Well, the summer is here! The fishermen among us, both the experienced and the novices, are feeling the “itch” to get at the fish! What about taking things up a notch? What about making your own fishing lures? It’s a lot of fun and very inexpensive. It is also a great father/son type of project! And best of all…they actually work!
The steps below will get you started, then over time and with some experience, you will tweak things to the way you really like them.
- · Two treble hooks of appropriate size. Usually a size 7 or so.
- · Sand paper squares: 1 medium grain and 1 fine is enough. Small screw eyelets. I get mine form the hardware section in a store. They come in packs of 10 or so. Match the size to the overall size of the lure you want to make and the treble hooks you purchase.
- · Wood: I make lures of various sizes but the ones shown in the pictures accompanying this article are made from a piece of pine cut off of a longer piece and of a half inch width. Or it is made from a dowel. These pieces are sold in home improvement type stores and maybe craft stores. It is pine though…. Not balsam.
- · You will need a pair of needle nosed pliers, a good simple pocket knife (I prefer my Barlow knife), and a small saw to cut through the half inch wood.
- · You will also need a pencil, clean eraser, pencil sharpener, and brush. Tis brush is not for painting but for brushing off any residue when and if you have to erase lines on your wood. Keeping your fingers from scrubbing across any lines you have drawn will keep the original wood looking good and keep the lines from becoming blurred. It is better to draw lines lightly using a sharp pencil. Trace over them a couple of times if needed BUT DON’T press the pencil point into the wood.
- · I use simple and cheap acrylic paints made for outdoor hobby use. You only use water to paint with these and clean up. These are easily available in hobby sections of stores like Wal Mart and Hobby Lobby. They usually only cost $1- $3 or so. I also use a sealer to make the lure look shiny and nice. It also helps protect the wood and the paint job.
- · You will need some “super glue” type of glue to glue the screw in eyelets with. Otherwise, if you have a heavy fish or a snag against which you are pulling, the eyelets may pull out.
- · The last thing you will need is something to hang your lure on periodically as you work through this project to allow it to dry. I use an old “banana hanger” which I bought cheaply at a second hand store.
- Sketch a simple outline onto the wood of what your lure will look like. Consider this outline to be a “suggestion” and not exactly what it’ll be. Your carving skills and level of experience will dictate to a large extent how close the final shape is to your original idea.
- · Using your small saw, cut carefully down through the wood. Do not cut all the way through…you may cut yourself if you do. Stop just short of the other side.
- · Now simply break the wood off. It’ll break easily and the few splinters won’t matter. You can quickly knock them off with the med grade sand paper if you want to do so.
- · Now carefully make controlled cuts using slow firm pressure with your pocket knife to begin the carving process. Cut about half the distance in one direction then turn the wood around and work back towards the cuts. The shavings will drop off and slowly the shape you want will begin to appear. Don’t get in a rush! Small cuts with careful, firm pressure. A good sharp Barlow pocket knife will cut deep into your finger if you are not careful…be gentle, enjoy the process. When working on the nose and the tailfin of the fish just hold it pointed away from you and shave off small pieces.
- · The last thing I do here before the sanding is to slice down the long length of the edges to knock off the manufactured edges (if needed).
- · Now use your sand paper to smooth all the rough spots and do final adjustments to the shape. Be careful…that sandpaper will take off a LOT of wood before you realize it! Stop after every 3-4 strokes and observe what is happening to the wood. Is it “balanced” from side to side? Does it feel smooth to your fingers?
- · Using your pencil (and a straight edge if you need one), draw the areas which you will paint different colors. Also mark where the eyelets will screw in at along the bottom…keep them centered.
- · After the sanding and drawing, screw the lead eyelet in so that you will have a “handle” to use as you paint the sections and later dip it in the sealer. Be sure to center this the first time because if you screw it in off center and then try to correct that, it may be too loose to use as a fishing lure.
- · Use the “banana hook” or whatever device you came up with to hang the lure on and let it dry between painting the different sections. This type hobby paint dries fairly quickly.
- · After you have painted the lure and allowed it a couple of hours to dry, you can dip it into the sealer. Grasp the nose eyelet with your needle nosed pliers and dip it down until all of it is covered.
- · The coating of sealer will be very thick and will require about 12 hours or so to really dry well. I used to brush the sealer on but now I prefer the dipping method… seems to turn out better somehow.
- · Hang it up and let it dry…watch for any air bubbles during the first 15 minutes or so and if you see one or two… gently brush them over to let the air escape and not cause a problem with the coating.
- · Your dried lure should be a bit shiny and very smooth to the touch…though if you want, you can experiment with using a brush and painting lines of sealer so that it builds up and leaves invisible ridges on the body of the lure. This of course, will add a lot of time to the effort.
- · Before you put the hooks on, take one eyelet and use it to begin the holes which the two will eventually be screwed in to. Don’t screw it all the way in…only about half way. Then back it out. If a small amount of gummy sealer comes off with the screw when you back it out, it won’t be a problem. If a huge bit peels off, then you need to reseal that area. You will have to use your needle nosed pliers to open the eyelets enough to slide the treble hooks on and then squeeze the circle back shut on the eyelet. I usually grip the eyelet by the rim of the circle part and then push the “leg” of the eyelet against the underside of the table I am working at…that opens the circle enough for the hook to slide on. I really don’t know a good way to describe that process, just experiment with it. Be sure to put the glue on the eyelet and a drop into the hole it’ll go into. There is no way to avoid not getting pricked by the hooks or getting a little glue on your fingers. Be very careful not to glue your fingers together though!
- · Let the finished lure dry for a few minutes then be sure the hooks move freely. Use your pliers, knife, or fingers to pull any glue loose which hinders the hooks from dangling freely.
NOW… if it doesn’t float straight when you use it….. In the past I have had the occasional one which fails the “fishing test”…. remove the hooks and eyelets on the bottom, put a key ring on it, and it becomes a key chain decoration!
I really hope you enjoy this project as much as I do. It’s a great activity for dads and sons to share, but some daughters will enjoy it also. Have a great summer!