Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Dardevle - What a Lure!

I've always had a fondness for vintage lures, the ones whose classic simplicity brought in the fish by the boatload long before batteries, chemical attractants, flashing lights and various other bells and whistles (both literal and figurative) came into the picture. One of these old-school favorites is the Dardevle (or Daredevil, or Daredevle - spellings seem to vary widely. As far as I can tell the original is Eppinger's Dardevle, which features the devilish logo that made such a memorable impression on me when I was kid).

The tackle boxes of my grandfather and great-uncle, two early angling influences, both featured Dardevles galore, many of which must've dated back decades to judge from the wear and tear on their enamel and the bends in their hooks. Eppinger's been making this spoon since the early 20th Century, and I'm sure their competitors have been making knockoffs for almost as long.

The history of the Dardevle name is an interesting one...according to the Eppinger site, it was originally named the Osprey by inventor and company founder Lou Eppinger. Towards the end of World War I its name was changed to Dardevle in honor of the "Teufelhunden", or "devil dogs," a fearsome nickname given to the 4th Marine Brigade by its German foes during the Battle of Belleau Woods in 1918.

The classic Dardevle is the distinctive red and white striped model, a deadly lure for pike, muskellunge, bass and fact, most fish that like to eat other fish. But there are a number of other color schemes as well; for instance, there's a green and yellow version that this article speculates attracts vegetarian pike.

It's also worth keeping in mind that the name Dardevle/Daredevil/etc. is often used to describe similar-looking lures (much as people will use "Kleenex" as a generic name for tissue). For instance, this fine article on pike fishing in Ontario includes a photo of some handsome "Daredevil" lures that aren't by Eppinger but definitely look like they'd get the job done. I think fish respect a good design, no matter who makes it. They're just not as brand-conscious as us.


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