Here's a brief history of Heddon Lures, a few choices you can still get, and what makes them so special.
The James Heddon and Son Company, or Heddon Lures, was founded in 1902, by James Heddon and his sons, Will and Charles. They came to produce a single fishing lure in the form of the double-hooked "Dowagiac Expert" and the popularity of that lure alone helped the brand rise to the top.
As the Heddon Museum says, "The company quickly expanded, and within just a few years was one of the country's leading manufactures of fishing baits and fishing rods."
Heddon and Sons Lures were made in Dowagiac, Michigan where James was granted a patent for the lure in April, 1902. Nowadays, most anglers know them for iconic topwater baits like the Crazy Crawler, the Heddon Zara Spook, Super Spook, Saltwater Spook and Puppy. The Heddon Torpedo, Baby Torpedo, and the Spit'N Image are a few of the other models.
Early Heddon catalogs stated that their minnow lures had 7 to 12 coats of a specialized porcelain enamel that made it guaranteed not to peel off or crack under use. Heddon Lures are still thought to be one of the most iconic brands in the fishing world, and even though the company has been bought and sold more than once, angling collectors all strive to have a few of the originals in their bounty.
Original Heddon Fishing Lures
The Heddon Museum is said to have over 2,000 lures, spanning the entire 82-year history of Heddon in Dowagiac, as well as some of the prototypes from earlier periods. The original Dowagiac Minnow came in a well made wooden box with the inscription "The success of the Dowagiac Minnows has called out many cheap imitations. Make sure the words "Heddons Dowagiac" are on the box when you buy."
From those original lures came many more. The talented minds of the Heddon family brought forth some amazing innovations and signature color designs. The old Punkinseed lure was the precursor to today's Sonar Lure, and the original Heddon Laguna Runt gave way to the River Runt as we know it now.
There was also the Heddon Lucky 13, the #1700 Near Surface Wiggler, and the Florida Special. The jointed Giant Vamp, Husky Flaptail, and Creek Chub Pikie Minnow were all produced, and must have worked as well.
One of Heddon's most famous lures is the Zara Spook, originally named because it was virtually a see-through, transparent lure. Heddon was also known for the Spoon-y Frog and the cork-bodied feather minnow called the Wilder-Dilg Lure which was basically a tied fly similar to a popping bug that came in at least a dozen patterns.
Other notable Heddon Lures included the Crab Wiggler, the Flipper 140, the Spin Diver, the Zargosa, the Musky Surfacer.
Today's Heddon Lures
According to Lurenet, "Heddon is the world's oldest fishing lure manufacturer in continuous production, and that kind of history doesn't happen by accident. Since 1894 - more than 100 years - Heddon's been on the leading edge of fishing lure technology. Heddon makes the lures you know and trust, such as the Zara Spook, Tiny Torpedo and the Spit'n Image, as well as classic lures like the Lucky 13 and Bayou Boogie."
Today's lineup that still uses the Heddon name includes the Saltwater Spook, One Knocker Spook, Chug'n Spook, and the Chug'n Spook Jr. The Heddon Speed lineup features the Sonar, the Sonar Flash, and the Rattling Sonar Flash.
The Heddon Moss Boss has been enticing big strikes from largemouth bass for many years now and is one of the highest rated lures they sell. Also included is the original Hellbender, Crazy Crawler, and a new version of the old Slopenose.
As far as fishing tackle makers go, James Heddon and his progeny were amongst the most talented and innovative of their day. These original underwater minnows were well ahead of their time with their glass eyes, belly weights, and vaunted hook system that seemed to never let anglers down even when fighting big aggressive fish.
Tackle boxes everywhere have at one time or another had at least a few of the lures mentioned here. Now would be a good time to remind you to look inside of your grandad's old tackle box to see if any of these things are hiding in there. Antique lures with the Heddon signature are among the most collectible old fishing tackle there is, not to mention that they might be worth a small fortune to some lucky lure collector.
That is an important fishing legacy is you ask us.