In our last article we discussed the Helin Flatfish. We were cautioned not to confuse that lure with the Lazy Ike because of their similar design. With the flatfish information still fresh in your mind, let's talk this week about the Lazy Ike and its' commendable history.
The Lazy Ike corporation had its' beginning in 1897, founded by Joseph Kautzky, an Austrian immigrant. The company was established in Fort Dodge, Iowa. What most people don't know is Kautzky is not the inventor of the Lazy Ike. Around the mid 1930's, a man named Newel Daniels hand carved out of wood what was to become the first Lazy Ike. By chance, Kautzky saw Daniels lure and stated, "Look at that Lazy Ike." Little did either of those two gentlemen know how significant that lure and phrase would become in the history of lure making.
From 1930 to 1940 the entire production of Lazy Ike lures were hand made by Daniels. About 1940, Daniels left the company and relinquished all rights to Kautzky. At that point all production responsibilities were turned over to "Pop" Schuck. Pop continued the hand making Lazy Ike tradition until around 1945.
New technology allowed the Lazy Ike for the first time to be mass-produced on a lathe. Wood Lazy Ike's continued to be manufactured until 1960. From that date forward Lazy Ike lures were made of plastic. In 1978 Lazy Ike purchased the famed Creek Chub Bait Company. Today, the Lazy Ike Corporation is owned by Pradco.
Let's talk about packaging. As with all lure companies, lure boxes evolved over time. The earliest boxes were two-piece with the picture of an Ike on top and large red letters "Lazy Ike." The paper insert was black/white. A common promotion phrase of the company was "The successor to the Live Minnow!"
Interesting is the fact early paper inserts are totally blank on one side. Their advertising offered four different sizes ranging from 2" through 3.5", all in a multitude of colors. Later packaging was a paper bottom with plastic top. A still later version was a paper box with plastic sleeve. The newest packaging of note is a paper back with a glued plastic top.
Knowing the Lazy Ike material and packaging can help you date a lure. All but the most recent boxes have paper inserts. The only way to really have a Lazy Ike of significance is having the oldest box, correct lure and insert.
We need to discuss what these lures are worth. Most collectors search for Lazy Ike not for their value, but for sentimental reasons. The notoriety of this lure is almost as great as the Bass Oreno and Pikie minnow. I know of few older fishermen who did not use Lazy Ikes to catch fish. They are a notorious walleye bait, and if you're not using them, you should. Like the Helin flatfish, the Ike value is greatly diminished because of shear numbers produced. Ironically, you can purchase most used wooden or plastic Lazy Ike's on the Internet for less than what it costs to buy a new one. New Ikes will run $4 to $7 each. Because there is no shortage of this lure, it's common to purchase many of them on eBay for a couple of dollars plus shipping. It is imperative if you want something which will retain its' value, purchase the old wooden, pre 1960s Ike in a mint two-piece paper box and with paper insert. Even in mint condition an early wooden Ike with all its' companion pieces should only cost you $7 to $15.
Be patient and prudent with your money because there are some good Lazy Ike purchases available due to our poor economy. Besides, a good Lazy Ike box and lure will always look good on your shelf. Until next time, may all your searches be successful.