Lure Making: 12 Quick Tips For Best Results
Lure making. It’s not a matter of life and death, it’s much more serious. And it’s something that non-lure makers, wives and girlfriends can’t comprehend. In fact, they shouldn’t even try.
Lure making is about enriching your lure fishing. Making it even more perfect (is that possible). Adding a new dimension. It’s the fishing equivalent of home brewing, but without the headaches. Sure, the first batches might be a little rough on the palette. But before long your brewskies will make the commercial ales taste like turps.
I suppose the challenge is to not let lure making take over. It’s kind of perverse when the pursuit of rolling your own lures becomes more exciting than fishing with them. Not that I’m speaking from personal experience…..
So you’re interested in lure making, what next?
In case you missed it, this website is exclusively about wooden lure making. It’s something I’ve been doing for over 3 decades and I’ve been teaching and writing about it professionally for years. So I thought it might be fun (and useful) to run through some of the top questions I get about wooden lure making.
These are not in any particular order, just a random mix. Hope you find it useful – and if you do, why not download my free ebook “Wooden Lure Making 101“? You’ll find this information and more can be downloaded for your convenience.
Question: What wood should I use for lure making?
Tip 1: Just like boats, cars, fishing rods and women, there is no “one size fits all”. The best wood for making fishing lures depends on the type of lure you’re making, the tools you own and what’s available in your area.
Popular lure making timbers include balsa, basswood, cedar, cypress knees, jelutong, some types of pine. But there are thousands of other options. Look for something easy to carve, light weight and resistant to denting. Straight, square and well seasoned blanks also make it easier to get everything properly aligned.
Question: Should I use through wire? Or screw eyes?
Tip 2: I get into fights over this question.
For the newbies, a through wire is a single piece of stainless steel wire that runs right through the lure. It’s bent and twisted to create a tow point (line tie) and hook hangers, so if the lure body should break or get chewed up you at least get to keep the fish!
It doesn’t take a lot of extra work to make a through wire, so I’ve always argued that’s the best way to go. After all, small fish don’t punish lures, big fish do. So if a lure is ever going to fail it is bound to do so when you’re fighting a PB. And losing a PB anything on a handmade lure would be gut wrenching. Like turning up for a hot date Claudia Schiffer and finding she invited her mother along. Your hopes and dreams would be dashed in an instant.
Screw eyes are a little faster and easier to install than through wires, but not by much if you install them properly. To find out how to get maximum strength, watch my tutorial on how to use screw eyes properly.
Bottom line? Screw eyes are probably strong enough most of the time, especially for lures that won’t see toothy fish. But it’s the 10% of the time that worries me! 90% of my lures are built with a through wire, and I don’t see that changing in the near future, Claudia.
Question: What Tools Will I Need for Wooden Lure Making?
Tip 3: If you’re just starting at to put a luremaking kit together you’ll probably find you already have everything you need. A chisel, craft knife, handsaw, battery drill and some pliers are the basics. In fact, about 90% of the lures in my Crankbait Masterclass can be made with just these items.
As you get more into lure making you’ll probably want to upgrade your basic kit. An airbrush and accessories are usually high on the lure makers Xmas wish list. They certainly allow you to make your lures look more professional. Rotary tools (eg Dremel), drill presses, bandsaws, scrollsaws, lathes, and sanding machines are also handy. None of them are essential when you’re getting started but they can all make life easier and faster as you get more serious.
Question: What’s The Best Clear Coat To Use?
Tip 4: Again, there is no right and no wrong. I use acrylic airbrush paints for coloring up my lures and prefer to clear coat them with a two part epoxy (Envirotex Lite). Others prefer to use a two pack automotive polyurethane over airbrush acrylics. And still others dip their lures in moisture cure polyurethane.
I have a love-hate relationship with Envirotex. I hate the cumbersome, laborious process that’s required for a good result. But once it’s done I don’t know of anything tougher or more scuff resistant.
I don’t like the toxicity of two pack polyurethane or the short shelf life of moisture cure urethanes in humid environments (yes, I do purge the air out).
Question: To Make a Crankbait Dive Deeper, Do I Just Angle The Diving Lip Closer To Horizontal?
Tip 5: No.
This is one of the oldest myths in lure making, so please help turn the tables. This thinking holds a lot of people back.
If you take a shallow running lure and do nothing more than angle the diving lip closer to horizontal it won’t dive much (if any) deeper than the original lure. And, it will have less action. Try it, it’s true!
To get your lipped lures down deeper you need a longer diving lip. But again, if all you do is switch to a longer diving lip, you’re in for disappointment. The lip will most likely destabilize the lure and it won’t swim at all.
What’s needed is a longer diving lip AND a more horizontal angle AND a change in the location of the tow point AND (most likely) a little weight in the belly of the lure. All of these things work together, so changing one of them alone rarely works.
You can read more in my post on designing deep diving crankbaits.
Question: What Paints Should I Use?
