One summertime pleasure we can all enjoy while social distancing: fishing.

Fishing has its own rewards, and more families are fishing these days, as well as finding the old tackle, which can be a bit of a treasure, with rods, reels, lures and other fishing paraphernalia.

In the past years, almost everyone has become aware that fishing items are collectible and values change a bit over the years. To many collectors, rods and reels are the most desirable, along with fishing lures, so some of the more rare antique tackle is going up 20% annually, according to Eric Bradley, author of “Mantiques: A Manly Guide to Cool Stuff.”

“Outdoor collectors are spending millions of dollars a year on rare and pristine fishing collectibles at public auctions alone," he said. "This doesn’t count for the stuff found in the basements, garages, flea markets, antique shops and online.”

Angie Pehler, of Bluff Siding, Wis., who collects fishing items and sells a few, loves to fish with her family.

“Fishing is a great time to bond with the kids," she said. "I grew up trout fishing in Elba. My mom taught me how to tie a trilene knot when I was 4 years old! It's very relaxing to sit on the river and enjoy the eagles and beautiful bluffs. My daughter, Brooklyn, loves to fish and out-fishes the rest of the family every time! Even if we don't catch anything, we enjoy our family time.”

Where to find fishing tackle

Try old general stores, bait shops and hardware stores in your area, especially the storerooms and basements on those dusty storage shelves. Anywhere tackle has been sold for more than some 50 years, there could be some good finds. And of course, the internet.

Sarah Kieffer, of Sarah's Uniques and Jim's “Man”tiques in St. Charles: “Folks love to come in who collect old fishing items and lures! Some very popular items would be old fishing poles; minnow buckets run in price from $12 up to $35; old fishing reels, priced from $5 to $40; and, of course, fishing lures, with a variety of prices from $3 on up to $40. I have a large selection of all these items and love to see folks get excited about finding a new treasure for their personal collection. I have also found some customers like to remember when their parent or grandparent took them fishing and taught them how to do that as a sport and a way of relaxation with family and friends. Jim does most of the collecting and loves finding old items to add to the shop. All the fishing spears are also very collectible and sometimes harder to find.”

Joan Thilges, of New Generations of Harmony, currently has a lot of fishing tackle.

“We have both baitcast and spincast reels," he said. "Brands include Pflueger, Daiwa, Spirex and Southbend. Prices for reels are generally $15 and $40 for a Pflueger rod, mint in box. We have all types of lures, ranging from $2 to $10, while fishing rods are generally under $20. We even have a fishing wall plaque complete with thermometer and humidity guide for only $8.99. You'll also find an assortment of minnow buckets and bait buckets around the antique mall.”

Chris Rand Kujath, owner of Old River Valley Antique Mall in Stewartville: “We have a few different vendors, such as Brad Sissel, who still has an assortment of fishing reels and lures, as well as spearing decoys and a couple older fishing creels for trout fishermen, and galvanized minnow buckets and small tackle boxes. Many buy to use fishing, and some die-hard collectors that collect certain brands will only collect and buy Heddon. And some buy to decorate — home, cabin or garage.”

Sandy Erdman is a Winona-based freelance writer and certified appraiser concentrating on vintage, antique and collectible items. Send comments and story suggestions to Sandy at