I know, I know…our ongoing vintage tackle contest seems to be turning into a “lure only” contest, but it’s hard not to pick lures when we’ve been getting so few appraisal-worthy rods and reels in the inbox lately and so many cool vintage baits! Case in point, the Heddon Dowagiac Minnow below. This photo was sent in by Todd Hohnholt, who acquired it when his long-time flyfishing buddy sadly passed away. Though I’m not the resident vintage lure expert, here’s my assessment from strictly an angler’s point of view: if a fish so much as breathes on that thing, it’s hooked.


So let’s see if Dr. Todd Larson of the The Whitefish Press and “Fishing For History” blog thinks you can also pin some dollars on those 15 razor-sharp hook points. Dr. Todd says:

“Congratulations! You have an enormously collectable old fishing lure on your hands. It is a Heddon “00” Dowagiac Minnow dating circa 1918, and is one of the most coveted of all lures made by the venerable James Heddon & Sons company of Dowagiac, MN. Your bait has the complete package–including box and original paperwork. With lures as coveted as the “00”, condition plays a major factor in evaluating the lure. The box (called a “Downward Leaping Bass” two-piece cardboard box) is faded and not in great condition; the paperwork (shown in another photo)_ is also faded but in better condition. The lure appears to be in nice condition but can’t be fully graded without being seen and held. With this in mind, I asked a number of Heddon experts to weigh in on potential value. The consensus was $500-$700 but several said they would not be surprised to see the entire package sell for $1,000. It is an exceptional lure and one you should be very happy to own it!”_

Todd, you could buy a bunch of Rapala Classic Collector Fillet Knives for $1,000, but I’m going to send you one for free. Thanks for submitting…I do believe that’s one of the highest-valued lures in the contest to date.

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, 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).