A MidWest Outdoors 50th Anniversary Legacy Feature: The Remarkable Eppinger Dardevle Spoon

The Eppinger tradition began in 1906 when Lou Eppinger spent a month in the Ontario wilderness camping and fishing. He used a lure of his own design, which was a spoon weighing 2 ounces. The metal was then hammered out so that it was thinner in the middle and thicker toward the edges. When he cast it into the shallows, it would swing from side to side, nearly turning over, but always righting itself—kind of like a daredevil.

By 1912, Lou turned his prototype into a finished lure, the Osprey. It caught lots of fish, especially pike—the favorite sport fish in the Midwest.

In 1918, Lou’s nephew Ed came to work in his uncle’s shop. They changed the name of the Osprey to Dardevle after the Teufelhunden, or Devil Dogs, the name given by the Germans to the 4th Marine Brigade, which successfully penetrated and captured the German Belleau Woods in 1918. The allies called these U.S. Marines “Dardevles,” the name now used for Eppinger’s most successful line of lures.

The company that sold around 500 lures a year is now an international success, and tens of millions of Eppinger lures have been sold to knowledgeable fishermen over the years. The original Dardevle has since spawned an entire family of lures, and now more than 17,000 different sizes, shapes, and colors of Eppinger lures are available to match every fishing need.

Since 1987, Ed’s daughter Karen has been at the helm and is now successfully leading this company into the 21st century. In 1994, her daughter Jennifer kept the remarkable family-owned tradition alive, joining Karen.

Other companies have attempted to copy Eppinger’s designs and colors. They have used inferior materials and have farmed the work out to factories overseas in order to sell their lures for less money. But their finished product cannot compete with the genuine Dardevle and Eppinger quality.

      More world-record fish have been caught on Eppinger lures than any other lure on the market. None of those record fish are any more important, though, than the fish you or your children will reel in on Eppinger lures. Eppinger takes pride in its history of American-made quality and in giving fellow anglers what has worked time after time. “We build performance, value and tradition into each and every Eppinger lure.” An Eppinger family member personally oversees the operation of their factory with integrity in Michigan every day to ensure that quality and reputation of the Dardevle lives on.