Lure Making Mistakes, Sticky Hooks and A Few Small Pike

The Lure Making Blog Continues . . . 

When I started this lure making blog back in late 2011 (it's well into 2014 now) my plan was that I would try to write something that might be of interest to other lure makers/fishermen every couple of weeks or so or at least once a month at any rate. Back then I used to do a reasonable amount of fishing - mostly deadbaiting for pike and as such caught fish on a fairly regular basis. It was reasonable to assume that getting into lure making which would make my pike fishing a whole lot more interesting should give me plenty to write about.

Unfortunately with a global recession meaning that a lot of us have to work that bit harder just to make a living the result has been that my own fishing time has been limited to just a handfull of trips over the last couple of years. With no fishing being done there's just been nothing to write about. Anyone who checks back on this blog from time to time might have come to the conclusion that the site had been abandoned. Well let me set the record straight - this blog has not been abandoned and it never will be! The posts, projects and articles will be slow in coming, in fact very slow at times, but they will keep coming.

So Where Were We? 

Now, with that out of the way let's get back to the important business of building lures, testing those lures and even more importantly, catching some fish. My lure making story so far goes like this - I made four jerkbaits out of poplar wood. The four of them were finished in the same perch pattern but had four very different actions - a surface slider type, a surface glider type, a sinking slider type and a sinking glider type (you can read about how I made them by clicking here).

I took these lures for their first day out to a local river (which you can read about here) and for a second days fishing to the lake that I had actually designed these lures for (read about that here). During these two days fishing a number of lure making mistakes I had made were discovered - successfully correcting these mistakes and then more testing of my homemade baits is the bones of what this particular blog post is about.

My Lure Making Mistakes

Below I have outlined the main mistakes that I have made during the process of building my first few homemade baits. Each of the mistakes I made were mainly down to my inexperience with building lures. The experience gained and lessons learned from the mistakes I have made whilst building these four lures will stand me in very good stead when I eventually get around to building my next batch of lures. Hopefully what I have written about here regarding my luremaking mistakes will go some way towards helping to prevent anyone who reads this blog post from making the same annoying mistakes that I did!

Mistake Number One - Using A Useless Clearcoat
On my first days fishing with these lures (at the river) I had experimented with using an aerosol spray-on sealer/top coat over the finished paint job. This was a type of metal sealing product I had bought at a local hardware supplier and I figured that if it was recommended for sealing metal it should be pretty tough stuff. The following is what I wrote about it in my blog post about that days fishing and the picture below shows you the damage that was done to the paint work on one of the lures.
"A very obvious problem that quickly became evident was that the metal sealer product that I had used as a hardcoat on the lures was just not up to the job - not even close. Bite marks and hook rash caused quite a bit of damage to the paint job on one of the lures. For these type of lures it would seem that an epoxy hardcoat will be required - lesson learned!"
Damaged Paintwork as a Result of Using a Poor Clearcoating Product
There are a wide variety of products available that can be pressed into service for clear coating lures. The lure making lesson that I have learned is that for making pike lures a two part epoxy is the best option and the one that I will use for all my future lure making projects is a product called Envirotex Lite Pour On. At the moment I'm experimenting with using three coats on my lures and will write a proper 'how to' and review of this stuff when I have a bit more experience and testing done with it.

Mistake Number Two - Eyelets Way Too Small
This particular problem with my homemade lures I also noticed quite early on during my first days fishing with them. The following is what I wrote about it then:
"One problem was with the hook eyelets of the lures being just a little too small for the large split rings that I had used to attach the hooks. This caused the hooks to 'stand off' the lures rather unnaturally on occasion - not a major issue but annoying nonetheless. On these lures this problem can probably be solved by using smaller split rings. On any future jerkbaits that I make I will have to make sure that the hook eyelets are big enough for the hooks and split rings required."
On some of the eyelets the problem was solved by simply using smaller split rings for attaching the hooks to the lures. On others though I had to go as far as filing down part of the lure body around the eyelet and resealing, painting and clear coating again - quite a bit of work that I will make every effort to avoid having to do on future lures. So, lure making lesson learned - when making lures for pike fishing make sure that the eyelets are plenty big enough to take the large split rings required for attaching the larger hooks that are used on these kind of lures.

Mistake Number Three - Crappy Hooks
Crappy Hooks Were Costing Me Fish - Note the Rusty Belly Hook on the Bottom Lure and Also the Bent Tail Hook!
By the time I got around to my second day out fishing with these lures I had largely solved the two problems described above. By the end of my second day of fishing another problem had come to light - here's what I wrote about it then:
"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."
Well that's exactly what I did and I am pleased to report that on my next couple of outings the ratio of hooked fish to fish actually landed increased enormously - more about that later. The problem I had with the hooks on my lures was twofold - firstly the hooks I was using were poor quality and secondly they were just too small. So another lure making lesson learned - use the best quality hooks you can get your hands on and make sure they are large enough for the lure they are attached to.
Top Quality Hooks Will Catch You More Fish - These Ones Are Excellent

So What Size Hooks For Your Lures Then?

