97 Lurecraft thoughts, ideas and tipsLure Making CourseThe other day I was waiting for my turn at the dentist. It was mind numbing, and my brain hates being idle. Anyway, rather than do another bloody Sudoku <yawn>, I started jotting down random thoughts and ideas about lurecraft. I was looking for inspiration for my next post…..

Well, by the time I reached the dentist chair I had a pretty random
list of 97 lurecraft tips……

And I got to thinking: “Rather than pick one and turn it into a post, why not just share the whole bloody list?” So what follows is what goes through my brain the instant it’s idle. Yep, it’s sure hard to turn my lure making brain off….

97 Random Lurecraft Tips In No Particular Order…..

  1. Rapid setting epoxy adhesives don’t really have a place in lurecraft. Sure, they’re convenient. But fast curing results in weaker, more brittle bonds that starts to break down after a year or two. Adhesives that cure in 8-24 hours give great strength and last for many years.
  2. Envirotex Lite (a two part epoxy by “Pour On”) is lurecraft gold! It’s an excellent clear coat, can be used for sealing and hardening lure bodies and makes a super strong adhesive too. Using one product for 3 different purposes makes a lot of sense.
  3. Screw eyes are a common way to attach a line or hooks to a wooden lure. They are quite strong when properly installed and are a good option for newbies to lurecraft. But for maximum strength it’s hard to go past a through wire. Even if the lure body gets chewed away you’ll stay connected to the fish.
  4. TIG welding wire is an excellent lurecraft material. Be sure to get the marine grade (316) wire that doesn’t have a flux core for through wires and eyelets. That will avoid the frustrations of rust and wire snapping off during bending.lure-bibs-dished-square-bill
  5. Lurecraft tip: Try painting eyes on your lures after the first clear coat and before the final clear coat. (Yes, I always apply a minimum of 2 clear coats) If you’re not happy with your attempt at painting eyes, just wipe them off with an alcohol soaked tissue and start again. The first clear coats safely protects the rest of the paint job from the alcohol.
  6. Be sure to harden, seal and waterproof wooden lure bodies before you start painting. You’ll get tougher, longer lasting lures if you do.
  7. Hardened (annealed) stainless steel wire is tougher and harder to work with. But lurecraft is about making the best lures, not using whatever’s easiest to work with! Lures will stay in tune longer when hardened stainless steel is used, especially heavy duty saltwater lures.
  8. Polycarbonate (Lexan) is perfect for lurecraft. Tough, break resistant diving lips are the result. Avoid using acrylic (Perspex), it’s just not strong enough and gets brittle in very cold water.
  9. There is no such thing as the perfect suspending lure. Water temperature and dissolved salts affect lure buoyancy, so the weighting and balance of your lures must be fine tuned during fishing. Yep, even the factory ones……
  10. A lipless crankbait with a narrow body needs higher speed to give it action. Those with wider bodies have stronger actions, but usually don’t cope with the super high speeds.
  11. Common lurecraft myth: Square bills are the most snag resistant. Round and coffin shaped lure bibs can be almost as snag resistant as square bills.
  12. Using weak split rings can help break a snagged lure free by leaving the hooks buried in the snag. But they also run the risk of busting off hard fighting fish if you use too much drag.
  13. Lipless crankbaits can carry heavier duty hooks and rings than the lipped varieties.
  14. Titanium sphere are often touted as being perfect lurecraft. But even though pure titanium is heavier than lead, it can’t be molded. Spheres are made by sintering, which reduces the weight to something similar to lead. Titanium is more expensive than lead, but does have the advantage of not being toxic.
  15. Dense, hard timbers can turn lurecraft into hard work. Plus, their weight reduces the action of your finished lures. Lightweight wood tends to be prone to denting and lacking in strength, though this can be rectified to some extent by hardening your lure bodies. Timbers like cedar, basswood and beech have a good balance of strength to weight.
  16. Using anything other than airbrush paints will cause clogging and shorten the life of your airbrush. This is because the pigments are too coarsely ground and the solvents are formulated to flow through a fine nozzle.
  17. Fish have taste buds on their cheeks, fins and especially on their lateral lines. So they can taste and smell your lures by touching them, or even just by being in close proximity. Unlike humans, fish don’t have taste buds in their mouths.
  18. Weight topwater lures intended for slow, pulsing retrieves to float more or less horizontally. Tail weighting works best for “walk the dog” and higher speed cranking.
  19. The color red is one of the least visible when your lure is down deep or in dirty water.
  20. The angle of crankbait lure bibs has little to do with the maximum diving depth. Diving lip size determines dive depth….. although oversize lips need to be angled up for stability
