There are countless lure options on the market, and pretty much all of them will work in various scenarios. However, there’s always room for innovation, and of course, buying a bunch of lures gets pretty expensive.
One thing every angler should delve into, whether you have deep pockets or you’re barely able to buy a new pack of hooks once a month, is lure crafting.
However, actually doing so can be a little difficult at first. If you don’t have any experience, making lures that work can seem impossible.
So, here’s a complete guide to get you into custom lure crafting for bass with minimal tools or experience.
Let’s get started.
Why Craft Custom Bass Lures?
With so many options on the market, you might be wondering why you should bother putting time and effort into crafting bass fishing lures. After all, you can run to any store with a tackle section, grab something random off the shelf, and assume that’ll work at least reasonably well.
That might be true, but there are several reasons that crafting your own lures is something you need to at least try.
Here are a few examples.
1: Budget-Friendly Fishing
In the modern world, every dollar counts. So, it’s not always a good idea to buy every single lure from the store. If you can make a lot of different lures with basic materials, you can save your fishing budget for the fancy stuff that’s harder to recreate.
This can help you save money while still having good stuff where it counts.
2: No Limits
The only limitation you have when making custom lures is your own creativity. Well, you also have to have the tools and materials to get the job done, but most of that is in the average man’s toolbox. So, that’s not much of a concern.
This allows you to try out new ideas instead of relying on a brand to come up with something and produce it. If you want a soft plastic worm with a spinner blade sticking out of its head, we can’t guarantee it will work, but you can make it.
3: Engagement in the Sport
When you get bitten by the fishing bug, you get absorbed into the sport. That’s just something that happens to all of us. Unfortunately, you can’t fish all the time. Whether it’s the weather or you just have too much to do to take time out for fishing, it’s not something you can do 24/7.
Crafting your own lures is something you can do that engages with the sport when you’re not able to actually go fishing. It’s like a football fan booting up Madden during the off-season. Except you’re actually making something that will flesh out your tackle box for your next fishing trip.
It also gives you a better understanding of your store-bought lures. When you make your own, you see how lures actually work on a deeper level than you do just cracking open a package and chucking a lure in a pond.
What You’ll Need
Crafting lures can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. However, since you’re obviously new to it, we’re not going to give you a bunch of design ideas that require you to build an entire lure-crafting workshop worth thousands of dollars in specialty equipment. You can get started and make amazing lures with very few tools and materials. You probably even have most of it.
Here’s a basic list of what you’ll need, and we’ll highlight specific materials as necessary.
Tungsten or lead weights
Split-ring pliers (most fishing pliers are split-ring pliers)
Saw (Metal and wood saws are necessary. Get a hacksaw with multiple blade options for a one-tool option)
Paints and wood finishes
Drill and bits
Various fishing hooks
Small eyelet screws
Sandpaper or similar grinding and polishing device
Polymer clay (for all soft plastic lures)
Pocket knife suitable for carving and cutting materials
Safety glasses and gloves
If you can put those basic tools and supplies in a decent work area, you’ll be able to tackle all these projects without buying specialty items outside of the materials each specific lure is made from. For example, we didn’t list wood or spoons because those are used for specific lure types.
Best Beginner-Friend Lure Designs
Once you have a basic shop area set up, it’s time to do some lure crafting for bass fishing.
These are all beginner-friendly, but each one will still take some practice to develop the skills necessary to get good at it.
1: The Homemade Spoon
This is the easiest lure to make at home, and it still lets you get creative. Outside of the materials in your shop, you’ll need a spoon. We recommend choosing one that has a bowl the size of the lure you want to make.
To start, clamp the spoon by its handle. Whether you’re working at a proper workbench or just an old desk, the clamp should be secured to the work surface. Now, use your metal saw to hack off the handle, and try to get the cut as close to the spoon’s bowl as possible.
You can discard the handle, or you can cut it to size and use the same steps we describe here to make a square spoon and minimize waste.
Now, clamp the spoon to your work surface and drill two small holes. One hole should be at the fat end of the spoon bowl, and the other should be a few millimeters from the tip.
The rest is super simple. Using sandpaper, a file, or a powered grinding tool, smooth out the cut section and the edges of both holes. You don’t want any sharp angles on the spoon, or you can cut your line.
Now, attach split rings to both holes, put a swivel on the tip of the spoon, and attach an appropriate hook to the fat end of the spoon. You can sand and paint the spoon however you like before attaching the hardware, or you can just leave it bare.
