How To Make Fishing Lures – 10 Easy Steps

How to Make Fishing Lures
How to Make Fishing Lures

The majority of fishing lures these days are plastic. Perhaps that’s against your morals, or maybe you just love woodwork. If you are a lover of fishing and woodwork, then we are going to teach you how to make fishing lures. We will throw in some extra types at the end of the article, too.

James Heddon invented the first artificial fishing lures in the 1890s, and he made them from broomsticks. The original fishing lures were frogs that he carved from those sticks. Although now, there are a lot of other types that you can get.

Of course, if you are learning to make them, then you can pretty much learn to make anything that you want if you have the time and will.

There are many types of DIY lures that you can have a go at making yourself. In this article, though, we will start with the wooden ones:

How To Make Fishing Lures – Choices

First of all, you have to decide whether you want a topwater or diving lure. If you are new at fishing, then I will explain which does what. If you already know, then feel free to skim past this section.

Topwater Lures

Topwater fishing lures are for catching fish that are at or near the surface of the water. They are usually light and move quite a lot in water currents, or with the movement of the fishing line.

You may want to start with these first, as they are the easiest to make. That is because you do not have to worry about weighing the lures to make them sink. However, what you will have to do is make sure that the colors are vibrant and bright so that the lures can be seen from below well enough in low light.

The reason for the coloring is because fish are more active and closer to the surface during the morning and evening when it is still slightly dark outside.  There are seven main types of topwater lures:

  • Buzz
  • Popper
  • Walk-the-dog
  • Frog
  • Prop
  • Toads
  • Wake

First of all, I would like to point out that, if you are making these fishing lures from wood, then you are only likely to want to try and make the following four:

  • Walk-the-dog
  • Frog
  • Toad (Very similar to frog)
  • Wake

With the possibility of Props if you get good at making the first types of fishing lures. What I will do, though, is give you the primary method of how to make the shapes and then feel free to advance to whichever you like.

Diving Lures – Crankbaits and Jerkbaits

Diving lures are a lot like topwater lures, except they have a “lip” that causes them to dive when pulled by the fishing line. Again, these are a little more difficult to make than the topwater lures, but after you have got the hang of them, you should be able to make them with ease.

Driving Fishing Lures

Topwater lures will need to be a bit stronger and weightier than the topwater lures. However, you can use them at any time of the day instead of only mornings and evenings.

Now that you have the ideas of what to make, let’s start getting into actually making one!

DIY Fishing Lure – Wood

When you are learning how to make a fishing lure, you will need to pick the right wood. All wood floats, unless the treatment it has received, is with high pressure, etc. Therefore, almost any wood will work. BUT, if you have never worked with wood, then you will want a soft, simple to shape wood. Some of the best are:

  • Balsa
  • Cedar
  • Pine 
  • Basswood

There may be some debate on which works best for the actual lure, but first, you need to work out how to make them. Therefore, I would suggest that you use balsa, as it is cheap and easy to work.

However, you will need to remember than balsa is a very light wood; therefore, it won’t be the strongest. What it will do, though, is give you a great practice piece for making them. When you have the technique, you may want to move onto cedar for additional strength.

How To Make Fishing Lures – Design

Now that you have decided on the wood that you are going to use, it is time to start designing it. The only thing that you need to check for is what size you need. Depending on what you are fishing for, you will need different sizes of lures. So, be sure to know what size you want before you continue.

When you know what size of lure you want to make, you can find or cut a piece of wood that is about half an inch larger than the lure in all directions.

We will try to add some templates for fishing lures on here soon. However, for now, there are many templates online for you to use. So, get yourself a model if you wish, and start marking it out.

You can be creative with the shape of the lures that you create. There are many different sizes and shapes of fish in the world, so why not try to create your own style. Some will work better than others, but you may well design the best you have ever used.

Wooden Fishing Lures – Cutting

First things first: Do not forget your dust mask and goggles when you are cutting wood. If you are using a carving knife or other tools, then remember to use gloves too! If you are going to use power tools, remember hearing protection.

Remember to have proper ventilation or extraction while making the lures too. If you have no facilities, then consider working outside.

Now it is time to start cutting. Depending on the tools that you have, you will want to go about this step in different ways:

  • Band or Scroll saws. – Cut along the line, but cut it a little bit larger to allow for small errors and finishing.
  • Hand saw. – Cut off the excess wood with a handsaw if that is all you have. But again, remember to leave it slightly larger than the line.
  • Carving knife. – Carefully work your way down to the line by cutting small pieces off at a time. Remember never to cut towards yourself.

Carve fishing lure

If you wish, while you are doing this step, you could carve shapes into the lure. Not only will this make your lure personal, but it may also make the water move in ways similar to fish. No line in nature is straight!

Wooden Lures – Sanding

After you have got the rough shape of the lure through whatever method you choose, it is time to sand it. Starting with a pretty coarse sandpaper, such as about 80-grit, begin to sand your lure down to the line. Bear in mind which way the grain is going, and try to follow it as much as possible.

If you have a rotary tool, you could make this process a lot quicker, and add more detail than by hand. You can also use a belt or disk sander if you have one available, but it is not mandatory.

