Heddon Scissortail

Heddon Scissortail No. 9830

Heddon - Dowagiac, Michigan


Original Lure Lore Article:
Heddon Scissortails 
1953 Heddon Catalog Ad for Scissortail Lure


In 1953, Heddon introduced the Scissortail lure, Heddon series #9830, a two piece plastic lure with a split tail that 'scissored' when retrieved. The Scissortail is 3-1/2" long and weighs in at 5/8 ounce. The split tail supposedly swiveled back and forth in a 'scissors' like manner when retrieved. This lure was made from 1953 to 1956, a relatively short production time of only four (4) years.

Heddon Scissortail Chart

Scissortail Color Chart

The Scissortail came in eight colors and to our knowledge, no other colors exist. The colors were:

9830M - Pike Scale
9830L - Perch Scale
9830P - Shiner Scale
9830RH - Red Head/White Body
9830SO - Spotted Orange
9830XRS - Silver Shore Minnow
9830XRY - Yellow Shore Minnow
9830XBY - Black & White Shore Minnow


Of note is that the three Shore Minnow patterns do not have the distinctive shore minnow ribs which are standard on all the Heddon Shore Minnow colors, but instead has a solid silver body with silver scales on the Silver Shore (XRS), solid yellow body with yellow scales on the Yellow Shore (XRY), and solid black body with black scales on the Black & White Shore (XBW).

By 1956 Heddon had reduced the colors to six, and no longer offered the 9830L (Perch Scale) and 9830RH (Red Head/White body).

The amazing "Scissortail", as it was named in the 1953 catalog may have been a victim of its design. Rumor has it that fisherman weren't happy with the performance as the tail section didn't 'scissors'. The glitter on the inside surfaces of the split tail tended to make the two halves stick together. This is probably the reason for the short Scissortail production run of only four years. It was obviously cheaper to discontinue it's production than it would have been to re-engineer it.

 Heddon Scissortail BoxesHeddon Scissortail Boxes

The early '50's are generally regarded as the time when Heddon made the transition from the two piece cardboard box to the plastic top box. The Scissortail came in both styles of boxes.

The Heddon Scissortail lure is fairly common and easy to color collect. Prices have risen in recent years from the $15-$20 range to the $25-$35 range, and sometimes more for certain colors such as Natural Scale. New Scissortails in the box always command more money and can run $75 to $100, particularly in the two piece cardboard box. (Note:  these price estimates are from the original 2003 article.)

Heddon Scissortail Ad

Heddon Scissortail Advertisement

This advertisement for the Scissortail lure appeared in the May, 1953 edition of Harding's Fur-Fish-Game Magazine.


My Bait Shop Updates:

Here are some updates.  Additional ones will be added over time so be sure to check back.

  • I have seen some conflicting information on the introduction of this lure but can confirm it first appears in the 1953 New Tackle and Price List which came out in August 1952 and the first regular Heddon catalog it appeared in was the 1953 Heddon Catalog shown below.

Heddon 1953 Catalog

  • If you want to get a look at more historic Heddon Catalog covers take a look at our entire library of Heddon Catalogs here.
  • Probably the most interesting note to the history of the Heddon Scissortail is an excerpt from a letter from Mr. Homer Circle of Sports Afield to Clyde "The Bassman" Harbin as referenced in Heddon's Historical Footprints:
    • "Page 3, the Scissortail lure, 1953.  This was John Heddon's idea and seemed like a good idea one, especially after we looked at the unusual action of the prototype.  Then, just before production, he got carried away and wanted metallic sparkles sprayed on the two tail sections to give off flash.  A neat effect, except for two things: 1) It was a last-minute thought and the production lures never were tested before being shipped.  The disastrous result was the two tail sections hung up and fouled the lure's action.  2) Fishermen bought them, returned them to dealers for a refund, and when word got out, a massive return of Scissortails took place to kill the lure." †
Now we know the rest of the story.

     †  Source:  Heddon's Historical Footprints, Clyde "The Bassman" Harbin Sr., 1996


    Test Your Knowledge:  Heddon Scissortail FAQ's:

    When was the Heddon Scissortail fishing lure made?
    The Heddon Scissortail fishing lure was made by Heddon out of Dowagiac, Michigan from 1952-1956.

    How many colors did the Heddon Scissortails come in?
    The Heddon Scissortails came in eight standard colors although it was reduced to six in 1956.

    Where can I find more information on the Heddon Scissortail Fishing Lure?
    You can find more information on our website My Bait Shop where we have a full page dedicated to the Heddon Scissortail.

    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.

    Heddon History:  Heddon history and information at My Bait Shop.  Our page where we are continually adding historical information about Heddon.  Be sure to check back as we add more information all the time.

    Heddon Lures for Sale:  Heddon lures for sale at My Bait Shop.  Our selection of Heddon lures for sale.  Different ages and price ranges.  Whether you are looking for your collection or tackle box we have something for you.  We add to our inventory almost daily.

    Heddon Catalog Covers:  Heddon Catalog Covers and History from 1902 - Present.

    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.

    Not in the Books Canadian Lure

    Jasper Lure

    Jasper Lure

    The Jasper Lure appears to have been made by a individual rather than a company, based on the marking on the end of the box shown below. Made in Ottawa, Canada, this particular model measures 3-1/2" long but according to the box markings, it came in three sizes and twelve colors. Special thanks to collector Dave Shwadlenak for these pictures!

    Jasper Lures and Boxes

     Jasper Lure Box, Insert & Box end views

    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 LureLore.com on January 24, 2003 - Vol. 8, No. 1)
    Moved to My Bait Shop in 2021 and updated as applicable

    © 2021, My Bait Shop, LLC