As promised: here is a ‘how-to’ on wooden plug making. The process is pretty easy, and it can be rewarding catching fish on a bait you have made yourself.
I’ll start by talking about materials, wood types, and tools needed. I prefer to use a few types of wood for my baits: cedar, poplar, basswood, pine, and balsa. These are all soft, highly buoyant woods that are great for top water plugs. E-bay is a great source for pieces of wood without ever leaving home.
First and foremost you will need a lathe to start off your lure, or a round piece of wood such as a pine dowel. These can be purchased at just about any hardware store. Here is a link to Harbor Freight. They sell a lathe-6” sander combo for only $100. The quality won’t be the best in the world, but if you consider that most plugs sell from $20-$50, it will pay for itself pretty quickly.
Harbor Freight Lathe/Sander
You can also buy premade plugs such as these:
Shaping above and beyond this is totally up to the lure maker-the possibilities are endless. This is the point at which you will want decide what you will be using for a tail. Just open up any one of your worm boxes and the ideas will start flowing. I am using a large fluke-style tail on mine. This will determine the closing tail size and shape of your bait.
Some tools to help shape your lure further are a 6” electric sander, various files, 80 grit sandpaper (you will be surprised how fast these materials work down), and maybe an Exacto blade or wood carving set for detail. I usually finish sand with about 150 grit and then work down to 400.
As far as hardware supplies for your lures, here are few choices:
You will need hooks, hook eyes, paint, clear-coat or epoxy coat, eyes, some sort of a tail (worm or small swimbait).
I have made a jointed bait here, but you can also make single-piece topwater plugs. If you choose to make a jointed bait here is a simple method. Choose your joint area and mark a 30 to 45 degree V to be cut. This can be done on a band saw or by hand using a small miter box. I used a marker here so you could see it well in the photo; however you will not want to do this as it will bleed through the final paint. Once you have cut the V you will need to cut a receiving slot for your eye hook. Make this with the band saw or by hand again. Drill a small hole and insert a pin. The pin should be made out of a stainless piece of rod so it will not rust. Remember to drill the hole just a tad smaller than the rod so it can be hammered in tight. You can also use a galvanized nail for this pin.
Next, decide if you want to add a lip or not. Adding one will give the bait more wobble. If you choose not to it will make for more of darting bait. Lips can be purchased at some of the above mentioned sites or cut out of a small piece of plastic from the hardware store or hobby shop. Cut a slot for it and epoxy or super glue it in place.
The eye hooks can be put in now or after paint. I usually prime my baits with an automotive primer. You can get this in a small can at a local automotive store, or DupliColor makes some good spray can products. The above lure suppliers will also sell various paints. The baits can be spray painted, hand painted, or airbrushed - whatever you have available to you. The possibilities are endless here. Once you are done, add some clear paint or epoxy to seal the deal and you’re ready for hooks and some topwater action. I will do a post on the steps of painting a bait next week.
Things you will need: