Bass Thief

Bass Thief Lure

Steelstamp Corporation - Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Original Lure Lore Article:
 Bass Thief Lure
Bass Thief Fishing Lure

Miscellaneous bait companies tend to get overlooked by many collectors but for sheer variety, collecting these companies offers unlimited opportunities. This wooden sinking lure, called the "Bass Thief", was made by the Steelstamp Corporation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and dates to the 1930's. This lure was billed as a "interchange lure" by the company as it offered the fisherman the ability to set up the lure for different fishing conditions using a spring steel yoke that could hold a combination of hooks, bucktails, feather streamers, etc.

Bass Thief and Hook Yoke

Bass Thief and Hook Yoke

As you can see from this picture of the hook yoke detached from the lure, the back of the yoke fitted into the rear of the lure and the front passed thru the chin and out the front where the line tie was to be attached. This configuration permitted the fisherman to change the setup of the lure quite easily. Examples include using any variety of hooks (single, double, treble) and 1 or 2 hooks. In addition, the hooks could be dressed with bucktails, feathers, or pork rinds. To make the lure a deep running lure, it was recommended that a sinker be attached to the forward part of the yoke. For surface use, the lure was fished 'backward' by attaching a hook to the line eye with a lock snap or split ring and the line attached to the rear of the hook yoke.

The Bass Thief was one of three of the 'Thief' line of lures produced by Steel Stamp. It measures 3-1/8" in length, has painted tack eyes and weighs 5/8 ounce without hooks. It came in the black box shown along with 2 treble hooks, a printed tag attached to the hook yoke with fishing instructions and a paper advertising foldout. In addition to the Bass Thief, two other sizes were made, the Pike Thief which is 3-3/4" long and the Musky Thief which is 4-1/4" long. These latter two appear in Karl White's "Fishing Tackle Antiques and Collectables" book but are incorrectly identified as the Bass Thief and Pike Thief respectively.

The colors and catalog numbers for each of 'Thief' lures is as follows:

MUSKY THIEF: 10RH (White with Red Head), 11SC (Scale Finish), 12YB (Yellow with Black Ribbing)
PIKE THIEF: 20RH (White with Red Head), 21SC (Scale Finish), 22YB (Yellow with Black Ribbing)
BASS THIEF: 30RH (White with Red Head), 31SC (Scale Finish)(Shown), 32YB (Yellow with Black Ribbing)

There is no recent sales activity on these to establish collector value but White's book lists the value at between $50-$75 and Bob Slade's book, "The History & Collectible Fishing Tackle of Wisconsin" places the value at between $150-$200; both values without box. (Note:  these price estimates are from the original 2001 article.)



My Bait Shop Updates:

Here are some additional updates:

  • The company was started by Maximillian Janisch in 1935 at N. Richards St. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


If anybody has additional information or paperwork such as early advertisements they would share it would be greatly appreciated.


Test Your Knowledge:  Bass Thief FAQ's:

What company made the Bass Thief fishing lure?
The Bass Thief fishing lure was made by the Steelstamp Corporation out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  The company began in 1935.

What were the other "Thief" sizes?
In addition to the Bass Thief, there was also the Pike Thief and the Musky Thief fishing lures.

Where can I find more information on the Bass Thief fishing lure?
You can find more information on our website My Bait Shop where we have a full page dedicated to the Bass Thief fishing lure.

Related Articles / Pages:

Lure Lore:  More great Lure Lore articles on My Bait Shop featuring in depth lure reviews and historical data.  An ever-growing section started in 1997 and continued on today at My Bait Shop.

Lures For Sale:  See what we have in stock at My Bait Shop for vintage lures.  Our ever changing inventory makes this worth repeat visits.

Interesting Minnow Bucket

Red Star Minnow Bucket

Red Star Minnow Bucket

I picked this minnow bucket up a couple of years ago in a antique store as it struck me as kind of unusual in that it was not only in the classic depression era green paint (all original) but also because it had a paper label that was mostly intact! I have to wonder how many buckets with paper labels have survived given the conditions that they are used in. The label reads "Red Star Double Minnow Bucket for All Game Fishing - over size 3 quart" and has red stars in each of the 4 corners. The bucket's insert is also completely green.

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.

(Originally Published on on January 1, 2001 - Vol. 6, No. 1)
Moved to My Bait Shop in 2020 and updated as applicable

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