Antique Fishing Lures by Floyd Roberts

Heddon To PRADCO

 In 1980 EBSCO acquired PRADCO in Ft. Smith, Arkansas.  EBSCO a Birmingham, Alabama company was founded in 1943.  EBSCO stands for Elton B. Stephens Company.  Since EBSCO was founded the company has diversified into more than 20 businesses which include:

  November 28, 1983 the EBSCO company which already owned PRADCO purchased the Heddon company.  After this purchase EBSCO decided to consolidate their operations at PRADCO in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  The decision to consolidate at PRADCO was basically  made because this facility was a very modern and up to date facility.  Shortly after the decision came down to move Heddon to Fort Smith the remaining inventory was depleted and the Dowagiac factory doors were locked for the last time.  On August 9, 1984 the Heddon Dowagiac factory was permanently closed and Heddon moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas.

  EBSCO Industries, upon purchasing James Heddon's Sons operations in Dowagiac deeded the entire Heddon real estate and buildings to the city of Dowagiac with the understanding that the city would divide and rent out small spaces of the plant for small manufacturing operations and the offices for development into a small office plaza containing small rental offices with common services to accommodate small area businesses, salesmen and such.  While the plan was well intentioned, they never developed enough interest to bring this project to fruition.  The factory remained dormant for many years until 1991 when Don and Joan Lyons purchased the factory.

   Mr. Lanny West is the Senior Director of Marketing and International Sales for PRADCO.  Upon graduation from college in 1957 Mr. West joined the sales staff of Daisy and remained with Daisy-Heddon until 1970 when he came to work at PRADCO as Sales manager for their Rebel lure division.  

  Prior coming to PRADCO Mr. Lanny West had been a salesman with Daisy-Heddon since 1960.  While he worked his "home territory" he served customers in Michigan and Northern Ohio.  Mr. West visited the Dowagiac plant often and became very acquainted with the Heddon staff there.  In 1963 Mr. West moved to Rogers, Arkansas to assume a management position at the Daisy-Heddon Sales Company.  He became the marketing liaison person between Rogers and Dowagiac.  Mr. West has enjoyed a long and pleasant career in the fishing lure industry and has been associated with Heddon throughout his career.  He is considered a Heddon Historian by most.

  1983 - 1984 was the transition period from Heddon to PRADCO.  With the purchase of the company, EBSCO acquired all of Heddon's old stock from the Dowagiac factory and distributed many Heddon items well into 1984.  Many of the early PRADCO lures in the EBSCO packaging are actually Heddon lures that were manufactured in Dowagiac, Michigan.  Heddon items dating back into the mid 1970's have been found in early EBSCO packaging. 

  The Green Diamond blister packaging was Heddon's last version of the Green Diamond packaging before the company was sold to EBSCO.  This type of packaging was used from 1983 into1984.  It is thought that PRADCO used up any Heddon Green Diamond blister packaging that EBSCO acquired after the purchase of the company.   The back cover of the 1984 Heddon catalog illustrated the Green Diamond blister package and was marked by Heddon only.  This was the era when Heddon became involved in the PRADCO consolidation.

Last Dowagiac Packaging

  The first EBSCO Industries Inc. transition Heddon to PRADCO packaging can be found in either a light beige or light green color cards.  The back of the package has a 1984 copyright date James Heddon's Sons, Dowagiac, Michigan and then Consumer Division - P. O. Box 167, Fort Smith, AR 72902.  The one's with the paper bar code label on the bottom of the bubble pack are the earliest versions and may contain lures that were made in the Dowagiac factory.  This style packaging has box top box opening that can be closed backup on both ends.  This style packaging was used through 1987 and possibly a few years longer.

G-Finish - Introduced in the 1988 Heddon catalog Heddon engineers along with color specialists developed a new finish called G-Finish.  Heddon was able to isolate genetic materials suspended in a fish scale that create a luminescent flash.  Heddon selected three (Tiny torpedo - Tadpolly - Zara) of their most popular lures to introduce the new G-Finish.  This package has a 1984 copyright date and this new style bubble pack is sealed around the entire lure.  The back of the card has the EBSCO trade mark and A PRADCO Brand printed below.

Present PRADCO - These are a few examples of the latest Green card PRADCO package.  The Zara Spook (left) has a 1990 copyright date and the Sonar Flash (right) has a 1995 copyright date.

