Most custom lure makers (myself included) set out to make perfect handmade lures. We strive for faultless design, great balance, flawless paint job, incredible action. And those are great things to aim for, right?
Every handmade wooden lure is different, no matter how hard you might try to make perfect copies. Sometimes those differences aren’t visible, but they show in the results. Every batch of “identical” handmade lures I make has a few very high performers and a few that catch less fish, for whatever reason.
But as a rule, all handmade lures tend to be more productive than mass produced lures. Why? Because of those imperfections……
It’s Imperfections That Make Handmade Lures Perfect….
Mass produced plastic lures are extremely consistent. So if you take a batch of twenty identical injection molded lures they’ll perform exactly the same way. Or very close to it. And that means once a fish has learned to avoid one of those lures it’s learned to avoid all of them.
But handmade lures are different. It’s those subtle differences in the sound, action and vibration that stop fish from learning to avoid them. And that’s why the imperfections are such a great strength of “roll your own” lures!
Randomness is a very powerful thing in lure fishing. Bait fish don’t move consistently, they move randomly. And that’s what’s missing from injection molded plastic lures – but handmade lures fix that.
The Imperfections You Want In Handmade Lures
Erratic, Random Action.
It’s natural for hand carved lure bodies to be a little imperfect, of course. Machined wooden lure bodies are more precise, but there is still some variability. Wood is a natural product, so the density, grain, resonance and so forth can still cause machined handmade lures to have an erratic action. That’s why the elusive “hunting” action is far more common in wooden handmade lures than plastic factory ones.
Dull, Quiet Rattles.
Lure making wood is a sound insulator – it deadens the noise of rattles you’ve installed. But even this is a benefit, as I mention in my article on how fish find your lures. Rattles in handmade wooden lures might seem quiet to human ears, but they can be very easy for fish to hear. Low pitched, softer sounds are also more natural to fish.
Dodgy, Amateur Paint Jobs
Ok, so you might not want a dodgy paint job. And perhaps it doesn’t give your paint handmade lures an advantage. But fish don’t care about a paint job nearly as much as fishermen do, trust me. More often than not fish aren’t finding your lures visually anyway. They’re using sound, vibration, silhouette, flash and contrast first and foremost (read more about how fish find lures here).
No Excuse For Being Sloppy…..
I don’t want to give the impression that you’ll still get good results if you are sloppy and approach wooden lure making without paying attention to detail. Handmade lures need to be as close to perfect as you can get them….. just don’t let the pursuit of perfection hold you back.
Being accurate and precise is really important when you are weighting, cutting diving lip slots, installing through wires or screw eyes and so on.
Being sloppy about any of those things will result in lures that don’t work as well as they should.
The Wrap Up
So here’s my final take on handmade lures:
Aim for perfection each and every time you make a handmade lure. But accept that perfection is impossible and that imperfections and variability make wooden lures deadly effective.
Focus on getting wooden lure bodies shaped nicely and getting all of the components aligned properly. Weights, through wires, diving lips and screw eyes especially.
Don’t get too hung up if every one of your handmade lures is not identical, the rattle sounds a little dull or the or if the paint job isn’t so professional. Those things don’t hurt and can even be beneficial.
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