Balsa Crankbaits: How To Make Killer Lipless Lures!

Balsa Crankbaits like these lipless varieties are a great way to start lure makingBalsa crankbaits are a great place to start your lure making journey. As a raw material, balsa is lightweight, easy to carve and gives your lures as superb, crisp action. The buoyancy of the wood gives loads of flexibility when it comes to weight placement and balancing your baits.

But of course, everything is a trade-off. Balsa tends to be rather soft, easily dented and prone to getting chewed. And although it’s strong for it’s weight, it’s not great if there are too many thin sections.

So how can you make your balsa crankbaits a bit tougher so they’ll survive the full rigors of fishing? And is it a suitable material for making lipless crankbaits?

Lipless Balsa Crankbaits: 5 Tricks Of The Trade!

  1. Harden your balsa crankbaits before painting them. Impregnating balsa with a product that soaks in deep and then cures to make the wood harder, more waterproof and dent resistant can make them much longer lasting. There are various products that can be used for this, but my preference is a good quality epoxy. For best results, thin it enough that it can really soak into the wood and warm the wood before treating it. This opens the pores and lets the resin deeper into the fiber.
  2. Weighting is critical. This is the case for all lipless styles, but especially so for balsa ones. Because of their buoyancy and shape, flat sided lure bodies naturally want to roll over and lay on their sides. In fact, this is exactly what causes the action we are looking for in a lipless balsa crankbait. So getting plenty of weight down low and up front keeps the lure upright and creates the right balance for a strong action. I like my lead to be forward of the towpoint and as low as I can get it in the lure.
  3. Skip the screw eyes. I know, screw eyes are probably strong enough for most fishing situations. But I’m not interested in most fishing situations! I’m interested in big, tough fish. I want the security of knowing my lures can take any punishment that’s thrown at them. So I always recommend through-wiring balsa crankbaits because the screw holding capacity of the wood is relatively low.
  4. Fast and sharp are the key to lure making with balsa. Because it’s soft, balsa will tear if your tools are not sharp, giving rougher results. Likewise, it will chip and tear if your drill speed is too slow and/or your drill bits are dull.
  5. Drill eye sockets after hardening. If you plan on using 3D eyes and will drill eye sockets, I recommend doing so after your balsa crankaits have been hardened. Use a sharp forstner or brad point drill bit and high drill speed for best results. The hardened wood cuts more cleanly than raw balsa, giving your lures a more professional look.

Balsa is and probably always will be one of the mainstays of wooden lure making. And while you might go looking for a harder material for lures that will be thrown at toothy fish, nothing matches the crisp action of a balsa crank!

Balsa Crankbaits: How To Make Killer Lipless Lures! was last modified: September 14th, 2016 by Greg Vinall
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One Response to Balsa Crankbaits: How To Make Killer Lipless Lures!

  1. Pingback: Balsa Lures: 4 Tips For Designing And Fishing Irresistable Baits

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