One of the most popular lures of all time would have to be the Lazy Ike. One thing about this bait is…it caught fish…and still does! For that reason, they sold a lot of them…and I mean a LOT! So many, that there were many copies and imitations. Also, a lot of them are still found today…new…and in the box. Not to mention that they are still be manufactured today.
One of the “jokes” my niece and nephews had with me when I displayed my tackle was someone coming up and saying “I have lots of Lazy Ikes, still in the box”. The owner thought they had a gold mine. It was hard to tell them that most are worth WELL UNDER $10 each, even in the box. Most people leave and appear like they didn’t believe me….
How did the Lazy Ike get started?
Well, the most common story is that a man from Kansas named Newel Daniels started carving these baits in the 1930s. He primarily used these for personal use. One day, Joseph Kautzky saw him using this unique bait, and hired Newel at his Fort Dodge, IA sporting goods store to manufacture these lures.
From 1938 to 1940, Newel made most, if not all, the Lazy Ikes (as they were now called) for Kautzky. These were all hand carved one at a time by Newel. In 1940, for some reason, Newel Daniels left Kautzky Manufacturing Co. Despite the loss of the lure maker's skills, the lures were still hand carved by other employees hired in Iowa until the mid-1940s. After that, a wood lathe was used to make the lures until they became plastic in the 1960s. When someone mentions "Lazy Ike" now, odds are it is one of these lures.
But, that was in Iowa. How did they get manufactured in Minnesota?
The story is, Newel left and met with someone in Preston, MN. There he started working with another company to manufacture his lure design in the early 1940s. The company was named “The Lazy Ike Co”.
Joseph Kautzky heard about this new “Lazy Ike” in 1943, and took them to court as he thought he had all the rights to manufacture the lure. It turns out, he did not, and the much smaller company in Minnesota was allowed to continue to make the lures. However, it was determined that the lure name “Lazy Ike” was coined by Joseph…so he owned the rights to the name.
This posed a huge dilemma for a company whose only lure and company had a name they could no longer use. So, they changed their lure name to the “Lazy Dazy” and the company name to “Lazy Daze Bait Co”. Why the difference in spelling, I am not sure.
While the larger company in Iowa far outsold the much smaller company in Minnesota, the Lazy Dazy still sold quite well. Eventually, the Preston plant closed and the Lazy Dazy rights were sold to Mille Lacs Mfg Co in Isle, MN…and then it eventually became part of “Lindy”.
Today, the Lazy Dazy is only slightly worth more than the Lazy Ike to collectors...only for it is slightly harder to find. However, the old green boxes that list it as “Lazy Ike” can command a higher price.
If you find one of these lures unboxed, how do you know which is which? To be honest, it is tough. The shape is only slightly different, so you mainly have to go by color scheme. However, most were labeled either “Lazy Ike” or “Lazy Dazy”, so that is a big help also.
So now when you get excited for your grandpa has a tackle box full of old wooden lures still in the original boxes, it doesn't mean you have a gold mine of valuable lures. But, don’t be terribly disappointed when it is filled with Lazy Ikes. It just shows your grandpa knew what lures work. And, if nothing else, you can carry on that tradition and take them fishing!