Planning Your Lure
Making the Lure
Questions & Answers
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Although most plugs and crankbaits today are made of hard plastic, the first plugs were made of wood, and some manufacturers, such as Heddon, make wooden fishing lures today. You can make your own wooden lures to match the crankbait designs available commercially or invent your own lure designs. (The chubby “alphabet plug” style crankbait that became popular in the 1970s began as a homemade lure.) The following steps tell you how to make your own wooden fishing lures.
Planning Your Lure
Choose a suitable place to work. A basement or garage woodworking shop is ideal, but any place where you can do the cutting, carving, sanding, drilling, and painting required will work.
Decide what type of fishing lure you want to make.
Plugs fall into 2 basic types, topwater lures, and diving baits. Topwater lures are designed to fish on the surface, which diving baits usually feature a lip that causes them to dive below the surface when retrieved rapidly. Some specific designs of both lures are listed below:
- Poppers. Poppers feature a depression on the front of the lure that creates water resistance when the lure is jerked across the surface. Fred Arbogast’s Hula Popper and Heddon’s Chug’n Spook are 2 examples of this type of lure.
- Stick baits. These cigar-shaped lures are lightly weighted at the rear so that the back of the lure is below the surface while the front is above it. These lures are fished with a jerking motion to simulate a wounded baitfish. Smithwick’s Devil’s Warhorse and Heddon’s Super Spook are 2 examples of stick baits.
- Propeller baits. Cigar-shaped like stick baits, propeller baits replace the rear weight with a 2-bladed propeller at either end. Also fished in a jerking motion, these lures attract fish from the splashing and vibration of the propellers. Smithwick’s Devil’s Horse and Cotton Cordell Crazy Shad are 2 examples of this lure; Fred Arbogast’s Sputterbuzz uses a large propeller blade like that found on some spinner baits in place of 2 smaller propellers.
- Splutterbaits. These topwater lures feature a metal plate on its front or sides that creates resistance and causes the lure to sway from side to side as it is retrieved. Fred Arbogast’s Jitterbug and the Heddon Crazy Crawler are 2 examples of this lure.
- Thin minnows. These are long, narrow lures with a small diving lip on the front to make them dart around like minnows when retrieved. Normark’s Rapala is the best-known lure of this type.
- Curved minnows. These lures have no lip but have curved bodies and a flat spot on front that causes the lure to wobble from side to side while being retrieved. The Lazy Ike and Helin Flatfish are the 2 best examples of this type of lure.
- Alphabet plugs. These crank baits feature a short diving lip, a chubby belly, and often an internal rattle. They are designed to be rapidly retrieved; the lure’s lip and belly cause it to shimmy like a fast-swimming baitfish. The name “alphabet plug” comes from the first lure of this type, Cotton Cordell’s Big O, which got its name from the athletic nickname of the brother of the lure’s inventor.
- Deep-divers. These long-lipped crank baits are designed to be fished fast; their longer lips make them dive deeper than alphabet plugs can. Some of these lures will suspend themselves at the depth they dove to when the retrieve is stopped. The Rebel Humpback and the Heddon Magnum Hellbender are 2 examples of this type.
Decide how large to make your lure. Plugs and crank baits for bass usually run from 3 to 6 inches (7.5 to 15 cm) long, with the thickness varying according to the type of plug. Plugs for muskellunge (muskies) are significantly larger, as muskies are the largest members of the pike family, reaching weights up to 70 lb (31.8 kg).
Choose an appropriate wood.
Softwoods such as balsa, basswood, cedar, and pine are lightweight, easily shaped woods that more readily float, making them suitable for most topwater plugs and diving lures that wiggle widely. (Generally, commercially made wooden lures are made with softwoods.) Hardwoods such as ash, maple, oak, and walnut are tougher to shape and are better suited for plugs that shimmy tightly when retrieved and hold their depth when the retrieve is stopped.
Making the Lure
Cut a wood block slightly larger than the dimensions of your lure.
Draw a pattern on the top, bottom, and sides of the block.
You’ll use this pattern as a guide to cut away the unnecessary part of the wood block. You can either draw the pattern freehand or make a template for the top and bottom and another for the sides.
Cut along the pattern lines.
While you can use a knife to start whittling at this point, for most lure designs, you’ll find it faster to use a scroll saw.
- Depending on the design of the lure you’re making, you may have to tape the block back together after cutting out the sides so you can cut out the top and bottom.
Carve out the details with a knife.
Now you can whittle in earnest, using a sharp knife designed for carving wood to round the lure body into its intended shape. You can also etch patterns and designs into the wood.
- Cut away from yourself when whittling to keep from being cut if the knife slips.
- If you’re making a popper, you may want to use a rotary tool (such as a Dremel) and cutter to carve out the depression at the front of the lure.
Sand down the wood.
Once you’ve created the lure’s approximate shape with the knife, use coarse grit sandpaper to refine that shape. When you have the shape down, smooth it with medium sandpaper, and then go over it again with fine sandpaper to ready the wood for painting.
Drill any necessary holes.
First, mark out the places where you’ll insert the eyelet screws and holes for the ballast weight and rattle, if desired, then drill them out, using a bit slightly thinner than the screw’s thickness.
