Why balsa?

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I am no carver yet but looking in to it. One thing I havent figured out is why balsa is the standard wood for crankbaits. Would'nt my local wood work just as well even if its a bit heavier. As I see it the junk is going down anyway, right? Is it a wobble thing?


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Fernet. Balsa is by no means the standard wood, there is no 'standard' wood. Just about any wood can be used.

Setting aside all the build advantages and disadvantages of the various woods, the only attribute of the wood that affects the swim of the lure, is its density.

For a lively lipped crankbait with a lot of action, a light wood is favourite. If you want a more subtle action, go for something a bit heavier. The light wood allows you to group the ballast in one place and control the centre of gravity, the pivot point for the action. The tail of the bait, being very light, has less inertia and moves easier.

With a heavier wood, the tail would have more inertia and would give less movement.

Gliders have different requirements. As I don't know much about gliders or other types of lure, I will leave that to someone else to explain their density requirements.

There are many other attributes of wood to be considered in the selection process. How easy is it to work with, how easy is it to drill, seal methods can vary too.

I'm sure I have missed a few points. There have been several threads discussing wood selection. Try a search on the name of the wood you are considering, to find opinions.

Got carried away again. Yes, it is a wobble thing.


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Balsa is one of the most buoyant woods and it gives you a crankbait with very lively wiggle and fast float, which is optimum for shallow crankbaits since you can bump cover and the bait will quickly float up so you can continue the retrieve. It can be used on any type bait with enough ballast (even deep divers). You can use heavier woods like pine, cedar, basswood, etc and they require less ballast to float - and they all have different performance, so it's up to the baitmaker to choose wood to suit how he wants his baits to perform. Of the woods typically available in local stores in most areas, white cedar and basswood are probably the most used for crankbaits.

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@ Fernet

I would probably use balsa only for baits smaller than 2 1/2" (63 mm) , since you need a certain buoancy to carry all hardware plus having enough room for trimming the lure with ballast weight and still keep it afloat .

My prefered wood for medium sized crankbaits is abachewood , learned this from a book by Hans Nordin(you as a Swedish guy I am certain , that you know him) .

Bigger lures I make of teakwood or also beechwood .

Sometimes I also use pinewood , but in my opinion its not the best choice .

greetz , diemai

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