Shakespeare Sea Witch Fishing Lure In Correct Box Nice Nr!!Shakespeare Ugly Stik Rods PatchShakespeare Sigma 030 Spinning Fishing Reel.Fly Fishing Reel Vintage Lot Of 3 Pflueger Medalist Shakespeare 1822 Wards 62Vintage Old Wood Shakespeare Dopey Fishing Lure In Original Box Nice Nr!!Vintage Shakespeare 1932 Tru-axis, Model Ge Baitcasting ReelVintage Shakespeare Marhoff Reel #1964 Model Ge With Box & Bag NrShakespeare Hook Setter Brown And Black Fishing Rod Fly Collector's Vintage PoleShakespeare Super Wondereel 1925 Fishing Reel Old Store Stock Shakespeare T 6580 Swimming Mouse Fishing Lure NibAntique Fishing Pole, 4 Part, 9 Ft., Shakespeare No. 1361Vintage Shakespeare Presidential Wonderline Fishing Line Wexford 12lb 2x50yrdsVintage Shakespeare President Reels - Lot Of 3Vintage Old Shakespeare Spinning Pop Eye Frog Fishing Lure In Correct Box Nr!!Vintage Shakespeare Wonderod - Howald Process - 2 Piece - Spinning Fishing Rod Shakespeare Sigma ReelGlo Light Swimming Mouse, Shakespeare (2) Red And BlackVintage Old Wood Fishing Lure Shakespeare Wiggle Diver Large Silver Flitters NibVintage Shakespeare Direct Drive Wondereel #1921d, Model Fh Baitcasting ReelVintage Shakespeare Wondereel #1920, Model Ge Baitcasting Reel