When I saw the price on
a minnow-imitation lure I gasped. At those prices I'd have to take up
needlepoint to be able to afford a hobby. But I practically have salt water in
my blood having been raised on the Chesapeake Bay. I wasn't about to give up the
seemingly endless stream of days and nights on gently rolling seas fighting the
adrenaline-pumping pull of Tautog, Striped Bass, Weakfish, Slammer Blues, Spots,
Croakers and the occasional eel or small shark. It didn't take me long to
exhaust a string of options leaving only one sensible answer: make my own
Now I'm about as handy
as an elephant trying to crochet while wearing mittens. But the craft of lure
making can be an amazingly simple one. Besides piquing my interest and
developing some first rate manual skills, it really is a lot of fun and kept me
out of trouble on many a cold, rainy weekend when they weren't bitin' anyway.
Now an "old hand" at lure making, if I can produce fish-catching salt-water
lures, believe me, you can too.
Two of the easiest and
most practical lures to make and use are spoons and top water plugs. Cheapskate
that I can be, I've learned to make highly effective spoons and plugs that fish
slam without hesitation out of materials available for free or at low cost. My
arsenal of lures cost me less than the price of a big lunch. Here's how:
By far the easiest lures
to fabricate are spoons. One plain-pattern stainless steel tablespoon will make
two lures. Start by using some old ones from a thrift store. (I told you I was
Break off the
handle where it joins the bowl of the spoon. Hold or clamp down the bowl and
work the handle up and down a few times – it'll snap right off.
Sand the rough
edges smooth to eliminate burrs and snags. Drill an eighth-inch diameter
hole through both ends of the bowl.
Attach a number
four treble hook using a stainless steel split ring available at hardware,
craft or bait and tackle shops. Terminal tackle is attached to the other end
of the spoon bowl using another split ring and corrosion-resistant snap
For added weight
use a barrel sinker and split shot about 30 inches above the spoon. That's
it. Sizes vary from tiny sugar spoons to cooking utensil ware if you're
after bigger game. All sizes have worked for me.
About thirty yards
behind the boat the sea exploded as a geyser of water erupted skyward. An
18" long tuna twirled and somersaulted in the air as if performing for the
circus before crashing back into the briny deep – with my tablespoon lure
locked in its jaws. I was happier than a set of twins at Christmas. I landed
that one and six more of its warm-to-the-touch brethren on that
drizzle-chilled morning off the Pacific coast of South America. Small tuna
are fun to catch, as they'll attack a trolled top-water lure with gusto,
performing their incredible acrobatics to get to your lure. Try it, you'll
The handle of the
spoon also makes an effective top-water lure so you get double service from
one original piece of hardware. Two for the price of one, I like that.
eighth-inch hole through the wide end of the handle near the tip to attach
your split ring. This is the terminal tackle end.
The narrower end
will have the shank of the hook protruding beyond it about three quarters of
an inch. The eye of the hook will lie along the underside of the handle
where it can be attached by soldering, or a stud inserted through the handle
and hook eye to secure it.
Sometimes I tie
trailing "hair" made of nylon rope fibers along the hook shank, wrapping it
on fly/tying style with fine cotton thread. White or red streamer tails are
my preferred colors. Often I fish the "jig" plain by trolling it 25 ft. or
so behind the boat. It rides high but the rotation and flash it produces
force Sierra, Snapper and Wahoo or other predator fish to charge it like a
Sharp pain shot through
my hands as the line tightened around them. Slowly, I was being pulled down
towards the surface of the deep blue choppy Pacific by the freight train that
had caught the end of my line. This was a battle I was going to lose.
Mercifully, the pressure eased a little – enough for me to begin to straighten
up. The line around my hands now tinged with red, I began hauling in whatever
danced below. A few minutes later, a sleek, yellow-spotted Sierra darted to and
fro two feet below the surface flashing silver in the sunlight. Its last few
moments were spent in one last tremendous surge for final freedom. The 40 pound
test mono barely held and it took the two of us, me using the line and my
partner grabbing the thrashing tail, to sling the snapping, writhing predator
into the boat.
Another few minutes
passed as we extracted my 5-inch long, spoon-handle-fabricated lure from the
gaping jaws lined with an impressive row of razor sharp teeth. Eleven more
joined it before I had to stop. My hands were starting to look like hamburger.
Was the blood in the boat from the fish or me? My two fishing companions looked
closely at my home-fabricated lure now. They'd caught nothing to my fourteen
fish. Their snickers disappeared. "Can you make one for us?" "Sure thing, as
soon as we get back." I smiled all the way home – and then some.
Top Water Plugs
An old broom handle will
make eight or nine good plugs 5 inches long.
Saw them off to
length, then drill an eighth inch diameter hole through the center the
length of the wooden blank. You'll need a seven inch long piece of heavy
wire to run through the length of the plug. A dismantled wire coat hanger
snipped off to length makes through-wire for four or five plugs, depending
on their length.
The wire is bent
into a closed loop front and back to attach terminal tackle and the rear
hook. Taper the plug's front end to 45 degrees, use brass or non-corroding
screw eyes to attach salt-water treble hooks below and behind the body.
Add plastic doll
eyes for a more realistic look. Eyes are available at craft supply shops.
The solid, molded ones come in a variety of sizes and last forever.
acrylics. Follow the most common color schemes of commercial plugs or
experiment with your own. A florescent orange body top water plug with
bulging white / black eyes and a streamer of green hair around the rear
treble hook nearly brought me to tears one trip. The fish just wouldn't
leave it alone!
Costs? Let's see: a
length of broom handle – free, wire coat hanger – free, doll's eyes a nickel
each, eight ounce can of acrylic paint – one dollar seventy five cents, but one
can will paint dozens of lures. Usually two colors are used. Terminal tackle
about thirty cents per lure – tops. The whole thing totals out at less than
seventy cents each lure when I'm spending big. Spoons might run me twenty cents
or less – just the price of the terminal tackle and my labor of love. You could
spend a little more or little less.
Save a TON of money,
have fun and catch more fish by making your own salt-water lures. Lure making
can soon change from a pastime into a profitable endeavor if you hit on a hot
combination and start making them for your friends. If you have a child or
grandchild who fishes, teaching them can add to the irresistible allure of the
sport. A number of online and offline publications are available to deepen your
lure-making knowledge and skills. Don't cry if you lose a lure, you can easily
fabricate its twin. Besides, by making your own lures, for the price of one
commercial lure you can finance the fabrication of literally dozens of your own.
Let me know how you make out. I've just finished a fresh batch I'm itching to
try out. See you later, I've gone fishin'
To see photos of some
of the author's home-crafted lures, e-mail him at:
firstname.lastname@example.org ask for
the salt-water lure photos.
Prof Larry M. Lynch
is a bi-lingual copywriter, expert author and photographer specializing in
business, travel and education-related writing in South America. His work has
appeared in Transitions Abroad, South American Explorer, Escape From America,
Mexico News and Brazil magazines in print and online. He teaches at a university
in Cali, Colombia. To get original, exclusive articles and content for your
newsletter, blog, website or product contact him at: