Handmade fishing lures - Wire

Wire is one of the greats. It's power lies in its ability to be made shorter and apply great tension, with the application of many small amounts of effort on the human's part.

Wire comes in many varieties. Some of which will stay in whatever shape you ask it to. Others will spring back into the shape they were in before.

Levers, gears, pulleys, hydraulics, and wire all act in ways that allow a lot of small force to exert a bit of large force. Its sometimes called mechanical advantage.

If you want to make something be under a stack of tension, make it out of wire and twist it. Twisting wire makes it shorter. A stack of twists makes it only a bit shorter. Many small amounts of energy that are required to twist some wire, get converted into a whole lot of tension, because all that moving of your arms is converted into only 1/2 an inch of shortening. If you had enough strands of wire connecting your house with your neighbor's, and twisted each strand until it was tight, then repeated for a few months, you could drag your houses together. So don't do that. Their house is close enough already.

I love wire. A predisposition to wire love is in my genes.

I made my experimental, hot glue shrimp lure by building up glue around a wire harness, but forgot to show how I made it.

I started with a drawing of the shape I wanted on piece of wood. Then hammered some nails in upside down so I'd have the sharp ends sticking up.

Place the nails so if you bend your wire around them, you'll get your shape.

The first one I made had the nails up the normal way but it wouldn't release the finished wire harness because the wire got stuck on the nail heads. The plan is to use the nails as a pattern or jig to bend the wire around.

Bend the wire zig zag through the jig, making sure you go around the nails on the correct side so that the nail forces the bend the way you want it.

Grip the loops in a vice and twist the end around itself.

Trim the ends with the cutters you borrowed from your mum a few years ago, and never got around to returning.

After you release it from the vice, you will just need to straighten it up a bit. 

And its done.

The alternative to this continuous single wire construction, or through lure construction, is to use screw in eyelets at each of the three points. The advantage of having all your wire loops connected to each other is that if you catch a fish big enough or with teeth sharp enough to break your lure, there will still be a good connection between the fish and your rod. 

Added to this is the bragging rights you get by making a lure that still caught the fish even though the lure was bitten in half, and the fact that you don't go hungry.

Handmade fishing lures - Hydrodynamics

I don't have the required funding for the wind tunnel I really need for this post, so at great personal expense, I'll be using crayon.

In air, a wing generates lift by creating a low pressure system above it by forcing the air to stretch out as it passes over the curve of the wing. The curve over the top of the wing means the air has to travel over a longer distance than the air going over the straighter bottom section. Stretched air equals less air per lump of space, equals low pressure. When you have less pressure above something, compared to that which is below it, that something gets sucked up.

A sail sucks a boat along in the same way, using the low pressure created by a wing shape to suck the boat forward. If you look down on a sail from above as in this realistic diagram, it has a cross section like that of a wing (thats the wing bit sticking out to the left). With a sail, the force generated is roughly at right angles to the bulging side of the sail. The wing shape is made by the bulging bit on one side, and on the other side by the tendency for the air to take a short cut straight across from one side of the sail to the other.

In a wing shape moving along level with the horizon, the force is roughly upwards.

I'm pretty sure the forces acting underwater are similar, or at least behave similarly, to those that work in air.

The force acting on a lure is also roughly upwards.

those diagonal purple wind lines are from a different diagram
A lure is often designed as a wing shape, but strangely, this helps the lure dive deeper. As far as I can tell, it does this by lifting the tail, and forcing the nose to pitch down.

It also has a bib. A bib doesn't act as a wing, but rather, acts more like a rudder. The bib adds length to the lure without adding lift at the front of the lure. The bib also encourages the lure to follow the direction to which the bib points, because it makes it too hard for the lure to swim directly towards the fishing rod. Point the bib down, and the lure will go down. The bib is set so that it presents as a flat plate resisting being pulled along. Picture pushing a flat dinner plate through the water. If you turn it edge on, its much easier to push. If you drop the plate flat into water, it wont just sink straight down, it will try its hardest to get some sideways to add to it's downwards. In much the same way, the bib wants to move in any direction other than flat up or flat down. Because the lure is being pulled along from roughly the front, the bib is limited in just how stubborn it can be. It negotiates a compromise and moves generally forwards, a bit down, and has a go at moving a bit to each side. The attached line gives it a bias to forwards.

