Lets make a wooden fishing lure

I remember digging in my uncle Doug’s tacklebox as a kid and being mesmerized.  I was none too fond of the smell of his catfish bait, but to this day, I still love the look of those old wooden lures.  I think that some of the lures in that old brown three tray tacklebox were home made.  It is possible (and pretty fun) to make a few simple lures without expensive tools.

You will need:

  • A 5/8″ dowel from the hardware store
  • The smallest screw eyes you can find, also from the hardware store
  • Sandpaper (60, 100, 150 grits or close would be fine)
  • A wood rasp can also help speed up the shaping
  • Paint of your choice (I like the inexpensive acrylic stuff from Hobby Lobby)
  • An awl or sharp nail to poke starter holes
  • Some split rings and fishing hooks from a sporting goods store
  • A saw that will cut cleanly through a small wooden dowel

Lets get started. First, measure off a 3″ piece of your dowel and cut it off.

Not too hard so far… Next, find the center of both ends the ends of the dowel, mark it with a pencil, and poke a starter dent in the center.

Screw an eye into these dents in both ends.

Next comes the shaping. Take the screw eyes back out, lay the 60 or 80 grit sandpaper on a flat surface, and drag the dowel toward you while slowly lifting the back end up.  Rotate the dowel a bit and continue.  The idea is just to round over the dowel until it looks like a cigar.

After you have the ends of the dowel roughly rounded, pick it up, grab your sandpaper and do as much or as little as you like in the sanding.  To be honest, I do not think the fish care how beautiful your lure is. Use the finer sandpapers until you have the lure as smooth as you would like.

Here are two lures, the one from the pictures above and another that I sanded into a different shape.

I have the lures hanging from a bent up coat hanger because I like to use spray primer. When you are working with kids, you do not need to use spray paint. If you are going to use any paints, read and follow all the safety instructions.

I wanted my cigar lure to have a fish scale pattern, so I wrapped it with tulle fabric.  This is what you might make a butterfly net out of. I got mine at Hobby Lobby.

I hold the lure by one of the screw eyes with a clamp or some pliers. Next, I lightly spray paint the lure over the mesh. After the paint dries, you get a scale effect.

One other traditional way to paint lures is all white with a red head.  The trick to getting the straight line on the red is by dipping instead of brushing or painting. First paint your lure all white. I used the non-toxic acrylics for this. With the acrylics, a hair dryer can shorten the time between coats.  I would not use the hair dryer with any paints that are solvent based.

Once the lure is all white, dip the end of the lure in the red paint.

The last cool bit of the painting is the eyes. There is a great trick for painting the eyes. I use a small piece of a dowel and a small nail. You dip the dowel (or a larger nail) in white paint and make a dot where you want the eye. Let this dry and dip the smaller nail into black paint and put a dot for the pupil.

Here is a pic of the two lures after the painting is done and I have clear coated them. You can use several coats of clear spray paint or polyurethane to get that nice shiny look and help the lures last longer.  Professional lure makers use a two part epoxy to coat their lures but I am not going to get into that here.

The last step is to put on the hooks. Poke a small starter hole about 1/3 of the way back from the head on the bottom of the lure. Put another screw eye in this hole. To hang the hooks, I like to use split rings. You can get them in the fishing section of sporting goods stores. These rings let you change the hooks easily if you break them.  The split rings are a little fussy to get on.  You can buy special split ring pliers (also in the sporting goods section) or you can just pry them open with the tiny screw driver that comes in a glasses repair kit. I will say, if you are going to do several lures – spring for the split ring pliers.  They make it easier to get the hooks on without getting poked.

Here is the finished lure.

Good luck and let me know how they turn out!

Jim