tn bass

Belly Weights

11 posts in this topic

hey guys im new here to the site, and would like to dip into the knowlegde of everyone. my question is what size belly weight or ballast to start of trying for average size crankbaits. i guess i will try the kind that has the hook hanger already installed. Or do most of you all cut bait in 2 then do a through wire. i have so many more questions but will start with this one. well maybe one more. when the guys that do it for a living talk about an 8 layer dip or whatever they use to get that great finish what are they talking about dipping it in? thanks in advance for the help.

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You can't calculate what ballast to use in an "average size" crankbait unless you know what you want the finished crankbait to weigh. Some good flat sided wood bass baits are 2 1/4" long and weigh in at around .29-.30 ounce with #6 treble hooks. Taking a D-bait or a Flatshad as a model, I'd use .12 oz of ballast in a light balsa body (split and thru-wired) or .06 oz ballast in a paulownia body (not split or thru-wired). Either would work out to right around the target weight of .29 oz (.25 oz without hooks) with epoxy undercoating and topcoating. As you can see, the type of wood makes a big difference.

Belly weights w/hangers are often sold in gram weights - 2 grams is .07 oz. Soon after I started building crankbaits, I realized that a small digital scale to weigh components is a "must have" if you are going to build baits to a target weight. Otherwise, you'll have to depend on guestimates or do a float test on every batch if you want to get it right.

I thru-wire balsa but just use hand twisted screw eyes in other woods (hardwoods). You can live without the integrated belly weights/hangers and just use screw eyes and separately installed ballast - the integrated weights just make it a little easier since there are no ballast holes to patch.

Only the Devil (and the builder) knows what's in an "8 dip finish". Dip numbers are not informative. What counts is a smooth finished surface that is durable, and you can do that with 10 dips or with no dips, just depending on the coatings you select. If I use propionate dissolved in acetone as an undercoating, a balsa bait will have at least 8 dips but the bait will be no more durable than if I use an epoxy undercoating and topcoat - no dips! Hope this helps.

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This is my way of calculating the ballast:

1. take the block of wood that I intend to use, measure length, breadth and depth in centimeters.

2. multiply the three numbers together, this gives you the block volume in cubic centimeters.

3. weight the block in grams.

4. divide the grams by the volume, this gives you the density of the wood in gm/cm³.

5. carve the lure body.

6. weigh the carved body.

7. divide the weight of the carved body by the density number. This gives you the approximate weight of the final lure for neutral buoyancy. So if you want a floater, you need to subtract 10% – 15% from the final weight, depending on how much float you want.

8. weight all the hardware, eyelets, hooks, split rings, lip, harness etc.

9. the ballast required is the final weight – float% - carved body weight – hardware – sealer, paint and top coat weight.

The coatings you need to guess for the first lure. But if you weigh before and after and keep notes, you will have good numbers for the next lure. In fact, if you keep notes, then you only need weigh the hardware once.

Computer spreadsheets are great for this method, they do all the math for you.

I said “approximate” earlier, because the final weight is a bit more complicated. You are going to cut holes for the ballast and hardware. This removes some of the buoyant material and changes things. You are going to add to the final volume with your paint and top coat, this too changes things. But the method is good enough for floaters or sinkers, getting you close enough.

You all know me, I like to keep things complicated.

Dave

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Vman, I think you have just scared off a newcomer on TU :lol:, even if you are right about what you said. Let him first be "bitten" by such a nice passion, then you can explain to him the construction of lures in a truly scientific way.

I chose the ballast for each crankbait. First, I install the hardware, leaving one or 2 holes for the lead (depending on the size of the lure) at the bottom of the belly, near the belly hook hanger. Then 5-6 dips in propionate solution will seal the lure, including the interior of the holes. This might be tricky, as you have to fill the holes first, using a toothpick or similar to take the air out, then you have to take out the propionate solution. I put the treble hooks on the lure, then I choose the buoyancy of the lure in a pot of water using different lengths of cylindrical lead which fit into the holes. I press them about half way into the holes, so I could be able to remove them and put in other lengths (and therefore weights) if necessary. What I am after is that a certain part of the lure stays above the water (around 1/3). I can play with different weights.

After choosing the right ballast, I dry the lure, glue the weights in ( CA glue, or sometimes no glue at all, if I have to press hard the lead into the hole). Close the holes with 2 part epoxy putty, which can be sanded smoothly after it has fully cured.

Then I would dip the lure another 4-5 times (so it is also sealed in the area where the weight is).

I find this method easier than if I had to become an engineer first, to be able to build lures afterward. :)

And I never fail about the right amount of weight, using this method.

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Rofish you are right, what was I thinking. Sorry tn bass.

I feel this is going to be a very informative thread, as there are so many ways to skin this one. To collect all the ideas into one thread will be very useful for future searches.