  21. Double action, internal mix, gravity feed airbrushes are perfect for painting fishing lures. They’re as close as you’ll get to an all round painting tool and can handle both base color and detail work. Don’t waste your money of a bargain basement one though, you get what you pay for.
  22. Oval split rings aren’t used all that often in lurecraft. But they can be good for attaching your leader to the tow point because they keep the line from sliding into the split and working it’s way loose. Personally, I prefer to do away with a ring on the tow point and just tie your leader to the lure using a fishing loop knot.
  23. A flash of light off the side of a lure is far more visible than the color it’s been painted. Think about when you’re on the water, what do you first see first as another boat approaches: The sun flashing off the windscreen or the color of the hull?
  24. Lurecraft productsThe term “Silent Lures” refers to offerings that don’t contain a rattle of any sort. But almost all lures still make noise, usually the result of hooks and rings clattering against the body. Unless you’re making my ultra-silent crankbaits, of course.
  25. “Hunting” refers to the habit of some lures wandering off center during cranking. They can do this randomly to either or both sides of center, then switch back to tracking straight. If your lure only wanders to one side it’s more likely to be poorly tuned than hunting.
  26. Tannin is naturally present in some timbers and has a nasty habit of coming out of the wood to stain acrylic paints…. Usually days or weeks after the final clear coat is applied. Sealing and hardening can prevent this.
  27. Cup faced (chugger) style popper lures work best on calm waters if the front face is perpendicular. For choppy conditions they are best with an angled face.
  28. There are two kinds of jerkbaits, depending on where you live. Lipped jerkbaits are a style of minnow like crankbait. Lipless jerkbaits are also known as gliders. Find out about the various types of lures you can make
  29. An old lurecraft trick for turning lemons into lemonade: Weighting a crankbait that doesn’t work can turn your design into a winner! So if you’ve made an unweighted crankbait and it’s not swimming properly… try adding a little weight.
  30. The sound of rattles in wooden lures is softer to the human ear than the sound of rattles in plastic lures. But fish are better adapted to hearing lower pitched sounds – plus these sounds travel further through the water.
  31. The vast majority of fish attack a lure from beneath or the side, rarely from above. It’s important to know that your lure is “in the zone”, not beneath the fish.
  32. Super thin circuit board stock is used in some lurecraft circles for lure bibs. It’s said to give extra diving depth compared with Lexan, but in my experience that benefit is pretty minimal. The main advantage is that they fit into a very narrow slot, which keeps the lure body a bit stronger up near the head.
  33. It’s worth pinning oversized diving lips for extra strength. To do this, glue the lip in place, then drill through the lure and lip and slide in a stainless steel pin. This is especially important if the tow point is on the lip and a through wire is not being employed.
  34. Water based, acrylic airbrush paints are non toxic, non flammable and available in small quantities in a wide range of colors, making them perfect for lurecraft. I prefer Wicked and Autoair brands.
  35. If you need lead-free lurecraft, small pieces of brass rod or steel ball bearings can be used to weight your lure bodies instead.
  36. The most obvious distinguishing factor between lipless crankbaits and lipless jerkbaits (gliders) is the tow point location. This is always on top of the head for lipless crankbaits. For gliders it’s either on or under the nose.
  37. There are 23 different types of hard bodied lure that lend themselves to lurecraft.
  38. When cast (as opposed to trolled) Deep diving crankbaits can be 25% of the way back to your feet before they get to working depth. Near-horizontal alignment of diving lips gets them down to full depth faster.
  39. Stainless steel diving lips give the lure a larger silhouette when viewed from below. This can be an advantage if you are imitating larger baitfish. They also create flash, which is a huge feeding cue for predatory fish
  40. To human ears the underwater world seems quiet – because our ears aren’t adapted to hearing in liquid. But fish ears are adapted, so they hear a chorus of sounds that we can’t. Fish use sound to hunt, mate and navigate.
  41. The most important aspect of fishing both suspending jerkbaits and walk the dog topwaters is pausing frequently and allowing the line to slack.
  42. Jointed (broke-back) crankbaits have a lot more action than similar sized and shaped one-piece lure bodies. They’re perfect for slower fishing, keeping the lure in “the zone” and stirring a strike from lazy, shut down fish.
  43. Wide gape treble hooks are great for lurecraft. They can help increase hook sets…. But they also increase the risk of snagging.
  44. Traditionally, swimbaits were multi-segmented lures without diving lips. But in recent years just about any lure that’s jointed gets called a swimbait.
  45. Foiling lure bodies, then overspraying with transparent airbrush paints is another trick of the old hands at lurecraft. It’s an awesome way to create realistic scaly flash!