After you have the shape that you want from using the coarse sandpaper, work your way through some higher grit paper. I usually try to finish it with about 120 or 160 -grit, but it all depends on how smooth you want it.

Drilling

After you have the shape and smoothness that you want, you need to drill the holes for the hardware. If you have one, then you should refer to the template as for where to drill the holes.

Or, if you have a lure that you are trying to copy, then try and position the holes in the same place as them. However, if you do not have a template or lure, here is a general guide:

Using a 3/16inch or 0.5mm drill, drill in these locations:

  • Through the center of the “nose.” – This hole will be for the eye hook.
  • In the center of the rear. – For one hook.
  • Approximately 1/3 of the way down the body from the front on the “belly.” – For a second hook.

Feel free to experiment a little when you are making the lures and put hooks where you feel best. If you need to add weight, then you should drill the holes for that now too.

Preparing Your DIY Fishing Lures For Painting

You are going to need to paint the lure before you can use it. Remember that we said that the fish are attracted to bright colors? Well, before we do that, then we need to prepare it.

  • Clean the lure. – First of all, you need to clean the lure of all the dust. Use a tack cloth or a damp microfibre cloth to remove as much as you can. If you have neither of those, then a run under the tap should be ok. Just try not to do it for too long, and leave it for enough time to dry thoroughly.
  • Seal the lure. – The next step is to seal the lure. To do that, you should pick a clear epoxy sealer that you can use for a base coat for the paint. The simplest way of doing this is to dip your lure by screwing an eye into it first, then hanging it to dry.
  • Wait until it is dry. – After hanging it up, you need to wait for the epoxy to dry. The time that it takes will depend on the sealant that you have chosen, so make sure to check the tin.

If you can not dip or hang the lure, then you can coat it with a brush, but you will have to do one side at a time with drying in-between.

Prime The Lure

Now that it is dry, you need to prime the lures. You have a couple of options for that. However, as with sealing it, your best results will be with dipping the lure. However, as with the sealant, if dipping is not an option, then you will need to paint one side, wait for it to dry, then do the other half.

One thing that we would recommend though is to use a white acrylic primer to allow the colors to be vibrant. Also, some sealants will act as a primer too, so if you have the right sealer, you may be able to skip this step. However, I still prefer to do this, as it adds another layer of protection and a base color.

How To Make Fishing Lures – Paint Your Lure

After all of the primer paint is dry, it is time to get extra creative. For ideas of how to paint the lure, you may want to Google some images and decide on patterns and colors that you like. Depending on how professional you would like it, you may want to use an airbrush to paint it. However, you can use spray paint or even a brush.

Try to get creative with how you design the lure paint. I have seen some pretty cool ideas about how to get them looking pretty realistic. For example:

  • Paint the whole lure white or silver/white. 
  • Wrap an old mesh bath scrubber around the lure, and secure it using clips. (Make sure it is tight!)
  • Spray the top green, yellow, or whatever color you like.

Doing that gives a great appearance of scales. However, as I have said, you are free to get pretty creative in this part too.

You can now apply anything else that you would like to the lure, such as eyes, or other paint detailing. Then you need to wait for it to dry.

Tip: One way that I have found useful to check if the paint is dry without ruining it, is to have a similar piece of scrap wood, and do the same steps to that at the same time. Then you can check if that is dry without getting fingerprints in your main work!

Seal The Lure

When all of the paint is dry, you will want to seal it. The best way to do that is by using a clear epoxy coat. Ensure that you evenly coat the whole lure with the epoxy, and wait for it to dry.

Again, drying times will vary depending on the manufacturer’s specifications, so be sure to check how long you need to leave it. Usually, it is about 24 to 48 hours.

Complete The Lure

All you need to do now is to add closed eye screws onto the pilot holes that you drilled earlier on in the article. Make sure that you use the correct size screws for the holes that you drilled, though. If they are not bigger than the holes, they will come out very quickly. If they are much too big, then you risk splitting the wood and ruining all of your hard work.

Completing Your Fishing Lure
Fishing Lure my Grandpa Made

Extras

At the beginning of the article, we mentioned that you could make a topwater lure or a diving lure. The process up to this point is precisely the same. So, if you are making a diving lure, you now need to add the lip that makes them dive.

  • All that you need to do now is:
  • Cut a piece of clear acrylic to the shape of a tongue.
  • Cut a slot in the front of the lure, a little bigger than the thickness of the acrylic.
  • Apply some epoxy resin to the acrylic.
  • Insert into the slot.
  • Wipe away excess.
  • Wait for it to dry.

Now, all there is to do is add your hooks, and catch some fish!

Conclusion

When you have learned how to make fishing lures and caught a fish with it, you will have a great sense of achievement.

One of the things that I see a lot, though, is that people are put off from making their own lures because of the cost involved in paint and epoxy, etc. However, after you have bought them once, they are likely to last you a very long time, with making quite a few lures.

If you price up the cost of the supplies versus the lures, you may find that it works out cheaper to make them yourself.

If you have made these, or any other lures yourself, then please leave us a comment below to let us know how you got on with them!

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