Omer F. Immell of Blair, Wisconsin received two patents for his unique “Chippewa” lure, number 974,493 on November 1, 1910 and number 990,984 on May 2, 1911, with the latter more closely resembling the actual production lure. A very talented man, Omer held ten patents during his life, four of which were fishing related. After founding a manufacturing company in 1904, he must have been more interested in inventing and selling fishing items, as he sold the non fishing inventions and started the Immell Bait Company in 1906, then in 1909 he changed the name to the Immell Bait and Tackle Company.
He incorporated on April 30, 1912 with three others, selling 50 shares of stock for $5,000.00. There were several versions of the “Chippewa”, including floating and sinking models, in sizes ranging from 3-1/2” to 5-1/4” that were painted in 12 different known colors, all with beautiful, round, life-like glass eyes. All sizes of the “Chippewa” lures featured an integrated metal spinner in the center of the lure that spun in the water when the lure was being retrieved to attract fish, and I’m sure it was just as intriguing to the fishermen when shopping for lures! One side of the spiral spinner was painted red, while the other side was chrome plated and stamped with “PATDNOV11910”. It is believed that the Immell Bait and Tackle Company continued making the lures until sometime in 1915, and the company ceased to exist all together on January 1, 1918 when its charter was revoked by the state of Wisconsin. From late 1912, after Omer incorporated his company, until they ceased being produced, C. J. Frost of Stevens Point, Wisconsin was the sole distributor for Immell’s “Chippewa” lures, and may have actually produced the components, or maybe even the complete lure. The last advertisement known for the “Chippewa” was in 1915 by the C. J. Frost Company.
Regardless of the unknowns, Omer Immell’s “Chippewa” lure invention remains a favorite among collectors today, and I’m sure it will for many years to come. Hmmmmm … I wonder what politically correct name these “Chippewa” lures would have to be changed to if they were still being produced today?
If you have any questions/comments, Elissa Ruddick can be reached at elissaruddick AT aol DOT com.
— Elissa Ruddick