There’s a feeling of freedom on the open water, where the warmth of the summer sun burns off the last memories of a chilly spring and cold winter and the whirl of a spinner blade in tow behind a bottom bouncer mimics the buzz of increasing life in the world around us. The tap-and-tug of a walleye on the end of that combo also provides a reminder that the region’s favorite quarry is a popular summer pursuit, which doesn’t always come easy. But through the advantages crafting your own tackle in the offseason provides, one can be ready for them – and any other fish pursued – in any water; but the benefits of lure making go far beyond just having a bunch of baits ready to roll.
After studying the most recent survey reports for one of my favorite nearby waters, I made note of a recent insurgence of bluegills in the sample nets where there had not been many in seasons before. With a limited forage base for the walleyes in the lake, I figured a little tweaking to my standard chartreuse-and-silver crawler harness selection was in order,
and I added a few new patterns in darker hues, including some realistic bluegill blades to the spinner rolls in my tackle box. On a short trip over the weekend, I boated 20 walleyes on the darker spinner patterns, including a pair of chunky 19-inchers coming on the bluegill pattern I had put together.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of the lure-making process is being able to build baits which are completely customizable. Whether it’s trout on the fly, crappies on jigs, walleyes on spinners or crankbaits, or big fish on bucktails, creative lure makers know how to incorporate the colors that work on their waters, and take seasonal and forage cues to make baits that flat out catch fish. Incorporating these factors not only increases the odds of success, but also makes connecting with fish that much more rewarding knowing that the creation came from your own intuition and handiwork.
The message popped up in the corner of my computer, “Can you make these?” It was followed by a link to what is supposedly the hottest muskie lure on the market, which is really nothing more than the double-bladed flashabou in-line spinner with a third, smaller blade added in front of the size 12 blades.
While looking the lure over on the dealer’s website I typed my response, with my confidence rapidly turning into bewilderment: “Sure, just tie in a stop up the spinner shaft and…HOLY CATS…they’re charging fifty bucks for one of these things…for the addition of a two dollar blade?!?”
Bemused at how such a small addition could turn a thirty-dollar retail lure into a fifty-dollar version, I came to the conclusion that not only had I gotten into the wrong line of business, but also that muskie fishermen will pay just about anything for the promise of landing the fish of 10,000 casts. I set to work immediately on a series of the baits – in the colors I know work on our favorite waters – and dropped the price tag on these lures by over $30. Generally speaking, making your own lures will save you about fifty percent off the retail price tag at the local tackle shop and gives you a fun way to pass the time in the off season. From small panfish jigs to the biggest bucktails for muskies and pike, being able to stock up on lures at a two-to-one ratio (or better) means a greater array of offerings in your arsenal when you hit the water.
Lure making also provides the opportunity to flex those creative muscles anglers might not know they have. Fishing has always been a mix of science and art, and tackle crafting is a bit more of the latter. Experiment with colors and the vast selection of materials that are available to the modern fisherman and find new ways to catch fish. Add silicone legs to flies, dressed trailer hooks to crankbaits and spinner baits, or take the plunge and try your hand at airbrushing new color patterns on hardbaits and topwaters for everything from bass to walleyes to muskies. Whatever you’ve wanted to make, or simply add to a lure can be done with a little ingenuity and creativity.
After all, there’s a reason why those innovative companies can charge so much for their one-of-a-kind baits; they thought of them first! See what advantages you can craft when you add lure making to your total angling experience. My guess is you’ll be surprised at what you come up with and at how much more successful and rewarding your fishing efforts will be, when you cast out an offering of your own creation…in our outdoors.