Historic Tools of North Castle

Eel Catcher Spearheads (2)

These items at Smith’s Tavern are eel catcher spearheads.  

Eel spears have changed little in shape through the past two centuries. The handle is a long-debarked sapling, 10-20 or more feet long depending on the depth of the water and about 2 inches in diameter. The metal spear, fastened to the wider end of the pole, is made of iron, with 5 to 9 long thin prongs with recurved tips usually sharpened into hooks. The longer flat center blade acts as a guard against rock damage to the more flexible hooks. The metal part of the spear is about the size of a hand, sometimes a bit larger (Smith’s Tavern item # T89).  There is a smaller "marsh spear" not as wide as the regular eel spears, with only four tightly spaced prongs, and a shorter handle (#85-3-1).  The design takes advantage of the eel's natural inclination to twist back and forth, entwining itself on the metal "fingers" trapping it beneath the barbs.  The spears are used mostly in the winter, even through the ice.


Reference:  http://woodsholemuseum.org/oldpages/sprtsl/v21n1-Eel.pdf

Catalog Items:

Item 85-3-1

Location:Panel 1
Length: 24 cm
Width: 8 cm
Weight: 170 g

Item T89

Location:Panel 1
Length: 34 cm
Width: 19 cm
Weight: 596 g