The lure broker

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Fellow collector Bill Sonnett (left) admires one of Joe Stag's rarest finds.

For some, it’s hard to believe a guy can actually make a living by fishing tournaments. But as we all know, it happens, and the number of people trying to make it the business is increasing all the time. 

And if that isn’t difficult enough to grasp, imagine a guy making a living by selling old fishing lures.

A friend of mine does just that.

His name is Joe Stagnitti, and he makes a very comfortable living by brokering vintage tackle to collectors around the world — including some from Canada, Japan and parts of Europe. And what some of these collectors pay for a single lure would astound you … tens of thousands of dollars, in some cases.

Referred to as “Stag” by his many friends and associates in the collecting field, he knows vintage fishing lures like Tom Brady knows supermodels and Super Bowl comebacks. He’s the absolute go-to authority on early, American-made wooden and metal lures, and he achieved that status through years of study and hard work.

Learning the Hard Way

Now in his 50s, Joe has been dealing lures since 1997. It wasn’t his first job, however. He started out as a sales representative for a large food distributor. Gradually, he realized he could profit from his passion for old tackle.

“I didn’t start out looking to make this a profession,” he confesses. “It just kind of evolved into a business over time. And it was never about the money so much as it was a way to gain more free time to do the things I really love — like fishing, golf, and collecting old lures.”

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