Baits, Lures & Flies photo

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This week in our vintage tackle contest we have two prototype lures submitted by Chris Dupre. I give Chris credit, because he made a valiant effort to research the history of these baits by himself. But it seems he hit a dead end. Chris wrote:

These look like two prototype lures made by Cecil Lewis of Kentucky, around 1977 as documented by Patent Design #244,028. I purchased these two lures off eBay earlier this year for about $10. Both appear to be handmade from balsa wood, spray painted two-tone with glitter and clear-coated. The eyes are ‘google-eyes’ from a craft store…From the patent number, I searched Cecil Lewis and the only positive connection I found was a resolution by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to name a bridge after him. The resolution states “Cecil Lewis, Sr. was also known throughout Leslie County for his dedication to the local fish and game club, as well as for his inventions related to fishing lures.” Can you help with the history? I’m also wondering what they’re worth, although I suspect not much.


Chris, if there’s one man that can help you finish your quest for knowledge, it’s Dr. Todd Larson of the The Whitefish Press and “Fishing For History” blog. Dr. Todd says:

“I’m happy you submitted your Cecil Lewis designed prototypes, as it helps to illustrate something I try to preach to anglers all the time. You’ve done some pretty admirable research, but have not uncovered as much as you’d like. I can only help you by noting that Cecil Lewis of Smilax, Kentucky was a prolific lure designer. He received at least four design patents for fishing lures in 1977 and 1978–D248562, D248239, D248238, and DD244028, which is the patent covering your nifty lure. I’d not seen this lure before, so I contacted Doug Carpenter, a dedicated tackle researcher who specializes in the history of Kentucky and Ohio fishing tackle. He wrote ‘Interesting find and a new one on me. The first thing I thought of was another relatively new lure called the Squealer from Edkor Tackle Co, Brookville, Ohio. There are relatively few lures that come from Eastern KY.’ My point in bringing this up, is to remind people that the history of fishing tackle made even in the 1970s like this neat lure is disappearing all around us. It would be a shame if this man’s designs and lures disappeared into the fog of history. You should be commended for rescuing and researching them! As prototypes, I’d value them at $20-$30 each, and more if you can find out additional information. To see the design patent, click here.”

Well done, Chris. Excellent find. I’d say the amount of work you put in trying to track down more about Mr. Lewis is worthy of a Cabela’s 50th Anniversary Fly Box and Fly Assortment. There’s one headed your way! Special thanks to our friends at Cabela’s for providing these fly boxes for the next few weeks of the contest.

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 Cabela’s 50th Anniversary Fly Box and Fly Assortment (below, $50).