I know, in-line spinners haven’t changed much in the last hundred years, but I chose these two, submitted into the vintage tackle contest by Paul Belville, because they are Heddons, and I never knew Heddon made in-lines. As it turns out per Dr. Todd Larson of the The Whitefish Press and “Fishing For History” blog, these simple spinners help tell a pretty cool story of the early days of the French in-line, and the mad dash to copy the Mepps, which dominated the market in the U.S. at the time.


Dr. Todd says:

“When French engineer Andre Meulnart invented the iconic Mepps spinner in 1938, I wonder if he knew what kind of revolution he would bring to the world of fishing. The Mepps (a French acronym for Precision Equipment for Sport Fishing), when combined with nylon line and the spinning rod/reel, changed fishing forever. When Wisconsin native Todd Sheldon discovered this killer lure in 1951, it changed his fortunes as well. Within five years, Mepps was a household name, and every company was struggling for a version to compete in this new market that Mepps dominated. You own a pair of Mepps knock-offs designed and sold by Heddon, and called Hep Spinners. The Hep was introduced in 1954 and sold reasonably well throughout the decade, but lacked real lasting power. Interestingly, although it is a close copy of the Mepps, I never had anywhere near the success fishing a Hep spinner as I have the original French version. They are worth around $5 each but you may have better luck than I have had fishing them. To see the introductory ad for the Hep spinner, click here.”

It just proves that sometimes a knock-off, no matter how closely designed to the original specs, isn’t always as effective. How many times have you bought bargain-bin jerkbaits that look like a Rapala but just don’t catch the same? I know I have. Thanks for sending, Paul, and enjoy the Berkley Digital Tournament Scale 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 Berkley Digital Tournament Scale (left, $40).