Klondike

Small Swimbaits

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From what I've read I know it will be hard, but I'm trying to make a 2.5 inch slow-sinking 3-segment balsa swimbait and was wondering what a good goal weight would be and how much to add and where. The only real bait making experience I have is with crankbaits and I need some help.

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Klondike,

If you're making a small, sinking, jointed wood bait, there are some things you might want to consider before you chose balsa.

You will need to add enough ballast to overcome balsa's most outstanding feature, it's buoyancy.

That may require so much ballast to be a problem in such a small bait.

Balsa is not a very strong wood, and that is critical in a jointed bait with hinges.

I'd go with a heavier, stronger wood that doesn't require as much ballast to get it to sink, both for it's strength, and because you don't have a lot of room for ballast in a 2.5" bait.

If I use wood, I like pine for small baits, because it's easy to carve/shape and strong. It is buoyant enough to let you ballast the belly, which will help the bait swim true.

But, if pine is too buoyant, I would probably look for something even heavier, like poplar, because I still want some buoyancy, so the tail section still swims.

Woods that don't float are a nightmare to carve, because they are very hard and full of oil,(teak and malaysian hardwood come to mind) and they are very hard to tune so they swim.

Small jointed baits are a bear.

Good luck.

Edited by mark poulson
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You can easily find an approximate target weight if you have an accurate gram scale. Half fill a beaker with water, place on the scale and zero. Using long nose pliers, hold the segments, one at a time, to just submerge without touching sides or bottom and note the weight. This method is derived from Archimedes principle. I wrote a thread on this a while back, search for Archimedes, the list will be short.

Dave

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Thanks for the tips guys. @Mark, I kinda figured since the bait I'm going for is so small I would just preconnect all my wire and make a "skeleton" and then if I cut my segments in half and carved grooves to place the hardware my epoxy would give the bait plenty of strength after I have reassembled the halves. But it probably would be better to go to a heavier wood (probably pine) and make weighting easier.

@Dave, would I do this with my segments with the hardware in or when they're just pieces of wood before they have any kind of added weight at all?

Also how would wood hardener affect buoyancy?

Edited by Klondike

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Klondike,

Anything that's absorbed by the lure body will decrease buoyancy, because you're packing more material into the same space.

In wood, trapped air provides buoyancy, and wood hardener displaces some of that air.

If you just brush it on, it probably wouldn't be enough to affect buoyancy much, but soaking it, so it really penetrates, will cause a change.

Edited by mark poulson

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I would be surprised (and impressed) if you can get a balsa swimbait of that size to do what you need. Since your hinges are going to be so small, durability is going to be a real issue as well. I think by the time you get enough weight crammed in that small of a lure half of it isn't going to be balsa anymore. I would suggest trying some pvc decking material. It carves up very nicely for small detail, it wont split, it will drill nicely, and you won't have to seal before paint (along with being able to use a lighter clear coat such as Dick Nites.). good luck

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I have to tend to agree with all the comments about balsa. PVC may be the way to go for a smaller swimbait. 2.5 inches is awfully small for a segmented swimbait. You have to realize the torque placed on the materials when a large fish pounds the bait. As A-Mac said about durability, in this regard, "size does matter", and Mark probably has made more swimbaits than anyone and knows what he's talking about. Just my .02

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Well, I'll probably go up to 3" which is still small, but better than 2.5. I'm not dead-set on balsa, but it is easier to shape with limited materials and I want to be absolutely sure I need to change material before I do. I certainly appreciate all the advice, I just have a few questions that come to mind about strength. Is your typical bass (or hopefully a large bass or large number of bass) really strong enough to put enough strain on a lure that has internal wire and wood enforced with automotive/industrial grade epoxy, which is also sealing the bait, to break or cause serious damage to the lure? Also does the fact that it has 3 segments make it any weaker than a 2 segment bait like the old balsa jointed Rapalas that seem to hold up fine?

I'm not trying to be defensive or critical I just need to know for sure before I make any more progress on this bait.

Edited by Klondike

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I don't think strength will be an issue(at all assuming it is constructed solidly). The issue will be actually building 4 segments in 3" and getting it to swim properly. It doesn't sound that difficult until you actually get started. When you first go to fish it, cross you fingers that it swims. All the power to you, this is kind of the "ultimate test" for any lure builder, especially seeing how it doesnt appear anyone on here has actually done it. Good luck!

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I don't think strength will be an issue(at all assuming it is constructed solidly). The issue will be actually building 4 segments in 3" and getting it to swim properly. It doesn't sound that difficult until you actually get started. When you first go to fish it, cross you fingers that it swims. All the power to you, this is kind of the "ultimate test" for any lure builder, especially seeing how it doesnt appear anyone on here has actually done it. Good luck!

i assume you mean a swimbait similar to this

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@jrhopkins, hopefully mine will look half as good as that! how important would you say those fins are to the bait's action and why did you decide on one treble hook instead of two?

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the fins ( especially the tail fin ) will dampen the action slightly so that the swimming action is not real fast but more fluid. the dorsal and anal fins also help reduce the roll.

i don't think a rear hook is needed especially on a bait that small. most all of the soft swimbaits you see have only a single top hook and they are pretty effective. i have not noticed a lot of misses with just one hook even on some of my 5 and 6 inch baits. also the line tie, hook hanger and bottom hinge loop are all one piece of wire so that you basically have a wire skelton with the body around it.

as to ballast, most of the ballast is in the front section with a small amount in the second segment and the tail segment.

this is a pvc bait so i'm not sure how a balsa one would hold up. the biggest problem with any wood bait is sealing which is difficult in a segmented bait.

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I just made my first plug, and it is a swimbait. I made it from PVC brick molding and it was easy to carve by hand and shape with sandpaper & it wasn't suppost to end up that small but it ended up about about the size you're talking about. I was abled to easily cut the hinges in and would definatly recommend this for small swimbaits. The belly weights were also easily installed.

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