I wanted to build a banana lure similar to the ones made by Jim Pfeffer and later by the Boone Bait Company. A banana lure has a unique darting action on the surface, it tends to dive down then resurface near where it started. Banana lures should also have a wiggle with a steady retrieve. I wanted to improve on this design by making a bait that would dive a little deeper have a bit more wobble.
The project ended up taking on a life of its own. I didn’t have a clear picture of what I was trying to build, but I started building anyway (Note to self – this is sign of trouble ahead! ). I eventually built almost 20 prototype lures to test different shapes and weighting.
I started by just cutting a shape out of some scrap wood. The result was lure #1 in the picture. This was a disaster. Bad weighting, no lip, it would just lie on its side and spin when retrieved. I painted it just to practice a new paint scheme, blue mullet.
Lure # 2 was a major break through. It started as junk, but I kept changing weighting and line tie placement, I even reshaped the head, until it showed signs of swimming. I added the dressed treble for more stability and it finally worked. Not a great lure, but it dives to about a foot and has a nice wobble. It had a bit more of a curved shape so I decided to incorporate the shape of the Teas-Oreno into my prototypes.
Lures #3 – 6 were made in one batch and are quite similar to each other. I wanted more stability than #2 offered so I went with a larger, fatter shape, added a lot more weight, and departed from a flat-sided lure and rounded the tail section. I also decided would try a more curved shape, hoping duplicate the action of the South Bend Teas-Oreno. This lure has a beautiful wandering wobble on a slow steady retrieve turning into a tight wiggle on a fast retrieve.
I was in a hurry to test the lures and I ended up leaving the head boxy and flat. Once the lures hit the water I knew I had hit on a magical shape. They have beautiful wandering wobble on a slow steady retrieve turning into a tight wiggle on a fast retrieve. What I did not know was why they worked so well. By keeping the head boxy I had created a “pseudo-diving lip”, this combined with more aggressive weighting accounted for about 90 % the action. I however compared these lures to lure #2 and incorrectly deduced that by rounding the sides, I had improved the action. Both Skeeter and LaPala told me that the sides are not that important, it is the lip and weight that matter, but I didn’t listen. (see the Flat-sided Vs Rounded lures... musings? thread)
Lure #7 has never been in the water as it has a topcoat problem.
Lures #8 and 9 have a similar paint scheme but are very different. #8 has flat sides and was hastily shaped but it still runs better than #9. #8 is a nice lure to fish. The reason I believe #8 is better is a more flattened pseudo lip and the higher line tie.
# 10 is a poorly designed lure, it has a good action as a darter but is not stable at moderate to high speed. You will notice it has a more rounded head and a less well-defined “pseudo-lip.” This is similar to the design or the Boone Castana.
#12 is a great lure, just perfect. Note the shorter more aggressive “pseudo-lip” and the high line tie. Also note the bulge at the bottom eye screw, there is serious weighting going on with this guy, it is also chin weighted.
#13 is an ugly lure. It is sloppily made, the body is not straight, and it is poorly shaped and finished, but it still runs better than #9. I believe the reason is the pseudo lip and high line tie.
#14 is another great lure. It has a cylindrical body and is very well balanced. The pseudo lip is flat and the line tie is high. I actually sold this lure.
#15 is an attempt to make a deeper diving lure. It didn’t really work the way I though it would but it still runs well.
And now for #11. This is an after thought that turned out to be a gem. I took a small piece of scrap shaped it like the old banana lures from Jim Pfeffer. I used what I had deduced about the shape of the head and proper weighting and put it into practice with this bait. It turned out to be a great swim bait.
So, after building and testing almost 20 lures I came to the conclusion that the Teas-Oreno swims as it does because of its lip, not the banana shape. If you look at the evolution of the Teas-Oreno you can see its shape change from round-sided lure to a flat-sized lure, yet the action remained the same.
I have taken what I learned created a new design, lure #16 in the second picture. I left the sides a little boxier to save time sanding. The head is long and flat to work as a diving lip. The lure is chin weighted, which puts the weight directly under the line tie. When the line is twitched the lure does a head first dart down into the water. When retrieved the head rolls down and the tail rotates up and wiggles as it moves through the water. I now call this my Classic Banana lure.
I cannot emphasis the importance of balance when making a bait. Skeeter has made some very enlightening post on the subject, they are worth reading and re-reading several times.
I am continuing to work on refining my curved banana and I have added a scooped front like the Bass-Oreno.
I hope this helps someone.