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lunkerhunter204

Beginner's Journey - Musky Lures

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Hey everyone!

Like many of us, I've become increasingly bored with Covid regulations putting a stranglehold on my social life.  Luckily I think I've found a new hobby to help pass my time.

In the summer months, I'm lucky enough to fish the Winnipeg River System, and LOTW near Kenora, Ontario. I fish primarily the WPG River.  On that particular body of water, from opener to mid-summer crankbaits seem to move the most fish.  On LOTW, you'll see bucktails will move the most fish. In the fall, where casting just causes ice to form on the eyelets trolling is the ticket on both waters. I went fishing with a buddy this year, who had bought 3 13" $275 custom baits. I thought to myself "I can maybe do that" (albeit not nearly as well) so I thought I'd give it a try.  

The plan: Start small(er)

With Christmas coming around the corner, I thought it'd be a nice idea for 'santa' to drop off some lures for my fishing buddies.  I made a couple rough draft drawings from 2 lures I commonly use: A shallow raider and a Jake.  I went to my local Home depot to buy 2"x2"x3' pieces of poplar - I got 3 in total. I traced the design onto the wood, cut them in half (so they're about3/4" thick). I had some leftover wood so I made a couple other designs that who knows how they'll turn out - trial and error. I'm going to even try to make a couple renditions of a "fat bastard" top water lure at some point as well.

So far, I've gotten up to the final sanding. I've calculated the density of my wood. I'll be balancing the ballasts, applying the bills, and hardware this week.

I hope to show photos of my progress throughout this process. I've ordered my hardware from netcraft. I'll be making my bills out of 1/8" Aluminum. I want to use a scotch brite pad to put swirls on them for more effect, and allow more of a rough surface to bond to. #4 Gamakatsu hooks will be used for this build

Are there any other suppliers you guys would recommend - particularly in Canada? 

Any tips for the next few stages? Like I said, I'll do my best to post progress throughout.

 

IMG_CF0E3842A33A-1.jpeg

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Kenora?  There's a YouTube channel I watch pretty regularly that's done by a guy out of Kenora - Jay Siemens.  Great content, check it out if you've not seen it (or for all I know, you are him, or have been in his videos.  Maybe he was the guy who bought the $275 lures?  LOL)

 

Looks good so far.  My only thought is #4?  That seems exceedingly small for a bait that size.  Are you sure you don't mean 4/0?

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4 minutes ago, exx1976 said:

Kenora?  There's a YouTube channel I watch pretty regularly that's done by a guy out of Kenora - Jay Siemens.  Great content, check it out if you've not seen it (or for all I know, you are him, or have been in his videos.  Maybe he was the guy who bought the $275 lures?  LOL)

 

Looks good so far.  My only thought is #4?  That seems exceedingly small for a bait that size.  Are you sure you don't mean 4/0?

I do mean 4/0 hooks my bad!  I do know who Jay Siemens is - just not personally. He's a fantastic vlogger. Uncut Angling is a big one up here as well. Him and Aaron Wiebe are buddies. Check it out if you haven't seen it. You'll go down the rabbit hole on the uncut channel I'm sure.

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1 minute ago, lunkerhunter204 said:

I do mean 4/0 hooks my bad!  I do know who Jay Siemens is - just not personally. He's a fantastic vlogger. Uncut Angling is a big one up here as well. Him and Aaron Wiebe are buddies. Check it out if you haven't seen it. You'll go down the rabbit hole on the uncut channel I'm sure.

I think I've seen some of that.  Is that the channel where the dude makes a lure from a fidget spinner from canadian tire and some of his own hair and catches a musky RIGHT at sunset with it?  LOL

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Wow Lunker, it's as though I wrote that post.  I've been making lures for a few years now, but I have a cabin on the WPG river system north of Kenora.  Perfect testing grounds for my muskie lures!  I've probably seen you around on the water.    

