Baits, Lures & Flies photo

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This week’s vintage tackle contest entry comes to us from Manuel Gomez, who found the lure below in a tackle box he received as partial payment for a job. Seeing that we haven’t had any novelty lures in the contest yet, I thought it would be interesting to find out how old this buzzing Joe Camel topwater is, and if the smoking quadruped in bass-lure form is worth any coin. So off it went to to vintage tackle expert Dr. Todd Larson of The Whitefish Press and “Fishing For History” blog.


Dr. Todd says:

“Novelty lures have been around for a hundred years and perhaps longer. Designed largely to catch fishermen instead of fish, they come shaped like everything from corn cobs to peanuts to submarines to the Goodyear Blimp. One collector I know specializes in lures shaped like kitchen sinks and has found over two dozen different models. What you have is a classic novelty lure manufactured by Rebel and marketed by Camel Cigarettes. It was called the “Joe Camel” Humpback Lure, available only by redeeming proofs-of-purchases at the Camel store. It was heavily advertised in 1991 (including in the pages of Field & Stream_) and as a result, there are a lot of them out there. Your lure is only worth around $5 but one day it may climb in value. To see the March 1991 Field & Stream ad and original packaging for this lure, click here.”_

Well, Manuel, seeing how there’s been such an overall decline in cigarette advertising lately, I was hoping this lure was older and worth more money. But such are the vintage tackle contest breaks. Thanks for sending, and enjoy the Cabela’s 50th Anniversary Duffle Bag that’s en route to your mailbox.

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 Duffle Bag (below, $70).