The “Live Lure” Epidemic
From the March 1947 issue of Sports Afield comes this ad for the Live Lure. When one starts looking in earnest at old tackle ads, it soon becomes apparent that there is no end to the number of baits over the years that have featured a live minnow inside. The Live lure would be just another one of these if it were not for its somewhat amusing history among lure collectors.
Around 1985 or 1986 some Live Lures in their attractive, open windowed green boxes showed up at a Detroit area lure show. Everyone was impressed with the quality and form of the bait. They quickly sold out at about $25 each. Up until that time no one seemed to have heard of this lure. I was impressed with them as they appeared well made and contained a somewhat unique feature in that there is an elongated magnification lens molded in the inside of the bait that makes the contents look bigger. To illustrate this feature, each new bait came with a small cardboard picture of a fish inside to demonstrate how a live minnow would appear when the Live Lure went fishing. Not long afterward I stopped in an antique mall in Tecumseh, Michigan and there on the shelf were two dozen Live Lures, mint in boxes, stacked like cord wood. The asking price was $9 dollars each. The story quickly got out among collectors that a warehouse in Detroit had been discovered containing an untold number of cases of Live Lures. Soon almost every room at local lure shows had several displayed for sale and the price dropped to $7 and then to $5. Eventually, mint in the box Live Lures could be had for $2 or $3 as folks just did not want to haul them around any more.
Today I seldom see a Live lure at a show. I notice that when a new collector sees one they are usually as taken by this bait as those of us who were present when it first appeared. Several times I have had someone tell me in hushed tones that they think they have found a valuable old minnow tube and when the tissue paper was carefully unwrapped, I have been shown a Live Lure and told that the new owner got the bait for a mere $35. It is never nice to be the bearer of bad tidings.
I have only seen one Live Lure in a tackle box and it showed signs of having been been fished hard. This is one case where the “mint" baits are a lot more common than a “beater.”
-- Bill Sonnett