Published On: Sun, Dec 28th, 2014

Devon Minnows – Old Brass Trout Spinners

Modern versions of the Devon. Note the left or right hand rotation.

Modern versions of the Devon. Note the left or right hand rotation.

Many anglers didn’t like Devons because they caused line twist

Although it’s popularity has declined some what in the last twenty years, the Devon minnow is nonetheless one of the oldest lure types still in regular use.

They can be employed for sea fishing but were typically used by salmon and trout anglers.

Modern manufacturing methods see them made from brass and plastic, however many old Devons were originally made for personal use be individual anglers at home. They were also manufactured and sold in large numbers by old firms such as Allcocks from around 1900 to the 1950s.

Many years ago you could also purchase just the spinning heads and the angler then joined them together with a body of his own design. These”bodies” were often the result of hours of painstaking work by the enthusiast. Materials used included stitched dried fish skin, insect cocoons, leather and wood.

The brass Devon was also a popular version a few years back. They dived deep and so were perfect for working close to the bottom of a deep pool.

Devon Minnows

Made before the days of plastic these early Devons would have been a lot of work to produce. It must have felt horrible to loose one! It would be possible to make them with simple hand tools. These old Devons are over 50 years old. Note the careful stitching along the bodies. Even the heads were made at home from sheet metal.
Altasticum wire was used to join the spinner head, body and treble hook together. Note the binding with fine thread to stiffen and complete the lure. The heads were often made at home from brass or copper. The
finished lure would have been the result of much labour. It must have been a sad thing to loose one on your first or second cast!

Many anglers didn’t like Devon Minnows because they had a tendency to cause line twist. There are several ways around this problem. One is to use a vane a few feet above the lure. Personally I don’t like this as it can cause tangles. Another is to use good quality swivels.

Interestingly Devon Minnows were made in both left and right hand spin versions. The idea being that the angler fished with one for fifteen minutes or so and then switched over to the other to “unwind” the line!

The Devon is one of the simplest lures for the amateur to make at home. They can be made from wood or brass quite easily. An advantage of making your own is that you can experiment with different positions of the fins to alter the rotation speed.

Devon Minnows

Old Devons in this instance made from brass. Note how the blades on the top lure face the opposite direction causing the Devon to spin anticlockwise and so “unwind” the spinning line! On the right of the picture are three more recent versions of the Devon minnow.

About the Author

Profile photo of Allan Burgess

- Fishingmag.co.nz website editor.