As promised, I will go over a basic shad color paint job that will work to paint or repaint any topwater plug or crank bait. I will be painting a plug I made in an article from a few weeks ago.
The first thing I want to talk a little about is wood preparation. A lot of primers will not hold up to the constant soaking of water. There are a couple of ways to address this. One is to pre-seal the bait with either a resin or epoxy. This is probably the most readily available method, and what this does is soak into the wood to create a water barrier which prevents lifting. The other thing your can do use a product called Propionate. This is a soaking process that works into the wood and hardens and seals it before final sanding and priming.
There are many places to purchase primers and paint. Here are a couple links.
I strongly suggest getting an airbrush for the use of specialty paints rather than just using spray paint. A decent one can be purchased for around $50.00, or so you don’t necessarily need a high dollar airbrush for painting baits.
Once your bait is sealed and you have a coat of primer you will want to finish sand your bait with some 500 or 600 grit sand paper before you paint. You are now ready for your first coat of paint. I will be starting with a white base. Next, wrap your bait in a small piece of tulle - this is a mesh fabric that can be purchased at any fabric store, and it makes a great scale pattern. Lightly coat using a silver metallic or pearl. Be careful not to put on to heavy of a coat, this will cause smearing.
After applying the scale pattern, use the same silver to blend it out slightly on the back nose and tail of your bait.
Apply a small amount of black along the back and nose of the bait. I like to add a spot behind the gill as well as area as well as a small gill detail.
You’re getting close. I like to add my eyes at this point. This will insure a good seal if you apply clear over them. Finally, it is time to clear coat your bait. It can be painted or brushed with a super strong epoxy. Epoxies can be purchased at any hardware store or hobby shop.
There are a million different ways you can paint your baits and the more you do it the better you will get.