20 Vintage Heddon Fishing Lures Worth A Fortune
Genuine Dowagiac Heddon Fishing Tackle. Do You Have Any in Your Tackle Box? I bet you do, but do you have these HEDDON lures below? If so, take a seat and be ready to be shocked and awed by what they might be worth. We present to you 20 Vintage Heddon Fishing Lures Worth a Fortune.
We had so much fun writing our top read page "25 Vintage Fishing Lures Worth A Fortune" we thought why stop there? So we decided to take a look by vintage lure manufacturer and start with the Big Daddy of them all all Heddon. So read on and be amazed.
Take a look in those tackle boxes around you. I bet somewhere in there are some lures marked Heddon or boxes marked James Heddon & Son or James Heddon Son's. Did you know the story behind those baits? Heddon baits have been around since 1894. They started in a small Michigan town name Dowagiac, pronounced "Doe-wah'-ji-ack" (as told in the Heddon 1914 catalog by James Heddon himself). They built a fishing tackle empire and put this little town in the center of the fishing world map for nearly one hundred years. They stayed there mostly as a family run business until 1984 when they were bought out by PRADCO. PRADCO still makes some Heddon lures today but from a collector viewpoint most of the world still revolves around Dowagiac and the wonderful baits that came out of there.
Heddon made millions of wooden and plastic (spook) fishing lures, many are still fished today. As fishing lures have become more and more collectible Heddon is one of the biggest brands collected. One look at the baits below and you can see why. As you will see there is some serious money involved in some of these very early baits in great condition. It may make you want to dig through your tackle box again or head to the cottage to dig through Grandpa's tackle box or attic. Who knows what you will find. Every year new treasures are still being found in cottages, garages, basements and tackle boxes everywhere. Take a look below and then go see what you can find...
James Heddon Hand Carved Frog:
OK, this is one is a freebie. I won't even count this as one of the top 20. There are only about eight of these known to exist in the world and they are locked away. They don't come up for auction. If they did they would command a fortune. Hard to say exactly how much. I've seen some sources estimate $30,000. Personally I think closer to $100,000 for one of the known lures in existence with provenance. These were the lures that started it all. The hand carved lures that changed the way we fish in America. Hand whittled from James Heddon himself. Just like the one he cast in the old Dowagiac Millpond in 1894 and forever changed history. Of the eight I believe PRADCO owns two, Bass Pro Shops one, and the other five are in private collections.
Below is a photo of a folk art reproduction version just to give you a rough idea of how they look. Please note, if you think you have one of the originals, you don't. There are so many reproductions out there. The few originals are documented and locked up.
Heddon Black Sucker:
This wooden beauty is almost 6" long with large glass eyes, has a front spinner and an intact tail. It is extremely rare and in beautiful Natural Scale finish and probably is the nicest known example of the very few of its known kind. This lure was produced by Heddon out of Dowagiac, Michigan and comes with its matching box. This lure sold for approximately $19,000 in 2006. See all of our vintage Heddon lures for sale here.
Heddon Jeanette Hawley "Mohawk" Minnow:
This rare beauty dates from around 1905 and is believed to be the only known example of this bait with a matching wooden box originating from the Mohawk, Florida Heddon location. Lure is in spectacular condition and the box is in fine shape as well. Of great importance is the complete paperwork that comes with this bait which helps date and confirm the significance of this find. Check out the photo below to see what this rare specimen looks like. In 2013 this lure fetched $18,400 at auction. See all of our vintage Heddon lures for sale here.
Heddon Night-Radiant Moonlight Bait:
An extremely rare James Heddon & Sons Night Radiant Moonlight Bait and Box. At the time of this auction it was only one of four known of these boxes in existence (now five as you will see below in a future listing). On top of the extremely rare box comes the matching bait in eggshell luminous color in very good condition. Tough combination only the most amazing collections would have. This one sold at auction in 2008 for a little over $15,000.
Heddon Musky Night Radiant Charmer Lure:
Are you noticing a theme here? The Heddon Night Radiant baits are a winner for sure. This one though holds a special place in history. It was on the famous Heddon Factory Lure Board. This was the place where Heddon displayed their early lures and famous samples in their factory. In fact it stayed in place until the company moved locations after the PRADCO purchase. The late Clyde Harbin Sr., famously known in the lure collecting community as The Bassman, was asked to inventory the lures as the board was disassembled. With all of that in mind you can see why this lure is so attractive. It measures about 4 5/8" long as has a barbershop type painted tail. This lure sold at auction in 2007 for $13,500.
