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mark poulson

Balsa Top Coats

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A TU member sent me a template for a shallow balsa crank he made that is a fish catcher, so I went to the local hobby store, bought some balsa, and made one.  It caught the snot out of the fish Sat.

I sealed it with super glue, painted it with Createx, and top coated it with one dip coat of Solarex.

After what had to be fish number twenty, I went to clean some grass off the bill and saw that the topcoat and paint were gone from around the circuit board lip slot.  The bait wasn't damp looking, so the super glue sealer did it's job, but the extreme vibration from the bill seemed to be too much for the Solarez in that area.  Since I dip and hang the baits from the nose over the Solarez jar, I'm guessing the resin was thinnest at that point.

When I checked the bait more closely yesterday, I saw that there was additional chipping on the sides where the thrashing fish had slapped the treble into the side of the bait.

I'm going to touch up the missing color, and then do another dip coat today, maybe two.

So I'm wondering if it was just too thin a coat of Solarez, or if it was the soft hobby balsa.

I just made two more of the same bait from balsa that is 1.5 times as dense by weight (thank you Ben), and I'm going to paint them in the same sexy shad pattern and dip them in Solarez one time.  I'll fish them hard tomorrow, and hope to get a true test again, if the fish will cooperate.

 

Has anyone else had that experience with either hobby balsa cranks or Solarez, or both?

 

P.S.  I put runny super glue into my pilot holes in the hobby balsa, and then used .072 sst screw eyes for the line tie and rear hook hanger, and an LPO 3 gram weighted hook hanger for the belly, and they all held up just fine.  I slapped the grass of the lure a lot to see if the hardware would hold up to real fishing conditions, and it did.  I was using 17lb mono on a med. light crank rod, and the bait had #2 short shank EWG trebles.

Edited by mark poulson

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My pleasure Mark.

 

Could the soft balsa flexing be a contributor to the Solarez cracking? Hopefully the denser balsa reinforced with super glue will help alleviate any flexing problems.

 

If I remember correctly Solarez is pretty hard. I know I had problems with being able to make it flake off the bait by rubbing it hard with a thumbnail, but I thought that had more to do with adhesion to the lure than being hard or brittle. For whatever reason that's why I stopped using it.

 

Ben

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I bet the main culprit was you slapping the bait on the water to clear it of weeds. That puts tremendous strain on the head of the bait around the lip slot. I've had the top of a balsa bait's head snap completely off when slapped on the water. Do that once or twice when you're on a hot bite and have only one bait of that design and you'll learn not to do it again. At least it schooled me!

A guide posted that he loved using balsa D-baits but was going through so many of the $15 baits per trip that it was breaking him. Duh! Just stop slapping them on the water and problem solved. Balsa ain't like trim board! It's strong along the grain of the wood but you can lever the grain apart pretty easily, which makes force around the lip slot problematical.

Edited by BobP
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I bet the main culprit was you slapping the bait on the water to clear it of weeds. That puts tremendous strain on the head of the bait around the lip slot. I've had the top of a balsa bait's head snap completely off when slapped on the water. Do that once or twice when you're on a hot bite and have only one bait of that design and you'll learn not to do it again. At least it schooled me!

A guide posted that he loved using balsa D-baits but was going through so many of the $15 baits per trip that it was breaking him. Duh! Just stop slapping them on the water and problem solved. Balsa ain't like trim board! It's strong along the grain of the wood but you can lever the grain apart pretty easily, which makes force around the lip slot problematical.

 

Bob,

I slapped the bait because I was trying to put the super glued hardware to a real test.  That part held up fine.

I typically don't slap weeds off my cranks.  I learned that long ago with Rapala deep divers...they had the crappiest, most brittle bills in the world!  I made a lot of wake baits out of broken divers.

I think the combination of the soft balsa, the hard vibration from the bait, and the slapping all contributed.  I touched up the paint, dipped the bait twice more in Solarez, and I'm going to test it tomorrow.  Each dip of Solarez adds .8 grams+-, so I'll see if the extra weight kills the action.  So far, casting from my dock, it still throbs, because it X's so hard.

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Then you're a better man than I. If it's catching, I just give it a little kiss and hug, then a little grooming to get the weeds off.

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Then you're a better man than I. If it's catching, I just give it a little kiss and hug, then a little grooming to get the weeds off.

 

I wanted to give it a real test, since it is the first balsa bait I've made using super glue and screw eyes.

I have it in the boat, just to make sure they are still eating the crank, and as soon as I verify that, I'm going to switch to the baits I make with Ben's denser balsa.  

That first one will go back to the "open only in case of emergency" box.

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My 2¢... Slap those baits. If they can't take the slap, I don't want to fish them. 

Balsa will always fail if you fish it hard enough, I think. Balsa that is made bulletproof might as well be some other wood. That is my case for line through on wood cranks. PVC gets screw eyes. 

 

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My 2¢... Slap those baits. If they can't take the slap, I don't want to fish them. 

Balsa will always fail if you fish it hard enough, I think. Balsa that is made bulletproof might as well be some other wood. That is my case for line through on wood cranks. PVC gets screw eyes. 

 

 

That's why I slapped the weeds off.  I wanted to see if my super glue-reinforced sst screw eye hardware mounts would hold up, and they did.

I wouldn't try it on big baits because I don't think I need balsa for them, but it is so much easier than thru wiring, I thought it was worth finding out if it worked, and, for me, it does.

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Jigginpig, pay your money, take your chances. Average density balsa (12 lbs/sq ft) is the most buoyant wood you can find for crankbaits and it can make a huge difference in the performance of a shallow running bait. Faster wiggle, faster rise after hitting cover or pausing during a retrieve. In my experience, that means more bites. Do you pay a price in durability? Yes. But since I make a lot of the baits I use, it just means extra hobby work, not much extra expense to get more fish in the boat. You can finish balsa to make it bullet proof but that also tends to kill some of its performance advantage with added weight, so it's a matter of balance and each maker has to judge for himself where to draw the line on performance versus durability.

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I've got a couple quarts of Solarez, to me it has a tendency to crack like an eggshell. I now use it as a base coat only the times i don't use D2T. Just watched a youtube video, the guy used this non yellowing epoxy for a top coat.

http://www.artresin.com

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