  46. Correct weighting of deep-diving hard baits with oversized lips gives a stable action and maximum dive depth. Placement of the weight within the lure body can make a real difference.
  47. Topwater and sub surface lures with chunky, wide bodies tend to have better snag-resistance than thinner bodied varieties.
  48. Flat sided lures are one of my lurecraft favorites. They have a large, flash creating surface and move a lot of water with each side to side beat. Both of these make it very easy for gamefish to home in on them
  49. Don’t skip the airbrush sealer. Even though you might have hardened and sealed your wood, the airbrush sealer is important for creating adhesion of paint to the lure body.
  50. Balsa lures are a wonderful introduction to lurecraft – And they’re tougher than most people imagine. Balsa is especially easy for beginners to work with, but needs to be well hardened prior to painting.
  51. “Matching the hatch” is a key benefit of wooden lurecraft. But when it comes to hooking fish, it only works when fish are actively feeding. Often fish take lures for reasons other than hunger, such as territorialism, anger, surprise, self defense, curiosity.  At those times a gaudy, unnatural color can work better than the most realistic imitation.
  52. Your lurecraft kit really should contain a tube of super glue! It’s perfect for re-attaching wood chips that are accidentally removed during over-zealous carving.
  53. A crooked, mis-shaped or poorly aligned diving lip can create an unstable action that is hard to fix. Starting with perfectly square wood helps with getting everything aligned properly.
  54. Any lure dragged through the water leaves an invisible trail of vortices that fish can track like a hound dog follows a scent trail. Getting the right vibration makes it easier for fish to find your lure.
  55. Fish can determine the direction of underwater sounds…. Humans cannot.
  56. Substituting windex, water or other solvents for acrylic airbrush reducer is asking for poor quality results. These solvents might thin the paint, but they don’t make it flow through the airbrush properly. And window cleaners contain other chemicals that can affect paint adhesion.
  57. Envirotex lite is supposed to fully cure in 24 hrs, but I’ve found it continues to get even harder over the next 2-3 days. I prefer not to use lures that are coated with it for at least 7 days. Fish have sensitive noses and Envirotex stinks!
  58. Envirotex lite needs to be accurately mixed 1 part resin to 1 part hardener. But for lurecraft we usually need only very small quantities. If you’re measurements are not precise enough, it will NEVER fully harden and will ALWAYS stink. Find out how I measure Etex for use here.
  59. Using lure templates and jigs is the best way of duplicating your best lures over and over.
  60. When making jointed baits like broke-back crankbaits or swimbaits, the wider the gap, the more action the lure will have, especially at slower speeds.
  61. Lightweight timber is best, even for sinking lures. It allows you to weight them for a strong and stable action and maximizes the design options.
  62. When choosing screw eyes in your lurecraft, always choose stainless ones. Nickel plated brass will eventually corrode, even in fresh water….. and they’re nowhere near as strong.
  63. The width of a diving lip mostly affects the width of the action. Wide lips need more movement from side to side to spill water pressure. Wide lips with a round body shape usually give a rolling action.
  64. As a general rule of thumb, wide bodied lures need a wider diving lip. Narrower, minnow style lures usually work best with narrower diving lips, and flat sided cranks work best somewhere in between. There are plenty of exceptions, but this is a good place to start.
  65. Fish will always view a topwater bait from beneath, so color really isn’t too important. With the sun shining from behind, they’re mostly just seeing the silhouette…. Try it for yourself and see!
  66. Use a mask while painting lures if a clean, sharp color change is desirable. For a softer edge, use a stencil and hold it a little above the lure surface during painting.
  67. Airbrush paints always need thinning for lurecraft purposes. Thicker paint needs higher air pressure to atomize it properly, making it difficult to paint fine detail.
  68. Self adhesive 3D lure eyes can make your lures look very professional and are easy to use. I like to drill flat bottomed holes for the eyes using a Forstner or brad point drill bit.
  69. Apart from using incompatible painting products, the most common cause of paint failure is moisture under the clear coat. Avoid this by always using well seasoned timber and sealing it with epoxy before painting.
  70. Suspending jerkbaits work best if they are weighted to stay horizontal on a slack line. Using 3 sets of smaller treble hooks makes this balance easier to acheive than the more standard two-treble arrangement.
  71. Transparent paints are extremely versatile and are essential in any lurecraft kit. by far the best for painting details like scales, gills, fins and the like
  72. When making propbaits, tail spinners tend to cast better and are less likely to snag the line during flight.
