Testing 3D Printed Fishing Lures

Working as a full-time Industrial Designer, using daily products often raises the question “what could I do if I made it myself?”.

I have been fishing since I was a kid, making early morning trips with my dad and wetting a line at the ponds of my friends and neighbors. The idea to make fishing lures struck me with 4th of july just a few weeks off, because my family usually gathers at a lakehouse for the weekend to celebrate with lots of fishing.

The speed and versatility of rapid prototyping really provides an outlet to let your imagination run wild. My 3d printer has made so many ridiculous things that would never cut it as a real product, but it is fun to be able to go from a thought to a tangible thing and be able to test it to see if it could actually work. I was able to scratch out some thumbnails, model up and print a few completely new lures in a few days of work, just in time for vacation.

I had a few ideas in mind when going into this, mostly involving moving parts. It is common to pause a print and embed parts like threaded nuts, and I wanted to use this technique to print chambers and drop rattles in. Another technique is making “print in place” models where multiple moving parts are all printed together, so no assembly is required. I was able to print a lure with multiple moving segments pretty easily by doing this, you just have to bend it around a little bit after it prints to loosen it up.

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Encapsulating Hooks

I wanted to use the standard j-shaped hook for some of the lures, so took some measurements and made a small enclosure, which printed at an elevated height off of the build plate. This allowed me to pause the print and add the hooks. When I resumed the print, the printer continued layering plastic over the hooks, creating a hook embedded in a clean rectangular shape. The profile of the enclosure was used in slots of the other lures, so I could just super glue the hook in, and it held up just fine.

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Segmented Swimbait

The segmented lure was my favorite out of the bunch and the only one that caught a fish! The biggest surprise was that with it’s loose hinges, the drag of the water gave it a really nice swimming motion. You can see the action of the lure in the video below.

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Since this worked so well, I made it available on Thingiverse, you can download it here.

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Hollow Minnow

This bait is just a fancy construction of a standard minnow type bait. The lure didn’t really do anything in the water, and it was pretty light, which made it hard to cast. You can see in the front that I used the drop in hook system. Just a dab of super glue is all it took to hold together.

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Double Blade Bait

The double blades of this lure spun really nicely, but I didn’t have a single bite, not even early in the morning. The bait did look really cool with the color tipped blades and it was nice to see that the friction fit of the tiny printed washers held them on perfectly. I think this was the most fragile bait, it probably would have snapped if I got a bite.

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Sad Frog

This is a floating frog topwater bait with some bbs placed inside to give a rattling effect. The bait performed pretty similar to a standard topwater, but it might have worked better with a treble hook.

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Spinnow

This was the most out-there idea that I wanted to try for a goof. The spiral piece rotates freely and it turns when the lure is retrieved. There is a chamber of bbs in the center for a rattling effect. The bait actually spun, but it didn’t sink rapidly enough so it was tough to use.

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It was fun to test the lures out and I’m glad I came away with at least one fish. If you’d like to try some of them out yourself, click the thingiverse links and download.

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