What's all the hubbub, Bub?
The purpose of a fishing lure is to stimulate a fish into taking the hook, which is either embedded in or attached to the lure. In season, natural bait can be used, but when natural baits are not available, artificial lures fill the need.
Lures work by using motion, light, and/or vibration to attract the attention of the fish. There are many different types of lures, each designed for a particular type of fishing. They can be as simple as a jig, which is little more than a hook with a hula skirt, to much more elaborate artificial baits which look very natural.
A short list of lures include the following:
- Plastic artificial baits
Long ago, before Arthur Treacher...
The story of the fishing lure goes far back into our human past. The first examples of lures are found in caves. The residents made hooks from bone as well as molded hooks from bronze. Fishing rods, hooks, and line have been found in archeological sites in Egypt and China dated from at least 2000 BCE. The hooks from Egypt had barbs, an important development inasmuch as barbs help keep the fish on the line. The Chinese examples include fine line spun from silk.
Much later, in about the 3rd century AD, a Roman named Claudius Aelianus wrote of fly fishing. He described lures made of bronze, lead, boar's bristles, and feathers.
Not much happened in the technological development of lures during the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. It was in 1653 that Izaak Walton penned what was to become the fisherman's Bible, a work named The Compleat Angler or The Contemplative Man's Recreation. The book dealt with lures, equipment and attitude. His glowing and poetic treatment of the topic won his work the acclaim of generations of fishermen.
For many decades to follow lures were the efforts of individual craftsmen who created their own highly unique lures. It wasn't until the early decades of the 1800s that commercially manufactured lures started to appear. In the early 1900s, the Michigan firm of Heddon and Pflueger took a leading position in the manufacture of artificial lures. Early 'storebought' lures were often mass produced copies of hand made lures which had proven themselves to be effective.
It was following World War II that the advent of plastics, nylon, and monofilament gave the art of fishing its next major boost. The low cost of plastic components coupled with the creation of synthetic line was a huge technological advance to the sport.
Show me the money!
Not only are lures atractive to fish, they also seem highly effective in drawing money from the wallets of anglers. Many of the large stores which have a sports department have entire sections devoted to fishing and the gear needed to pursue the sport. In 1991 a whopping $620 million dollars was plopped down to purchase fishing lures, making it big business indeed. The development of an effective lure is a moneymaking exploit, filling the cash registers and pockets of everyone in the production/marketing chain.
Collectible? You bet!
As with most other items, fishermen find the collection and trading of fishing paraphernalia fun. There have been dozens, if not hundreds, of companies who produced or still produce fishing lures and equipment. Many of these companies have their own museums featuring their wares. There are also museums of antique lures. The buying, selling, and trading of antique fishing lures, tackle boxes, reels, rods, and other equipment is a thriving activity.
The collecting of antique lures and equipment has also been the subject of many books. Some deal with the history of particular brands or companies while others are more generic in their treatment. For those interested in the hobby, or reading about it, there are many sources online with which to whet the appetite.