Ans Decker, Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey

And Decker, whose will name was Anson B.  Decker, was peddling his now-famous revolving head Decker Bass Bait lures as early as 1907, according to some advertisements. The wooden topwater baits, which resemble Pflueger's Globe and a host of other rotary head lures, are among the most famous lures from the Northeast.  Many manufacturers claim to have originated this style of bait, but Ans Decker was quoted in 1933 saying he had used his revolving rotary head lures as early as 1882. Decker Bass baits are very collectible, as are their wonderful boxes.

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And Decker and his Lures

Ans Decker was a capable self-promoter, often including his signature, and alter his likeness, on lures and literature that promoted his products. This photo is from a booklet on fishing Decker sold for 50 cents. it has a 1925 copyright date, so we can assume this portrait fo the famour lure maker was taken prior to that.

Decker Bass Bait

This is a very typical Decker Bass Bait with plain, white paint. The brown picture box dates to around 1910 or 1911 and includes the scripted "signature" of Ans Decker himself. Included are illustrated flyers and a cardboard hang tag that was to fit over the hooks. The three single hooks are in compliance with New Jersey law.

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This is the rarest of the Decker boxes: the maroon "loving cup" Decker Grand Prize Baits box. In 1911 Decker won first place in the Field & Stream magazine fishing contest, catching some of the winning bass in his hometown waters of Lake Hopatcong.  Perhaps this box was to commemorate that feat. Decker loved marketing and promoting! The Decker Grand Prize Baits box is a prize. The box calls the lure the Surface Water Casting Bait.

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Decker Grand Prize Baits

The Loving Cup boxes included an entry blank for Field & Stream's fishing contest. Prizes included money, fishing tackle and, best of all, recognition in the fledgling national magazine. Paperwork always enhances the appeal of any boxed lure. I am still looking for a Decker Troller box.

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Decker Brooklyn New York box

Sometime before 1911, Decker briefly operated in Brooklyn, New York, where he marketed his Decker Surface Water Casting Bait lures in this elusive blue box with an applied white paper label. The lure inside has Decker's 1910 patent date stamped on the blade, which many later lures do not have. Now I need a Decker Troller box to complete this collection.

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This is the later, and much more common, Decker Bass Bait "yellow" box. Rather than inserting a paper flyer, instructions were printed in the box bottom. This lure was special ordered with three treble, instead of the usual single, hooks, and is so noted on the endflap of the box with a factory stamp.

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This  trio of mint-in-box Deckers dates to around 1921 - and were found by a New Jersey gentleman at a yard sale 30 years ago, and later acquired by me. The yellow bait is the elegant Decker Baby Underwater. The green revolving bait is an unusual color. And the red and white lure is the slender body version, known to collectors as the "Baby Decker."

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Each of the three boxes from this interesting find is correctly marked as to the color of the lure inside, and all lures have the standard single hook rigging.   To the right is a nice close-up showing the pristine condition of these early classics. Even the Decker Underwater has marked props. The Decker Troller is one box I am missing and still need.

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The Manhattan is one of many Decker-like lures that emerged in the Northeast in the 1907-1920 era, but I've always suspected that this particular one could be a Decker product. The design and workmanship on this lure are of high quality. Unlike Deckers, however, this bait has a narrow metal keel along the belly.

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