Before I got into the hobby of lure making, the size of the hooks that were on my lures was not something that I gave a whole lot of thought to. After all when you buy a new lure it already has hooks fitted to it by the manufacturer - you simply take it out of it's packaging and it is ready to fish! As a home made lure builder I am now the 'manufacturer' of my own lures. Now, giving thought to the size and type of hooks that I put on my home made lures is an important part of the learning curve associated with becoming a lure builder. 
Choosing the Right Sized Hooks for your Lures is Important
And, since my recent fishing trips while testing some home built lures would seem to suggest that I may have got the hook size badly wrong and that this mistake is costing me fish I obviously need to start getting this part of my lure making process right as soon as possible. So, how do you choose the correct sized hooks for your homemade lures then? After doing a bit of research online (reading through various lure making forums and blogs) I was still none the wiser as opinions and advice on the subject varied hugely. 

It looked like good old trial and error would have to be the answer. I just went out and bought some bigger hooks. When I put these hooks on my lures and compared them to the smaller ones I was replacing the method for choosing the right sized hooks for my lures became immediately obvious to me. If you take a look at the picture above with the two hooks lying against the belly of one of my lures the fact that the top (larger) hook is much wider than the body of the lure is fairly obvious. 

In theory the jaws of a biting fish should easily make contact with the points of the top larger hook but could easily fail to connect with the bottom smaller hook since the the body of the lure could shelter the points of the smaller hook. So, my method for choosing hooks for my home made lures going forward will be very simple - choose hooks whose width is greater than the width of the body of the lure in question. 
My Lures with New Larger Hooks Fitted

Finally Some Fishing And Lure Testing

My Local River Finally Within It's Banks After a Long Period of Flooding
With a very busy work schedule meaning that it had been quite a few months since my last fishing session I finally got to the stage where I just had to take a day off and go fishing! With the weather and and local river conditions being just right and some new hooks on my lures along with a few homemade jigs to test out a midweek day was picked and 8.00am on a Wednesday morning found me tackling up one of my lure rods at the river bank. 
My Lures of Choice for the Day
The river had been in flood and largely unfishable for a very long period of time and had finally finned back down to a normal level. The river had just been fishable the previous weekend but the weather had been quite bad so the fish would not have been troubled by many (if any) other fishermen yet. By fishing during the week I was getting a head-start on the majority of others who only fish on weekends. I also had the river to myself which was great. 

On my previous trip to the river I had started fishing at the shallow area near to the access point and worked my way down river towards the deeper water. On this occasion the plan was to do the reverse by starting at the deeper water some distance down stream and working my way back to the access point trying all likely looking spots along the way. The deeper water would give me a chance to try out my rather heavy jigs which were the first lures I clipped on.

The jigs worked beautifully in the water with the Christmas decoration tinsel skirts giving them a lovely action. I realised fairly quickly though that they were just a little on the heavy side for repeated casting from the bank but could work well in deep water fishing from a boat. I gave them no more than a dozen casts each and put them back into my lure box. I probably should have given them a little more fishing time but with some homemade jerkbaits in my box that I just knew would catch it was hard to resist the temptation to switch over and start jerkbaiting. 
First of the Day - A Fat Fish of Just Over 6 lbs
Well that's exactly what I did and on only my fourth cast with my sinking glider type bait the first fish of the day was well hooked and landed - a well conditioned fat fish of just over 6 lbs. I wont bore you with a blow by blow account of the days fishing as nothing particularly interesting happened. I moved quickly between swims working my way back upstream to the access road and changing between my sinking glider, sinking slider and surface glider type baits. I caught seven fish in total for the day with that first six pounder in the morning being the biggest. As on my previous fishing trip to the river every fish was caught within the first five casts after dropping into a new spot.
Another Small Fish is Brought to the River Bank
Since I don't get out fishing very often catching seven fish in a day - even small ones - is a good result for me and since the fishing was rather enjoyable I made plans to return for another go a few days later. The following Sunday morning saw me at the waters edge just before 8.00am with a plan to fish an entirely new stretch of river (well new to me anyway) starting at the same deep area as the previous Wednesday but this time working further downstream instead. 
This One Took a Liking to My Sinking Slider Type Lure
At this stage it was obvious that the river had been fished by others as anglers footprints and empty bait packets were evident along the river bank. Fishing water that has been already covered by others does not inspire confidence and the fishing certainly proved to be more difficult on this occasion. By 11.00am I had caught three more small fat pike on my homemade jerkbaits and felt the need to go home as the river was getting a little 'crowded' for my liking.
Another One Bites the Slider
Now don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not unsociable and very much enjoy chatting to other fishermen I meet at the water. I prefer however to have a piece of water to myself so that I can search it out thoroughly and find that when I have to work around other fishermen on the bank I quickly loose interest in what I'm doing. The few other fishermen I spoke to on the day were regulars at the river  and were also finding the going tough only catching one or two pike a day and nothing bigger than about 7 lbs. 
This One Took My Surface Glider
Since I had caught ten pike altogether over two short days fishing and others were only catching one or two a day I went home feeling quite pleased with myself. Interestingly enough none of the other anglers I met were jerkbaiting and certainly none of them were moving between swims as quickly as I was. It seems that the tactic for catching good numbers of fish on this river is to move quickly having half a dozen casts or so in each spot (certainly no more than ten) and then moving on. The absense of big fish during my last few trips to this river poses quite a few questions though!
Self Photography When Fishing Alone Takes a Bit of Practice . . . . . 
. . . this is What the First Shot Looked Like!

