The first swimbait

Kreisser's various offerings included the Animated Minnow, Hoochee Coochee, Ghost and Minnoette. Prices ranged from 75 cents to $1.00, which at that time was quite pricey for a fishing lure. But they sold well — largely because there was nothing like them on the market, and obviously because they caught fish.

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Like all good ideas, there were plenty of imitations to follow. Numerous companies, both large and small, tried copying Kreisser's design. But back then, lure patents were fiercely defended and he managed to stave off an onslaught of would-be counterfeiters — long enough to secure his share of the market anyway.

Kreisser's lures were not only designed for bass, he also made them for trout, northern pike, musky and other species of gamefish — simply by offering variations in size, color and body style of the original concept.

A package like this (bait, box and papers) is very valuable.Joe StagnittiA package like this (bait, box and papers) is very valuable.

Ask an advanced collector where the K&K Animated Minnow falls in desirability and he'll quickly tell you it's among the top 10 of the all time classics. If you happen to own one, consider yourself lucky. And if it comes with its original box, you've hit it out of the park.

In today's collector market, a clean, all-original K&K in its correctly marked box could command $5,000 or more. That's a hefty price for a fishing lure, don't you think?

So before you complain about the cost of contemporary swimbaits, think what they might be worth down the road … say in another century. Some, I'm sure, will gain value.


Many thanks to fellow collectors Joe Stagnitti and David Lindsay for sharing their thoughts and insights on John D. Kreisser and his unique Animated Minnow.

For those of you wanting to learn more about this or other vintage lures, there are numerous books on the subject. Or you can visit and, where you'll find experts in the field willing to share their knowledge.