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Foiling Lures Overcomes The Limitations Of “Chrome” Paints

Foiling Lures: Textured Skeleton Pattern
Foiling lures is a pretty popular lure making trick, and for good reason. Lure foil adds awesome flash to lure bodies.

Predatory fish can see flash from surprising distances. Much further than they can see the actual lure, in fact. A flash of scales is the most obvious sign of a school of bait, so instinct takes over when a predator sees it.

Foiling lures is a little fiddly, but achieving a  chrome-like finish with paints  is not easy. Airbrush acrylics have advanced dramatically over the past decade, but mirror chrome airbrush paints are still not available. Aerosol chromes are available, but clear coating turns them grey – and they’re not tough enough to use without clear coat. Two pack urethane chromes look great but are just too toxic for recreational lure makers.

So we persist with foiling lures because it’s the best alternative. Lure foil is cheap and simple to use. Plus there’s transparent and candy airbrush paints can really bring a foiled lure body to life.

The 3 Products I Use For Foiling Lures

Depending on the final effect I’m after, I use two everyday products or one specialized material for foiling lures. Namely: Kitchen foil, aluminum foil tape and Holoscale lure foil.

So lets’s take a quick look at each, then I’ll talk you through the process of applying foil to lures.

Foiling Lures: Flat sided crankbaits using kitchen foil

A flat-sided crankbait using kitchen foil and epoxy

Kitchen Foil 

I completed the flat-sided crankbaits above and left with nothing more than ordinary kitchen foil. To texture the foil i laid it on a gang nail and rubbed it, which gave the appearance of a skeleton. I also do scale patterns quite often.

Next I glued the foil to the lure body using epoxy and I concealed the edges of the foil with opaque paint. I sprayed a little transparent black around the head to allow flashes of color as the lure is worked.

I know a lot of guys use spray adhesive for foiling lures. But I’ve found that encounters with fish or snags can flatten the texture out of the lure foil when I use spray adhesive. I prefer epoxy because it fills the voids under the textured foil and prevents this happening. That makes for foiled lures that keep looking good, for much longer.

Foiling lures with aluminium foil can work well if the preparation is done properly

Craw pattern foiled with aluminum foil tape

Aluminum Foil Tape 

The second technique I like for foiling lures is aluminum foil tape, which you’ll find online. Being self-adhesive, you can just cut to size, texture it up, remove the backing and stick it on.

I sometimes texture foil tapes the same way as I texture kitchen foil, though some tapes are better than others for this. You’ll need to experiment to find which ones work.

Be warned: I’ve heard around the traps that foil tape can delaminate from the lure, causing the whole finish to fail. I haven’t personally experienced this issue, but it’s something to be aware of. Especially if you’re foiling lures with a view to selling them……

To reduce the risk of delamination I’m pretty fastidious about the preparation of my wooden lure bodies. I like to harden and seal the wood with epoxy, which also fills the grain, waterproofs the wood and gives a smooth surface. Both tape and epoxy adhere really strongly to  lures prepared this way. You can read more about how I prepare wood here.

Holoscale Self-Adhesive Flash

Using Holoscale Self Adhesive Flash

Holographic tapes have been around for a fair while, but they’re not all equal when it comes to foiling lures. In fact, I haven’t really been happy with most of the holographic lure foils I’ve tested over the years. Usually they’re too thick to mold properly around the tight curves of small to medium lure bodies.

But Holoscale lure foil is different. I’ve found that it’s thinner and more flexible than other holographic products. And by gently heating it with a hair drier I get even greater flexibility, allowing it to get into eye sockets and so on. The adhesive on Holoflash lure foil is waterproof and pretty strong, though I still go over my foiled lures with epoxy for longer life.

Holoscale lure foil doesn’t texture particularly well, but it certainly creates some spectacular flash. And it’s about the easiest and most attractive way of foiling lures that I know.

In fact, I was so impressed with Holoscale that I decided to bulk buy it so other lure makers can benefit. If you’re interested in giving it a try, you can order a pack of Holoscale here.

Painting, Foiling And Clear Coating Process

Ok, so much for products! Let’s talk about how the application of lure foil is actually done (in my workshop, at least)!

For me, foiling lures is a bit of a process. And like so many of my lure making processes, I probably overkill it! But I like my lures to look good and last for a LOT of fish.

So here’s how I go about it:

1. Seal and harden the wood.

This is the critical first step. You want to be sure the lure foil is being applied to a surface that’s hard, even, non porous and waterproof. That will give you maximum adhesion, minimum air bubbles and long lasting, great looking lures.

2. Texture the foil.

Simply place it on a textured surface and rub gently with the ball of your thumb. Scale mesh, gang nails, concrete. There are plenty of textures that can make your foiled lures look unique.

3. Apply the foil.

If it’s kitchen foil, I like to paint the lure with epoxy, then paint the underside of the foil. Then I lay the foil on the lure and smooth it out. Don’t press too hard or your texture will be lost. Finally, I coat the entire lure body, foil and all, with epoxy. For foil tape or Holoscale lure foil, I clean the surface with isopropyl alcohol, then just remove the backing and lay down the foil. Once again, I coat over the entire lure with epoxy and leave it to cure.

4. Level Off

I sand the entire lure with 400 grit wet sanding paper until all the gloss is gone. When you run a thumbnail over the lure you shouldn’t be able to feel the edges of the lure foil.

5. Airbrush.

Usually when I’m foiling lures I’ll spray a stripe of opaque white paint on the belly and back to conceal the edges of the foil. Then I’ll feather the edges with a little transparent white so it’s hard to see where the white starts and ends. Then it’s off to work with transparent or candy paints. These are great because the flash of the lure foil shines through them, giving super attractive results.

6. Final clear coat.

As with any lure I paint, the finishing touch is the epoxy clear coat. Once that’s cured it’s time to go fishing!

The Wrap Up On Foiling Lures

When it comes to airbrushing over foiled lure bodies, the sky is the limit, of course. Natural baitfish colors work well and are very effective fish takers -especially when you’re imitating silvery baitfish. But the brighter, gaudier transparent colors, like raspberry, violet, orange or yellow are great too. These give massive visibility in dirty water by combining flash and color.

Remember, fish can see flash more easily than they see color – that’s a fact! So foiling lures, particularly saltwater lures, can really bump your catch rates up a notch or two. So go experiment, see what works or doesn’t work for you – and by all means, comment or share on this page!