Sign in to follow this  
Fishwhittler

Topcoats I Have Tried

12 posts in this topic

I was just thinking about all the topcoats I've tried in the several years I've been building lures. Actually I've only tried six different topcoats, but it took me a long time to find a good one. Anyhow I figured I'd post my experiences with topcoat.

#1. None

At first I didn't know that I needed to use topcoat. It didn't really matter, as the lures that I was building then didn't catch any fish and even if they had they would have broken if a fish grabbed them.

#2. Minwax Polyacrylic

The first topcoat that I tried, and I actually caught a few fish while I was using this. Unfortunately, polyacrylic isn't waterproof and so these lures didn't last very long.

#3. Seal Coat lure & jig finish

This topcoat was waterproof, but it wasn't very durable in my experience and I started looking for a new topcoat.

#4. Minwax Spar urethane

This one actually worked for a while. But eventually I gave it the axe, too. It didn't cure fast enough for my liking, it had a brown tint that became more pronounced over time, and finally it started curing in the jar. blink.gif

#5. Minwax Clear Brushing Lacquer

My experiment with lacquer was a miserable flop. I learned several things: (#1) lacquer is very toxic (#2) lacquer doesn't react well with solvent-base paint (#3) I needed to look for a new topcoat.

Note: Lately I've been experimenting with lacquer again and I've achieved some acceptable results. Not enough, however, to make me switch to lacquer for topcoat.

#6. Flex Coat High Build rod finish

I got this by mistake; I ordered what I thought was Flex Coat Ultra V, but it turned out that the description on the website I ordered from was incorrect and so I got regular Flex Coat. I gave it a shot, but in about a month it yellowed and my quest was not ended.

#7. Flex Coat Ultra V

My current topcoat. I haven't found any problems with Ultra V since I started using it. It's more pricey than any of the other topcoats I tried, but the price is offset by the fact that it is simply the best topcoat I've used.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I admire your pioneering attitude for searching for something new. You have avoided the standard choices of top coats: Devcon 2 ton, Envirotex lite, Dick Nites, propionate. Have you tried these products and if so, how do they compare?

As I stated above, respect for your exploration. No derision intended. If more people took your attitude, this art would advance much more progressively.

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I admire your pioneering attitude for searching for something new. You have avoided the standard choices of top coats: Devcon 2 ton, Envirotex lite, Dick Nites, propionate. Have you tried these products and if so, how do they compare?

As I stated above, respect for your exploration. No derision intended. If more people took your attitude, this art would advance much more progressively.

Dave

I was recommended Flex Coat Ultra V by Big M over at bassresource.com; I'm not that much of a pioneer! biggrin.gif

I've thought more than once about trying Etex or Devcon, but I've always come back to deciding to stick with Flex Coat. My reason for this is that I don't want my topcoat to turn yellow, and I've seen some guys talk about Devcon and sometimes Etex yellowing so I steer clear for now.

The main reason I haven't tried Dick Nites is that I use solvent-base spray paint on most of my lures, and after seeing what lacquer and urethanes can do to solvent-base paint I'm leery about trying it.

I would have tried all three of these by now if I thought that there would be major benefits, but right now I don't think it's worth it to me. Really what it comes down to is I want a topcoat that is non-yellowing, doesn't cost an arm and a leg, and that won't react with the paint I use. Flex Coat is the only topcoat that I've tried that does all three of these so I haven't bothered to experiment any farther. I do intend to try all of them (D2T, Etex & DN) eventually, but right now I'm going to stick with Flex Coat.

Edited by Fishwhittler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well you mat not consider yourself as pioneering, but you have taken the current information available, decided it is not perfect, which we all know and searched for something better. That is a pioneering attitude.

The reason for this thread and the hundreds like it, is because the perfect solution has not been found. I hope for hundreds more threads like this one, so that maybe one day.... You get my drift.

I use prop, but only because this is all that is available to me locally. I try lots of products of the shelves, but I have not found anything remotely worth writing about.

Keep searching and reporting.

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Vman! Like most other lure builders on here, I'm also still looking for the single best topcoat, but right now it doesn't exist.