- If your lure will have a diving lip that requires cutting a slot into the body to glue it in place, now is the time to cut the slot. Use a waterproof epoxy to hold the lip in place.
- You can use a BB, buckshot, or a small split shot for the ballast weight. Use wood glue or a waterproof putty to seal up the hole.
- Lure rattles consist of several metal pellets inside a very thin glass tube. You may need a caliper to determine the tube’s thickness to figure out what size drill bit to use for the insertion hole.
Paint your lure.
Whether you use brushes and paint freehand or an airbrush and stencils, painting is a 4-step process:
- First, apply a clear sealer to protect the wood from water damage.
- Second, apply several coats of primer.
- Third, paint the lure in the colors you want. You can get ideas for colors from fishing lure catalogs.
- Fourth, apply a waterproof clearcoat to seal the paint.
Screw in the eyelets.
You’ll need a front eyelet to attach the lure to your fishing line and one for each hook.
- On bass lures, for the front eyelet, use an eyelet screw with a one-inch (2.5 cm) thread. For the hook eyelets, use eyelet screws with 1/4-inch (6.25 mm) threads. You’ll need larger eyelets made of stainless steel for muskie lures.
- For some lures, you may want to thread a cup or one or more beads onto the eyelet screw before attaching it. This may require an eyelet screw with a longer thread.
Attach the hooks.
The easiest way to do this is to use split rings. Thread a treble hook onto the split ring, then thread the split ring onto the rear and bottom eyelets. You may find it easier to open the split ring with special split-ring pliers.
- You can also put the hooks on without using split rings by opening the hook eyelets first, threading the hooks onto them, and then screwing them in place. Be careful you don’t puncture your fingers if you choose to do this.
- Although treble hooks are the most common hooks used on plugs and crank baits, you can substitute double hooks. Most double hooks are designed so you can slip them onto the eyelet without using split rings.
Add New Question
How do I make a wood fishing lure for trout?
A trout lure is usually a spinner bait no more than 1 to 1&1/2 inches long with stiff wire threaded through the body and through a spinner with a spoon attached. The wire will be soldered at the back of your lure’s body after a small treble hook is threaded onto the wire. Think rooster tail, the hook is usually hidden by a group of feathers or hoarse hair.
Will the eyes hold in balsa wood while fighting a fish?
Balsa is very light, fragile wood. It may survive a few small bass but if you hook an eight-pounder, you might just rip your hooks and eyelets out of the wood.
How do I ensure the lure sits upright in the water?
You want an evenly rounded body and also the hooks (if aligned straight on the bottom) will help by weighting it on that side, causing it to sit upright.
What is the best softwood for carving lures?
Get clear poplar, it’s available at Lowe’s. This wood is very easy to carve, shape, and sand.
What is the best wood to use?
Balsa is great if you’re going to use a through-wire; otherwise, you want something harder like cedar or Douglas fir.
How long does it take to make a wooden lure?
About 4-10 hours. Try making about 10 or so at a time. This is best use of your time and resources.
How do I make a wooden fishing lure for crappie?
Same as for bass, just smaller. Lighter hooks can be used as well. With crappie baits, screw eyes should be just fine. You can use a template from the Internet and downsize it before tracing it on plastic to use as a template to trace the pattern/profile onto the wood.
How do you secure the hook to the lure?
Screw in an eyelet using your hands, then use a split ring to attach the hook.
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|Real hand carved fishing lures.|
- For a scale design, paint the lure body in the color you want the scale edges to appear, cover the lure with plastic mesh, then spray on the scale color.
- If your lure pulls to one side when retrieving it, bend the front eyelet in the opposite direction. You may also want to attach a split ring to the front eyelet, especially if you tie your line directly to the lure instead of using a rounded snap or snap swivel.
- For lures such as stick baits, propeller baits, and some poppers, you may want to use a lathe to turn the wood and shape the lure.
- Instead of screwing in eyelets, after finishing the shaping of the lure, cut it in half lengthwise and insert a wire with loops for attaching the hooks and line, then glue it back together. If you do this, you’ll want to insert any ballast weights and rattles before gluing the halves back together.
- To keep the lure around for longer, epoxy the lure after it has been painted.
- Follow all manufacturers’ instructions for any power tools you use and wear your safety goggles while using them.
Things You’ll Need
Block of wood
Scroll saw, band saw, carpenter’s saw, or other saw
Paper (for making patterns)
Marker pen or pencil
Coarse (60 to 80 grit), medium (120 to 150 grit), and fine (220 to 400 grit) sandpaper
Paint brushes or (optional) airbrush
Split rings (optional)
Split ring pliers (optional)
BBs, buckshot, or split shot
Other equipment as required
To make a wooden fishing lure, start with a piece of lightweight wood, like balsa or pine, and cut it so that it’s slightly larger than your lure will be. Then, draw a pattern for your lure on the wood and start to cut along the lines with either a knife or a scroll saw. Once you’ve added the finishing touches with a whittling knife, sand your lure and drill holes for the eyelet screws that attach your hooks to your lure and your lure to your rod! Keep reading to learn about the different types of lures and what they’re used for!
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wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 14 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. Together, they cited 6 references. This article has also been viewed 204,130 times.
Categories: Fishing Lures
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