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Hello, 

        I'm still pretty new to lure making. I have made a dozen or so baits that work well, but I'm looking to improve my designs in a few main ways. My baits are made to target Muskie so durability is key.

1. Lip Material 

- I previously have made my lips from Lexan that I cut out using my Dremel. Its rough and inconsistent. I have access to a machine through a friend that can cut out metal lips. The material is even free. I got some lips in 2mm stainless and its not working. What material / width would you recommend? Is there a cheap and easy way to get better results from my Lexan? I read something about shears being able to cut it pretty well?

2. Through Wire

- I currently twist wire up in my drill and use that for hook hangers. I like the idea drilling a whole all the way through the bait and putting swivels in the bottom, then threading the wire through the swivels. This seems more secure and easier than sawing my whole bait in half. Any advice on through wire?

3. Weighting? Or something else?

- I have made quite a few baits that failed in an odd way. They float perfectly, not too much or too little. They go down fine, but they don't swim at all. They stay at a steady depth, but no action. Not enough weight? Weight in the wrong location?

 

Thanks for any advice. Hopefully I will be knowledgeable enough to give some advice of my own in the future.

 

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1 - a band saw and a belt sander would make all your Lexan problems go away. But if you do not plan to tool up a man-cave then the only alternative that I see is a sanding disk attachment for a regular power drill.

2 - the swivels idea will work, but your problem is going to be drilling the hole down the center of the body. This can be achieved with a drill press, but without a press it would be a difficult task.

I like the slot along the back of the body and drop holes down for the hook loops. The slot is easily filled and tidied up.

Another solution is to start with two halves, soft glued together for the carving and shaping process. Split, fit the harness and hard glue.

3 - We will need photos and more build information for this problem.

Dave

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Welcome aboard.

1.  Dave is right. A band saw and belt sander make Lexan lips a lot easier to make. I use a bench top belt sander that also has the side sanding wheel with a shelf.  If you can’t tool up, I would take a look at pre-made lips that are sold by numerous suppliers. Pre-made lips come in a lot of sizes. You can file/sand them down to change the shape a bit if you can’t find the exact dimensions you are looking for. This way you can focus on your designs and get to making lips when you can get the tools. I have cut Lexan with shears but it usually messes up 1/8” (or more) around the cut so you still have to do filing/sanding. You have to stay further away from your template line with shears .

As for metal lips, I find stainless too hard to work with. I use aluminum for my metal lips, 1/16” thick for smaller baits, 1/8” thick for larger baits. Because I only make a few baits with aluminum lips, I cut the lips with a hack saw outside the line and use a file to get it to the line. A steel hacksaw and file go through 1/16" aluminum fairly easily, 1/8" takes more effort. This is definitely not the way to go if you want to make more than a few baits at a time. I buy aluminum flat stock in a width close to the length of the lip to minimize the amount of cutting (ex. 1” wide flat stock for 1” long lips, so you are really only cutting the sides of the lip). If that machine can cut stainless, it should be able to cut aluminum. Ask you friend about being able to do that. Even if you have to supply the aluminum, it saves you the cutting.

2.   If I am going to do a wire through bait, I usually use Dave’s two-halves method.  You start with 2 equally thick blocks glued (or double-sided taped) together, cut the rough flat shape out and the lip slot before doing any rounding. Once you have the rounded shape, you can separate the halves, make grooves for the wire/swivels, and make pockets for ballast and rattles. This way you are not cutting a shaped body in half and you don’t have to patch ballast holes.

If you want to try a shortcut wire-through method, Dewalt makes some 12” long drill bits that will go through most body lengths. I don't recommend this way for any sort of volume beyond personal use. This way you don’t have to do the tough job of getting 2 drill holes from each end to line up.  This method can be easy but has its drawbacks. The 1/8” diameter bit can sometimes flex passing through the wood and may go off course and not be perfectly centered.  I cut 2" off the chuck end of the long bit with a hack saw to reduce the flex and make the bit easier to work with. When I use this method, I drill through the unshaped piece of wood first. Start the hole with a normal length drill bit of the same diameter first to get the start of the hole straight. Then, go back in with the long bit. Once drilled, I draw a lines on the outside of the block marking the path of the shaft hole. I line up my template or draw my outline on that line so my line tie and tail loop will be in the right spot. Basically, I adjust my shaping to make the shaft hole centered. If the drill bit goes really far off course and I can’t fit my template on the block, it becomes firewood. The wood is wasted but you only have minimal time into the build. On such a 'wasted' block, I try to cut off some of the length of the block to make it usable for a shorter lure.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/DEWALT-1-8-in-x-Standard-Twist-Drill-Bit/3419822