1902 Heddon Underwater Expert Minnow:
Be careful when you dig through those tackle boxes. Looks can be deceiving. This one below might not look like much much but in the eyes of a collector it is simply stunning. This is the first Heddon Underwater Expert Minnow. It dates all the way back to 1902. Notice it has a hanging external belly weight. The age and external weight feature make this lure one that likely didn't survive years of fishing. There are only about a dozen known to exist. A masterpiece for a mature Heddon collection. Be sure to check your tackle boxes well as this one sold at auction in 2008 for a little over $12,500. Should you find it, be sure to check the tackle box for the belly weight as well.
Heddon High Forehead 150 Minnow Copper Color:
Beautiful early 1905 high forehead version of the 150 Underwater Minnow. In spectacular Copper color. Great condition on this extremely rare colored bait. One of only a few known examples. A sure prize in any Heddon collection. This lure sold at auction in 2006 for over $9,700.
Heddon Spindiver Yellow Body Black Head Color:
One of my favorite early Heddon baits is the Spindiver. Front prop, metal lip and wooden tail. What's not to love. This one is in an extremely rare Yellow Body / Black Head color and looks fantastic. One of only two known to exist. The great condition of this bait coupled with its rarity combined to drive a great price at auction. In 2007 it sold for a final price of $9,600.
Heddon Spindiver Rare Solid Red Color:
One thing to be careful of when you are collecting vintage tackle is solid color baits. Why? They are easy to fake. Many a solid colored bait has been put under a black light for inspection. The other reason is that there just weren't that many made by the tackle companies. This bait is a perfect example. This extremely rare Spindiver is in great condition and is an all solid red color. Just a beautiful bait to display in a collection. This fantastic Heddon sold at auction in 2007 for $9,600.
Heddon Night-Radiant Moonlight Bait Box (Box Only):
Yes, you read that right. Box only. I actually watched this auction take place live, well online via webcam live. It was exciting to watch this one climb higher and higher, way out of my price range. When it was all said and done this one ended at just short of $9,400 in 2016. What makes this box so special?
Well this is one of the rarest of all Heddon boxes, one of only five known examples left in the world. This box dates to 1910 and being one of five would make this rare by itself but it's in nice condition with no repairs. If you are a collector of early Heddon lures and their boxes this is a rare and must have item. Remember to check for boxes in Grandpa's old tackle box as well as lures. Who knew?
1911 Heddon 700 Musky Minnow:
A big lure at 5" long especially by early lure standards. Finished in beautiful and highly desirable green crackleback finish and hand painted gill marks. Great condition on this rare and very early Heddon bait. This would be a centerpiece of any serious Heddon collection. This lure sold at auction in 2006 for just over $9,000.
Heddon Dowagiac Casting Bait with Picture Box:
Another early Heddon makes the list. This time is a 1902 lure in a white pasteboard box (in possibly the best known condition of this box). The box comes complete with a four hook (tougher to find than the two hook version) Slopenose Expert minnow in blue and white color with a gold tail cup. The combination is extremely rare and highly sought after. Sold at auction in 2017 for just a little over $8,400. See all of our vintage Heddon lures for sale here.
Heddon Wilder Dilg Flyrod Picture Box Set:
This is one of my favorites on the list and certainly one of the most colorful. It is a picture display box and store counter display for the Heddon Wilder-Dilg Fly Rod lure set. The Wilder-Dilg line first came out in 1923. It comes with all twelve of the original boxes and 11 of the 12 lures. I'm not sure how many of these survived the years but this may be a one of a kind item. Simply amazing and makes a fantastic display. This one sold at auction in 2006 for just over $8,200.
Heddon Rare Flyrod Wooden Runtie:
You've seen a lot of larger lures on this list including some muskie lures. Now we will have two fly-rod entries in a row. While the entry above is about the rarity of a display, this one is about the rarity of the lure itself. This beauty is a wooden fly-rod Runtie (River Runt). The color on the lure is Mouse finish and it is only one of two known in this color. A simply beautiful version of an extremely rare bait and a centerpiece for any Heddon fly-rod lure collector. This little gem sold for a whopping $7,900 at auction in 2006 probably setting the record per ounce of lure ever sold.
Heddon 709R Musky Minnow:
Well after two smaller lure entries we are back to the land of the giants. The 700 Dowagiac Minnow or Musky Minnow was made between 1909-1927 and was between 4 3/4" - 5 1/2" long during those times. This Heddon Musky Minnow is in Special Order color (meaning non-cataloged) Natural Scale and beautiful. Glass eyes, marked props, four belly weights and great condition on this bait. One of only a few known examples. Would be tough to find another one of these much less in better condition. In 2009 this lure sold for $7,600 at auction all but guaranteeing its musky fishing days are over.
