Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Fishing Handmade Lures, 2009 Edition

Fishing Handmade Lures, 2009 Edition

Last year, I opined that there is nothing as fun as fishing with lures you've crafted yourself. For many years, I tied flies and got that special rush you only get when you get a fish to rise to something you've crafted from hand.

Lately, however, I've been in to making lures. At first I made larger plugs, suitable for pike and musky fishing, and had an absolute blast doing it. The past several years, though, I've really gotten into crafting fly rod lures. Here's a few of the ones that have worked best over the past five years:

A selection of hand-made lures, including my favorite floating turtles.

Do they catch fish? Darn right they do, and big ones too. These lures were mostly designed for fishing bass topwater, so they are awkward to cast with a fly rod. My brother has utilized a neat hybrid method of fishing them that allows you to still use the fly rod, with all of its wonderous properties, and yet cast these babies further than you can with a traditional fly line.

We use medium weight composite fly rods--8.5' to 9' in length--and small spinning reels with 4 pound test line. It takes some getting used to having the spinning reel at the end of the reel seat, but with some practice you can heave these little lures 50 feet or more with ease.

Are they effective? You be the judge. Here I am with an average Northern Wisconsin smallmouth of around 16". It hit the lure at the bottom right of the picture above--a balsa wood minnow with a swan tip tail--so hard it was amazing. It came out of the water on several occasions, and fought like a titan. What a beauty!

A heckuva nice smallmouth.

The skeptics among you might be saying "well, how do we know he caught the fish on a lure he made?" It didn't occur to me until that night when my dad asked the same question. So the next morning, I hit a secret hot spot early armed with my favorite style lure. It's a 2.25" Pikie Minnow look alike carved from pine, with two small size 16 trebles. I also make this lure with through wire construction out of cedar, which is lighter, but I wanted a little heft to be able to cast out where the fish were from shore. Here's what happened:

Almost immediately, the Fishing Gods smile. Fish On! My buddy Marc, camera in hand, captures the action.

Fightin' like a monster. I'm hoping I can keep it on. We battle for five minutes like this.

First sight--It's a big one. A REALLY big one. Hey, what's that hanging out of its mouth?

With four pound test line, I probably only have one chance to lip this baby. Can we zoom in an see what enticed this denizen of the depths to so viciously strike?

Yes. Yes we can. I know the suspense is killing you...

Got it! 20 inches of fightin' northern Smallmouth. My streak of nine consecutive years with a 20" or bigger smallie is still alive!

Close up of my favorite fish in the whole world...but can we get any closer?

Yes. Yes we can.

After removing the lure, the bass swims back to the depths, to fight another day.

All joking aside, my point in putting together this little photo essay is to show that anyone can make their own lures, and with a little practice, can catch fish on them. Even big fish. And trust me when I say I am in no sense a talented luresmith like many out there. If I can do this, I promise that you can, too. And you'll have fun doing it!

If anyone's interested, I can put a photo essay together on how to make this effective little fly rod Pikie wannabe lure. It's surprisingly easy and requires only a few tools. I've taken a lot of fish on them on many colors, although I definitely prefer black head/white for immediate post-spawn bass.

Lots more from my last fishing trip--including catching fish on a composite, glass, and bamboo fly rod all in the same day--but that will have to wait for another post.

-- Dr. Todd

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