3.            Again, Dave is right, too many variables to narrow down without pics. If the lures sits right in the water and isn’t tilted to one side, I would guess the lip size and/or shape are not right for the body without seeing any pics. If you can find a place to test lures, I would do this. Go through your build process but don’t permanently install the lip. Cut the lure shape out, cut lip slot (make it so your lip material is a tight fit in the slot , and do not install lip just test fit the slot for thickness), sand to final shape, add twist eyes and install ballast, seal. Once sealed, you can temporarily install the lip with tape or soft glue on the back side of lip, attach rings, put bent over hooks/paper clips/wire on the rings to simulate hooks. If the lip fit is sloppy in the slot, you can put some tape on the base of the lip to make it fit tighter. Take easy casts or just drag to test the action. You don’t want the lip to fall out. This way you can try different lips on that lure. Once you find a lip you like, make a note of it for future reference. I have about 30 different lips in a bag for testing.

Edited by JD_mudbug
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Thank you guys so much for the detailed responses. I’m 17 so I probably won’t be able to get a band saw (dangerous + expensive), but I think I’m going to get a belt sander with the disc on the side. Seems like it would help a lot. I’m going to try doing the through wire with the two halves. I have a jigsaw, is there any way I could figure out how to cut lexan with this? Thank you so much for all the help!

Edited by MuskieKiller
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Band saws are relatively safe, but I certainly understand the expensive argument. The belt sander is a good choice for the first major tool investment, you will enjoy this and will find many benefits beyond fishing lures. My belt sander is the same style as JDs (above).

I did actually make a jigsaw cutter for Lexan. It is featured in this video at 2'41". Not as good as a bandsaw but it worked.

Dave

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It doesn't take much practice to rip a lure blank in half with a handsaw.  A Japanese pull saw will make short work of most woods used to make lures.

Personally I would take a bandsaw over a sander any day. Cut out lure blanks, resaw, cut lips, cut lip slots, and can trim bait profiles.  

I have used shears frequently to cut out lips but these are for bass cranks. Can almost cut on the line with round lips and coffin bills come out about as close to clean as one can get.  I use Lenox aviation snips when cutting them out.  I could see it being an issue with thicker lexan however.    Most of the time I just cut them out on the bandsaw.

Edited by Travis
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If you don't have money for a band saw, you can make the rough wood cuts with handsaws and the jigsaw to get the shape close enough to finish with the belt sander. I use the end of the sander belt for curves. There are lots of different handsaws for $8-15. You probably already have some. I started off with 2 like the ones below and still use them.

https://www.harborfreight.com/12-in-flush-cut-saw-62118.html

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Stanley-14-5-in-Deluxe-Clamping-Miter-Box-with-14-in-Saw-20-600D/100034395

If you are comfortable with the Dremel for lips, keep using it. Just stay outside your lines. It won't matter if the cut is rough. Use the sander's shelf and disk, to get straight lip edges. See Dave's video at 3:00. 

I think table saws, especially older table saws without a riving knife, and routers are far more dangerous than a band saw. I would put Dremel cutoff disks ahead of a band saw as for being dangerous. I hope you are wearing eye protection in case a cutoff disk breaks.

Cutting Lexan with a handheld jigsaw is all about clamping it securely preferably on both sides of the cut to stop the flapping. A fiber board blade should work if the blades you have don't work.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Bosch-4-in-T-shank-Carbide-Tooth-Jigsaw-Blade/50247177

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIv0ZB0rVfk

When I didn't have any place to make lures except outside next to a shed, I did figure a way to cut 8" x 10" Lexan sheets with a handheld jigsaw. You need a big piece of scrap wood like a 3' long piece of a 2x12 or a 1'+ wide by 3' long piece of plywood at least 3/4" thick for the top of a makeshift cutting platform. It was faster than hand cutting which doesn't say much. I am not sure if it is worth posting.

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Lots of great advice here already!  I like hearing that you want to make thru wire, as a musky lure maker I agree!  