2: Hand-Carved Jerks and Sticks
This is a fun one, but it does require a little more time, effort, and practice. You can make your own jerk baits and stick baits out of wood, and you can even adjust how they behave in the water column.
To do this, get a template for the shape and size of the lure you want to make. You can design this on your own with a pencil, or you can download a template online.
You’ll need some wood for this. You can either buy a 2x4 or other piece of construction wood from your local hardware store, or you can use reclaimed wood from furniture people leave on the curb. Just make sure it’s solid wood and not particle board. If you buy it, don’t worry. One 8-foot 2x4 will make dozens of lures.
Transfer your template to the wood, and then cut the wood to size with your saw. You want a little extra material on each side of the template, but not so much that it takes forever to shape the lure.
Now, start carving out the shape. If you have a Dremel, that will speed this process up with sanding bits. However, you can use a pocket knife, too.
Once you’ve shaped the lure, you need to add an eyelet screw to the tip of the lure for tying it on, and you need one for each hook you plan to attach. Pre-drill the holes with a bit that is smaller than the diameter of the screw to prevent tear-out.
You have a choice now. Do you want the lure to sink, or do you want it to float? If you want it to sink, drill holes matching the diameter and depth of the weights you have in the belly of the lure. You can then push in the weights and superglue them. The more weight you add, the faster and deeper it sinks. If you don’t add weights, it will float unless you “pop” it back with your retrieval method.
Finally, just paint it how you want and put a clear coat on it to protect it from water damage. Using split rings, attach your hooks.
3: Recycling Worn-Out Soft Plastics
Soft plastic lures are great. They look natural in the water, they’re cheap, and you can find them in so many varieties that it can get overwhelming. However, they’re not very durable. You’ll end up with hundreds of ripped or damaged soft plastic lures by the end of the year.
This custom lure design lets you breathe new life into those lures instead of throwing them away. It’s also simple.
You’ll need a cooking pot, your worn-out lures, and polymer clay for this one. A funnel also helps with a later step.
To start, sort all your useless lures into different groups depending on their coloring. We’re going to give you instructions for a single-color lure, but you can experiment with multiple colors and mix your own colors as you practice.
Now, using polymer clay, make a mold that will match the type of lure you’re making. You can use a soft plastic lure you love as a reference, or you can use a toy or similar hard object to make an impression. For a simple Senko-style design, just make a straight channel in the clay. It helps to use enough clay that you can make multiple molds in one piece. This will let you make several lures at once instead of doing them one at a time.
Now, put your pot on a heat source such as a hot plate or stove, and set the heat source to the lowest setting. Dump all the lures of the same color into the pot before it heats up. You want to control the heat and keep it minimal, or you’ll scorch the plastic and ruin it. You just want to melt it.
Make sure to wear appropriate breathing masks and ventilate whatever area you do this in. The fumes are toxic.
Once your lures are melted, pour them over the mold, and use a piece of cardboard, a painter’s tool, or any other scraping device to smooth out the top of the mold.
Once the plastic cools, you’ve got a bunch of new soft plastics. You can keep recycling them, too!
4: The Homemade Popper
This is a super simple one, and beyond items from the tool list we gave you earlier, you just need an old cork or a piece of wood. We prefer cork because it’s faster to work with and doesn’t take on water. You can buy corks in bulk for cheap, or you can just collect them from people who happen to like wine.
First, look at the fat end of the cork and draw two straight lines to create a +. That will give you the center of the cork.
Now, you can use a file or knife to create a cupped indent, with the lowest point being in the center. This will make the “pop” and splash that poppers are known for.
Screw a small eyelet screw directly in the middle of the cup, and screw another one in the back end’s center using the same line trick we mentioned during the cutting phase. Attach your preferred hook in the rear with a split ring, and use another split ring on the eyelet for a better attachment point.
That’s it. You can paint it or seal it if you want, but you now have a homemade popper. If you use wood, the only difference is that you’ll have to shape the body, and you’ll have to use a drill to get the eyelets in. Cork is soft enough that you can just do it by hand.
Use Your New Lures with the BassForecast App
Alright, once you’re done with lure crafting for bass and have a bunch of new lures made, you’re going to want to use them.
The best way to give your homemade lures the best chance at making a good impression is to use the BassForecast fishing app to find the perfect spot with the right conditions for each lure.
Download the app today for useful tips, detailed maps, real-time weather data, spot-on solunar, and more.