Here's what I think are the main criteria for the "perfect" topcoat:

1. Waterproof (without this one none of the others matter!)

2. Hard enough to withstand a fishes teeth, but flexible enough to withstand heavy abuse (such as smashing it into a rock on a cast)

3. Doesn't react with paint to ruin the finish

4. Non-yellowing

5. Non-toxic, at least enough so that you don't need to wear a mask

6. Single part (as opposed to two part epoxies such as Ultra V)

7. Doesn't set up in the can (like I've heard of Dick Nites doing and had spar urethane do)

8. Reasonably short drying time (this one isn't very important, but since I'm designing the ultimate topcoat why not? biggrin.gif)

9. Reasonably priced

That's about what the perfect topcoat would be, for me at least. The closest I've come is Ultra V; it fulfills 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9. I don't give it #2 because it can crack or chip if you bang it against something hard, but in my experience this has only happened when I didn't mix the epoxy well. It doesn't get #6 for obvious reasons, and I don't give it #8 because it takes 1-2 days to cure fully. It may yellow over a long period of time, but I've got some lures coated with Ultra V that are closing in on a year old and they still show no signs of yellowing, so I'm giving it #4. Final score: 6/9

There you have it: even the best topcoat I've tried only gets 6 out of 9 for the "perfect topcoat" test. Probably this is true of just about any of the main lure topcoats you measure by my list above. But on the other hand, 6 out of 9 is pretty good!

For the other topcoats I've tried:

Polyacrylic misses #1, so it gets thrown out at the start. Score: Thrown out

Seal Coat gets all of them except #2 and possibly #7. Based on personal experience, I just can't give it #2. Score: 7.5/9 overall, but it misses one of the most important 2. Adjusted score: Thrown out

Spar Urethane gets 1, comes close to getting 2, and also gets 6 and possibly 9. Score: 3.5/9

Lacquer gets most of them (1, maybe 2, I don't know about 4, and also gets 6, 7, 8, and 9) but it misses 3 & 5 entirely! Maybe #3 isn't as much of an issue if you're using water-base paint, but for me that's enough to chop it. Score: 5.5/9

Regular Flex Coat gets the same as Ultra V, except it misses #4. Score: 5/9

I hope this is helpful to anyone that reads this.

Anyone else have similar experiences searching for the "perfect" topcoat? If you do, post em' up!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great post.

Thanks Vman! Like most other lure builders on here, I'm also still looking for the single best topcoat, but right now it doesn't exist.

Here's what I think are the main criteria for the "perfect" topcoat:

1. Waterproof (without this one none of the others matter!)

2. Hard enough to withstand a fishes teeth, but flexible enough to withstand heavy abuse (such as smashing it into a rock on a cast)

3. Doesn't react with paint to ruin the finish

4. Non-yellowing

5. Non-toxic, at least enough so that you don't need to wear a mask

6. Single part (as opposed to two part epoxies such as Ultra V)

7. Doesn't set up in the can (like I've heard of Dick Nites doing and had spar urethane do)

8. Reasonably short drying time (this one isn't very important, but since I'm designing the ultimate topcoat why not? biggrin.gif)

9. Reasonably priced

That's about what the perfect topcoat would be, for me at least. The closest I've come is Ultra V; it fulfills 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9. I don't give it #2 because it can crack or chip if you bang it against something hard, but in my experience this has only happened when I didn't mix the epoxy well. It doesn't get #6 for obvious reasons, and I don't give it #8 because it takes 1-2 days to cure fully. It may yellow over a long period of time, but I've got some lures coated with Ultra V that are closing in on a year old and they still show no signs of yellowing, so I'm giving it #4. Final score: 6/9

There you have it: even the best topcoat I've tried only gets 6 out of 9 for the "perfect topcoat" test. Probably this is true of just about any of the main lure topcoats you measure by my list above. But on the other hand, 6 out of 9 is pretty good!

For the other topcoats I've tried:

Polyacrylic misses #1, so it gets thrown out at the start. Score: Thrown out

Seal Coat gets all of them except #2 and possibly #7. Based on personal experience, I just can't give it #2. Score: 7.5/9 overall, but it misses one of the most important 2. Adjusted score: Thrown out

Spar Urethane gets 1, comes close to getting 2, and also gets 6 and possibly 9. Score: 3.5/9

Lacquer gets most of them (1, maybe 2, I don't know about 4, and also gets 6, 7, 8, and 9) but it misses 3 & 5 entirely! Maybe #3 isn't as much of an issue if you're using water-base paint, but for me that's enough to chop it. Score: 5.5/9

Regular Flex Coat gets the same as Ultra V, except it misses #4. Score: 5/9

I hope this is helpful to anyone that reads this.

