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August 29, 1999 - Vol. 4, No. 8

Michigan Tackle Flipper Fish

Flipper Fish
Flipper Fish

The Flipper Fish lure was marketed by the Michigan Tackle Company of Detroit, Michigan during the years 1950 through 1959. It was developed by Theodore Pappas and Joseph A. Charette, both of Detroit and received patent #2639743 on May 26, 1953. Pappas and Charette didn't have the necessary funds to produce the lure so they assigned the production rights to Percy Harrison, owner of the Michigan Tackle Company.

During the first few years, the lure was made of wood but by 1952, the company began making it in tenite plastic to be more cost-effective. The standard size Flipper Fish lure measures 3 1/2 inches, has 1 piece surface hardware for the belly treble and eye-screw hardware to hold the tail treble. In a at-rest position, the lure floats nose up but when retrieved, the scoop nose design causes the lure to behave erratically and it will dive, zigzag, roll (clockwise and counter-clockwise), break water and make a 'pop' when it does according to the fishing instructions that came with the box.

Flyrod size Flipper Fish
Fly rod size Flipper Fish & boxes

Starting in 1954 the company also manufactured a small 1/16 oz., 1 1/2 inch fly rod size in plastic. This size is very scarce.

301 - All orange with spots
302 - All black-yellow spots
303 - Frog finish
304 - All yellow with spots
305 - Orange back/silver belly/spots
306 - Silver/black scale
307 - Red head/white body
308 - Black head/orange body
309 - Black head/white body
310 - Dark orange/black scale/spots
311 - Bright red/cream belly/spots
312 - Dark red/black back/spots
313 - Orange/silver scale
314 - Blue/white belly/scale
315 - All white/spots
316 - All silver/black spots

The early 3 1/2" lures were produced in 16 different color patterns,each assigned a number as listed in the illustration above.

The rarest of these colors, we believe, is the #314 (Blue Scale with White Belly). By the late 1950's the company discontinued this color numbering code and all 3 1/2 inch lures were assigned #300 followed by a letter (i.e. 300-E was for Blue Scale with white belly).

The early lures came in a two piece cardboard box having a yellow background and beautiful green graphics. It depicted a fish breaking water, chasing a "Flipper Fish" flying through the air at the end of a fisherman's line in a distant boat. The caption on the box reads, "The Catch-en-est bait in the world." By the later 1950's the company had switched to a one piece cardboard-plastic top box, but was still produced at the same Detroit location.

Values for the 3 1/2" lure range from $25-$35 without the box to $50-$60 with the box. The fly rod size is estimated to range from $35-$45 without the box and $65-$75 with. Please note that all values are for boxes & lures in excellent condition.


1. What was the number assigned to the fly rod size?
2. What colors did the fly rod size come in and what were their codes?
3. What does the box look like for the fly rod size?

8/30/99: From reader Chad Kotarba comes the following information on the fly rod size Flipper Fish:

The fly rod size was the #700 series lure. As earlier stated, the color codes changed to letters and were as follows:

A - Frog Finish
B - All Orange - spots
C - Dark red - black back - spots
D - All silver - black spots
E - Blue - white belly - scale
F - All black - yellow spots
G - All yellow - spots
H - Red head - white body
I - Orange - silver scale
J - Dark orange - black scale - spots
K - Silver - black scale
L - All white spots

The fly rod size came in A, B, C, F, G, J, K, L while the standard size came in all listed colors.

fly rod Flipper Fish Box and Box Paper

The box for the fly rod size was a 1 piece cardboard box with plastic top and measured 2 3/4" in length.

Many thanks to Chad for providing the information and the pictures!

March 28, 2010: From Richard Fargo, family comments!

"My name is Richard Fargo, My grandfather is (was) Joseph Charette. He was my Mom's Dad. It was real nice to see these all the pics you have on the lures he made. I still have some of the wood models and some plastic.  All with boxes and instruction manuals. I believe Joesph Charettes’ son Joe Charette Jr (my uncle) did most of the graphics and instruction manuals. We used to fish these lures on Lake St Clair and nearby St John’s Marsh with great results. The used lures are long gone. Luckily we have some of the un-used lures among the surviving families.."

Special thanks to Richard for sharing this neat information!


Unknown Lure

This neat mouse lure was seen at the NFLCC Nationals in July and was one among many lures seen at various tables throughout the show with the ever popular "CAN YOU ID?" sign! This one belongs to NFLCC member Michael Kechkaylo - thanks, Mike!

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. Lures pictured in Lure Lore are not for sale.

Comments? EMAIL ME!

Web Author: Tom Jacomet
Copyright 1999 by Tom Jacomet - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED