CL Rods

Balsa filler, wire and assembly questions

35 posts in this topic

I have been using more Balsa lately versus just Basswood, and while I like the buoyancy and ease of shaping, the overall process seems more tedious and time consuming than Basswood. I have been cutting a slot in the bait, inserting a through wire assembly, epoxying the through wire in place, then filling the rest of the slot with wood filler. Then you have to re-sand before sealing to remove the excess filler. Well with the fillers I have tried (Elmers, PL and one I can't remember) there just doesn't seem to be a means of filling and applying without a lot of mess which just adds to the overall time of making a Balsa bait.

With basswood I was using twisted SS wire method for the hangers... versus a through wire and the strength and ease of process is just so much cleaner and quicker. Is anyone using twisted SS wire with Balsa? Do you feel you get the strength you need from this method?

I am just curious what the prevalent methods of making a Balsa bait are. Through wire vs: Twisted? Slots vs Cutting entirely in half? If you cut in half do you shape before or after? What filler you prefer if you use slot method, or what glue you prefer if you cut in half?

benton b and mavrick look like they might use twisted in balsa and palmetto Balsa and Bob P look like they cut in halves and epoxy. If that has changed how about and update to your methods (please).

Any feedback would be appreciated.

ps: this is not for swimbaits as I did look a JBlaze hinge test regarding strength.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Screw eye versus thru-wire may depend on the density of your balsa and your build technique. Both methods work but I don't think there's any doubt that thru-wire is more durable. Whether screw eye is sufficient is a judgement call. I prefer thru-wire. I shape and sand first, then split the bait, add the wire frame and ballast, and rejoin the halves with 5 minute epoxy. Yes, it's more work than basswood. I don't use wood filler except for a small dab I run around the glue joint to hide it. Also, the epoxy makes a nice solid "backbone" inside. Same principle as the Bomber balsa baits with the plastic backbone. The jackass who ends up with the bait may make it last for a few extra casts before the head snaps off as he repeatedly smacks the lure on the water to clear grass off the hooks.:(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

76Gator, I use both methods. I use the hobby balsa available at Hobby Lobby I don't think it is a dense balsa. I have not had a twisted wire pull out yet. I drill out the holes for the twisted wire hanger or tow eye then put it in all the way next I put a few drops of thin CA right at the neck of the wire where it disappears into the wood, it will follow the wire all the way in and harden the wood as it glues the pin in. this stuff is so thin that it will actually penetrate from the center of the pin hole thru the grain of the balsa and glue your fingers to the wood. There is no epoxy needed on the wire or in the hole it ain't gonna pull out in my opinion.

On the swimbait that I tested which you read about, the tow eye pin and the rear hook hanger that I had the bucket of weights suspended from never budged they were installed with the thin CA their length was 1 1/4 inch. If I remember right they were holding 54 lbs of weight.

I still have the two halves of that swimbait. I have been meaning to see how much weight it will take to pull those twisted pins out but have not done so yet. You might take a piece of scrap Balsa and try this method and see how much pressure it takes to pull it out of the wood. There is no doubt that thru wire is stronger but I don't think any of our bass here in Tennessee is going to pull one out, not even a mean ole Smallmouth. I Hope this makes you feel a little more secure about twisted wire hangers and tow eyes.

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bob is correct, it is all about the density of the balsa. Unfortunately, balsa comes in a wide range of densities, from about 0.07gm/cm3 (model aircraft balsa) up to 0.2gm/cm3. The heavier stuff will take twisted eyes, but the lighter stuff will NOT.

To have confidence in your lures, you have to do a pull test. It is very easy and costs nothing. Length of string, test piece and a bucket of water.

Just my opinion, but if the lure cannot hold 20Lbs, then you should seriously think about through wire.

Personally, I have set myself the standard of 40Lbs for 24 hours.

It is not just about the fish. Fighting a record breaker fish is not going to even aproach 10Lbs load on the lure. Your rod will probably snap before the eye fails. But if your bait hangs and you have to stress the tackle, it would be nice to get the bait back and just replace the hook.

If you sell the lure and an idiot pulls the eye out on a rock, then your reputation as a lure builder is in the gutter.

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure who suggested this but I got it on TU. It works well for filling in around the weight hole. You might try using it for a filler in your slotted baits and that is mixing sawdust with epoxy and working this into the slot. It is a lot easier to work with and not near as messy as some of the other fillers. I get the sawdust out of my band saw and mix enough to form a thick paste.

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Screw eyes and epoxy will work fine in a dense piece of balsa.

I make wire through baits. Start with 2 halves, add ballast, harness, Elmer's wood glue and clamp. Then cut a lip slot and carve the bait.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John. Finlander was the first to mention epoxy + sawdust as a filler: http://www.tackleunderground.com/forum/hard-baits/12618-thru-wire-holes-2.html see posts 1 + 13. It also mentions silica (microballoons).

I have seen CA + silica used in a hobby shop, also CA + sawdust mentioned by Redg8r: http://www.tackleunderground.com/forum/hard-baits/1316-thru-wire-lure.html post No4.

Elmers + sawdust got a few mentions too. I like this one, but you have to give it time to dry and it is no good for filling big/deep holes. Also it will need sealing.

There are lots of old threads on this subject worth reading. But it is good to air the question again, to get updates and new ideas.

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

thanks for all of the responses! I am going to go ahead and try testing twisted wire on one and give it a test first. But I guess it is just going to take a bit more effort regardless of splitting the bait or not but I do like the sawdust idea and had actually read that thread.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Try a loose barrel twist. In my pull tests, I found it much stronger than a regular haywire twist (thanks Hazmail).

I could not find one on my desk, so just nipped down to the cave and made a couple.

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

West Systems makes a colloidal filler for epoxy. I'm pretty sure I didn't spell that correctly, but close enough for a web search. It thickens the epoxy while keeping the structural integrity. I think it might be close to the micro ballons someone mentioned earlier. After the epoxy sets it is easy to sand and stronger than elmer's and sawdust.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the other part of this thread, 'wood fillers', years ago (maybe 25/30, I forget???) when I used to sell and make them out of balsa, I invested $8 and done an autopsy on a Rapala sinking minnow to see what they used for coatings/sealer etc (yes they were $8 here 25 years ago, now they are about $16)- I was amazed, looking through the big magnifying glass, I could see the crystals of what appeared to be model aircraft dope used as a sealer (had a sniff of course, and detected the acetone), so started to use this, its cheap, and like propionate, you can reactivate it with acetone. It worked well, hardened up the balsa and seemed to be waterproof - I know now it was probably propionate, so I was wrong!!

Getting back to the wood filler bit- ever since then, instead of PVA and dust, I have used this 'dope/dust mix' as a wood filler in furniture etc, you just get a teaspoon of very fine dust from your sander bag, (the same as the wood you are using of course) , and mix it with some dope, push it 'proud' into a nail hole, and you finish up with a dark dot, but when dry (15 min) , and sanded it is the best match I can get- come to think of it , I have never tried Prop and saw dust, it is probably as good or better. For those who have never smoked/used 'Dope', it is the stuff the aeroplane modellers paint on the paper on the wings, as it dries it shrinks and tightens up the paper like a drum, buy it a the hobby shop for about $10 a litre here, so it would be $5 a gallon there.pete.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've only used the twisted wire hangers and so far none have pulled out. Try sealing your baits with super glue also, makes a balsa bait hard as a rock.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've only used the twisted wire hangers and so far none have pulled out. Try sealing your baits with super glue also, makes a balsa bait hard as a rock.

How are you applying the super glue as a sealer? How much does it take, and where are you buying it in quantity enough to use as a sealer?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I buy the little 4 tube packs at Walmart and I just rub it on the bait with my finger. I wrap a piece of plastic bag around my finger and don't apply any pressure to the bait while rubbing. I can coat 5-6 small baits from 1 tube. It dries in approx 30 min and I sand with 320 grit and then do a coat of epoxy for nice smooth surface to paint.

This is the best sealing method I've used.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(I've only used the twisted wire hangers and so far none have pulled out. Try sealing your baits with super glue also, makes a balsa bait hard as a rock. )

benton b is correct. It does make the balsa very hard. For safetys sake, I recommend that you do this outside or have a fan blowing across your work area. I am not sure how bad they are for you but the fumes from this stuff give me a terrible headache. I now have a paint booth to carry the fumes away when I use CA.

