Painting Fishing Lures: The Right Airbrush Is Critical
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Painting fishing lures isn’t so much about being a brilliant artist. In fact, even non-artists like myself can turn out awesome looking lure art.

It’s actually more about having the right materials, good paint control and a few basic techniques.

And of course the right equipment, especially the airbrush. Without a decent airbrush even the most skilled artist will struggle at painting fishing lures.

I often speak at workshops and webinars to people who are struggling to get decent looking paint jobs. And often it’s for just one reason…. They don’t have a decent airbrush. So let’s take a look at what I look for in an airbrush for painting fishing lures.

There’s No “One Size Fits All” Airbrush For Painting Fishing Lures…..

Just like fishing rods, there’s not a “one size fits all” airbrush for lure painting. You wouldn’t use a high tech game rod for chasing bass, that would be overkill. And you wouldn’t choose a lightweight spinning rod for stopping kingfish. You’d choose the right fishing rod for the job….. and probably buy two rods if you want to do both styles of fishing.

Painting fishing lures is the same. Every airbrush has its strong points and its weaknesses. An airbrush that’s perfect for laying down base colors usually falls down when it comes to detail painting. And one that’s great for detail painting usually doesn’t handle metallics so well.

Price isn’t always the best guide, either! Many high priced airbrushes are challenging to master and are overkill for painting fishing lures. And dirt cheap ones rarely cut the mustard…..

Tips For Choosing Airbrushes For Lure Painting:

Tip #1: Get A Quality Brand

The chrome plating on cheap airbrushes tends to be thin and the engineering less than perfect. That leads to airbrushes that clog easily and require more cleaning and maintenance. Plus, the internal structure leads to poor paint atomization, which means you need to use higher air pressure or accept grainy spray patterns. Both are the kiss of death for professional looking lures. And if you end up having to upgrade anyway, buying a good one from the start is much better in the long run.

Tip #2: Get The Right Nozzle Size

Big nozzles are great for painting base colors and metallics, but not so good for painting detail. Fine nozzles are ideal for painting scales, gills and fins, but are a pain for base colors. If you’ll only buy one airbrush then a nozzle size of 0.3 to 0.35mm is a good compromise. My favorite airbrush for lure painting is the Iwata HP-C Plus, which has a 0.3mm nozzle. This airbrush is so well engineered that I can spray the finest detail with it. But it’s still capable of delivering enough paint for base coats. It handles metallic paints too.

Tip #3: Gravity Feed Rules For Detail Painting

Gravity feed airbrushes are the ones with a color cup on top. Paint enters the airbrush by gravity, as the name suggests. The alternative is siphon feed, which has a color cup on the bottom and drags the paint into the airbrush by siphon (well, duh!). Siphon feed airbrushes require a little extra air pressure to draw the paint up, which is fine for laying down your base colors. But gravity feed airbrushes can work at lower pressure, which gives much better results when you’re detail painting.

Tip #4: Double Action Is A Must

In my opinion, double action (also called “dual action”) airbrushes are essential for painting fishing lures. Double action airbrushes allow you to control the paint flow and air flow independently and on the fly. This is exactly what’s needed for detail painting and stencil work.

Tip 5: Cup Size Matters, Ladies!

If you choose a gravity feed airbrush you’ll find that the size of the color cup on the top of the airbrush varies between models. Larger color cups tend to be best because they don’t need to be refilled every 2 minutes when you’re spraying base colors. Usually the cup size also reflects the nozzle size. Larger nozzles go through paint faster, so a larger color cup is important.

Tip 6: Internal Mix Is A No Brainer

Once again, the terminology is pretty self-explanatory. Internal mix airbrushes are the ones that mix the paint and air inside the airbrush. External mix airbrushes draw the paint into the stream of air outside of the airbrush. Internal mixes airbrushes are always better for painting fishing lures than external mix ones. They give much cleaner atomization of the paint and work at lower air pressure – both of which are important for getting smooth, non grainy paint.

Tip 7: Push Button Or Trigger?

This one is to some extent personal preference. Trigger actions are great if you have trouble with arthritis and they are easier on the hands if you’re spending a lot of hours base coating. They are usually dual action – squeezing the trigger half-way starts the air flow. Squeeze it more and the paint starts to flow too. I find the traditional button on top style of airbrush is better for painting fishing lures. It may just be because that’s what I’m used to…..

Paint Control Is The Key….

Painting fishing lures is a lot of fun and even the nastiest airbrush beats an aerosol can But getting really professional results requires the right tools, there’s no way around that.

So spend a little time researching products and get the best you can afford….. you’ll be glad you did!


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