no avatar

There could be gold in that old tackle box

Larry Woody, Outdoors Writer • Dec 17, 2015 at 6:02 PM

Mt. Juliet's Gibby Gibson, a nationally-acclaimed expert on antique fishing gear, and Lebanon guide Jim Duckworth will be among the participants in a tackle "swap meet" Saturday, March 1, at Charlie Daniels Park.

Sponsored by the Percy Priest Hybrid/Striper Club and the TWRA Conservation Fund, the event will offer fishermen and collectors an opportunity to buy, sell and trade new and used rods, reels, lures and boating equipment.

It runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. A $5 donation to the TWRA hatchery program serves as admission. Youngsters 12 and under get in free.

In addition to their displays of new and used tackle for sale, Gibson and Duckworth will be available to appraise antique tackle, on which they are authorities.

"I've been intrigued by antique tackle ever since my grandfather gave me some old lures when I was a kid," says Gibson, a member of the National Fishing Lure Collector's Club (www.nflcc.org).

"I began collecting antique lures and other fishing tackle and gear as a hobby, and over the years it's grown. I find it fascinating."

It's not only old fishing lures that are popular and valuable. Collectors also value antique rods, reels, creels, minnow buckets, fish spears, nets, hooks, sinkers, bobbers and other gear.

Some of the items are worth big money. Gibson says one rare antique lure sold at auction for $100,000.

"It's become a big business, and not just in the U.S.," Gibson says. "Interestingly, antique fishing tackle is really big in Japan."

Fellow collector Duckworth says sometimes the old box that an antique lure came in is more valuable than the lure itself.

"When a fisherman takes a lure out of the box, he usually throws the box away," he explains. "So over the years the boxes become more and more rare. Also, a lot of those old lure boxes were decorated with drawings and other artwork. Some of them are valuable because of the craftsmanship."

The value of antique tackle is determined by how rare is it and what condition it's in.

Finding antique tackle at yard sales or flea markets is not as common as it used to be, because more people are aware of its value.

"You can still occasionally stumble across something in an old tackle box, but not that often," Gibson says. "But you never know, and that's what makes it fun to keep looking."

Most of the collectables are bought and sold at collector's trade shows and on-line. But it's possible to acquire some good items that way.

"Collecting antique tackle is like collecting anything else -- it can be as expensive as you want to make it," Gibson says. "You can spend a fortune, or you can get some pretty good items at a reasonable price."

Among Duckworth's collection is a spinning lure that dates back to the Civil War. He says the historical aspect is a big part of the appeal of antique tackle.

"It's fascinating to look at an old lure and imagine who might have used it -- maybe a Civil War soldier -- and think about where it's been and what all it's caught," he says. "Every one of these old lures has a story behind it."

Duckworth considers his antique tackle collection an investment for the future -- it grows older and more valuable with each passing year. Meanwhile, he enjoys sorting through it, looking at it, and imagining the fish tales it could tell.

Recommended for You