A dropped dinner plate might also go to one side, spill a bit of pressure, then rock back to the other side. This may repeat so the path of a dropped plate may well be a zig zag all the way to the bottom. I generally encourage experimentation, but if you must drop plates into the bath, I suggest waiting until you find yourself bathing at someone else's place, and use their plates. Interestingly, and not without an incredible amount of forward planing on my part, this dinner plate zig zag might also go some way to explaining how a bibbed lure gets it's swimming action.

A sail boat achieves a similar compromise. If the wind is coming from one side, it wants to blow sideways with the wind, but the shape of the boat, and the sail set so that it sucks the boat forward, make the boat track roughly forwards.

That means a sailboat can sail into the wind, but not directly. In fact there is around 45 degrees each side of dead into the wind where you can't point your sail boat (pictured here scribbled in red). Whilst that last point is perhaps the most interesting, it isn't really relevant.

So, to reuse a previous crayon graphic. A long bib set at an angle pointing just slightly lower than flat, can force the lure to pivot at the tow point, and point down. This will force it to rotate about the tow point.

Some kind of vague approximation of that effect is depicted here by green arrows pivoting around a drawing of a bow, tied in imaginary string.

A long flat bib encourages the lure to swim to the bottom, a short, sharply downwards angled bib makes for a shallow diving lure.

Exactly why a short, steeply angled bib makes for a shallow diving lure remains a mystery to me, so for the time being, will remain unexplored.

Handmade fishing lures - Hot glue shrimp

Once upon a time in Japan, I happened across a man in a stall on the side of the road during some new years festivities. He was making animal shaped lollipops out of hot toffee. Each one took around a minute to make. They looked a bit like those glass collectible things that are all over the globe, but mounted on toothpicks. He was selling them to a stack of people three or four deep all waving wads of cash at him. They sold for around $10 each. He had a buddy handy to take the cash, so he didn't have to waste any productive time dealing with customers.

Sometimes it can take a few hours to do something that, with practice, you may one day be able to do in few minutes.

A week ago I had the idea that I might be able to make a lure from the plastic that my hot glue gun provides.

glue gun, plastic, and wire
I started with a glue gun, a small square of plastic (from the un-needed dividers in my new tackle box), and some wire.

In anticipation of this lure being too heavy at the back, I added two small lead weights by crimping them to the wire.

Reflective card 
I found some laser cut reflective card from some thoughtful person, who at some stage in the past, thought I was too sober, so bought me a bottle of wine.


I cut some bits out of the gift card to form the basic shrimp body shape.

half glue added to create basic shape
Next step was to build up a bit of hot glue to form the front and back, with the narrow waste I had a feeling might look like a shrimp.

finished shape

This looks a lot like a shrimp to me. It's surprising how easy this kind of thing is. I realize this in no masterpiece, but it's not as if I have any hot glue shaping skills here either.

The best thing about hot glue is you can heat it up over a flame and rework it.

This shape took about an hour of reheating, cutting bits off, and adding bits to replace the bits I just cut off.

finished hot glue glass shrimp lure 
With only a bit of imagination, it's possible to imagine this actually catching a fish.

Anyone paying more attention than they should, may notice that there are wire loops and a bib that give the impression that the lure would be towed from the front. But, after changing its shape a dozen times, I think this lure would work best twitched off the bottom, then allowed to sink back down. The fish would attack it as it sunk. To have it swim like a shrimp, it would need to be towed from the back, as when fleeing, shrimp panic backwards with flicks of their tail. The middle hook cluster would hang from the wire loop at the belly of the lure, but the hook that would be the rear should hang from the bottom of the front of the shrimp. In other words, that loop at the top, should be at the bottom.

The total length of this particular experiment is 95mm.

Handmade fishing lures - PVC

From time to time, inventions, innovations, ideas, or just dirty limericks, pop into my head and rattle around in there until I do something with them. This thought coagulated over the last few days, and became just such a rattle.

I started by cutting an arc of PVC from an eight inch pipe. I then cut the arc into smaller pieces, with one long one to act as a bib.

I stacked them up and taped them into roughly their desired position to keep them from moving while being pinned.

Next step was to drill some holes so I could pin the different arcs together with dowels.

Once pinned and glued with PVA glue I began to shape it on a bench grinder.

