Where Do I Start?
Lure Collecting, Displaying, and Care – Getting Started

So, you want to collect fishing lures.  Or, maybe you already collect lures but are looking for some new ideas on what to collect.

Or maybe you just want to gather some lures to make a nice display in your home or office.

Make no mistake about it; collecting lures can be very expensive.  I was very fortunate to collect most of my lures when the prices were fairly reasonable in the 1980s and early 1990s.  Then, I quit searching for lures (for the most part) as prices were much more than I could afford.  Lately, I trade for a lot of lures or may purchase some to fill in some “holes” in my collection.  Or, I look for “cheaper” lures that can still make a nice display.

First of all, what are you going to display your lures in?  I personally like hanging wall cases.  Many places sell shadow boxes, however some can be quite expensive.  While you want your lure case to look nice, I prefer the more “plain cases” so they don’t take away from your lures.  I won’t go into making or purchasing the wood cases themselves…I will leave that up to you.

As far as what type of background to use in a case…I use corkboard with a standard fabric stretched over it.  The corkboard I use is the same type that many people stick their thumb tacks to and the fabric I purchase in “bargain bins” at the local fabric store.  While you are at the fabric store, purchase T-pins.  Large sizes for large lures and boxes, smaller sizes for the lures.

I like to wash the fabric a couple of times to remove any dye and thoroughly clean it.  Then, I stretch it over the corkboard and very lightly glue it or tack in on the back side.  If you varnish or stain the case, I let in dry for several days (at least) before putting lures in it to make sure no harmful vapors are present that could damage lure paint (if this is even possible, I am very cautious).  Then, the task comes of pinning your lures in place (which I will go over a little later).

If a lure sits on some materials for a long period of time, it could damage the lure.  But, my cases and materials work great for me.  I have had lures in the same case for 10+ years now…with no issues.

If I have the boxes, I like to display the lures with the box.  The T-pins also do a great job keeping the boxes in place, as well as the lures.

The boxes are nice, but some displays I prefer without the boxes.  When you don’t have the box, you have more freedom to display the lures in any way that you want.  Personally, I like to display the lures in some type of “pattern”.  My favorite is the “starburst” pattern (see picture below).  This causes the viewer to have his/her eyes drawn to the middle of the case (where I typically put my favorite lures) and then spread out from there.  I have also done other patterns.  These make very nice displays in the house. 

If you are making a remembrance or family display, the lures positioned around a picture of the fisherman makes a great showcase.  If you have a good place for it, I think displaying a whole tackle box and its contents looks great too.  Too many tackle boxes are stripped of lures and the story of the fisherman’s tackle box is gone (see my section on “Tackle Box Stories” elsewhere on my website).

So, a good idea is to lay the lures in your case and try a few patterns and ideas until you find one the fits you.  Or, decide if displaying the whole tackle box is something you want to do (if the box is not too rusted).

Like I mentioned before, I like to use T-pins for they do a great job and they are easy to find.  For lures, I start by putting the pins on the line tie in the front of the lure, and the furthest back hook hardware on the lure.  This is typically enough to secure a lure in place.  However, to avoid the hooks touching or damaging the lure (especially in transport), I will pin all the hooks down also.  I used to use hook tubing, but do not anymore.  I found that this can take away from the look of the lure and also that the hook tends to be more likely to rust inside the hook tubing.

For boxes, I typically put two pins as a shelf on the bottom of the box…two on the top…and one on each side.  This does not seem like much, but the boxes are secure, even if you move the case.

Most lures were used, so many of them are dirty.  Should you clean the lures or not?  Personally, I do not clean the lures unless they are real bad.  Never ever repaint a lure or replace the hooks/eyes/hardware…in my opinion.  I like to leave it the way it is found…but some people like to make the lure look as good as possible.  This is totally up to you as it is your lure.  If you do sell it at some point, I would disclose anything you have done to the lure. 

Storing metal and wood together is tough.  You want to keep metal dry with very little humidity to prevent rusting.  For wood, you don’t want it to get too dry or the paint can crack and chip off…due to the wood expanding and contracting (from higher to lower humidity ranges).  The best way to store the lures is too keep the humidity as constant as possible, and around 50% or so.  In our Minnesota weather, that means having a humidifier in the winter and a dehumidifier in the summer.  The dry air, from my experience, is the most damaging for some lures.

Of course, we don’t want to store the lures in the dark…we want to look at them.  However, make sure you display them in a place that will get no direct sunlight or in an area that will have high intensive lighting.  Colors can fade in the sun…and lure colors and not immune to this.

Well, that is totally up to you.  The key is, collect to satisfy your needs and be within your budget.  If you have $1000 to spend on lures…do you want to buy 2 lures?  50?  100…or more?

If you look at the pictures of my lure collections, you will see lures with similar shapes together, same lure color collections, lure cases with a theme, cases that tell the history of the lure, color collections (all the same color), lures from one company, lures from a particular state, lures you used in the past, lures with no theme whatsoever, or whatever you like.

You don’t have to find “all” the lures, but the hunt is half the fun.  Auctions, garage sales, online auctions, sporting shows, friends, fellow collectors, stores, etc. all may have lures for you to look at.  What the lure is worth…will that is a whole other topic and this gets very complex.  I look for lures every week, rarely with an exception…but I purchase few lures now unless I fill a big need for it.  Prepare to look many places…but not make many lure “finds”.  That is part of the hunt and part of the enjoyment.

Should you join a lure collecting club?  Well, that is totally up to you.  There are several clubs out there and they have many good sides to joining, and some bad sides.  I have met many great people that belong to clubs, and some so-so people.  Personally, I have been collecting for over 25 years now in some form or another, and have never belonged to any national club.

The key is, collect what you want and can afford.  This hobby can be addicting, so be careful and smart.  With any collecting hobby, you will make great finds…and you will be burnt.  Expect this.

You could meet some great people and could also meet some people that only care about themselves.  It is nice to look at other collections, but don’t get envious.  Be proud of whatever you have and don’t let anyone tell you different.  Don’t ever forget that this is a hobby, and keep it fun.