Jump to content

- - - - -

The saga of my banana lures

  • Please log in to reply
5 replies to this topic

#1 Mallard



  • TU Member
  • PipPip
  • 169 posts

Posted 02 February 2005 - 02:04 PM

I wanted to share a little of what I learned here at TU. I think this will be of more value to the newbies as I have learned most of this from the regulars.

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! :roll: ). 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.

Attached Files

  • LBI likes this



    TU Supporter

  • TU Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,165 posts
  • Location:

Posted 02 February 2005 - 03:05 PM

How cool!!!

What a great post!!! Really gives some of us "want-to-be's" hope!!

Thanks for taking the time to put that together and sharing it!!


#3 Legendary Lures

Legendary Lures


  • TU Member
  • PipPip
  • 160 posts

Posted 02 February 2005 - 10:49 PM

Wonderful post! I think you've been taking notes!!!

I put together a new fieldtest box every winter. Along with prototypes made by me and others, I pack in extra parts. Things like: screweyes, hooks, splitrings, etc.

I also put in a little tool kit that has things like: sandpaper, a small pinvice (for drilling new holes), a little pinch of modeling clay and some tootpicks (to fill holes), needlenose pliers, a batter powered Dremel and some sanding wheels (for reshaping lips), a sharpie (write numbers on the lures), a little notebook (write notes on paper to match id numbers on the lures, sketch new ideas, etc), a pocket knife (might want to handcarve a lure or two from sticks), nearly evertything to make or remake a lure in the field, cabin or boat.

I've made a mold to cast lead weights on the shank of screweyes. This way I can easily add weight or move them around. Just drill a new hole and screweye it in. You can also use various sized bass or Dipsy sinkers and little rubberbands to move weights around. By combining various sizes of sinkers, you can pretty well fine tune. Once a good weight and position is established, mark the lure and take notes. Do it right then and you can look back later with confidence that the info was correctly recorded.

Make notes of the experiments, weather conditions, location, date and time, fish caught, etc.

I happen to have a Mallard Bananna Lure that is marked #1. If you hold this lure against the screen, up to picture #16, It looks like a carbon copy. Right down to the placement of the dots. Hmmm.... I think it will be going into the fieldtest box tonight.

Posted Image

#4 Mallard



  • TU Member
  • PipPip
  • 169 posts

Posted 03 February 2005 - 10:54 AM

I am lucky enough to have a pool in my backyard and to be blessed with year around warm weather so I can test every bait I make before it's painted and then again with top coat and final hardware .

I have started using Husky's plastic dip to seal my baits. If I don't like the weighting I drill a new hole, replace the lead and dip in plastic sauce. 15 minutes later the bait is ready for the water again. It is also eaiser to sand than epoxy so I can reshape a lure with the dremel and then re-dip and test.

And yes Larry, that #1 on the lure means you got the first production quality Classic Banana the came out of my shop. I appreciate all the encouragement you gave me so I made sure you got my best. That lure was made to be fished, so get it wet.

#5 LaPala


    Advanced Member

  • TU Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 729 posts
  • Location:

Posted 03 February 2005 - 12:19 PM

That's cool Mallard, glad to see your experiments have come to the production stage. Wish I can say the same thing for my lures --- I'm still tinkering with mine & couldn't really make up my mind yet. :D

Personally I like the #5 profile and shape,, looks more sexy to me :D but it's just my opinion, you know what works best for ur creations.

Congratulations on a job well done. Hope you'll be selling tons of them :)

#6 RiverMan


    Advanced Member

  • TU Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,983 posts

Posted 03 February 2005 - 07:52 PM

Hey Mallard,

This post is great! Thank you for taking the time to share the info with the rest of us...loved the "evolution of lures" by Mallard. I too have worked through literally dozens of prototypes for my baits but I never go to the trouble of painting them until I have something I like...you are more patient than I am. I would love to have that tesing pool of yours by the way! I'm a bit surprised that some of the other baits didn't have a better wobble than the one you liked the best. You must be familiar with more contemporary designs by Luhr Jensen-Kwikfish and the classic Flatfish both of which have a bit more "c" shape to them and both are "BIG WOBBLERS". It would be interesting to see if you could get the same action from a bait with a bill.