I am still researching the history of the shad spoon and would appreciate input from anyone who is aware of its origin. I was told by someone that they first appeared in Connecticut where fishermen used them on the Connecticut river shad runs. I first learned of the shad spoon when I started shad fishing in the Delaware River in the early 80's. A friend, Mark Sherman introduced me to the sport and was at the time making shad spoons from small willow leaves. I quickly learned how effective they could be catching American shad. Within a year I started making my own shad spoons which at the time were not available for purchase at the local tackle stores. Before long many shad fisherman were using this effective lure and more and more guys were making their own lures. Soon the tackle stores were selling the shad spoons made by local fishermen like myself. Through the years many color patterns, styles, sizes, and variations appeared as guys came up with new ideas. I enjoyed making the lures and soon had so many that I started selling them at flea markets and on the internet. It is not a way to get rich, but is an enjoyable way to make a few bucks to fund my fishing exploits.
2/17/08 Update - I received the following information from Dave Dobrowolski (River Rat) which is helpful in trying to piece together the history of the shad spoon. My thanks to Dave. Anyone else have any informaton. Please send it along.
"I am 39 years old, grew up in Trenton NJ and have been fishing the Delaware all of my life. I used to live right down the street from Andy's sport shop (popular spot for Big D shad fisherman) and worked for Mr and Mrs Papi for several years through high school. I believe that the shad spoon was developed as a larger version of the popular "Dipsy Darter" lure used for herring on the Delaware River. I don't want to take credit for the development but my grandfather (God rests his soul) and myself used to make our own dipsy darters out of a # 0 willow leaf and # 6 mustad 3366G hook back in the very early 80's. We used to paint the undersides chartreuse and keep the top polished. Back in the 80's everyone fished darts on the Delaware, particularly gold plated darts. The first shad spoons that I remember were all gold plated when everyone started using them. Soon after my father and I made a larger version of our dipsy darter with a chartreuse belly and were probably the first couple of guy's to fish the Trenton power plant using that version in 1988. The painted belly seemed to out fish the all gold spoons during the early morning blitzes just at the beginning of civil twilight. Now take into consideration that there is a "click" of anglers who fish the power plant and soon after the other guy's discovered the painted belly's everyone showed up with them. They also started appearing everywhere else on the river shortly after. Again I don't want to take credit, but I hope this helps. "