RayburnGuy

Tip For Locating Ballast Weight

20 posts in this topic

This tip is not about calculating ballast. For that I use the Archimedes water displacement method. This is about an easy way to locate the ballast so the lure sits in the water like you want it. I'm always building different shaped lures and locating the ballast is not always an easy thing to do. Especially if I want the lure to set level in the water or at a specific angle.

After calculating the ballast I use the SWAG method (scientific wild a$$ guess) to divide the ballast up into as many sections as I think will be needed to make the lure sit like I want in the water. Just remember that whatever the total amount of weight is to be used you will need to use all of it when dividing it up into sections. I usually end up using 2 to 4 pieces with each piece a little smaller than the one preceding it. Then I will take a piece of double sided tape and stick it to the bottom of the lure. The pieces of ballast are then stuck to the tape using my best guess as to location. The bait is then floated in the sink with all hardware attached. (hooks, split rings, etc.) If the bait doesn't sit in the water like I want the pieces of ballast are moved around until it does. Once the attitude of the bait is to my liking the ballast centers are marked on the bait so holes can be drilled and the ballast installed.

If your shooting for a very specific sink rate you may have to come back and tweak the ballast after the initial installation, but this method will allow you to make the lure sit at whatever angle you want.

Hope this makes things easier for some of you.

Ben

Edited by RayburnGuy

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Ben - You got this figured out. Do your trial and error before you do the actual installation. I like it.

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This works for me too. None of my lures are exactly alike every time so it pays for me to test before installation

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That's a great system. I use it, too, so, of course, I would think it's great. Hahaha

One thing I'd add is to use a lure that's similar to what you've made, one that works, in a side by side float test, so you can get your lure to sit like one that already works.

I'm talking more about type of lure, like shallow runner, mid range/deep runner, top water, one with a similar bill angle, and not so much a close match to the actual lure you've made.

I've found the attack angle, the angle the lure sits at rest, is critical in how well the lure dives, and how well it lure performs, but I don't know enough to say what it should be for each type of lure, so having something to imitate helps me a lot.

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Hey Ben,

Great succinct post about testing ballast location. I am a novice lure builder, with big dreams.

Can you possibly elaborate on how you use the Archimedes Displacement Principle when calculating ballast weight/quantity? I would Really appreciate it.

Thanks!

John

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Nice job Ben, very informative.

Jerry

Edited by bassguy

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Thanks for the help Ben! I will check that thread out

John

Just keep in mind that the formula is not going to be exact due to the fact that your removing material which has a different density than the material your putting back. And when I say "exact" I'm only talking about a few tenths of a gram at most. This only becomes a problem when your trying to build a suspending lure. On a lure I built recently the difference between it being a slow sinker and a slow floater was unbelievably small. The amount of weight I took off the bait to make it float wouldn't even register on my digital scale with the scale set to weigh in thousandths of an ounce.

Give the dunk test a try on a few lures and I think you will like it. I use it to build all my baits even when I'm building multiple lures with the same design. No two carved baits are going to be exactly the same no matter how hard you try. The dunk test will allow you to compensate for slight differences in the size, shape and even small differences in the wood itself. Just holler if there's anything I can help with.

Ben

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Lure shape has a big effect on balast.I made a slender minnow bait that I wanted to suspend.After tank testing to get a total balast weight,I divided the weight somewhat evenly along the belly of the bait but when retank tested it was terribly tail heavy.I then realized that the less bouyant mass needs less weight\ more mass more weight.I've made short fatter baits with not alot of difficulty with ballast .I guess this lure making thing is a live and learn lesson;sometimes learned the hard way.

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Lure shape has a big effect on balast.I made a slender minnow bait that I wanted to suspend.After tank testing to get a total balast weight,I divided the weight somewhat evenly along the belly of the bait but when retank tested it was terribly tail heavy.I then realized that the less bouyant mass needs less weight\ more mass more weight.I've made short fatter baits with not alot of difficulty with ballast .I guess this lure making thing is a live and learn lesson;sometimes learned the hard way.

That's the whole purpose of using double sided tape for locating the ballast. You can apply the weight, test the lure for flotation and still be able to move the ballast around as needed to get the bait to sit in the water like you want it. No drilling needed before testing.

Ben

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I'd caution new builders to be careful where you put ballast, especially if you are putting it in the rear of a lipped bait, where it will deaden the wiggle. The attitude of a lipped bait being retrieved through the water is quite different than while it's sitting at rest. The "at rest" attitude is important for for suspending or paused baits like gliders/twitch baits, which are a small sub-set of all crankbaits. But for all types of baits, the acid test is how it behaves in the water while being retrieved. The best fish-catching bait I ever built has all the ballast loaded in front of the belly hanger and it sits completely head-down in the water when paused, barely floating. It looks ridiculous! But it also has a very sharp, distinct thump on the retrieve and it gets bit more often than any bait I own, custom or factory. If I had only depended on a static float test, it would never have made it out of the garage.

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Nice catch Bob. I should have made it clear that this was intended for gliders, twitch baits and minnow type lures.

Ben

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Thanks Sir Bob for that tip.

Never thought about bait type making a difference in ballast placement. Still learning for sure.

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What do you think would happen if instead of putting the balast weight on the bottom(belly) of the bait,moving it up closer to the center of the bait.The thinking is that the bait will become more unstable and may give the bait more action.I've been toying with the idea but haven't tried it yet.

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I've played around a little with that kind of ballasting.

It is really finicky.

You're right, as you move the ballast up toward the center of gravity it does become more unstable.

I was trying to find the perfect spot where my lures would "hunt", or move erratically from side to side as they lost their stability, but then regained it quickly.

I gave up.

It was too tricky, and each lure is just different enough that I couldn't tune them without exhaustive testing, and then the paint and topcoat would change the action again. Grrrr!!!!!

Strike King's KVD shallow runners, the 1.5 and 2.5, are supposed to hunt. It is much easier to reproduce an erratic action in a mass produced, injected plastic lure than in a hand made lure.

I just never got to be repeatable. There is such a fine line between hunting and rolling, which is what my lures did when the ballast was just a little too high.

So I stopped trying, and play around with the lip design and placement now instead.

I haven't come up with a repeatable hunting action yet, but I'm not so concerned with that anymore, since I fish my cranks mostly through brush and over weeds, or grinding over rocks.

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Mark you may have confirmed my biggest fear.I repainted an old out of production lure;Doll Top Secret I think;and have done pretty well with it.My fishing partner is impressed too so I thought I'de make him one.The rub is the original is hollow plastic and mine is solid pvc.All the while I was working on it the different base material was on the back of my mind.I haven't finished it yet;maybe I'll get lucky and it will work.

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When Strike King works with KVD to design a crank like the KVD 1.5 or 2.5, he gets as many prototypes from the factory with differing lip and ballast designs as he wants, until the bait does what he wants. I read somewhere that KVD specified moving the ballast upward in the body to induce more hunting action. And we've had posts here on TU from experts that suggested moving ballast higher in the body was often the way designers introduced instability and got hunting action. In my experience, every little design factor affects everything else on a crankbait so the answer is seldom "just do THIS one thing and it will work". To me, hunting crankbaits are built on the edge (but never OVER the edge) of instability. And it's easy to step over the edge of stability when hand building a crankbait.

Edited by BobP

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I make small gliders and sub surface walkers (4in) for inshore stuff, and low ballast placement is key for this kinda action. Finding the center of gravity with all hardware installed is key to quick response. Then I add weight fore and aft for stability; all the while, keeping very low from center along its axis. The farther I put the additional ballast from center, the more it glides. Hope that helps for these kinda plugs.

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