Comstock Flying Helgramite Lure
The Comstock Flying Helgramite Lure was made by Harry Comstock, Fulton, New York. Circa 1883. This is considered one of if not the first glass eyed antique fishing lures produced. The inventor Harry Comstock was not only a lure maker but at the time a noted gun enthusiast, salesman, inventor and designer and world traveler from Fulton Ny.
The Comstock flying Hellgramite embodies not only the future or what the artificial minnow or lure would evolve from, but also has ties and roots in a common insect that was used in Fly Fishing. Matching the hatch is a term used in Fly Fish where one analyzes his or her surroundings and the entomology available (Bugs) and tries to match nature with fly. The Dobson fly in its Larvae stages is called a Hellgrammite, and is a water dwelling insect which ferociously fees on its predators.
However, what I find interesting is that the lure itself resembles the Dobsonfly an not namesake. Also noted for its nocturnal feeding habits, the Dobsonfly had 2″ wings which folded down its back. Interesting enough by themselves, Harry’s eccentricity, combined with his travels to China as a gun salesman, his noted efforts as a inventor of guns, and yet we only ever would see this one fishing lure come from this worldly thinker.
The Enterprise Manufacturing Co., Pflueger, would eventually take over this fishing lure from 1883-85 still calling it the Flying Hellgramite, while utilizing its own patent process of applying a luminous paint to its wings for its addition. It would also later have in its lure line up another Hellgrammite, which resembled the real water dwelling insect more than the current namesake does.
As far as I know Harry is one of the more famous, antique fishing lure maker to ever commit suicide, as well as WD CHapman’s Son, Byron. Harry ingested carbolic acid in April of 1895 to end what must have been his own complete metamorphosis from the Hellgrammite to the Dobsonfly.