The year was 1891, and a Detroit, MI taxidermist hired a young man, age 14, to work in his store. Little did he know, he just hired the boy that was to become known for one of the most famous fishing lure designs of all time. The boys name was Lou Eppinger.
In 1895, the store went through a big change as the man who owned the store passed away. The store was left to his young trusted apprentice who he hired 4 years earlier. Thus, Lou Eppinger became the owner of his own business at the age of 18.
Lou found that his taxidermist shop was a seasonal business. If it wasn’t hunting or fishing season, business was slow. So, in 1910 he decided to expand and bought $25 worth of fishing tackle to sell in the store. The tackle sold rather quickly.
Lou continued selling tackle supplies, and noticed that some men kept coming in and buying split rings and hooks. When questioned, he found out they were making their own lure they called a “spoon” that caught lots of fish. After some tough negociating…Lou bought the rights to this lure in 1916. This lure eventually became the “Dardevle”…one of the most famous lures of all time.
But, less famous metal lures were also made by Eppinger. This weeks lure of the month is one of them, the Klinker. This lure was advertised as a “three-in-one bait that klinks to wake up the sleepy big lunkers”. The lure was actually invented by Henry H. Meyer in 1931, but the patent was assigned to Eppinger in 1935. Basically, the lure could be reeled in slow, immitating two small minnows chasing their food…or, reel it in faster and the two “minnows” revolve in opposite directions and strike together, making a “klinking” sound to attract fish.
While most metal spoons are not worth a lot of money to collectors (you can still buy a very early Dardevle for around $10 in the box), the Klinker is a different story as it was only made for a short time. Loose Klinkers can sell for $30 - $60, while one in a box can sell for around $200. Yes, you read that correct…the box is worth way more than the lure!