It's only very lightly glued so that I can pull it apart to add some kind of wire harness if it looks like working well enough as an idea to warrant finishing it.

Just out of interest it looks like this when unpacked.

Roughly finished, it looks like this.

I think the general idea might be worth exploring a bit further.

Regardless of it's merit or lack there of, it was in my head, so it had to come out.

Handmade fishing lures - Painting

Its possible to make an unattractive lure with relatively little effort.

first attempt at brush painted lure
I had a go at painting my lure with various tubes and pots of paint-like substances I found around the house. It turns out painting requires skill. Mine is limited. Although my painting skills are limited, by way of distraction, I've made up for my lack of skills with the side splitting pun contained in the caption of the next photo.

Nail polish
My research taught me a stack of stuff about painting lures. Most of it requires skills and equipment that I don't have. One thing I did find easy to apply, and as such qualifies as a tip I can pass on, was to use the head of a nail to apply a drop of black nail polish to create a shiny eye.

Just touch the nail polish against the lure without letting the nail touch. With a little practice, and a steady hand, you should get a nice, raised, perfectly round, and perfectly shiny eye-like drop left behind.

Handmade fishing lures - Harness

Lures need places to tie line to, and places to hang hooks from. So far my lures have neither.

One way I can think of to attach them, would be to make a lure so that it was split down the middle, and add wire loops to make a harness to tie stuff to, and hang stuff from. It might even be possible to use hooks as ready made eyelets.

I started by cutting two short lengths of half round dowel.

Then I drilled two holes through both to enable me to pin them with very thin dowels.

I added PVA wood glue to the pins in only one side. This will allow me to pull the halves apart once the lure is shaped.

I used a bench grinder to do all the work.

It's possible to put the curve of the grinding wheel to good use. The underside of the lure needs to be concave to aid in the diving action, and the curve of the grinding wheel matched the shape I needed quite nicely.

Roughly finished, it looks something like this.

It should now be possible to separate the two halves by carefully sliding a knife between them and gently twisting.

The plan now involves wrapping some wire around the two pins, and twisting it to form the harness.

It might also be possible to use hooks as ready-made eyelets. The picture at the top of the page is my first attempt at making a lure in two halves, and show the use of hooks as eyelets.

Handmade fishing lures - Bibs

As far as I can tell, bibs steer lures down to deeper water, and perhaps add to the action (wiggly fish-like swimming behavior). Because this is a handmade fishing lure, this needs to be a hand made bib.

I think I now have a fair understanding of the basics of what a bib should look like, and roughly how it does some of the stuff that it does. I'm sure I'll find out a lot more as I progress.

There are at least two problems I can see. One is that I don't have anything to make a bib out of, and the other is I don't know how to attach it.

 I have a new camera
My first attempt didn't do so well. I thought an old CD might make a good bib, perhaps by glueing two of them back to back. But it seems CD's are laminated, so when you try to saw them into shape, they break away into layers, leaving you with a very thin bit of frayed plastic that looks nothing like a bib. (Not that it really matters as this lure is never really going to catch fish. This particular lure is really just to discover exactly how much I don't know)

My second bib worked a bit better.

I started with a folded piece of paper and cut out half the shape, so that opening it would reveal the full shape in perfect symmetry.

I cut a bib sized section from a 200mm PVC pipe (the PVC from the media screen in the grow bed from my ongoing aquaponic fish growing caper*)

Then I glued it to the PVC with PVA wood glue (or whatever else you might have (It's only temporary)).

I then began to cut the shape out with a coping saw. My coping saw blade broke, and the glue hadn't dried so the paper came off. As I had no more saw blades, I turned on the bench grinder and just, kind of, ground it all into shape by eye.

Oddly enough that worked perfectly.

Most store bought bibs are made of clear plastic, but it seems people have a lot of handmade success with bibs made of all kinds of stuff including metal, so I'm not going to be too worried that I can't see through my bibs at this stage. What I really want to check is what this design will do in the water. Trying to prevent it flapping about on the surface is my goal at the moment.

I stuck the two pieces together with a drop of superglue to see what it looks like.

It looks like this.

Rather lure-like if you ask me.

*shameless self promotion to those who navigate here by way of fishing orientated searches 

Handmade fishing lures - Wood carving

Making fishing lures is really just me getting a foothold into being able to make stuff in general. I want to be able to make whatever I want, out of whatever material I want. Making hand made fishing lures, will introduce me to some technology that should prove useful to a stack of other things I might want to do. Things like working with plastics, wood, wire, an paint. 