Lure Making Lessons Learned

Despite the fact that the only fish I caught on these two mornings fishing were quite small, these fishing trips were actually a huge lure making success from the point of view of the ratio of fish hooked to fish on the bank. On my first two days fishing with these lures I hooked twelve fish and only landed five. On this occasion however I hooked ten fish and safely landed all ten of them. This improvement in the ratio of fish hooked to fish landed was the result of changing from smaller lesser quality hooks to larger high quality hooks. 
A Range of New Hooks in Different Sizes Ready for Future Projects
The importance of choosing the right hooks for my homemade lures has been very well highlighted for me. I certainly wont be making do by taking old hooks off other lures of mine for future lure making projects. I will be buying good quality hooks in a range of sizes to cater for the different sizes of baits I'll be making. The size 3/0 Owner ST36BC X hooks I used on these baits truly are 'sticky' hooks. I plan to use only 'sticky' hooks on my lures in the future. I don't get out fishing too often so when I do I need to make every fish count - using good quality hooks in the right sizes should help to put more fish on the bank for me.

My Sinking Glider R.I.P

Goodbye to My Favourite Lure!
My local river, like most rivers has it's fair share of underwater snags and structure. If you don't cast your lures into these 'snaggy' swims you will not catch very many fish. Unfortunately one such snaggy swim claimed the life of my sinking glider despite the fact that I was using a good quality braided line of 80lbs test. I'll admit to being a little disappointed as this was my first homemade lure that I had caught a fish on. 

My disappointment however was short lived when I realised that I could simply make another lure to replace it but this time without making the mistakes I had made on the first one. A new improved perch patterned sinking glider was  now the very next thing on my lure making project list.

Where Are All The Big Fish Gone?

The stretch of water I was fishing on this occasion is well known for it's big pike and produces pike of between 15lbs and 25lbs on a reasonably regular basis. The fact that myself and other anglers I met were catching nothing bigger than 7lbs or so poses a few questions. In my own oppinion one of only two scenarios is likely. Either the big fish are there but are being very selective in their feeding or they have moved away temporarily to their spawning grounds (it was late Feb 2013 when I fished there so this is most likely the case). 

If the fish have moved away then there's not mush that can be done about catching them other than spending a lot of time on the river trying to find them - not an option for me unfortunately. If they are still there and being selective in their feeding though there are a few things that can done to try and tempt them.
Bream - Could this be What the Bigger Pike are Eating?
It is quite possible that the bigger fish in the river are eating bigger prey and that a six inch perch is just not worth their while chasing. Bigger prey in the form of shoals of bream are abundant in this stretch of river and they might just be the chosen prey of the larger pike. To my mind this opens two lure making possibilities. One would be to make a much larger lure to imitate a bream as accurately as possible and the other would be to make another sinking glider in a bream coloured pattern as as well as a perch pattern. Changing from a perch to a bream patterned lure might just do the trick.

So What's Next?

My Next Project - Post Coming Soon!
So, my couple of days lure testing has taught me a good lesson about hooks and presented me with two more lure making projects. Firstly I'll be making two more sinking glider type jerkbaits - one to replace my perch patterned bait that now lives on the river bed and another in a bream coloured pattern to offer the pike a choice and see if I can tempt some bigger fish (it's been almost a year since this fishing trip so I've already made these baits - project post coming soon). And secondly I'll be working on a larger jerkbait to imitate a bream more accurately also in the hope that this might be the key to catching some larger pike from the river.
Working on a Template for My Bream Jerkbait Project
Well, that just about wraps up this blog post. If you have read this far down the page then I hope you enjoyed the post and as always if you would like to ask a question or share your thoughts feel free to post a comment below. There's plenty more lure making stuff on the way so do check back here from time to time.

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bill piatek said... Best Blogger Tips [Reply to comment] Best Blogger Templates

Nice update Joe. It's not often someone posts about average fish and lure making mistakes. We learn more from the mistakes I think.

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

@bill piatek Thanks for your comment Bill - I completely agree, we always learn more from our mistakes. Even the 'average' fish are nice to catch on your own homemade lures - there's that extra sense of accomplishment. And when the bigger fish come along I'll be glad to write about those too!


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

Hey, first off I just started building my own lures and I like your blog. Now this may be a bit late but I have a tip for you, for the big pikes/muskies try to make lures looking like pikes instead of bait fish. In my experience pikes tend to be very aggressive against other pikes and all my top notations on pikes have been cought on pike looking lures. It may or may not be the case where you fish but I think it would be worth trying.

/Greetings from Sweden

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