As far as supplier go, the supplies for a lure maker come from everywhere and anywhere.  Keep an eye out in grocery stores for mesh that looks like scales.   My new favorite store is Michaels.  They have Golden hi-flo airbrush paint.  It works great, but expensive.  They also have the epoxy I like.  Just wait till there is a 40-60% off one item and save a lot on epoxy.  They always have a daily coupon for one item.  They stopped selling airbrushes.  You can go to Artist Emporium in Winnipeg to get more variety or paints and airbrush cleaners and paint thinners and actual airbrushes.  

I get wire from a welding supply store, that is by far the cheapest and easiest.  Stainless steel tig welding rod.  0.62" or 0.51" for musky stuff.  I haven't found any good hook supplier yet.  I order the odd thing off amazon.   I assume you meant 4/0 hooks like exx said.

 

That was my motivation to get into lure building as well.  Not being able to buy a legend plow for 100$.  Those things are awesome.  And make my own jakes and grandmas.  

@exx1976 Jay Siemens channel is great!  Same with Uncut Angling (where Jay started).  I used to guide with all those dudes at Eaglenest.  Jay even dabbles in soft plastics, I should het him on here.

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You have created a nice set of bodies. I suggest you stop the mass production now and concentrate on taking one body to completion. No paint or fancy carving. Fit the lip and ballast and all the hardware including rings and hooks.

Test swim it. If all is good then proceed cautiously with small batches. So much can go wrong. Now is the time to learn those painful lessons with the minimum of effort invested.

Good luck with your projects.

Dave

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As far as tips go, it may be helpful to roughly finish one of each of the lures and make sure that they have the action that you are looking for.   I have had to learn that the hard way myself.  Having nicely painted and finished lures work like garbage.  By 'roughly' finish, I mean just seal them, lip in, put some weight in, hang some hooks on it and see if it runs properly.   At least that will let you tinker with one lure, and dial in the action that you want, then replicate that with the other ones.  

Welcome to the addiction! It is a rush catching a ski with a lure you created!

 

@Vodkaman you beat me to the punch.  I basically had the same post lol

Edited by eastman03
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2 minutes ago, eastman03 said:

Wow Lunker, it's as though I wrote that post.  I've been making lures for a few years now, but I have a cabin on the WPG river system north of Kenora.  Perfect testing grounds for my muskie lures!  I've probably seen you around on the water.    

As far as supplier go, the supplies for a lure maker come from everywhere and anywhere.  Keep an eye out in grocery stores for mesh that looks like scales.   My new favorite store is Michaels.  They have Golden hi-flo airbrush paint.  It works great, but expensive.  They also have the epoxy I like.  Just wait till there is a 40-60% off one item and save a lot on epoxy.  They always have a daily coupon for one item.  They stopped selling airbrushes.  You can go to Artist Emporium in Winnipeg to get more variety or paints and airbrush cleaners and paint thinners and actual airbrushes.  

I get wire from a welding supply store, that is by far the cheapest and easiest.  Stainless steel tig welding rod.  0.62" or 0.51" for musky stuff.  I haven't found any good hook supplier yet.  I order the odd thing off amazon.   I assume you meant 4/0 hooks like exx said.

 

That was my motivation to get into lure building as well.  Not being able to buy a legend plow for 100$.  Those things are awesome.  And make my own jakes and grandmas.  

@exx1976 Jay Siemens channel is great!  Same with Uncut Angling (where Jay started).  I used to guide with all those dudes at Eaglenest.  Jay even dabbles in soft plastics, I should het him on here.

Off topic, my apologies - but you guys seem the best to ask!

I organize an annual, "traveling musky camp" every year.  We get a big cabin in a resort somewhere on some big water, and every year it moves around.  It has grown since the first year of 3 guys, to this past season we had 10 guys and 6 boats!  Some even bring their wives now.  It's a great time.

Point being, we've about run out of places in WI to move it around to after so many years, and our favorite chain of lakes the resort has changed and we are no longer crazy about it.  Unfortunately, there are no other cabins on that chain (Fence / Lac du Flambeau) able to accommodate a group of our size, so I'm starting to think about northern MN, or possibly even LoTW.  I was considering Kenora as a home base for next year if this COVID nonsense lets up.  When would be a good time to go up there?  Historically, camp has always started on the first Monday of September, and gone until the following Sunday.  We are willing to change though, if that's too late for being that far north.

