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LaPala

Flat-sided Vs Rounded lures... musings?

47 posts in this topic

It has been raining cats & dogs for the past 3 days here. Can't go fishing, humidity too high to make lures - so I have some time to kill :)

I practically grew up on Rapala lures over here so till a couple of years ago I used to assume all cranks are rounded or at least contoured :oops: When I started making lures, it was out of unavailibility of the Rapala SFR so that turned me to trying to "pirate" copy one & have now sunk so deep into making lure I sometimes feel I go fishing just because I wanted to test out a new lure, concept or color combinations. :)

Since participating in this forum I was exposed to a lot of concepts/finishing/methods. Some new, some I've done that, and the best is the "Hey, why I didn't think of that" stuff. Coming to the flat-sided lures. Since seeing a lot of them here & how some can even produce it as a buisness; I tried making some. And going from making rounded lures to making flat sided ones make me go "wow, this is easy". Then come the moment of :huh: .Why make rounded lures when flat ones are easier to make & duplicate? Not having much experience with flat-sided lures I copied some Rapala lure profile but kept the side flat (& slightly slimmer to keep bouyancy characteristic almost the same) & then tweaked the lips a little to get almost similiar swimming action.

Here's what I found:
Flat-sided lures movement in the vertical plane is more pronounced but are more resistant to side to side movement. It's like moving a plank flat thru water compare to a round dowel of equal diameter. The flat plank catches more water whereas water seem to just flow over a round profile. Now coming to lures; assuming we are able to produce similiar swimming action in a flat-sided & rounded lure, the flat-sided lure as it moves thru the water will produce a more pronounced wake (water turbulance) thru its path compare to a rounded lure. More wake = more vibrations = more fish attracting qualities??? I haven't had any chance to do a side by side fishing comparisons but so far both type catches fish. But then fishes are finicky, one day they are aggressive, one day they might only take finnasse, subtle presentation. So I might never know for certain is there is one type that is better. Anyone has any take on this?? I'm real curious.

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Alot of the so-called experts say that in the spring time use flat baits summer time and fall use round baits. I think this is hogwash. I have had days in the spring when a flat bait will not even get a sniff and a round bait will just murder them. Same scenario with flat baits in the summer and fall. I will tell you what I do. I have many patterns painted up in flat and round baits and I let the fish decide. I equate it to eating at a picnic where hamburgers and hot dogs are being served. Somedays you might eat the burger first somedays you might eat the hotdog first, somedays you may eat all hotdogs or all hamburgers. The biggest thing I see alot of anglers doing is trying to force feed the fish. You have to let the fish dictate to you what they want.

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As a general rule flat baits usually had a tighter wiggle than the round baits. This was due to the lip used in the bait. You are right that a flat bait can be made to wiggle the same as a round bait. It is all in the lip design. I also agree that the vibrations put out by a flat bait is stronger simply because it is a flat surface doing the pushing of the water. But like you all have said, sometimes the fish want something more subtle. I really do believe that you could use flat baits all year round. You can adjust the wiggle the bait has with the lip design. Therefore, you could make a "finese" flat bait. I think the reason most baitmakers don't have these type of baits is because they generally just copy lips that are already in existing crankbaits. They copy these lips and put them in the bait bodies that they have made. I play allot with lip design and angle. It is something that I enjoy. I have failures, but when I get it right I have a bait that no one else has. Many baitmakers can't handle working on a bait for hours and have it fail. It is heart breaking. But that is the only way to learn sometimes. There seems to be something about flat crankbaits that turn some fishermen off. It is different than what most are use to. But I love them and fish them year round. I have caught more than my share of fish on them.
Skeeter

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Speaking of flat sided baits, anyone hear of or use the ancient design of Helin's Flatfish, to catch fish? A few other company's copied the design (Heddon), but none had the wire harness, which projected the trebles lateral to the body. That lure has the most wobble I've ever seen and will catch fish under many conditions.