Finished with sandpaper
My ultimate goal that I would hope to pick up from this would be the ability to be able to make a copy of a door knob, or a light switch surround, or a bracket to hold a bottle of fish feed. Basically I want to learn how to make stuff, and to foster a mindset that allows me to think that perhaps "I could make that". There is nothing so conducive to failure, or numbing of mind, as the perception that what you attempt cannot be achieved. By learning some methods that aid in the basic manipulation of some basic materials, it becomes apparent that all that complicated manufactured stuff in the world is really just made up of lots of simple bits from suppliers that just happened to put up the lowest price during the tender process.

This will be my first attempt at making something that looks like something that has been bought. Another reason I want to do this is because I tend not to care so much about making things look good, and I tend not to want to spend the time making things look good. So I guess my goal here is to learn patience as much as anything. I sure hope learning patience doesn't take too long. And anyway, I'm not sure if the fish will care if my lure looks good.

I've been studying a lot and reading everything I can find on the subject. I've also had an idea or two, and have a feeling there might be a few holes to fill with innovation in this lure making racket.

Firstly it seems it's pretty easy to carve a lure out of wood. Even people who claim to have no great carving ability seem to be able to do it.

I can't carve either, so I to shall be good at this!

I started with what I think is a silver birch tree.

Its way too big for a lure so some of it will have to go.

I cut most of the tree away and kept just this more manageable section of around 150mm in length.

The next step was to clean it up a bit and start to make it look less like a tree and more like a lure.

I thought I'd leave some waste wood as a handle to make it easier to hold, so as not to cut of my fingers.

It almost looks a bit like it could one day resemble a lure.

Thats about as close as I'm going to get with the knife I think.

And thats about as much as I can do with the file.

I cut the waste wood handle off, and cleaned up the cut with the file. Then I sanded the entire thing to smooth as seen in the picture at the top of this post.

I think it worked quite well. And according to the photo timestamps it took around an hour. I think I can get that down to a few minutes by just using a grinder to do the whole thing. 

It's not a lure yet but at least I know this bit is easy enough to do.

Handmade fishing lures

I'm sick of being sick, and it's cold, rainy, and stormy outside. One of our trees decided to lie down for a bit, and the river that runs through our front yard has decided to stray over its banks.

I had a blood test the other day that informed me I had too little vitamin D. I now have a doctor telling me to stand around a lot more in the sun. What sun?

I like fishing.

I like the idea of lure fishing.

Standing around in the sun is nice, but I figured I could be fishing at the same time.

I have a doctor's prescription to go fishing.

I wish I wasn't self employed. If I worked for someone else, I might be able to wrangle getting paid whilst I stand in the sun, fishing.

Making some handmade hard body lures might keep me entertained, and take my mind off how much nicer it would be if the sun was out. Then, when I have made some lures, and the sun comes out, I can justify spending more of my time standing around in the sun at the beach.

Which is nice.

Aquaponics - gripset51

I just did a test on the rubberized paint that I painted the grow bed with, and it didn't come up to scratch.

Or rather it did.

I'll start again.

The paint scratches too easily.

It might just be because its not quite dry, but I'm losing confidence. As far as I know, the product is fine. I'm just concerned that the grow bed media will scratch through to the zinc coating and I'll be left with fish losses. I'll be using scoria, and from experience with the small test system, I'm convinced it will wear through and expose the original tank underneath. Scoria is very hard and very sharp. I'll still be the gripset for the sump

I think I'll contact my fish breeder, and see if he still has grow beds for sale. When I was there to get my fish he offered me some. From memory they were once used for growing oysters or abalone or something so there wont be any issues with them being food safe or fish safe.

I have a funny feeling the current grow bed might become a solar heater. And I have an even funnier feeling I might be using it to heat my new 1000 l fish tank to increase the fish growth through next winter.

Aquaponics - Fish feeder

I like to invent stuff.

I also like my fish to be fed.

I'm going to try to combine my two likes into one uber-like.

There are probably a zillion ways to do this but I can only think of a few.

