Fishing and Shooting: Buy and sell your spinners, lures and reels

With the expectation that the river would be huge and rumbustious I had looked out various lures and spinners which are traditionally kept in old cigarette and tobacco tins in a cupboard in the downstairs loo: tangles of hooks and homemade minnows made out of things like 303 bullet cases which should have been thrown away years ago. But you never know when they might come in handy. (Women don’t get it).

So when I got to the river it was, of course, much lower than it should have been at this time of year (no snow) and really too low to spin within the local rules. After a few casts with a heavy purple fly whose name I never knew, it offered to sleet. And then it did sleet, quite hard.

So I said to Crumpet, the cocker spaniel who had been paddling and eating mice, that this wasn’t much fun and we might as well go up to the house and check in for a cup of something. Which we did. And I went on to our hostess about all the awful bits of spinning gear in the cupboard. And she agreed saying she had the same; all the stuff her stepfather had left in boxes and she wanted to throw out and how she wished she had learnt how to use eBay. Aha, says I, I am your man; and for a reasonable cut I will flog your chattels to the highest bidder.

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Needless to say her lures and spinners are a great deal more interesting than mine. And I have now discovered, courtesy of the aptly named eBay habitué mickeyfish, that the name everyone is looking for in the world of spinners and lures is James Gregory, a jeweller from Birmingham who made metal replicas of minnows with faceted glass eyes.

He is also credited with making the first spoon lure in the 1870s – literally a spoon, less handle, that flashes in the water.

After Gregory, in order of collectors’ precedence comes Allcocks from Redditch who started making reels at about the same time as Gregory made his first spoon. Then comes the London firm of C Farlow followed, rather surprisingly by the world-famous Hardy’s, better known for their reels.

All this only came to light after I put the first of the lures on eBay – a little fat metal fish with etched scales and a glass eye. Within 24 hours I had two email requests to name my price, a sure sign that it was worth more than the 99p starting price. What I was selling, it emerged, was a Gregory “Clipper” which subsequently went for £227 to a man in Germany. And I think that may have been cheap. The rest of the lures were generally speaking Hardy or Farlow and made £30 to £80. Better than a slap in the face with a wet whelk.