As far a lips, i like lexan.  Could probably use a coping saw to get close (or jig saw), they are cheap and can cut rounded edges.  Then files/sander to finish the job.  A belt sander with the small disc sander attached would be extremely helpful! I use mine a lot. Ideally in the future, a bandsaw for sure. 

Through wire methods all have their pros and cons.  Cutting the lure right in half can make the final product more seamless, as you can dremel or use a knife to hide the wire or weight or rattles internally.  But it is time consuming if you are trying to make many baits (probably not an issue at this point for ya).  I would recommend just starting with two pieces of wood.  Lightly super glue them together, carve the lure, then pry them apart and work on the interal stuff.  Not to difficult.

Drilling through is awesome.  But drilling straight especially if your lures are 10"+ is very difficult.  You can make a jig with some bushings to line up the hole if you are making the same lure over and over.  But a slightly oversize drill bit can often get you close enough with practice.  Drill through the block of wood before carving, then line your lure up with where the holes are, done.  That way if the hole isn't perfect, you just line up your carving around it.  

My most often used, because of it's ease, is cutting a slot in the lure, then using epoxy to glue in a wire harness.  I can be a bit of a mess trying to get the slot flush and perfect after that, but it works.  

Best idea, try them all!  See what you like and what works.  Write down how you made the lure, and where you put weights, and what worked!  You can help yourself a lot down the road this way.

Check out the tutorial section of the website, some good ideas in there.  I made some lures with the hole through design, take a look.  Welcome here!

Musky Crankbait build - Hardbait How To - TackleUnderground.com

 

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@eastman03always has the best advice when it comes to musky lures!

The only thing I would add to this other than what has already been said, is that when I drill through wire for larger baits, I prefer to drill a pilot hole with a shorter drill bit first for the nose and tail of the bait. The smaller drill bit is much easier to 'aim' and will not wander as much as the long drill bits. It takes a lot of practice but it definitely can be done!

The first through wire construction baits I made were the slot method which is the easiest in my opinion but still very time consuming. I prefer to fill the slot with wood shims first so that I don't have to use as much epoxy. The only downside to this method is I'm not sure it would work with swivel hook hangers as the epoxy would get all over the swivels.

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So much good info already!  Check out this video for a solid looking through-wire method.  I think it lines up with what @eastman03 is talking about: 

 

A bandsaw is super helpful!  I was able to pick one up on Craigslist for $20.  They don't typically go that cheap, but don't think you can't find one if you look long enough.

As for making and cutting lips, what thicknesses and materials do you all prefer?  I know there's going to be a difference from a bass bait to a muskie bait.  What thickness polycarbonate can be cut with snips?

 

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I use mostly Lexan (polycarbonate). I know Lexan is just a brand name. It is easier to type and is shorter than Makrolon. In addition to the fish species, I also look at the size of the bait. If I make a 10" 3 oz slammer type bait for bass, I am still going to use a thicker 1/8" lip. That size bait will crack a thin lip when it hits the water on the cast.

Generally, I go with .093" Lexan for small lures 4" to 6.5" usually under 1.5 ounces. I go with 1/8" (.125") Lexan for bigger lures 6.5" to 11" that range from 1.5 to 3.5 ounces. For lures bigger or heavier than those, I go with 3/16" Lexan. I haven't made too many baits over 4 oz. that had a diving lip. Most of my baits over 4 oz. have been unlipped multi-section swimmers.

Lures near the gray areas in between those ranges may get a thicker or thinner lip depending on the way the lure will be fished and the size of the lip. If the lip is going to be a long lip, I usually go thicker on the lip material because the risk of the lip breaking is higher.

I just started making lures with aluminum lips.  I have gone with 1/16" aluminum for lures under 2 oz, between 2-3 oz will be a gray area, and over 3 oz will be 1/8" aluminum. I don't see myself going thicker than 1/8" aluminum.

I have cut .093 Lexan with compound snips. It's doable. It leaves a crappy pinched-off edge on each size of the cut that requires a good amount of filing/sanding. I have made cuts in 1/8" Lexan around 1" length. This requires a good amount of hand pressure, leaves a crappy edge, an occasionally makes small cracks in the Lexan.  Sometimes, I have to do the 2-handed power squeeze to get the snips through 1/8". I don't recommend it. I mostly use snips if I want to lop off a corner for a coffin lip.

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