Sam

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HOLD ON! The flatfish I've seen in the 60's are cylinder shape and then cut flat ends.Actually a cylinder shape in some type of cresent shape and the ends flatend to give it that great action your talking about. Lets also see a flat lure "walk the dog" or "roll on the surface" ...This is why we need bolth types > cylinder and flat lures< to get the desired action we want. Then you have the after market plastic mold lures that out shape anything we carve.

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I remember years ago there used to be a comercial (durring a fishing show I'm sure) and I think it was suppose to be the creator of that lure > hand carving the lure from a tree branch or stick. Looked simple but I don't have time to sit around campfires wooduling like he did. How that original design was ever created is something else. I still can't do it.

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LaPala;
I enjoy your posts, they certainly make me think about what I am doing. I think you have hit on a very import aspect of lure design.

I am currently fine tuning a design for a banana lure. I got to the banana shape through trial and error. I am trying to make surface plug that will dart and roll on the surface but also will dive 6" to 12" with a nice action when steadily retrieved. The small CCBC Darter could do that. It was cylindrical with no weighting that I can tell. I have no idea how they pulled that off and I can not duplicate the action in a round bait. (Yet!)

Since flat and round surfaces place different pressures on the water, the proper combination of these can be used to control the action of the lure. For example, if make a lure with flat sides and a thin cylindrical tail, the tail will have a more pronounced and erratic wobble.

I sure the more experienced cravers understand this much better than I, but the right combination of shape and balance can make the difference between a good lure and a great lure.

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The way this tale goes here in Michigan is that James Heddon was sitting along the Red Cedar River fishing live bait on bottom. A twig blew into the river from a tree and a huge bass rose and inhaled it. Supposedly, Heddon hurredly carved his own twig and tossed it into the river. Yep, a bass hit it after several casts and, as they say, "The Rest Is History".

Charles Helin of Flatfish fame was from Detroit, MI. He was not only a lure inventor but also had many other patents to his credit. He became a multi-millionaire as a result (not from Flatfish alone). My friend went to an auction well after Helin died, his Grosse Point mansion burned down. He purchased about 100 wooden flatfish patterns used by the company to mass produce Flatfish lures. Everything was done on gang lathes. My friend also purchased about 100 reels of 16 mm film that Helin had taken. All were of young women in various poses but fully dressed. Close but no banana here.

Both Heddon and Helin were known to be eccentrics but very smart and interesting guys.

Now if you want to know about Fred Bear, of Bear Archery fame (whom I met many years ago) or why Daredevle (another Detroit original lure) is spelled the way it is, send me an e-mail.

Mitcheal :wink:

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Thanks for the input guys.

I have a little grouse over flat sided bait after casting them for arowanas last Friday - getting hits but no solid hook-ups then I switch back to a rounded lure & got the only hookup for the day on the third cast. Could it be the gap between the hook & lure body that's causing it? (see attached diagram) Arowanas have a rock solid jaws & these buggers are like F1 cars. I had 2 busted 3X treble that day. I'm back to the drawing board now, wanna create a round bait that uses oversize single hooks. :twisted: I even have a name for it , the new lure shall be call "OverKill" :D

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[quote=Mallard]
Since flat and round surfaces place different pressures on the water, the proper combination of these can be used to control the action of the lure. For example, if make a lure with flat sides and a thin cylindrical tail, the tail will have a more pronounced and erratic wobble. [/quote]

Mallard: I seriously doubt if a combination in shape alone will produce what you mentioned here; unless it's a jointed lure. The movement of a lure comes mainly from it's lip. For a similiar lip design btw a flat & round lure, the flat having more water resistance will tend NOT to move/sway that much compred to rounded lure. What the diff btw a flat & round lure is just the initial resistantance to move. Flat lures will not be as lively as a rounded lure on a slow retrieve, but once up to optimum retrive speed both will produce action. In designing a lure I think we have to think more on the intended retrieval speed. Do I want a lot of action on a slow retrieve or the lure is designed to be retrieved at a faster speed. If we make a lure with a lot of action on slow retrieve, imagine what it'll do if retrived fast. Body shape counts but it's the lips and balancing of weighting/bouyancy characteristic that is more important in producing action. Skeeter mentions he experimented a lot with lip shape/angle/placement, he should be able to shed more insights on this that I do.

