Homemade Lures On Test Again

My Homemade Fishing Lures on Their Second Day Out

A Milestone - My First Double Figure Fish on a Homemade Lure - A Nice Pike of 10lbs
(I must remember to smile next time!)
It's hard to believe that it is almost a year since I began this home made fishing lures project - actually just checking the date on my first blog post as I write I can see that it is fully one year since I started to make these jerkbait fishing lures. Where does the time go! I certainly wont be setting any records for lure making production that's for sure. The story with these baits so far is this: . . . . .
. . . . .  I started working on the four of them last August (you can read about how I made them here), I took two of them, the sinking versions, for a few hours fishing on a river in March (read about it here) and I took the other two, the floaters, for some fishing in July the details of which are on this page below.

My Homemade Jerkbaits - Better Prepared This Time

Damaged Paintwork on My Last Day Out
This homemade jerkbaits project comprised of four lures - two floaters and two sinking lures. I had already taken the two sinking versions to a river and put them through their paces only to find that the spray-on lacquer type of clear coat that I had used on the lures was completely useless. The few pike that had hit my lures on that days fishing had left quite a few scars on the paintwork and a fair bit of 'hook rash' was also evident on the lures. The lesson learned was simple - when making fishing lures use a two part epoxy clear coat to finish off and properly protect your baits

I did a little research on more than a few lure making sites and decided on Envirotex Lite Pour On as the product I would use for clear coating my home made baits from here on in. I scoured the web for the best deal I could get and eventually ordered a 16oz kit from Amazon in the US (it was actually cheaper to buy from the US and have it shipped to Ireland than to buy it locally here in Ireland or the UK - Here's the link if anyone wants to check it out).
Envirotex Lite and Accessories for Clear Coating Lures
Before this days fishing my two surface working homemade jerkbaits had been given a single coat of the epoxy clear coat. When researching the subject of epoxy clear coats for lure making I found that most lure makers recommend applying three or four coats to your homemade lures. I only applied one coat to my baits  before this days fishing and I had two reasons for this. Firstly I was curious to know how well just one coat of Envirotex Lite would stand up to the chomping of some toothy pike and secondly an opportunity to get a few hours fishing in arose before I had had the time to get a second or third coat of epoxy onto my lures!
My Homemade Jerkbaits with a Nice Glossy Clear Coat Applied

The Fishing Venue

On this occasion I was heading for a lake, in fact the very lake that I had designed these homemade lures for. However in order to get the best out of this lake you really need a boat as I explained in a previous post. Today my time was limited so organising a boat was not going to happen. I would be fishing from the bank and have to make the best of it. Fishing from the bank on this lake presents one major problem - the first seventy to eighty yards of water out from the bank is extremely shallow typically being one to three feet deep. Beyond the shallow water the depth goes down gradually from about five to eight feet and then gets much deeper further out.
One of the Pike I Caught Recovering in the Very Shallow Margins of the Lake
I knew from previous experience of fishing on this lake that the pike could be found in this area of water where the depth was in the five to eight feet range early in the day. Now an eighty yard cast with the right combination of rod, reel, line and heavy lure is easily achievable but the problem here would be that the lure would only be anywhere near a pike for the first ten to fifteen yards of each cast and retrieve. The tactic today would be to use chest waders to get out into the shallow water as far as possible thus increasing the effective range of each cast and hope that my lures might entice one or two pike to chase them up into the shallower water closer in.

The Fishing

I arrived at the waters edge at about 6.10 am which was about 45 minutes after sunrise at this time of year. Five minutes later I was ready to take my first cast. The plan was to cover a stretch of the lake bank that was about 100 yards or so long. Of the two home made lures I had with me I clipped on the glider type (longer and slimmer) jerkbait first and would give the slider type (shorter and fatter) lure a go later on. It was a cloudy overcast morning with a nice westerly wind blowing - perfect conditions. As I waded out into the water to take my first cast I have to admit that I was fairly confident that I would catch some fish. This would be my first time to fish with these two floating jerkbaits that I had made so a fair bit of time would be given over to trying out different retrieves, figuring out what depth the two baits would dive to when jerked back in  and learning how the lures behaved on the cast. 

