April 25, 2013
Vintage Tackle Contest: Al Foss Frog & Shimmy Wiggler
By Joe Cermele
Today in our vintage tackle contest we have a double feature of Al Foss lures. These gems were picked up by Grant Greenfield at a yard sale more than 10 years ago for less than ten bucks. Though we've featured Foss lures in this space before, I had never seen these two models. Naturally, they were a quick ID for Dr. Todd Larson of The Whitefish Press and "Fishing For History" blog. Perhaps what impresses me most about these old spinners is that they look so well made, as if Rosy the Riveter created those bodies herself.
Dr. Todd says:
"Al Foss (1868-1949) was one of the legendary tackle makers in all of fishing history. He was a pioneer in the use of "pork rind" (split pig skins) which was the granddaddy of all soft bait in the early days, and the lures he created were mostly intended to be used with these trailing and fluttering strips of pigskin. His company was one of the most prominent in the pre-World War II era, and sold lures by the millions. You have two classics on your hands; the Shimmy Wiggler (top, valued at $10-$20), and an Al Foss Frog (valued at $20-$30). One unique thing that Foss did was package his lures in metal boxes; the blue box is harder to find than the red or green, and thus worth more. Add $20-$30 more if either lure goes with the box. Al Foss was a champion tournament caster, fishing tackle pioneer, and early environmentalist, and made some legendary lures. To read a history of his earliest lure, click here."
Sweet find, Grant! If they were a little more beat up I might say fish one, but I think they're just too pretty to lose in a blow-down. Thanks for sending and keep an eye on your mailbox, because there's a set of Berkley Aluminum Pliers 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 pair of Berkley Aluminum Pliers (above) worth $50.