Tip 6: You should use whatever paints you want! Just be aware that many of the problems I see are because people use paints and clear coats that aren’t compatible. For the record, my process is
- harden and seal the wood with Envirotex Lite
- paint with autoair autoborne airbrush sealer
- spray base color using wicked or autoair acrylics
- paint detail with wicked or autoair acrylics
- clear coat with Envirotex Lite
- paint eyes (if I’m not using 3D ones)
- final clear coat with Envirotex Lite
You can find out more about the paints I use in my article on paints for fishing lures. If you use these products and follow the steps above you’ll eliminate 99% of paint failure problems and will end up with long lasting lures. If you want to use different products or follow a different step by step process you’ll need to.
Question: Do You Always Weight Your Lures?
Tip 7: Most of the time I do, yes. There are a few exceptions where I don’t add weight, but the majority of my lures are weighted, even the topwater ones.
If you’re new to lure making I recommend you do the same. By weighting your lure bodies correctly you can get a stronger action, can work the lure over a wider range of speeds and can cast it further. Weighted lures are also a little more forgiving if you don’t get the body shape quite perfect or if the diving lip is slightly out of alignment.
I’ve seen numerous instances where a handmade lure doesn’t work at all until a little weight is added. to the belly.
Weighting allows you to use a longer and/or wider diving lip if you want, which means your lures can dive deeper and have a stronger action than an unweighted lure. For more information you might like to check out my article on weighting hard baits.
The best placement of weight is usually in the front 1/3 of the lure body, as close under the skin as possible. I often make my own weights that fit the drills I use, but small ball sinkers, split shot, ball bearings or pieces of brass rod can also be used.
Question: What’s The Best Way To Add A Rattle To My Wooden Lures?
Tip 8: The first thing is to understand that a rattle in a wooden lure sounds different to one in a plastic lure. It’s usually duller, softer and more gentle sounding. Too many people try to change this. They assume that the loud, harsh sound most plastic lures must be easier for fish to hear. The truth is, for a range of reasons, the unique sound of a wooden lure rattling is actually more effective. Find out more about rattles in lures here.
There are a few ways to add sound to a wooden lure. Probably the easiest is to drill a hole into the body, slip in a rattle chamber and then seal it in with epoxy. In many of my lures I have a single large “knocker” rattle comprised of a ball bearing in a hollow part of the lure body. In my view, this is the best type of rattle of all – a metal ball bearing clunking against wood.
Question: What Types Of Wooden Lures Can I Learn To Make?
Tip 9: The great thing about wooden lure making is that it’s accessible to everyone, and the sky is the limit. I recently posted an article outlining 23 types of fishing lures that can be made by recreational lure makers. Once you know the techniques you’ll find that there aren’t too many styles that are out of reach!
Question: Where Can I Get Lure Parts?
Tip 10: I often make the components of my lures from raw materials that I get at the hardware store, online or the tackle shop.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to do the same. Lure making can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Buying screw eyes, lure bodies, 3D eyes and other components can make the job simpler and faster. So don’t feel that you have to start from the absolute raw materials.
A good source of lure parts is Lure Parts Online, but there are others too. In the interests of full disclosure: I recommend Lure Parts Online because I’ve bought a lot of stuff from them over the years and have always liked the quality and service. But recently I became an affiliate, so if you use the above link to visit them and buy lure components I may get paid a small commission. Those commissions help make it possible for me to add new content to this website.
Question: What Wire Should I Use To Make Through Wires?
Tip 11: I usually recommend only 316 (marine) grade stainless steel wire. #18 gauge is about 1mm diameter for general 3-5″ lure sizes. I’ll sometimes go lighter for small lures and will switch to 1.5mm wire for heavy duty lures like GT poppers and the like.
Please don’t be tempted to use copper or galvanized wire, they’re just not suitable for lure making. Marine Grade (316) stainless steel is the stuff to use.
Question: What’s the best way to seal my lure bodies?
Tip 12: I’m so glad you asked this. Lots of guys get tempted to go straight from raw wood to paint, which is one of the most common lure making mistakes.
Wood is like a sponge, it soaks up water. Once in, water works its way through the wood by capillary action until the wood is waterlogged. This kills action, weakens glue and is the most common cause of paint failure.
Paint and clear coat give the wood some protection by forming a barrier over the surface. But it’s not enough. Apart from the normal chips and scratches in paint, water can get in when the surface is punctured by teeth or dented by impact. It also tends to get in around places where hardware like screw eyes, through wires, diving lips and so on are used.
I like to treat my wood with a product that will get deep into the fiber and then cure to create a hard, water repelling lure body that’s resistant to denting. There are two products that can be used:
- Penetrating wood hardener is available from paint and hardware shops. It’s designed for impregnating rotten wood and making it strong again, but it’s great for lure making too.
- Epoxy resin is my preference. I thin it down and warm the wood to get maximum penetration. Once cured the lure body is tough, hard and waterproof. All that’s needed is a light sand and you’re ready for paint.
I hope you find these tips useful!
Happy Lure Making!