Today’s entry into our ongoing vintage tackle contest hits close to home for me. Whenever I’m on a beach or trout stream, one of my favorite things to do (especially if the fishing’s slow) is kick through piles of shells looking for washed up old lures, or wade along the tree line, hunting for flies stuck in the low branchs. Reading the note below from Kevin Quackenbush, who sent in this week’s photo, I had to laugh, because I understand that sometimes a treasure hunt can be more fun than the casting. Kevin wrote:

I found these lures about 20 years ago while exploring a pond that was a bit difficult to access. I was strictly a wade fisherman back then, and the water was extremely low due to drought conditions. The pond was thick with stumps and downed trunks that protruded above the surface. Those trunks and stumps yielded a treasure trove. In fact, after the first couple of lures I found wedged in the cracks of the wood, I began fishing less and hunting more. It was treacherous wading, with ankle buster snags and precarious crossing of downed trunks, but, it was a fun and fruitful afternoon. I went back a few times that summer and each time found a few more. I covered very little of the timber! The water has been well up since then, until this past late fall when there was a draw down. Spring will see me once again scouting that wood!


So let’s see if Dr. Todd Larson of the The Whitefish Press and “Fishing For History” blog says you actually found treasure in the figurative and literal sense. Dr. Todd says:

“Charles Helin is best known for the Flatfish — a lure that sold over 35 million by 1968 and is still made today. A relentless self-promoter, Helin also invented some lesser known lures, including the lure you have in two sizes known as the Helin Fishcake. A wooden topwater bait, it’s unique blade churns the water like few lures ever made. It was listed as new in 1957 and sold up until the 1970s, and came in at least three sizes and a bewildering array of colors. Note that someone removed the front bar hook rig and replaced it with a single treble (anyone who’s ever tried to untangle a Flatfish from a net will immediately understand why). In this condition they are worth around $10 each–but I recommend you fish them as they will definitely catch fish! To see an introductory advertisement, as well as a later Field & Stream ad, click here.”

Kevin, I’d take the Doc’s advice and see if those old lures can still draw an explosion from a bass…just don’t fish them in the same place you found them. Enjoy the Rapala Classic Collector Fillet Knife that’s 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, 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).