First Bite

After about a dozen casts with my first lure not a single one of them had made it back to the bank without getting covered with weed whilst coming through the shallow water. I was happy enough with the distance that I was getting with my casting - I was definitely getting my lure to the deeper water where I expected the pike would be hunting and the lure was certainly making it through that area of water without getting fouled with weed, but if I wanted to catch any pike that might follow my lure into the shallows I needed my lure to stay free from weed and other debris. I paused for a few moments to consider what I might do - the thought that I might be wasting my time here without a boat was entering the back of my mind but I decided to continue. I would simply jerk the bait much more slowly and subtly so that it would stay in the surface layer of the water diving no more than 12 inches. 

On only my third cast with this 'new' style of retrieve and only 20 minutes into my mornings fishing my concentration was violently interrupted by a decent pike that nailed my jerkbait in the surface layer of the water and put a very nice bend in my rod. Unfortunately the bend in my fishing rod was only temporary as the fish managed to shake off the lure before I could gain any line at all. I was however not even in the slightest bit disappointed at missing out on banking this fish. I had now possibly figured out a successful retrieve style for the day, I knew with certainty that there were a few pike in the water out in front of me an yet another of my homemade lures had drawn a strike from a good fish - confidence was now at an all time high.

I now continued to fish with increased concentration and made my first move along the lake shore to cover some new water with my lure. No more than five minutes after having hooked and lost the first fish my hooks were again attached to an angry pike. This time I had been concentrating fully on what I was doing. The pikes attack on my lure met with a quick and firm strike and resulted in what I thought was a solid hookset. This fish again put a very pleasing bend in my fishing rod and as I started to gain some line I was sure this would be my first fish of the day. The pike however had other ideas and a huge head shaking leap in the air clearing the waters surface by some three feet or more saw the pike go in one direction and my homemade lure in the other! Dissapointing to say the least, though I was still confident that I would catch, and catch I did.

A Fish At Last

First of the Day - A Nice Pike of 10lbs Caught on One of My Homemade Lures
I decided to change lures to see if my slider type lure would be any better at keeping itself attached to a lively pike and at around 7.45, about an hour and a half after I had started fishing a pike of exactly 10lbs in weight  was staring angrily up at me from my unhooking mat (see photo above and at top of page). This pike like the two that had earlier gotten away had hit my lure at range, just where the water starts to shallow up. This time there was no messing about, I struck firmly and got the fish in over the shallow water right in front of me as quickly as possible. The fish gave a very good account of itself at close quarters and really tested my rod arm. They fight so much harder at this time of year. If I caught nothing else today I would still be a happy fisherman going home, there's just a great feeling from catching a good fish on a homemade lure.
A Pike of 9.5lbs Caught on My Homemade Slider Type Jerkbait
I decided to stick with fishing my slider type lure for a while. I would employ a similar retrieve to that which seemed to be working well for the glider and which had just caught me my first fish of the day - slow subtle jerking that would keep the lure right at the waters surface. Shortly after 8.00am I was in action again on my slider jerkbait - this time a pike, slightly smaller than the first at 9.5lbs in weight, made its way to the bank. Now I was a very happy fisherman. I changed back to fishing with my glider type bait and a while later at around 9.45 my hooks were firmly attached to another 9.5lb pike and this time they stayed attached!
Another 9.5lb Pike This Time Caught My Glider Type Jerkbait
At this stage with three half decent fish caught my fishing time was nearly up. I had about half an hour before I needed to be making my way home. I made a move much further along the lake bank to an area that I had not previously fished and covered the water there with my slider lure in the same way as I had been fishing the other areas. I waded out into the water and proceeded to cast my homemade bait as far out into the lake as I could. On my very first cast in this area when the lure had only travelled back towards me for about five yards or so the water right behind where my lure was swimming erupted as a pike jumped half way out of the water as it tried to hit my lure. This same thing happened again on my very next two casts to the same spot as a pike tried to hit my lure but missed. Half an hours fishing in this area resulted in pike striking at and missing my homemade lure in this way no less than a dozen times. Three hookups also resulted but unfortunately no fish on the bank. Despite not getting any fish to the bank this was an extremely enjoyable half an hours fishing. I made my way home at about 10.30 and have to admit that I was quite pleased with my mornings fishing - I had 'broke in' two more of my homemade lures, learned a few fishing lessons and  even caught some fish.

