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Some 60 years ago, Charlie Hines was lured to the hobby that requires a space all its own.
In a small room in the basement of his Elizabethtown home, freshly painted wood lure bodies hang from a shelf, lined in a row. On walls and shelves, finished lures and lures collected over the years fill much of the space, staring at visitors with their inanimate eyes, sporting colors ranging from fiery red to brilliant blue. Fishing rods, reels and tackle boxes occupy most of the remaining space.
Hines, 80, has collected fishing equipment, particularly lures, for years. Eventually, he began making his own lures.
“It beats sitting and watching TV,” he said.
It started in the ’50s, when Hines was an avid fisherman. He married in 1953, shortly after graduating from Rineyville High School in 1952. Back then, he said he and his wife fished together.
“We’d lose a lot of bait,” Hines said.
Beginning with spinner baits, Hines tried his hand at making lures. He sold spinner baits in what was then Murphy’s Mart department store in Radcliff.
Since then, Hines has honed his craft and expanded his offerings.
The lures Hines creates often are modeled after others he has seen or collected. One example is the Dingbat lure, modeled after one produced by Creek Chub. Another is the Crazy Crawler, which is designed like a Heddon lure.
“I sell more of those than anything,” he said.
The popularity of lures fluctuates between styles.
“These things are just like clothes: I sold beetles for about three years as fast as I could make them, and then they died,” he said.
Some of the many lures Hines creates have chipmunk, bee or skunk patterns. Some are crankbaits and others are top water lures.
The lures range in size, too, some being small enough to fly fish with and others much larger.
“If you go over 3½ inches, then you classify them as a muskie or striper lure,” Hines said.
Hines starts his projects by turning the wood on a lathe in a shed behind his house. Then, in his basement shop, he applies primer, spray paints and a sealer, adding blades, hooks and other parts.
He also signs each one.
From Canada to Japan, and points in-between, the lures have made their way to collectors around the world.
Hines has sent his lures to states including Washington, New York, Florida, Louisiana and Wisconsin, to name a few.
“I’ve shipped a lot to Texas,” he said.
Some of the lures have shown up on eBay hooking bids upwards of $100.
Although they are usable items, Hines said the lures typically are purchased by collectors and are not used for fishing.
“Who’s going to pay $20 for a lure and put it in the water?” Hines said.
In the years he’s been making lures, Hines’ work has attracted notice.
Hines is listed in “The Encyclopedia of Old Fishing Lures Made in North America, Vol. 8.” He also has been featured three times since 1999 on Kentucky Educational Television’s “Kentucky Afield,” for which he was interviewed by host Tim Farmer.
Hines managed to maintain his hobby throughout the years even though his primary occupation was building homes. He retired in 2010.
Because of health reasons, including macular degeneration in one eye and heart problems, Hines has had to slow down production of his lures. Because of the cost of material he uses to create the lures, he typically uses any money he makes to buy more supplies.
As available space in his basement workroom shrinks, Hines plans to get rid of his collection of fishing equipment.
Betty Hines commended her husband, saying he always worked hard.
“He likes to stay busy,” she said. “He doesn’t like to be idle.”
Whatever project he takes on, Betty said, he does a good job.
For Charlie Hines, the work he does at his home is the product of an enjoyable pasttime.
“It started out just for fun,” Hines said. “It was a hobby.”
Robert Villanueva can be reached at 270-505-1743 or email@example.com.
A FEW LINES ABOUT CHARLIE HINES