Anyone else have similar experiences searching for the "perfect" topcoat? If you do, post em' up!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you like using finish epoxy for rod wraps, try Diamond 2 by Bullard Int. It stays super clear and is very hard! I'm using it on some of my muskie lures and I've been very pleased so far. It does take 6 days to fully cure, but it's worth the wait!

jeremy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you like using finish epoxy for rod wraps, try Diamond 2 by Bullard Int. It stays super clear and is very hard! I'm using it on some of my muskie lures and I've been very pleased so far. It does take 6 days to fully cure, but it's worth the wait!

jeremy

How well does Diamond 2 hold up to Muskie teeth and hook rash? I fish for bass and so there isn't much danger of them chewing through the finish, but I wouldn't mind a topcoat that is more resistant to hook rash. I super-sharpen my hooks, and when I'm done with one it will stick in my fingernail at the lightest touch. If a fish bites one of the hooks it's almost sure to get hooked, but the downside is that the hooks will also chew up the finish on my lures very quickly.

Also, have you or anyone else tried Trondak U40 rod finish on lures? If so, how well does it work?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FYI....I can't believe that I am replying here since this subject has been covered over the years at least 10,000,000 times on this site (slight exageration)....and I know everyone wants to find the ultimate, one part, flexible but hard, dip type, top coat. but here goes.....I am a musky fisherman and have been for a long time. I have been making wooden musky baits for years as well as bass and walleye baits. I have posted many baits on this site so some of you know my work and some of you have used my baits. Over the years I have tried Flex coat old and new, Diamond II, Spar Varnishes, Pelucid, System 33 top coats, many automotive top coats, Dick Nite Lure Finish, as well as just about every other top coat out there in search of the perfect formula....For big fish with teeth (Musky, Pike or Blue fish) there are only a couple of real choices IMHO...Devcon, Etex, EX 74 and my favorite Nu-Lustre 55 with the UV formula which hits 8 of your 9 points, all except number 6, which does not exist at this point (that I know of) .......I have wasted many dollars and much time on just this issue, so, not trying to be a know it all or a smart ass, just trying to save some of you newer guys the agony...Now, keep in mind if you are strictly building baits for bass, or other species without the big teeth, or molding your baits from plastic or using PVC, your top coat choices are far greater because you don't have to worry about the puncture issue.....

Now also even more importantly, if you are building out of wood, is what you do underneath. Even with a superior clear coat, your blank must be sealed and made as waterproof as possible before priming, painting and top coat. If the blank is not sealed properly and the topcoat gets punctured, the wood will soak up the water, swell and the paint and top coat will crack and peel off the bait. These big fish will eventually penetrate the clear coat and I have many baits with punctures, teeth marks, and hook rash right through to the wood but they still work great and do not abosrb water. On my website I have an entire explanation about wooden baits, the good and the bad and the expected if you care to read, www.muskymaniacs.com.

Rod

How well does Diamond 2 hold up to Muskie teeth and hook rash? I fish for bass and so there isn't much danger of them chewing through the finish, but I wouldn't mind a topcoat that is more resistant to hook rash. I super-sharpen my hooks, and when I'm done with one it will stick in my fingernail at the lightest touch. If a fish bites one of the hooks it's almost sure to get hooked, but the downside is that the hooks will also chew up the finish on my lures very quickly.

Also, have you or anyone else tried Trondak U40 rod finish on lures? If so, how well does it work?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

just trying to save some of you newer guys the agony

That's what I'm trying to do here. A lot of guys come on here asking what to use for topcoat or similar questions, so I started this thread as an attempt to provide a "Topcoat database" for new tackle builders, or for guys looking to try a new topcoat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's what I'm trying to do here. A lot of guys come on here asking what to use for topcoat or similar questions, so I started this thread as an attempt to provide a "Topcoat database" for new tackle builders, or for guys looking to try a new topcoat.

Alright here is my.02 I was using a laquer dip that I got from homedepot and I started having a reaction to the paint with it so I started tring some differant things. I bought some of the polycrlic did not know it was not water proof until after the fact but what I have started doing is dippin two coats in the policrlic then two coat in laquer both can costed me a total of about 25 dollars and they are holding up awsome fished all day and no hook rash at all.

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

Sign in to follow this