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November 5, 2022 - Vol. 17, No. 2

The "Discolors" of Heddon Lures

by Tom Jacomet

As any collector of fishing lures knows, the one thing that will cause your heart to skip a beat is to find a lure you collect in a color that you have (1) never seen, or (2) is uncatalogued. Now, the fact you've 'never seen' it doesn't really mean much to be honest - no one has seen 'em all! 'Uncatalogued' falls into the same category. As my former web site, Lure Lore, has a section on the colors of Heddon, I can assure readers that 'uncatalogued' colors are more common than one can image. (To support this, I submit Heddon's Tiny Spook in the color White, Black Spots (WBS), a 'uncatalogued color' yet more common that than any of the catalogued colors.)

From the time I started Lure Lore in 1997, I received thousands of pictures of Heddon lures asking "What color is this?" "Is it rare" and of course, "I've never seen one like this!"

So imagine my excitement (and others as well who bid) when the lure pictured above came up for auction on eBay. My first reaction was that this was a scoop lip Midget River Runt Go-Deeper in Goldfish Shore Minnow, Heddon's color code XSK. This lure, a catalogued color but for only 3 years (1940 to 1942/43) and is considered a fairly scarce color. But after looking at the auction picture, I noticed that the 'gold' color wasn't nearly the same shade as that of XSK which has a more reddish look to it. Even further, I was struck by the fact that it has black ribs instead of silver ribs which is the rib color on XSK! Time to up my bid!

Well, I won the auction and the lure arrived but after a close examination, I noticed that the tail section of the lure didn't match the rest of the lure. Indeed, it was exactly like Heddon's color, Silver Shore Minnow, Heddon color code XRS. Careful examination revealed that this lure was originally a Heddon Go-Deeper Midget River Runt Spook in Silver Shore Minnow but for some reason, the majority of the lure had changed color!

For whatever reason, be it exposure to sunlight, chemicals, heat, paint composition, or the darkening of the varnish coating, this lure had almost completely changed color from the more common Silver Shore Minnow.

Note tail section!

As a result, I started accumulating pictures and information about the fact that lures can and often do, completely change colors. In the world of Heddon lures, most of the "discolors" occur in the colors Silver Shore Minnow, Yellow Shore Minnow, White, Red Head, and in later years, yellow colors such as Yellow Coach Dog and Yellow, though not limited to those.This is especially true for Heddon plastic lures but shows up in wood lures as well.

I'm no chemist but based on my accumulation or information and pictures, it is apparent that the chemical composition of the paints used in these colors affects how they, in the long term, can change. A good example is the color gold, a common color that was used by Heddon for their eye and belly printing color. In actuality, the paint used was not actually gold, but likely had a metallic base such as brass. The result is that the metallic base 'tarnished' and changed the gold color to green.

Midget River Runt Spook in White, 9010W
(Picture courtesy of Mike Wenzel)

Color change to eyes and belly printing from gold to green

River Runt Model 110 in All Red
(Picture courtesy of Chuck Arnold!)

The belly printing on a wood Heddon model 110 River Runt shows the 'gold' lettering as if they were stenciled with a dark outline. Note, however, that though many letters are indeed outlined, others, such as the "N" and "T" are mostly dark colored. Bill McVeigh, past President and member of the NFLCC, commented on seeing the picture, "It's not painted like that. The darkening around the edges of the letters is the metallic in the gold paint that has oxidized over time. Same thing that makes the Heddon gold eyes turn green. I believe that it was brass dust used to metalize the paint and the brass does turn brown and green when oxidized."

Another example of the 'gold' color change is this Midget River Runt Spook in the color Fish Flash, Gold Reflector, Black Scale, where the gold scale pattern has changed to a green.

Discolored Midget River Runt Spook in Fish Flash, Gold Reflector, Black Scale, FF9010GB vs. normal color
(Discolored picture courtesy of Layne Wilkerson)

Wood lures are also susceptible to color changes, particularly in the Silver Shore Minnow color. This is due to the darkening or yellowing of the varnish which appears as a gold or amber color.

Wood Heddon Crazy Crawler in discolored Silver Shore Minnow

The Heddon colors Yellow, Yellow Shore Minnow, and Yellow Coach Dog are particularly susceptible to discoloration, particularly in the later years after 1950. Depending on the original color, it changes to a brown, green, or dark brown color.

Discolored Yellow Shore Minnow River Runt Spooks
(Top - Tiny - 350XRS; bottom - Sinker 9110XRS)

Discolored Yellow Heddon Sonic, 385Y

Discolored Yellow Shore Minnow Midget River Runt Spook, 9010XRY

Discolored Yellow Shore Minnow River Runt Spook Sinker, 9119XRY

Another Heddon color that occasionally shows up and has been called "Brown Coach Dog" is actually Yellow Coach Dog. This color was first cataloged in the 1950's by Heddon for various lures most often for various models including the Tadpolly, River Runt Spook, Sonic, and also the Chugger Spook.

Partially discolored Chugger Jr. in Yellow Coach Dog

Midget River Runt Spook in discolored Yellow Coach Dog

Heddon Tadpolly Spooks in Yellow Coach Dog (9000YCD)
(Pictures courtesy of Andrew Girling!)

Another color which tends to discolor is Heddon's red which also, like yellow, turns to a brownish or maroon color. Examples of this are shown below.

Discolored Sonic in White, Red Head
(Picture courtesy of Jim Viviano)

Discolored River Runt Sinker in White, Red Head

If you have any lures that are 'discolored', regardless of manufacturer, please send me pictures and I will be happy to add them to this web page!



If you have any further information on any of the items displayed on this page which you'd like to share, please send your comments to me and I'll update the page accordingly. Contributions of interesting items and/or unknowns are encouraged.

Comments? EMAIL ME!

Web Author: Keith Bell
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