January 19, 2012
Vintage Tackle Contest: HICO Big Brother
By Joe Cermele
The lure below, entered into the ongoing vintage tackle contest by Kevin Stewart, is definitely old, is the right size to catch bigger fish, and even has that classic red-and-white color pattern. However, a lack of a brand name left Kevin asking...what is it? He wrote:
I bought this lure at an antique store in the Missouri Ozarks. It may have been hand made. I would like to learn more about it if you could help.
Of course we can help. Or more like Dr. Todd Larson of the The Whitefish Press and "Fishing For History" blog can help, as there is nary a bait the man cannot identify (at least not one entered into this contest thus far). Dr. Todd says:
"You've got a Big Brother musky lure from one of the largest manufacturers of fishing tackle in American history--Horrocks-Ibbotson Co. of Utica, New York. Most people know of Shakespeare, Heddon, Pflueger and others, but between the 1930s and 1960s HICO, as it was known, dominated the lower end of the tackle market and sold everything from terminal tackle to saltwater rods, most of which they manufactured themselves. Your lure was likely made by Shurkatch of Richfield Springs, NY--a lure manufacturer that became a subsidiary of HICO--in the 1930s. HICO lures were very inexpensive and had faulty (or non-existent) primer, which is why the paint fell off so easy. As a result they are hard to find in nice condition. I would say your lure is worth $10-$20 in the condition it is in. For a 1940 catalog cut of the jointed version of this lure, click here."
So now you know, Kevin, and as G.I. Joe says, "knowing is half the battle." The other half is deciding whether or not to fish that Big Brother. Congrats on the find and keep an eye out for the Rapala Classic Collector Fillet Knife that's headed your way.
If you've already sent me photos of your vintage tackle, keep checking every Thursday to see if I chose it for an appraisal by Dr. Todd. If you haven't and want to enter the contest, email photos of your old tackle to email@example.com, along with your name, mailing address, and story of how you acquired the gear. If I use it in a Thursday post, you get a Rapala Classic Collector Fillet Knife (below, $70).