The Crosby Tackle Company


There are many small tackle makers whose story could be lost to history except for those few who write the history of fishing and its tools. One man who stands tall in this regard is Robert Slade of Muskego, Wis.

Slade has published the 19-volume book set, The Encyclopedia of Old Fishing Lures Made in North America. He acknowledged me with special thanks for inviting him into my home as a special guest to do research and photography. We spent countless hours poring over the Richard Walton files alone.

Richard Walton was the country’s first intensive lure collector. He began collecting in 1909, and kept meticulous files of all the makers for over 50 years.

One of the makers Slade covered was the Crosby Tackle Company of Rockford, Ill. In 1954, they made a metal lure in three sizes with the smaller two called the “Flirty Gertie” lures.

These lures were made of polished brass, nickel and were gold-plated and painted with a red head and nickeled body and a red head with a white body. The lure had small, pyramid side wings and a U-shaped tail with a small teardrop spinner on the tip of each U arm.

The long-shanked single hook was soldered to the belly and sizes ranged from 2 1/2 to 3 3/8 inches. They were sold on the cards with the company’s name and address.

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The largest lure was the “Flapper Fanny.” They are not easy to find and were only made for a few years. The inventor of this lure—and others—and founder of the company was Benny W. Crosby, who received the design patent No. D176, 311 on December 13, 1955. The Crosby Tackle Company was first located at 1916 20th Ave. in Rockford, and later moved to 2816 Ridgeway Ave.

When I look at the time and trouble to make this lure—getting the patent, packaging, advertising and promotions—it seems a shame that so many do not know about the dreams of this manufacturer, which cost him plenty.

Like many other small makers, this didn’t last long; the competition for fishing lure sales and the high cost of advertising dashed the dreams of many inventors on the hard rocks of reality.


Dan Basore is a fishing historian and steward of the history of the sport. In his efforts to preserve fishing history, Basore is always on the lookout for information about early lure makers, old lures, pre-level wind reels, manufacturer catalogs, tournament casting items and the like. If you possess information or materials that can help, please contact Dan Basore, Historical Fishing Display, at 630-393-3474 or 1-800-347-4525.