  73. Square diving lips tend to give slightly greater depth than round diving lips of the same length. They also tend to create a more erratic action.
  74. For diving lures, the body shape can make a big difference to the depth. It’s not just about the diving lip, everything about the design must work together!
  75. Dremel tools are awesome for lurecraft. Don’t rush out and buy one if you’re just getting started. But keep it in mind if a birthday or fathers day is around the corner! I use mine with sanding drums for shaping, with cutting wheels for slotting and with various other attachments for grinding, polishing, drilling or carving.
  76. Gently warm your Envirotex Lite resin and hardener before mixing them for clear coating. This makes the resin runnier and allows more of the air bubbles to escape.
  77. Denatured alcohol is perfect for softening and removing acrylic paint that has dried or clogged an airbrush nozzle.
  78. Always polish the edges of diving lips using wet sanding paper and/or a polishing wheel. This removes burrs that can snag (or even cut) your leader.
  79. When airbrushing a masked edge, spray a couple of light coats of the base color before switching to your detail color. This seals the edge of the tape, preventing the top color from bleeding under. You’ll get sharper, cleaner results this way.
  80. If you’re making batches of lures, a 1mm kerf table saw blade can make short work of cutting a batch of through wire slots.
  81. Penetrating wood hardener is a good alternative to epoxy for hardening and sealing raw wood lure bodies. Just be aware that it won’t lock in tannin, so you’ll need to use a stain blocking base coat.
  82. Tow point location is important when making deep divers. Move it forward for more stability and backward for more action. Continue to adjust the position. Maximum dive depth is achieved by balancing stability and action.
  83. Moving the towpoint forwards on a lipless crankbait increases the speed it can be worked. Moving it backwards increases the action but reduces the maximum working speed.
  84. Wood has a natural resonance that can’t be matched by plastic. It’s not just about density, it’s about the internal structure. That’s the reason why guitars, violins and woodwind instruments will always be made from wood. And that same “X Factor” is precisely why wooden lures are so effective.
  85. When drilling, sawing or cutting soft timbers like balsa and cedar, sharp tools are a must. For drilling clean holes, use a high speed setting and place a piece of scrap on the underside where the drill will break through.
  86. The two most common problems with crankbait diving lips are symmetry and alignment. Cut the diving lip slot while the wood is square (before shaping the body) to ensure perfect alignment. And use  lure bib templates to get a perfectly symmetrical lip.
  87. When adjusting and tuning the weighting of suspending jerkbaits, glidebaits and so on, test them in water of the same salinity and temperature as you’ll be fishing in.
  88. Build multiple layers with well diluted paints if you want quality, professional looking paint jobs. Applying unthinned paints in just a few coats results in an amateur looking job.
  89. Don’t worry if rattles in your wooden lures aren’t as loud as those in plastic lures. Wooden lures create a lower pitched sound that is more audible to fish than it is to humans.
  90. Try to match the body size and shape of your lures to the key food items that fish are feeding on.
  91. It’s pretty rare for fish to move downwards and take a lure that’s swimming below where they’re holding. It’s quite common for fish to move a long way upwards to hit a lure that’s above them.
  92. When tuning your handmade lures, don’t forget to check he alignment of the rear hook and front hook hangers and give them a tweak if necessary. It’s amazing how this can improve the action of some lures.
  93. When making batches of lures, strive to get them identical in appearance and performance. Then accept when they’re not perfect! Part of the charm and effectiveness of wooden lures is that each has a unique vibration, action and appearance. That’s actually what makes them hard for fish to recognize.
  94. It’s ok to take a lump of wood and a knife and just start whittling. You’ll sometimes create a gem that way. But it’s usually more effective to start with a plan and think through your design first. You’ll almost always create a gem that way.
  95. I find the best tool for cutting the mouth on chugger style popper lures is a double cut carbide burr in a drill press or lathe chuck.
  96. Never be afraid to experiment with hooks. Wide gape, short shank, straight point styles like Owner’s ST36 are among my favorites. But changing hooks around can help modify the action of the lure or improve the hookup rate. Single and double hooks can be well worth a try, too.
  97. Custom lure makers do what other fishermen don’t. And they get to experience what other fishermen can’t……

Well, that’s about it, brain dumping rant now officially over!

Please add tips, thoughts or ideas in the comments section below, or just let me know which of the above is your favorite tip!


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