A tiny electric motor with a reduction gearbox would do the trick. If the gearbox had a reduction ratio such that it turned a drill bit extremely slowly, you could drill a hole through a plastic bottle, fill it with fish feed, and then poke the device through so that as it turned (very, very slowly) the drill would push feed out at a constant rate. Or you could hook it up to a small solar panel and make it work only when the sun was out. You could also connect it to a timer to create preset feeding times so as to be able to control exactly how much food to offer.

In order to gear my chip cooling fan motor down from around 3200 rpm, I had to jump through some hoops. To get it to turn as seen in the video, I started my reduction gearing by having the near center surface of a rotating computer fan rub against the outside edge of a fan from an old photo copier. This fan is connected to a gearbox reducing rpm even further. The photo copier fan and gearbox were connected via the thin shaft by rubber band to a thicker shaft made of PVC. The PVC was connected to the front of a fishing reel. The fishing reel acts as yet another reduction gearbox. The handle of the fishing reel was connected to a soft rubber hose to act as a uni-joint, allowing me to not have to attempt to be fussy with lining up the drill bit that went through a soft drink bottle. As this all rotated my chickens ate the delivered bird seed under the decking.

This is still turning way too fast to be useful unless connected to a timer. It's also way too zany to be put into actual use.

Aquaponics - Ich

Ich, or Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, is a protozoa that causes all manner of fishy itchyness. What a protozoa is, is anybody's guess. But it has an interesting life cycle and is some kind of parasite that likes fish.

Best practice would be to quarantine any new fish for a couple of weeks before adding them to your system. I aspire to second-best practice. But this isn't currently an issue because I'm not adding any new fish. I just thought you should know that.

Its a fair bet that ich colonize most aquaponics systems, fish tanks, rivers, and wherever fish hang out. Normally healthy fish seem to cope with the odd parasitic occupant, as long as the fish are not stressed, are well fed, and are generally otherwise healthy and happy. When fish are not so healthy they find it a little harder to fight off infections, parasites, and whatever else that spends it's time bothering fish.

My fish have been through a lot and, it would be safe to assume that they are perhaps not as fit as they could be. In fact its probably safe to assume that they have suffered some gill damage as a result of the poison shrub they were probably exposed to. Perhaps as a result, they are showing signs of what might be a dose of ich.

Signs of ich include fish rubbing on things, presumably trying to itch themselves, and small white growths on their skin.

Ich are up to 1mm in size, and burrow into fish skin and gills, where they live on bits of fish and blood. Once fully grown, the adult ich beastie (tomont) falls to the bottom of the tank or comes to rest on something where it builds a crusty roof over its head and spends a day or so dividing into around 2000 other smaller beasties called tomites. When they get bored and leave their crusty home they are called theronts. Theronts are elongated, can swim, and have a gland that aids in burrowing into a fish where the whole shebang starts all over again. If you're a fish, nature sure is irritating.

When the fish gets one of these beasties under their skin they do what most animals do with this kind of thing. They basically try to build a pearl around it in the form of some gristle like crunchy stuff. I'm guessing calcium and some other stuff. It doesn't matter.  This fishmeat capsule makes it difficult for us to kill off the beasty, so we get it when it's doing the dropping to the bottom, and swimming around stages, when it becomes vulnerable to various chemical treatments.

If your fish are in an aquarium this means buying something from an aquarium shop or vet.

These treatments are unsuitable for fish destined for the table, so in aquaponics we treat ich with salt.

The addition of iodine-free, and anti-caking agent free pure cooking salt is used. Treatment should be at 3 parts pure salt per thousand parts water. That is a scary amount of salt to be adding to a fresh water fish tank, and takes a certain amount of courage to actually do the final adding it to the water bit.

One other way to stop the ich cycle is to deprive them of their fish hosts for 3 or 4 days. ie a fish tank left without fish for a few days will be rid of them.

Cheese - Blue (and brown) vein

I did say I would do 120 things in 20 years, but made no reference to doing those 120 things particularly well. I need to try harder. Or use salt when its called for.

It's a shame I called it cheese instead of penicillin. It may have been successful as penicillin.

It actually smells a lot like a nice cheese, but unless I can find someone within the next few days who doesn't like to be alive so much any more, I don't think anyone will be tasting  it.

Sadly the other one is also going mouldy. This one has a much better texture than the first, but no pleasant aroma. In fact it has almost no aroma. Extra bland blue (and brown) vein cheese has no market potential as far as my research can determine.

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