Few lure bodies alone will have any built in action by itself (discounting the action imparted by the fisherman with his rod). A banana shape lure is something that will sway/undulate side to side by itself without a lip. I believe this is because of the downward sloping tail end acts as a rudder & creating enough turbulance to move/sway it side to side even withouh a lip. (see attach pic of a bannana shape lure I made b4 - it will sway gently from side to side even without the lip).

One more thing - a floatier lure has more action. I sometime drill some "floatation chamber hole" at the tail end of some lure to give it more action. This has to do with the action & reaction thing. The lips wants to pull the lure down, the buoyancy of a lure tries to pull it back up; with the 2 forces fighting each other more acton is produced. Controlling where the major up-force & down-force is located can produce some interesting actions.

I'd better stop my rumblings here, people might be bored to sleep by now. :D Have fun designing your Daarter.

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LaPala

I certain don't consider your posts ramblings, you obviously think things through and I find you comments very insightful. You have helped me think outside of box I had been in for quite some time.

First off, my lures don't have lips, well not the traditional diving lips. I have been making only top water lures so lips were not needed. I found that when I retreived my bait with a fast steady pace steady the bait would roll to the side or even spin on the way in. This would not had been a big deal to me in the past but I start reading about proper balancing in some of the forum posts (this forum has really raised the bar for me) so I felt I had room for improvement.

After some experimentation, I began to think with proper balancing (thanks to Skeeter for explaining the concept of balancing, not just weighting) the shape of the lure can be used like the control surfaces of an airplane to change the action of the lure at various retrieval speeds.

My new banana lure does not have a diving lip so it can be "popped" along the surface, but a steady retrieve creates a down force on the flat face of the lure and it acts like a diving lip taking the lure down 12" to 18". And you right about lightening the tail, that creates some very interesting action.

I firmly believe that with proper balancing and shaping you can build a lure that performs on the surface, has good action on a slow steady retrieve AND is stable with a fast retrieve.

BTW, I just tested the protype of my darter last night. With just the first top coat and no hooks I was able to get some fantastic action. The real test will come tonight when I rig it with hardware.

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Oh, okay Mallard; I see what you're doing now. I have been in the lipped lure hole too long. Personally I'm not much of a top water guy. Top that with being lazy I like to just toss the lure out; crank it back - & let the lure do most of the work. :) Your mention of contol surfaces on a plane reminds me of a concept I've been toying with for sometime but haven't gotten down to producing a prototye yet - instead of lips why not use vanes on both sides of a lure where a fish's pectoral fins are...

I've seen some stunning examples of top-water lure while browsing some japanese web-site. Couln't remember the url though but here one that's out of the norm: [url]http://www.japantackle.com/Lures/HMNG_Bubble_wood.htm[/url]

Wish your new lure is a suscess, show some pic when you're done. Cheers

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Lapala,
You need bigger hooks or more slim flat side baits. If you look at my Ty-Jack lure?s that is the main reason I made my tail so thin is if a fish hits the bait, it is hooked.

What size hooks are you using?

-Corey

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I completed one of my banana lures and did some more testing. I love the action I am getting, the tail wobbles and the bait dives about a foot and moves from side to side yet it is still stable on high speed retrieves. Previous baits would flip to their side or spiral out of control.

My previous baits were either flat sided or round. The baits that are working best for me have a wide, flat-sided head and a narrow round tail so I assumed this shape created greater stability. However I am unsure as I am able to a get similar action out of a round darter I just finished so is it really the shape of the sides that add stability? :?

I am begining to think weighting and balance are even larger factors than I first thought. Both of these baits are throat weighted and have very light tails, both are red cedar too.

I am including some pictures of the banana lure to illustrate the shape. Sorry for the low quality picture, I took it with my cheapy digital camera.

I would appreciate any comments or suggestions.

LaPala;
I love those Japanese lures, they give me ideas, but I will never be able to match there artistry.

