HOOKED ON LURES LOCAL MAN HAS ROOMFUL OF COLLECTIBLES.
Fishing-lure collector Rick Edmisten found out what it is like to go one step beyond a hobby.
``I was obsessed,'' the longtime North Hollywood resident says. ``I was really addicted.''
Edmisten collects pre-1950 lures. His collection numbers more than 2,000 and is worth more than $500,000, by his estimation.
But a few years ago, it got him in big trouble. His wife, Diane, said he was ``stealing'' from his company by using some of his real estate and management company's cash inflow to pay for his hobby.
``I had to take my lumps and stop stone cold,'' he said, even now nearly embarrassed to admit it.
But the collection is impressive. It's one he ranks in the top 50 in the world, and others in the hobby put in the top 10. He has rare lures made by Heddon, Pflueger, Paw Paw, South Bend, Shakespeare . . . Almost all are made of wood, hand-painted and in either mint or excellent condition.
Edmisten has catalogs for each year companies made the lures, reels that sold for $30 when they were built 120 years ago, old rods, in-store displays, pre-1940s trolling motors and angling knickknacks. What started as a hobby in the bedroom closet now occupies a 650-square-foot room the 54-year-old has added to his house.
He has written books, appeared on television shows, had numerous magazine articles - including one in Forbes - written about him and lectured on his favorite subject.
``This still is a hobby,'' he insists. ``A serious hobby.''
It's a hobby that Edmisten says he fell into. He has fished for more than 40 years, but in 1978, he and a friend hired a guide to bass fish at Castaic Lake. When the guide told him the Heddon wooden lure he was using was valuable, Edmisten instantly knew he had found his niche.
``It was like a light clicked on,'' he recalled. ``I've always been interested in collecting lures and old things and this was perfect for me. I never thought anyone else was interested in collecting these.''
He helped form the National Fishing Lure Collector's Club in 1979. The club now has 50,000 members.
Collectors flock to pre-1950 lures because all the lures were handmade and nearly all made of wood. Pre-injection plastic molding in the '50s changed the fishing-lure business forever. Instead of each lure practically being individual with its unique characteristics, paint and handiwork, the molds were all uniform.
``Most people think we're out there,'' he says. ``It is something I get a great deal of enjoyment out of.''
When it comes to collecting, Edmisten is persistent. For example, he does not have every lure Heddon made - the Dowagiac, Mich.-based company allowed customers to order lures in any paint scheme desired - but he has an extensive collection of Heddons, Pfluegers and many other lures, including hand-made glass minnow lures (anglers put minnows in the small glass-bottle lures), and lures of nearly every conceivable animal a fish might be tempted to taste.
If collectors have something Edmisten might be interested in purchasing, he'll send a disposable camera to the prospective seller. The seller takes photos of the gear and sends the film back to Edmisten. They can mail lures to him for evaluation and he'll estimate its cost - and if he likes it enough - offer to buy it.
It took three years for him to acquire arguably his most prized collection: a leather tackle box - with all the tackle enclosed - once owned by Clark Gable. The gear in the box might not be valuable individually, but there is an incomplete order form in Gable's handwriting inside the box, a ``CG'' engraved on the top of the box, and a paper trail leading to a Beverly Hills sporting goods company. Perhaps his most valuable lure is a yellow, three-piece Miller's Reversible Wood Minnow - made in 1915 and estimated by him to be worth $2,500.
He gets boxes in the mail all the time, unsure of the contents.
``Some of these lures just amaze me,'' he says. ``I never know what to expect. I'm thrilled by what I see.''
The lures hold his interest, he said, because they are nearly as good as when they were first made.
``You look at the baits and they're special because they're still as colorful, like they were made yesterday.
``It's one reason why I like the condition. I'm very selective because I prefer a higher grade.''
Not every lure costs as much as $2,500. Excellent Heddons can be had for $50 or $60. Edmisten finds them at yard sales and from other collectors.
``This is not an inexpensive hobby,'' he admitted.
And his world-class collection proves it.
(1 -- color) Rick Edmisten sits amid the myriad collectible pre-1950s fishing gear that he maintains in his North Hollywood home.
Bernardo Alps/Staff Photographer
(2 -- color) This custom tackle box, part of Rick Edmiston's collection, was once owned by Clark Gable.
Bernardo Alps/Staff Photographer
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Oct 19, 2000|
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