Present PRADCO Packaging

PRADCO Centennial Lures

  In 1994 PRADCO celebrated Heddon's 100th anniversary by re-issuing a series of wood versions of Heddon's old time favorites that helped make the company famous.  These Centennial lures were authentic reproductions of the original Heddon River Runt and Lucky 13.  The 1994 PRADCO Master Catalog advertised these two lures along with individual background information for each lure.  Every lure was packaged in an attractive cardboard "upward leaping" bass box. with a certificate of authenticity.  Mr. Clyde A. Harbin, Sr. provided PRADCO with an original Heddon "upleaping" box sample used for these centennial lures.  Mr. Lanny West of PRADCO wrote the certificate of authenticity for the River Runt and Lucky 13 centennial lures. 

  PRADCO first advertised the Heddon Centennial Edition Wood Zaragossa lure the 1995 PRADCO Master Catalog.  In this catalog it was clearly advertised as NEW for 1995.   PRADCO manufactured the Zaragossa Centennial lures in 1994 and they were part of the River Runt and Lucky 13 Centennial Edition but they were not available until 1995.  They were also packaged in the same attractive "upward leaping" Centennial Edition cardboard bass box with a certificate of authenticity.  Mr. Clyde A. Harbin, Sr. also provided PRADCO with the sample of the Heddon "upleaping" box for the Zaragossa lure and Mr. Lanny West wrote the certificate of authenticity for the Zaragossa centennial lure.


  The 1996 PRADCO catalog Heddon advertised the limited edition of the wood Zaragossa and the Centennial Edition of the wood River Runt and Lucky 13 were advertised.  This was the last year that Heddon advertised the Centennial lures in their catalogs.

 PRADCO also made a 1994 Special Collector's Edition of the Heddon Darting Zara.  This lure was produced in limited quantities and was made of wood. Every lure came with a Certificate of Authenticity and was painted in various colors.  I have this lure in Silver Sparkle (SS) and Bull Frog (BF) colors and there may more colors available.

 Heddon/PRADCO Centennial lures and the Special Collector lures have become popular among collectors and they found their way into display cases.  PRADCO made the Zaragossas in 22 different colors and 15 different colors for the Lucky 13 and River Runts centennial lures.  The value of these lures have already increased and collector values will continue to grow because of the limited production of these lures.

PRADCO/Heddon & PRADCO Master Catalogs

  Illustrated below are the front covers of my complete collection of PRADCO catalogs.  The 1984 catalog is the transition catalog from James Heddon's Sons to EBSCO owner of PRADCO.  The 1984 catalog still wore the James Heddon's Sons copyright and printed the Dowagiac, Michigan address on the back cover.  Also illustrated on the back cover was a lure in a Green Diamond blister package and was marked by Heddon.  This was the time frame when Heddon became involved in the PRADCO consolidation.

  In 1991 PRADCO released two different covers for their catalog.  The 2nd cover had five Zara mice floating on the surface in reeds.  The contents of both catalogs are exactly the same.  The 2nd 1991 cover is rare and only a few of these catalogs have surfaced.   


PRADCO/Heddon 1984

PRADCO/Heddon 1985

PRADCO/Heddon 1986 PRADCO/Heddon 1987
PRADCO/Heddon 1988 PRADCO/Heddon 1989 PRADCO/Heddon 1990 PRADCO/Heddon 1991

2nd PRADCO/Heddon 1991

PRADCO/Heddon 1992

1993 Master Catalog

1994 Master Catalog

1995 Master Catalog 1996 Master Catalog 1997 Master Catalog 1998 Master Catalog
1999 Master Catalog

2000 Master Catalog

2001 Master Catalog 2002 Master Catalog

2003 Master Catalog

PRADCO/Heddon 2004



  PRADCO continues to develop new products and maintain the highest quality standards, whether they are fishing or hunting goods.  

  Today the Plastics Research and Development Corporation "PRADCO" is the largest manufacturer and marketer of the world’s most respected fishing brands like Arbogast, Bomber, Cotton Cordell, Creek Chub, Excalibur, Heddon, Lazy Ike, Rebel, Riverside, Silver Thread, Smithwick and Yum Attractants. PRADCO has plants in Fort Smith, Mulberry, Ark. and Hot Springs, Ark., with its headquarters in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  

  My special thanks to Mr. Lanny West for his generosity and assisting me with important information for this page.  Some of the PRADCO Master catalogs are the courtesy of Mr. West which will allow me to continue my research on PRADCO/Heddon company.


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