Four Tees Dolphin Lure
This lure is a Four Tees Dolphin lure. This antique fishing lure was made by William of Bill Bales from Tampa Florida in the early 1930’s. Like many lure makers lore begins with a pocket knife and necessity, we hear the same of William’s. As with many Americans in the throws of the great depression, having the luxury and stability of a job and a paycheck was supplanted by the country’s economic woes. The commonplace of structure and the normality and mundane securities for even this Electro-lux salesman would change. Had it not been for this, William and his bride, may have never made the journey from Ohio to Tampa. Had it not been for these unfortunate circumstance, it would certainly have changed his place at the table of history as a Florida lure maker.
His home like so many other craftsman, would grow to become the production epicenter. Out of the back of his shop at 705 East Broad Street a dream was turned into reality. This company was not without its debtor’s, for to take his operation from a pocket knife to ban saw would never have happened the way it did, had it not been for his then friend & financier Mr. Leach, and his $150 loan. This loan would carry grave consequences that later on would rattle and change the foundation of not only their friendship, but of the Four Tee’s Bait Company.
The Four Tees name stands for “The Topper That Tops”. The Four Tees is made of wood in the fashion of a Dolphin and has a notched mouth. The Dolphin is said to have been first lure in production, our no eyed example below is an early one, the larger of the 2 measuring in around 3 3/4″in length. The smaller of this series being called the Baby Dolphin. The antique Florida lure has 3 treble hooks attached via simple eye screw rigging. You notice that odd staple inserted over the belly rig, this was to keep the lures hooks from tangling during casting. Positioned right above the mouth is the single forward line tie. The lure was first made with no eyes, then later would be equipped with painted eyes, both examples can be seen in the gallery below. The lure is marked or stenciled in red with its name on the underside of the lure.
The lure first would come housed in a wooden box, that was left over inventory from another maker, would transition to a 2Pc Cardboard Box and finally would become housed in a plastic topped non-descript cardboard bottom box that was stenciled on the top plastic with the name of the lure maker on it.