Dave

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I do it the same way as Rofish. :yeah:

Vman is the only one I know smart enough to use his own method. :worship:

Generally speaking, the position of the ballast in a crank bait, unless you're getting into sliding ballast (really complicated) is somewhere between the front hook hanger (belly) and the bill.

Water pressure on the bill causes it to wobble from side to side, dumping the water off to one side, and then the other, and the tail of the bait moves in the opposite direction. That's the X that lure makers talk about.

The farther forward you move the ballast the bigger the swing from side to side of the crank when it wobbles.

And the lower in the lure you can locate the ballast, the more stable it will be on a fast retrieve, so it doesn't roll over.

Now, there are a lot of other factors in play, like lure shape, bill shape, line tie location, and the overall buoyancy of the lure itself. But that's the general idea.

I would make my lures from whatever material gives me the most buoyancy, so I can put plenty of ballast in the belly and be able to retrieve my lure more quickly without rolling.

If I were just starting out, I'd pick a lure that I like, and try to copy it, so I could learn from a proven design, before I started experimenting with a new design.

But there's no substitute for trial and error.

There are a lot of great builders on this site, so, once you've started and run into problems, post you questions here (pictures help) and you'll get all the help you need.

Good luck, and let us know how you're doing.

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I cannot say exactly what method one should use in that I dont have a clue about what these guys are saying (yet). I can tell you that if you persist in coming to this site that you too will begin to act strange.... just like the rest of us. At this time things will begin to make sense, Everyone that I have had any contact with in seeking information has been "spot on" and helpful. Just remember that no question is to dumb until your probation period is up.

I do it the same way as Rofish. :yeah:

Vman is the only one I know smart enough to use his own method. :worship:

Generally speaking, the position of the ballast in a crank bait, unless you're getting into sliding ballast (really complicated) is somewhere between the front hook hanger (belly) and the bill.

Water pressure on the bill causes it to wobble from side to side, dumping the water off to one side, and then the other, and the tail of the bait moves in the opposite direction. That's the X that lure makers talk about.

The farther forward you move the ballast the bigger the swing from side to side of the crank when it wobbles.

And the lower in the lure you can locate the ballast, the more stable it will be on a fast retrieve, so it doesn't roll over.

Now, there are a lot of other factors in play, like lure shape, bill shape, line tie location, and the overall buoyancy of the lure itself. But that's the general idea.

I would make my lures from whatever material gives me the most buoyancy, so I can put plenty of ballast in the belly and be able to retrieve my lure more quickly without rolling.

If I were just starting out, I'd pick a lure that I like, and try to copy it, so I could learn from a proven design, before I started experimenting with a new design.

But there's no substitute for trial and error.

There are a lot of great builders on this site, so, once you've started and run into problems, post you questions here (pictures help) and you'll get all the help you need.

Good luck, and let us know how you're doing.

I cannot say exactly what method one should use in that I dont have a clue about what these guys are saying (yet). I can tell you that if you persist in coming to this site that you too will begin to act strange.... just like the rest of us. At this time things will begin to make sense, Everyone that I have had any contact with in seeking information has been "spot on" and helpful. Just remember that no question is to dumb until your probation period is up.

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WOW not sure if i should be buying some basswood or signing up for some engineering classes at the local college. Thats some very good information, probly a little over my head right now but like you guys say trial and error. thanks for the info and i will let you guys know how it is going. you guys rock

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WOW not sure if i should be buying some basswood or signing up for some engineering classes at the local college. Thats some very good information, probly a little over my head right now but like you guys say trial and error. thanks for the info and i will let you guys know how it is going. you guys rock

Try saying this: "I am TN Bass, and I am a lureaholic".

It may not help, but at least you're giving everyone else fair warning. :lol:

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WOW not sure if i should be buying some basswood or signing up for some engineering classes at the local college. Thats some very good information, probly a little over my head right now but like you guys say trial and error. thanks for the info and i will let you guys know how it is going. you guys rock

It is a lot of information. I know i can always come back to here for reference though. For belly wieghts myself, I just use egg sinkers. You can buy a pack with multiple sizes etc.. I usually cut the profile of my lure,make the ballast hole, shape my lure, then seal it for testing. I have only made around 20 baits so far and have around 10 keepers(well 10 that I wanted). So there is a lot of trial an error. My advice, is to keep it simple at first until you get a better feel for it. I cant tell you how much crap i have bought that just sits here now because my brain went storming on an idea. If you have never made them before, i would do as the others have said, find one you want to copy. A flat side crank is a good choice because it does not take much to shape the bait and you can get to testing early in my opinion. Plus i like FS cranks hehe. There is tons of info here that these guys have put into common knowledge over time. Thats why it seems a little overwhelming. Anyway, my 2 cents, GL and feel free to show some pics of finished ones and broken ones.

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