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just curious if you guys using the screw or twist eye are fishing for anything like Pike or Muskie. I just started to use balsa and I am unsure if it stong enough for them. Right now I am using the threw wire with epoxy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Super Glue (CA Glue) is not waterproof. This would make a poor sealer if you don't have an impenetrable topcoat.

For balsa baits a good waterproof sealer, solid paint, and strong yet not brittle topcoat will make the baits that will stand the test of time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just curious if you guys using the screw or twist eye are fishing for anything like Pike or Muskie. I just started to use balsa and I am unsure if it stong enough for them. Right now I am using the threw wire with epoxy.
To me me through wire is the only way for muskys. Ive had many balsa baits blow apart while fishing with them. My friends and I had one perticular bait that we used to call the one fish bait. This bait was a fish catching machine but wouldnt hold up. They would bust down the grain and big chunks of balsa would be missing. Even the bagley monster shad only has a few fish in them before they crack( used to use them alot on cave run).I just wouldnt trust anything but through wire for musky just from the numerous baits that ive had crack or blow up. I remember on perticular fish I caught that half the bait was missing and caught him on the wire itself and this bait was a well known bait makers bait(I wont metion his bait or his name).very rare anymore do I even throw these bait because of this. The only time I use thes is when Im creek fishing for smaller fish and not on big water were one might slame into a 50 incher. Im not saying that it wont hold a 50 but my luck this would be the day it would bust apart. These baits bust when musky fishing right down the grain and I wont trust twisted wire for this. You can do all the pull test you want and say it will hold but pull test dont acount for pressure and torque on the bait. So in may opinion you will never see me throw anything made of balsa without through wire. Edited by jamie

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I were building baits for Musky or Pike I would not use balsa wood.

It is not the proper material for fish like that. I have made some cedar wake baits with the twisted wire hangers and those have stood up to 15lb red fish. I only build bass cranks so I have no fear of the hangers being pull out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I myself dont make balsa baits for musky but I was given about thirty or so 6 and 8 inch cranks by a very good friend who passed away who fished with them. There action is great but they dont hold up for the long run. The monster shad that I used to fish with was a fad on the lake a few years ago and today I dont throw them for the cracking factor. I still fish with the cranks on small water, in my mind Im still fishing with him when I use them. I carry a picture of my best friend in my tackle box and he is still with me on every trip.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks guys I just got into it so alot of my baits are still experimental, but it is always nice to hear what people with more experiance think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the subject of pull testing, have you guys ever used a piece of the actual fishing line to hang the lure while you test it?

I bet the line/knot will fail before the glue/epoxy.

My test is a pair of vise grips and my hands. If I can't pull it out, neither can the fish.

Dave,

I agree with the barrel roll vs. haywire twist. I had the tail section, which had only one haywire twist hinge, actually unscrew on one of my early jointed baits. Of course, that was back when I was using 5 minute epoxy, and that's how I learned it was only water resistant.

I never had a failure with a two hinge joint using the haywire twist, because there is no rotational strain with two hinges.

But I went to sst screw eyes, for the added ability to adjust my joint spacing after I've initially assembled my lures.

And I, too, find that the runny crazy glue, especially with blasa and pine, penetrates soft wood so well it reinforces the thread area to the point that the wood over the entire length of the screw eye would come out if I tried to rip it out.

But remember the fumes from crazy glue don't like your sinuses! It smells bad for a reason, so use ventilation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The reason that I went over to barrel twist, is that I had several haywire twists actually pull out of the resin, instead of the resin plug pulling out of the wood.

Since going over to barrel, I have never had this type of failure. All the above are during pull tests.

Jamie, pull tests are valid, especially if you are dealing with lighter density woods. As for twisting and torque, these are not going to pull the eye out. The biggest test for an eye is a straight inline axial load.

I agree, if you fish for critters that can tear your lure apart, then balsa is not the way to go.

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dave the torque test is not so much for the line tie strenght but the the strengh of the wood itself. Like I said earlier balsa baits when musky fishing bust down the grain and what if the grain bust at the line tie. Through wire has saved me in this situation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now