Lure Making Lesons Learned

On my first days testing these lures at the river (the two sinking versions of them that is) two problems with my lures that I had encountered were firstly that the split rings were too large and did not allow the hooks attached to swing freely and secondly the clear coat that I had applied to the lures was useless resulting in the paintwork being badly scratched and damaged. Prior to this days fishing I had largely addressed these two problems by changing to smaller split rings for attaching the hooks and applying one coat of envirotex lite epoxy to the lures. Changing the split rings had fully solved the first problem, the epoxy clearcoat had almost solved the second one.
The Battle Scarred Homemade Jerkbaits After the Days Fishing
The picture above shows the condition of my baits after the days fishing. Bear in mind that I only applied one coat of epoxy to these lures whereas usually at least three coats are generally recommended. The scratches and bite marks are almost entirely on the clear coat itself and the paintwork is more or less undamaged. I'm quite happy with this result as I'm sure that with three or more coats of epoxy on these lures they will be close to bullet proof!

A Real Problem With These Lures?

Crappy Hooks?
Okay I'm generally not someone who is big on statistics or analysing my fishing in any way but as I do a quick count back on the number of hits on my lures versus the number of fish I managed to get onto the bank over the two fishing trips I can see there may be justified cause for concern. The numbers - out of twelve fish that made good contact with my lures (by this I mean made sufficient contact to put a bend in my fishing rod) only five fish made it to the bank, that's 5/12 or 42%. I'm going to have to do something about this. Now results from only two days fishing are hardly conclusive evidence that these lures are poor fish catchers but I'm thinking that possibly larger hooks and certainly newer sharper ones need to be employed. I'll ring these changes to my lures for their next day out and see what happens.

Fishing Lessons Learned

Issues with my homemade lures aside I think the main thing that I learned today is that if I want to fish this lake effectively I will need to get a boat onto it. As I described in the text above most of the fish were to be found in an area of water some seventy yards or so from the bank. This meant that during the majority of each cast and retrieve my lure was swimming through water that had no fish in it, you could say that almost three quarters of the days fishing time was wasted on winding lures through water that was devoid of fish. If I were to anchor up a boat at seventy yards from the bank and cast my lures parallel to the lake shore my lure would in theory be fishing effectively for the entire cast and retrieve which should improve my catch rate hugely.

What Next

My time for lure making and indeed fishing has been quite limited this year. I'll do what I can when I can and post about it when I get the time. The blog posts on here will be slow in coming but I plan to keep it up anyway. So what next?

  • Firstly I need to finish out these homemade jerkbaits properly and get some more fishing done with them to iron out any design issues once and for all. I'm happy with the actions of them but am not sure about hook size and hook positions yet.
  • I also have a couple of homemade crankbaits that need testing - a day after some small pike and perch is required.
  • The epoxy clear coat that I mentioned above can be a little tricky to work with and requires a certain learning curve to be overcome. I'll be posting about my learning curve with this stuff in the coming weeks (or months).

As always I hope you found this post interesting and if you have any comments or questions or even some advice to give please feel free to use the comments form below.

Joe.

