Written by Bethany Scott in the March 2013 Issue

Ray CromerWhat got you started on collecting fishing lures?

I’m not really sure. I’ve always been a collector, just never organized. I’ve always fished, and one time I bought some old lures at a garage sale, did some research and found out people collected them.

Are you an avid fisherman or do you just prefer to collect?

I do both. I fish and I collect.

Where is your favorite place to fish?

We have a cabin at Eufaula so I go there quite a bit. But I’ve got a lot of favorite spots locally also.

Have you ever used any of your vintage lures on a fishing expedition? 

Yes I have. You don’t use the ones that are in good shape. You take the ones that are beat up and have paint missing. You can also take some of the older ones and recondition them to fish with. It’s interesting to see if a 40- or 50-year-old lure actually works.

Which lure is your favorite?

Choosing a favorite is like asking who is your favorite kid. However, I collect anything that was made in Oklahoma.

How many lures do you own?

I’ve never counted them, so there is no telling! But quite a few!

Do you just collect lures or do you like all kinds of fishing equipment? 

I also collect rods and reels, but mostly lures. Lures are good because they are small and don’t take up a lot of room. You can put a bunch of lures in a drawer.

What are some of the more interesting pieces in your collection?

Some prototypes are interesting. When companies first develop a lure, there’s an experimental version which I like to collect.

What is Oklahoma’s history with fishing lures? 

Oklahoma has a good history, especially after World War II. From the 1950s and on, there were quite a few manufacturers around the state. My favorite Oklahoma manufacturer would be Martin Lizard who was run by a man named Jack Martin out of Stillwater and Drumwright. Also, an Oklahoma manufacturer known as Joe-Bob made crawdad lures which are probably some of my favorites.

How do you go about collecting the lures?

I visit old flea markets and shop online. I also do trades with friends.

What is the value of a vintage lure?

You can go to a lure show and buy all kinds for about $2 a piece. Or you can spend hundreds of dollars on a single lure—depends on your taste and how deep your pockets are.

How does a fishing lure work?

Some people think it’s the color. Others think it’s the motion it makes when it goes through the water. I think it’s the combination of the motion and vibration it has as well as the color. The color is what collectors look for. A single lure may have 50 different colors and a collector will look for the same lure in all the different colors. Some colors may be really rare and others really common—the same lure may cost $2 in one color and $20 in another.

How have fishing lures changed over the years?

They are still relatively the same. They used to be made of wood prior to World War II, and then were switched over to plastic. In fact, a lot of the ideas people come up with aren’t really new—they are something somebody came up with a long time ago. They all usually have a body with hooks and a diving lip. That’s why when you fish with some of the old lures, they actually work. In the end, lures were made to catch fishermen, not fish.

Have you ever stuck yourself with a lure or hook?

Several times. It goes with the territory. Got one stuck in my hand 3 or 4 times pretty deep. You have to make sure your tetanus shots are up to date!

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