The attached picture is an original 9" AC Plug Minnow with Allan Cole signature. They sold to Optimum Baits. The top 2 are 7" AC Minnows made by Optimum that I have stripped for repaint. I have been making baits similar to these but with more of a verticle profile like a golden shiner that we have here in the delta. Optimum Baits does not make them anymore. They are productive baits that I want in my tackle box. I may be the responsible person that caused Mark to consider making a bait out of anything except PVC but he has heard the wood knock of my baits. Wood is more trouble but it fishes well and there is nothing like that wood knock like knocking on your front door to help call fish up.
I made the first ones out of Bass wood, then I made two out of Pine, and now one of Balsa. I am always trying to get a good seal on the baits which is crucial for longevity and helps with the knock. I have been using Penetrating Epoxy which is a two part 2:1 Epoxy which is used to penetrate and stabilize wood that has lost strength due to dry rot or other failures. I can't find it in their store anymore. Tap Plastics told me it is just a longer cure 2 part epoxy that is also thinner.
The key to my application is to heat the wood with my heat gun and keep applying this epoxy. This expands the air out of the end grain so that it sucks the epoxy in and gives me durability for my knock at the hinge. Previously I applied the epoxy then heated the lure and it really foams up. I like the idea of boiled linseed oil overnight soak but it still seems like I need to heat the wood up first or the air is just trapped in the wood end grain. Wood is like a bunch of tiny straws. However we do it, we still only really increase the amount of sealer at the end grain, I don't think any more sealer gets into the side and does not increase the durability of the sides of the "straws" because it doesn't soak in. The only way you can get more durability on the sides is with more coats for more thickness.
Most of us who have been here awhile remember the video of the wood lure in sealer in a vacuum chamber. Flip the vacuum pump on and it looks like is blows up with all the air coming out of the wood end grain. You can get enough sealer sucked into the wood to make it sink like this. That is not what I am trying to do. Just warm up the wood enough that you get it a little ways into the end grain. By the way, I use a fan on low to keep fumes moving off from my work station. I am always wondering how either Allan Cole or Mike Shaw sealed their baits because they got them fairly durable.
The last bait I made, the Balsa one, is probably at least half again more active waking than the Basswood ones but it is more difficult to make durable. (All wood baits will fail) The penetrating epoxy works well, but with the really light weight soft woods I have to put multiple coats of UV Cure Polyester Resin to help keep the hooks from penetrating the top coat.
I would be interested to hear others opinions on this.