Also, notice the size of my hooks, they are Mustad #2 4X saltwater. I also use split rings to drop the hook off the body. I rushed this bait to completion so I could try it during the October snook run. Snook are nothing like the sea monsters you catch, but they can be tough to hook and tough to keep on. I never felt you could over hook when going for snook.

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Iv'e been reading all the musings with great interest. I am new to lure making too,I think I have an edge in that I'm not new to making been doing that all my days in wood. when I started my first lure it was flat and seemed real easy but I didn't really finish it cause I new it really wasn't gonna work that well.If it's gonna move it must have movement that means two pieces or more(thought I)One day I got onto a TU members site sorry don't remember who's and he said he made a three piece but not for sale just for himself and friends,I think that means I'm on the right track.It is a lot more work story of my life but I'm thinkin this is the way to go.Could I be right
JJ

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[b]Mallard:[/b] Here's my take on your banana lure. Been busy with my "Overkill", now that it's done thought I'd continue with some more musings :D .

First I'd say your lure is lipped. Couldn't see very clearly on your pic but inferring from the line you drawn on the front side I believe you cut a pependicular or cupped face in your lure? If that is so, then it is lipped; it's just built into the lure and not an add-on but the function is the same. What a lip does is to have a surface perpendicular to the direction of travel. It displaces water, creating turbulance behind it & have high/low pressure zone which then forces the lure to move side to side & roll. The angle of the lip also digs into the water & in relation to the line tie position controls the depth & "angle-of-attack" while the lure dives to it's running depth. I'm not boasting but with the right combination of lip shape, size and angle (plus a little bit of weighting & balancing) I can make any lure swim any which way I want. But of course you're still on the right track playing with body shape as they do contribute too (I'll explain later). There are design trade-offs which we have to consider like is the lure too hard to retrieve, depth & float rate (or sink rate), structural integrity and eye appeal too. There is a sweet-lip for every lure (I believe), the one lip that make a certain lure come alive and is easy to retrieve. So toy with the lips, angle, shape size, line tie position. My "overkill" went thru six lips & 3 change of weighting/balancing before I get to what I want it to do; but that's another story.

Now coming to body shape... other then what I mentioned in an earlier post about banana shaped lure have a built in sway because of the body shape; flat-sided lure because of the increased water resistance will not roll as much as a rounded lure. But then again, if I kept the weighting of my rounded lure to the bottom 1/3 of the body the weight combined with low center of gravity will assist in producing less roll in a round bodied lure. Getting confusing? :huh: Look at it another way, flat sided lures have more water pressing on it on both sides so it won't roll as much. Weight & lower the centre of gravity of a rounded lure is like having a force pull the lure downward, so the resting position of the lure is pulled belly down by the weight so it becomes harder for the lure to roll, cause it wants to stay belly down. Get a lure blank & drill a deep hole almost to the centre of the body from belly up. Now shove a round shot flush with the belly. Observe how it floats & how it would roll side to side. Then shove the shot progressively deeper into the hole you'll see it rolls easier each time you shove it deeper. Shove it too deep and it might do a belly flip for you :D . That's weight & balancing for you.

[b]jigjointer:[/b] jointed lures are a different movement in itself, I'd be incline to put it in a different category. Put it simply, jointed lure have A LOT of action because of the articulate body, as the head swing to one side, the jointed tail will stay put & seem to move in the opposite direction (because water pressure is keeping it there) by the time the head move enough to flip the tail to move, the head will begin to move the other direction. An they usually have a nice sinuous "S" shape movement to it, kinda more like a snake than a fish.

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I apologize for turning this into a blog, but I am having major "ah ha" experience in understanding how to make a lure swim.

LaPala;
Your analysis is excellent. You have put into words what I have been observing through hours of testing. I should

First a little clarification; the lip started as just a V cut into the front of the lure that would cause the lure to "pop" when jerked. I evolved the lip to a have a slight downward slope so the head of the lure would be forced down when retrieved. The combination of the edge of the lip digging into the water, the placement of the line tie and the position of the weight cause the lure to pivot forward once the retrieve speed is fast enough and the dive is started. The lip keeps the head down but it is the top of the head that becomes the plane that is perpendiclar to the direction of travel. I believe the "angle of attack" is then maintained by the shape of the head.