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My folks own a cabin on Clearwater Lake, about an hour south of Kenora.  Closest town is Emo.  I haven't been up there in about 9 years, and making lures has definitely gotten me itching to get up to some northwoods water!  Years ago there was a guy who made and sold his own muskie lures.  The drop-off in from of their cabin was one of his favorite spots to come and test his new baits.  I remember snorkeling behind there and having a muskie swim up from behind me, about 3 feet underneath me and just cruise on by.  It was a very large fish, and that close it seemed HUGE.

I live down in Illinois, where our state fish is the Bluegill.  After spending summers up in Ontario as a kid it's always bothered me that our state fish would be bait for the fish up there!

Once I come up with a pattern I like a cut a couple blanks the next step is figuring out where to put the weight and how much weight to use.  I just go by trial an error, though I'm sure there's a cleaner way to go about it.  After it floats right in a bucket of water I'll test it out on "real" water to make sure it swims.  There's not much more frustrating than spending the time to finish a bait and having is swim like a tire...

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LOL, good post Eastman03. This is important advice that has been validated on quite a few posts recently. It is a lesson that needs to be regularly posted so that new-commers to the site can pick it up.

I was fortunate in my early days in that I only had a kitchen table in a tiny apartment and a few small hand tools, so finishing or even shaping lure bodies was definitely not on the menu. Just as well as there was a lot of firewood created.

The second bit of advice' never throw a failure away until you have figured out what went wrong.

Third; only ever change one thing at a time when trying to fix a problem, otherwise you will never know what worked and what didn't. You may even create another problem and think that both fix adjustments were wrong.

Fourth; keep notes.

Getting carried away here, I had better stop :)

Dave

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2 hours ago, exx1976 said:

I think I've seen some of that.  Is that the channel where the dude makes a lure from a fidget spinner from canadian tire and some of his own hair and catches a musky RIGHT at sunset with it?  LOL

Yeah that's the guy lol. He's got some good videos on there for sure.  

Thanks for all the tips you guys. Once I get these ballasts down I'll let you know how it goes. I won't be doing them all at once. I'm hoping that my replication idea will make it "good enough" for the Christmas shipment lol. I don't have anywhere to toss them in. Winter's here and pools are closed. If they suck, then blame santa. Right?

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Unfortunately swimming pools/hotels/community swimming pools are all currently closed. 

7 hours ago, exx1976 said:

When would be a good time to go up there?  Historically, camp has always started on the first Monday of September, and gone until the following Sunday.  We are willing to change though, if that's too late for being that far north.

Kenora is never a bad option for Musky fishing. Totem lodges are first class (I'd stick to the West side myself). September isn't the best time of year for Musky fishing out there. Opener (3rd week of June) is phenomenal. Usually really good until July. Will pick up again in October. Not to say you can't catch them then. It's just not the 'best' time.

7 hours ago, eastman03 said:

Wow Lunker, it's as though I wrote that post.  I've been making lures for a few years now, but I have a cabin on the WPG river system north of Kenora.  Perfect testing grounds for my muskie lures!  I've probably seen you around on the water.    

Where abouts is your place? Buddy of mine has a cabin out there too - that's where I normally go. Park at Locke Bay and head North towards mertyl rapids. My wife and I have a seasonal this year on Longbow Lake - will likely do more on LOTW this year.

 

And thanks for the tips everyone. Will likely finish up my lure tonight. Maybe find a place to test it out with any luck

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Let us know how the lures turn out!  It is a fun hobby for sure.   

Wow, you must have boated by my cabin basically every time.  I have a small island just north of the powderpuff out past the mouth of Locke bay.  If you know the area at all, all the locals call my island "Outhouse island" (that is the nice way of putting it).   Or "S***house island" haha.   

