Little has been written on the LeBoeuf Creeper so take notes! This lure was made by the LeBoeuf Bait Company of Pennsylvania, starting sometime in the early 1940's, probably 1942 or 1943. The original version of the lure was made of wood and it came in two sizes, 2-1/2" and 3-3/4". Like Heddon's Crazy Crawler, it was a surface lure which 'waddled' from side to side across the surface of the water due to its metal wings. These lures came in two different colored cardboard boxes, one a solid lime-green and the other maroon.
Sometime around 1947-1949, the 'heavy' plastic version of the lure was made, again in two sizes. These are pictured above. Still later, in the 1950's and until the 1960's, a lighter plastic version was made. One key difference besides the type of plastic used is in the eyes, with the heavier version having an 'embossed' eye while the lighter version has a painted eye.
The wood and heavier plastic versions came in two colors, leopard frog and bull frog. The lighter plastic version came in both those colors plus a solid black, but the frog colors were in multiple shades of green rather than just one shade.
Wood Creepers run about $100 while the heavy plastic versions go for around $40-$45 and the lighter versions for $10-$15. (NOTE: White's book mis-spelled the company name as LEBOUFF). (Additional note: these price estimates are from the original 1997 article.)
UPDATE: Jay Lucas writes to ask, "Why did LeBeouf quit making creepers? From my understanding it was a patent infringement lawsuit by Heddon?? Also I think you may be a little low on trade value of the creepers. They are hard to come by or at least have been for me. This was one of the great lure improvements made by innovators. He took the crazy crawler that had a tendency to roll over at any kind of speed retrieve flattened it and lowered the center of gravity and made a lure that when properly tuned could be retrieved with bait almost out of water and only the wings in the water. The crazy crawler was a complete flop on a fast retrieve. I've used them both..."
Thanks, Jay, for your comments - anyone know about the answer about the patent lawsuit?
UPDATE, March 20, 2010: Mr. Chet Exley of Irving, Texas wrote to report that his Great-Grandfather, Reginald C. Exley, Sr., was the inventor of the LeBoeuf Creeper. To read more about him and a story of the development of the LeBoeuf Creeper, read Old Mossback and the LeBoeuf Creeper.
- The original period started in the mid 1940's where few wooden baits were made by Reginald Chet Exley as the company began.
- The first set of early plastic Creepers or Exley Creepers made out of Wesleyville, Pennsylvania around the end of WWII until 1949 were made of heavier plastic.
- The second set made by Hew Plastic Sales Company of Erie, Pennsylvania were of lighter plastic material starting in 1949.
- In the early 1960's the Phillips Fly and Tackle Company of Alexandria, Pennsylvania acquired the rights. They made version three of the plastic Creepers. These were sold on yellow cards with bubble tops.
- In the late 1960's the Hi-Fin Tackle Company of Dousman, Wisconsin starting making wooden LeBoeuf Creepers and still continue today
The LeBoeuf name came from Lake LeBoeuf in Waterford, Pennsylvannia.
Reginald Chet Exley filed for a patent on the LeBoeuf Creeper in December, 1947 and was granted a patent on May 15, 1951. You can see Patent No. 2,552,946 here.
Below are some images of an early Creeper and box (thanks to Langs Auction for use of the image) and a carded Creeper.
Early Le Boeuf Creeper and Box
Carded Phillips Le Boeuf Creeper
If anybody has additional information or paperwork such as early advertisements they would share it would be greatly appreciated.
This edition's unknown lure is solid plastic with raised plastic eyes. The eyes were added to the body and are not an integral part of the body. This lure is pictured in White's Fishing Tackle Antiques and Collectibles book on page 147 under the Novelty Lures section in a solid yellow color with red eyes. Other colors are known to exist.
UNKNOWN UPDATE: Craig Zwizinski writes to say that he has one with different eyes but of the same color and it 'glows-in-the-dark'. Following his advice, I gave mine the standard flashlight treatment and went into the bathroom, turned out the lights and HEY! It glows!
UNKNOWN UPDATE 2-21-98: This lure now has been identified as a Witch Fire Lure, made in Madison, Wisconsin. Little else is known the company but the lure came in single or treble hook configurations, and both with or without the belly spinners. All have google eyes and the colors were fluorescent and phosphorescent.
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.
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