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6 comments :

MattK6 said... Best Blogger Tips [Reply to comment] Best Blogger Templates

I have recently started making my own wooded lures and had been searching for a final finish to use. Thanks to you I finally found the solution, now I must ask how did you apply the epoxy coat after thinning.

Joe said... Best Blogger Tips [Reply to comment] Best Blogger Templates

@MattK6 Hey Matt,

Thank's for stopping by, I'm glad you found some of the info here on my blog useful.

As regards applying the Envirotex Lite clear coats to my lures I just very simply brush it on. If you check out this picture - CLICK HERE - which is also in the blog post above you'll see some of the stuff I use for clear coating.

I simply measure out two equal amounts of resin and hardener into one of the little medicine cups you can see in the picture. I would allow about 5ml of epoxy for a 6 inch jerkbait - so if you were coating four baits you would mix 10ml resin with 10ml hardener giving you a total of 20ml epoxy. I then mix the stuff thoroughly with a little metal stick for about two minutes.

When you mix the stuff you'll find that it turns into a mess of tiny white bubbles. The very first time I did this I was sure that I had done something wrong because this mess of white bubbles looks terrible but I proceeded to paint it on to my baits anyway. Even on your baits at first the stuff will look horrible until you exhale some warm breath over it. Then as if by magic you will find that the messy mix of white bubbles turns into a beautifully flat crystal clear coat of epoxy!

As for applying the stuff to my baits I use one of my lure holders (picture here) to hold the bait with one hand while brushing on the epoxy generally from nose to tail or tail to nose using the other hand. The brush I use is in the picture I mentioned above - it's a basic 3/4 inch paint brush. I also use a much smaller paint brush for touching in spots that I have missed at a later stage.

When I have the lure completely coated in epoxy and exhaled warm breath all over it to pop all the little bubbles I hang it up on one of my lure racks (picture here). I then turn the lure nose over tail every 10 minutes or so for the first hour to let the epoxy flow out evenly over the bait. Each time that I turn the bait I also hold it up to the light to inspect the coating for any little dimples and then fill these in using a dab of epoxy on the smaller brush that I mentioned.

After about an hour the epoxy will usually have 'set' enough to stop flowing or dripping. The baits are left in a dust/child/animal free environment for about 48 hrs before getting their next coat. At the moment I have settled on using three coats on my lures for pike fishing - some guys use more, some guys use less - you'll have to experiment with this for yourself.

I hope this brief description of my lure coating procedure has answered you question. I will at some stage in the future write a full tutorial type blog post on the subject of clear coating lures. This step in the lure making process can be one of the hardest ones to get right at the beginning.

If you have any more questions on the subject feel free to shoot me an email or post another comment.

Joe.

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips [Reply to comment] Best Blogger Templates

Great site with links to other great sites like lure making 101. Eager awaiting any updates. :-)

Although I live in a desert area in the US I have pike and musky fishing available for a 50-150 mile drive.

bill

Joe said... Best Blogger Tips [Reply to comment] Best Blogger Templates

@Anonymous Hey Bill,
Thanks for your kind words, I'm glad you enjoyed reading through my blog. I've got some updates coming pretty soon too.

I admire your dedication to your pike and musky fishing, driving 50 to 150 miles for your fishing is no joke! I'm very lucky here where I live in the west of Ireland, I've got good pike fishing literally on my doorstep. If I were to draw a circle around my location with a 20 mile radius I'd have enough pike fishing to go at to last me several lifetimes!

Joe.

Bryan Williams said... Best Blogger Tips [Reply to comment] Best Blogger Templates

Hi Joe any updates on your lure making exploits ?

Really interested to see any more you have made.

Bry.

Joe said... Best Blogger Tips [Reply to comment] Best Blogger Templates

@Bryan Williams

Hey Bry,

my lure making project posts may be a bit slow in coming but there are plenty more on the way so do check back from time to time.

Joe.

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