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I am in Ontario and make giant soft muskie swimbaits (rover Baits). 
For fun I have started making my own hard baits. I am a rookie but you could likely benefit from my testing strategy. 
Here is what I did. 
I stuck to one lure style at a time and a Jake is a great starter. I used cedar. I stuck to flat sided lures and used wood that was 19-20mm thick.

 
make a template so u can duplicate it. 
cut bait and router edges

cut lip slot so it is a tight fit for your lexan or aluminum. 
use screw eyes and put on hooks for testing too. 
seal bait with crazy glue for testing. 
make  a variety of lips that are the same and vary from proven lips. 
Get/make  some 7-10 gram weights and grab some masking tape. 
Test in water and jam in different lips and tape on weights to belly systematically until you think you have it. Mark where belly weights go. 

once the baits are epoxied they will likely run well but may change. Test again. But the true test is running them on the boat trolling at various speeds as casting retrieve speed is much slower. 
And of course the reel test is do they get chewed??

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So I finished my first batch.

Thank-you everyone for the advice. Worth it's weight in gold.

Quite happy with the way the run. Made MANY mistakes along the way. Not happy with how blotchy the epoxy set. I made a rotisserie, and hit them with a heat gun - but not the most ideal finish to be honest (30 minute epoxy). My eyes aren't the size I wanted - I had ordered some online, and are"6-8 weeks behind" on shipping. I had to pivot and get other ones - that don't fit the way I want.

I used an avacado bag for the scales - my template didn't show up. I need a good firetiger template. The one I made is trash lol. Started getting used to the paint patterns toward the end. If anyone uses a bag like an orange bag, or onion bag, and my case an avacado bag for scales a helpful tip is to hit it with heat before the paint goes on as it shrinks just ever so slightly. Will make a better pattern in the end. I need a few more colours. Would like to make a nice walleye pattern. I cheaped out and bought a garbage airbrush to begin with. That lasted 10 minutes before I went to Michael's and got a new one. Worth every penny.

I used 061 SS tig welding rod for the eyes. Twisted them on a bolt. Turned out OK. Might try thru wire next lure (Made a blank for a top raider I'm looking forward to finishing).

C of G was determined, and weights were placed to give the head a slight weight advantage. Lead weights were drilled in and covered with Bondo. Worked out rather nicely.

Overall a humbling experience. I'm proud of the work I did. I know I made a lot of mistakes along the way - I'm trying not to be too hard on myself. But I'll do better next time.

 

IMG_2732.jpeg

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Hey - if your first batch actually swims, you did better than I did my first attempt out.  LOL

 

I'm on iteration #3 of my crankbaits.  Iteration #2 had one promising lure of the 4 I tested, so now I've made 4 more with slight variations on weight placement nose to tail, and I hope to be able to test those in a local hotel pool Sunday night.  With any luck, one of those 4 will end up my production version.  Not bad, considering I'm almost 3 months into this.  LOL

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On 12/8/2020 at 8:21 AM, eastman03 said:

Let us know how the lures turn out!  It is a fun hobby for sure.   

Wow, you must have boated by my cabin basically every time.  I have a small island just north of the powderpuff out past the mouth of Locke bay.  If you know the area at all, all the locals call my island "Outhouse island" (that is the nice way of putting it).   Or "S***house island" haha.   

I drive by your place every time I go lol. Which is multiple times per year. Park at Andy’s and launch from there. Last year I had to launch at perch bay though as I’m told there’s some politics going on at the launch at Locke bay. Won’t get into that tho lol. 

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On 12/23/2020 at 9:23 PM, lunkerhunter204 said:

If anyone uses a bag like an orange bag, or onion bag, and my case an avacado bag for scales a helpful tip is to hit it with heat before the paint goes on as it shrinks just ever so slightly. Will make a better pattern in the end.

Solid tip right there! I'll have to remember that if I ever use those. I have a bunch in a box but never used them before.
But those are GREAT first lures! I can't build a crankbait to save my life so this is much better than I've ever done. 

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