Heddon Spindiver Early Perch Scale:
Here is another early Heddon Spindiver. This one is important as it is in a rare early color. It's an early tiny scale Perch Scale being one of the first ones to come out. Creek Chub was the first to come out with it but assigned half of the rights to Heddon. This lure is in great condition and is another beautiful early Heddon example. You can see the craftsmanship a century later. This lure sold at auction in 2007 for $6,000.
Early Heddon Surface Minnow 300 Series:
This lure dates all the way back to 1904. Hard to believe when you look at the photo. Well taken care of for over a century. One of only a handful known and certainly one of the finest examples. Finished in highly desirable green crackleback finish with hand painted gill marks. An amazing early Heddon fishing lure and important piece of history. This one sold in 2017 at auction for $5,900.
Heddon Kinney Bird Bait:
One of my favorites here. A great early collaboration between the Herbert (H.A.) Kinney Co. and Heddon. Kinney received his patent on the Bird Bait in 1927. A deal was struck after that the Birds would now come with a "Heddon Finish". This combination as found shows the Kinney paperwork, Heddon box, and combined product. An amazing piece of early angling history. The winning bidder of this auction paid $5,800 in 2007 for this wonderful piece.
Heddon Dowagiac Underwater Expert:
Here's another case of looks can be deceiving so be careful going through Grandpa's old tacklebox. Maybe in this case it might Great Grandpa's tacklebox. This early Heddon dates all the way back to 1903 and is one of the first underwater minnows produced by Heddon. Comes in an aluminum color body with a big front spinner and brass rudder. Nice condition on this bait adds to its value. In 2014 this antique lure sold for $4,700 at auction.
Heddon Jointed Vamp in Rare Bumble Bee Color:
The Heddon Vamp (Vampire) was an extremely successful fishing lure for Heddon. Produced first in wood and then later in their spook or plastic line. Literally sold in the millions. It is surprising then to find it on the list of the rarest and most expensive of Heddon fishing lures. While very collectible it is not a lure you think normally about selling for in the thousands of dollars. This lure is the exception that breaks the rule. This beauty is an early wooden jointed model in two piece hardware. The real reason driving the price is the color. Very rare Bumble Bee color. I'm not sure how many exist but few to be sure. If you have a collection of Heddon Vamp's this is your centerpiece lure to be sure and a must have. One look at the photo below and you can see why the price was high. This lure sold in 2007 for $4,500.
Heddon Black Sucker Muskellunge Minnow:
Made off and on between 1913 and 1927 the 1300 Heddon Muskellunge Minnow is a very desirable bait. This one comes in a very rare and correctly marked white border down bass box. The box dates this lure to around 1913 making this an amazing early combination. The condition of both the box and lure is also very good adding to the value of this set. One of the most desirable musky baits every made. This combination sold at auction in 2016 for $4,300.
There you have the complete list of twenty amazing Heddon lures (and some of the most expensive fishing lures ever to be sold) and the amazing prices they brought at auction. Time to go digging through those old tackle boxes and see what you can find. Who knows maybe you can get lucky. There are still treasures out there to be found.
Want to learn more about collecting old fishing lures? Come check out our page on Collecting Fishing Lures. We have lots of resources for new collectors. The only way to truly find out which lures are the most valuable is to spend time in the hobby learning everything you can.
A special thanks to our friends at Lang's Auction. We appreciate the use of their images and their help in the hobby in general. It's nice to have friends like them in the vast internet.
Related Articles / Pages:
25 Vintage Fishing Lures Worth a Fortune: We take a look at 25 of the top fishing lures from all manufacturers that are worth a fortune. We start with the number one lure coming in at a whopping $101,200 and count down from there. You don't want to miss this article.
Collecting Fishing Lures: An Introduction to a Wonderful Hobby. A background on the hobby, where to start, books, resources, what to collect, appraisals and more.
My Bait Shop Vault: Our collection of our Rarest and most one of a kind items we come across and offer for sale at My Bait Shop.
Heddon History: Heddon history and information at My Bait Shop. Our page where we are continually adding historical information about Heddon. Be sure to check back as we add more information all the time.
Heddon Lures for Sale: Heddon lures for sale at My Bait Shop. Our selection of Heddon lures for sale. Different ages and price ranges. Whether you are looking for your collection or tackle box we have something for you. We add to our inventory almost daily.