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Mark Greenig: The mysterious Millsite Tackle Co.

Millsite lures, left to right, are rattle bug, 99’R series minnow, paddle bug, daily double and bassor. BRIAN BASHAM/DL NEWSPAPERS

Time to discuss the Millsite Tackle Company of Howell, Mich. Their lures are not well known which in turn keeps the value depressed. However, they can usually be found at flea markets and antique shops. Because of their inexpensive cost they serve well as entry level collectible lures. Now some history.

My research didn’t provide definitive proof of Millsite’s beginnings. Some individuals suggest the company began in the 1920s. The earliest catalog ads appeared in the 1930’s.

There are a number of sources which believe the first Millsite lures were made of wood. Of the Millsite lures I have come across, all have been plastic. Many of their lures resemble other company products such as Heddon and Creek Chub.

The easiest way to determine a Millsite lure is to look for their stamp on each product they produced. I have read that “just about all that have metal lips are stamped on the lip with the company name.” That’s not what I am finding. Examples I have observed show the company and lure name printed in black ink on the plastic body. Lure stamping should read, Millsite, with lure name beneath the company name.

To date, six different Millsite lures have been identified, with two others being called “unidentified Millsite lures.” Here are some details regarding five of their plugs.

The rattle bug was identified as new in a 1940 catalog. What’s special about this item is the use of a loose ball inside the lure to make it rattle. Such construction was among the first of its’ kind and widely used in fishing lures today. It has the shape of a beetle and is easily recognized. Body length is 1 7/8” and 5/8 ounces in weight. Value due to the rattle is $5 to $8 each.

Millsite made a series of minnow type lures called the 99’R series. This line contained seven different lures in various sizes, weights and colors. Most could be ordered with a deep diving or shallow lip. Value on this more common Millsite lure is $3 to $5 apiece.

Another look alike lure from this company was the paddle bug. The body design was identical to the rattle bug, but came with a large metal mouth piece. It was very similar to the Fred Arborgast jitterbug which any “baby boomer” who fished is familiar with. Length is 1 3/4” long and weighed in at ½ ounce. Value according the “No. 4 Old Fishing Lures and Tackle text” is $20 to $40 per lure. Seems high to me. If you can get $40 for one I recommend you sell it.

The daily double lure was another odd, yet unique lure design from this company. The oddity of this product was its’ ability to be fished either shallow or deep depending on what end you attached your fishing line to. Sizes came in two to four inch with known weights of 5/8 and ¾ ounce. The two inch model is rare and researchers are not sure of its’ weight. Value range is $4 to $8, more if you have the two inch model.

The bassor bait was a very common lure design for the time. This item closely resembles the bass oreno. The bassor came in three sizes from 2 1/4” to 3 1/2”. The jointed bassor was the largest size in this lure line. Weights were from ½ to ¾ ounces. Value is a modest $3 to $5 each.

Not a great deal is known about the the Millsite deep creep. Sizes and weights have not been identified to date. It strikes me odd the value is only $5 to $10 for each item. All these lures are worthy of display in a collection and useful in the tackle box as well. Until next time, may all your searches be successful.