The photo below entered into our ongoing vintage tackle contest by Jim McKee is definitely one of the more unique pieces of old gear we’ve seen so far. What makes this particular item so cool is its military ties. Jim wrote:

_ _I found this item in the bottom of my father’s tackle box….I suspect that this is the civilian version of an item that was placed in survival kits for pilots in the Pacific theatre during WWII .I just finished reading ” Unbroken”, a novel about a WWII aviator who survived 50 + days in a life raft and years in a Japanese prison camp. The author mentioned that the U.S. Army Air Corps and the U.S Navy began including more items in their life raft survival kits and this looks like a suitable tool for catching fish.__


Jim, lucky for you vintage tackle expert Dr. Todd Larson of The Whitefish Press and “Fishing For History” blog can dig up info on just about anything that catches fish, even stuff you might not find among the rods, reels, and lure in a traditional sporting goods store. Here’s what he had to say about your kit:

__”From the early days of World War II, tackle manufacturers began supplying the U.S. military with self-contained survival kits that often contained rudimentary fishing tackle. What you have is an advanced version of this survival kit dating from the early 1950s and intended for sailors and downed airman to harvest fish while in a survival raft. The gaff itself was patented by Milton S. Dunkelberger on December 6, 1949 and manufactured by the U.S. Lite-Ray Company of 1136 West Third Street in Dayton, Ohio, one of several companies contracted to make such survival kits. The kit could be assembled into a spit for roasting fish and game, a long spear, and a gaff hook, in various lengths. It’s a remarkably useful, and compact, tool and brings $30-$40 in complete condition like yours. For some close-up photos of the kit and a picture of the patent, click here.”



_Terrific find, Jim! Keep that in your tackle box along with the new pair of pliers coming your way, and I think you’re prepared for any situation Mother Nature throws at you.

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 pair of Berkley Aluminum Pliers ($50).