I could do without the V cut altogether and still make the lure dive since it is the head of the lure that functions as the diving lip, maybe a better term to use is diving plane. I plan to keep the V lip to enhance the top water action.

The shape of the head also creates turbulence that makes the lure unstable in the water, and as the turbulent water passes across the tail it causes it to wobble. Controling these forces will make the lure stable a higher speeds.

I am now agreeing with you that I over estimated the effect that flat sides had in stablizing the lure. I can get similar action AND stability with a totally cynderical lure. I believe the reason I gained stability by changing the body is shape is because in reality I was changing the shape of the diving plane, which is the front third of the lure.

I am finishing up 10 more prototypes for testing this weekend. Each has a different variation of V cut (including a couple are definitely diving lips) and different shaped heads and bodies. My guess is the rounded head lures will be less stable, even if they have flat sides. I also believe the shape of the head (the diving plane) will be the overiding factor in the action of the lure, but you already told me that didn't you?

JigJointer;
One of the experiments I tried gave me the action of a jointed lure. I added a dressed treble to the tail of an unstable lure using a split ring. The dressed treble acted like a rudder and helped the lure be less erractic but it also created a swimming action that reminded me of the old L&S jointed Mirrorlures, the 15M or the bassmaster, I think. It gave me the itch to try jointed lures but I think I need to put that project off until another day.

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Mallard,

How did the rest of the prototype experiment with your banana lure go? Been offline for somedays; my &$^#% ISP &$^#% up again :pissed: I'm really interested in the transition of the head part taking over the action. If I understood you correctly, the "action-influencing" part of the head is actually behind the tow-eye? Sort of like a pseudo-lip? A two part action could open up a whole new crank design possibilities.... Let me/us know the out come. I think Jerry wouldn't mind a few blogs now & then :D

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I got delayed and only got to finish a few of my prototypes, I have 12 altogether. I should be able do some testing in my pool this weekend. Also the nearest lake to me opened for the first time since Hurricane Charley. :D The ones that show promise will get a chance to perform on the live stage!

I have done a ton of research on "swimming" plugs, in the last few weeks It is certainly nothing new, others have already figured out the secrets (think Ratl-traps, flatfish, etc), I am just applying them to a slightly different shape.

Do not be surprized if I abandon the banana shape altogether. As you said, the action-influening part is the psuedo lip behind the tow eye. A psuedo lip can be added to many different shapes, I just need to find a shape best responds to the swimming action.

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Glad to hear Charley's over. Sounds like you have a lot of tingkering to do :D Think that's why we make our own lures, any thing under the star is possible. Good luck with your experiments. I'm working on your "pseudo-lip" idea & trick-trout's jointed combi minnow. Still in the CAD stage will take sometime b4 anything comes out of it. :wink:

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Here is a little tip on the Psuedo-lip approach, make it longer than you would a standard front lip. A one inch sloped head only gives me about 1 to 2 feet of depth, less than a half inch is useless. Also shape and width do not seem as import as the lenght, or least that what I think right now.

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I did some pseudo-lip experiments too & found shaping it into a shallow U-shape groove makes it more effective and the lip proper in front has to be at an angle & enough to tilt the pseudo-lip to it's functioning angle; so varying the front lip angle/size I sort of got the "lure" to have a slightly different action when it gets to a certain speed. It's quite tricky to get the balance & like what you did throat weighting it just under the tow-eye does lend more effectiveness as well. I'm going for a wide wobble at slow retrieve & switch over to a tight action once it gets up to faster retrive - sort of like a bait fish just resting leisurely & then go into run for your life mode. And the groove if you flare it out or taper it does have some subtle effect too. It's seem a little different from your findings? It's fun experimenting. Let me know what else crops up, seem like something that hasn't seen production in any other lures in the market yet; you might want to patent the pseudo-lip concept :P :lol:

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I have been out of the loop on this post fellas. Could you please explain to me what this psudo lip is? I just love playing with different weights and lips. But I can't figure out what you are talking about with this concept.
Skeeter

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