About Us


The History of Fishing Museum is the largest collection of antique fishing lures, rods, reels, boats and motors entirely collected by one man and his wife. Karl and Beverly White. Karl began collecting at the age of eight. The first lure Karl bought was the James Heddon’s Crazy Crawler (the most expensive lure to produce at the time). The lure is still in the collection today – nearly 70 years later!

The History of Fishing Museum is comprised of more than 40,000 pieces and valued at nearly $5 million. The museum showcases the private collection of Karl & Beverly White and includes lures, rods, reels, boats, motors, and everything else having to do with sport fishing – including one of the first pairs of sunglasses. The collection is considered to be the world’s most complete and diverse tackle collection. While many collectors specialize in one area (i.e. ice fishing) or one company (James Heddon & Sons), the Whites’ collection represents everything that is “collectible” in antique tackle and fishing paraphernalia including the first of many.

  • Spike Reel from the 1730s. 1st Reel known to exist. Made in Europe, these reels were used by American Anglers.

  • Snyder Reel from 1840. 1st Casting Reel made in the United States. Made by George Snyder from Paris, Kentucky. A watchmaker and silversmith, Mr. Snyder made 12 reels for his family. Only 4 are known to exist today. Snyder Reels are the world’s first precision free-running bait casting reels. When Karl White bought the Snyder in 1997, his purchase price set a world record for the most expensive fishing tackle item ever sold at an American Auction.

  • Haskell Fish Hook made by Riley Haskell in 1859. 1st American plug-type bodied bait. With a metal body and a revolving tail, the minnow imitation has dual hooks that point upward. The lure was made in silver, copper, brass & bronze. Karl’s collectible is the bass size and in silver. The only Haskell found with the original box was a 10” copper (musky size) sold in 2003 for $101,200 at auction.

  • Comstock Flying Helgramite made by Edward Comstock in 1883. 1st wood plug ever made, Mr. Comstock took his idea to Pflueger to manufacturer and Pflueger copied it. A lawsuit was quickly filed. The lure in Karl’s collection was used in THE court case. Look closely at Karl’s lure and you will see the barbs have been cut off. This insured the judge would not get hooked. 

  • Skeeter Boat. 1st manufactured Bass Boat. Karl has the first Skeeter to come off the line. He owns production hull #1, he also has #2, and the fiberglass #3 and #5 in his collection.


The oldest patented piece in the collection is a Buel Trolling Spoon that was patented in 1852, but the collection also includes fishing artifacts that date back pre-colonial, Native Americans and Eskimos. Newly added to the expansive collection is aquatic dinosaur bones and fish fossils.




Karl with his #1 Skeeter

1st Meeting of the NFLCC (National Fishing Lure Collectors’ Club)