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Hinge pin explanation?

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Hi all, i was wondering if some of you guys who use the hinge pin method on swimbaits could please explain how you do it? I understand the twist eye to twist eye version of swimbaits, but im not to sure how you make the hinge pin version.

Any pictures would be helpful also!

Many thanks


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I usually make smaller baits with softer wood, so I've been worried about the pin tearing out.  I'm not sure if this concern is founded on anything concrete, but it's where I'm at.  So far I've just used the interlocked twist eye method.  I'd love to see what insight others add to this!

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I will give an explanation a shot. It takes a lot of little steps that make it look more daunting than it is. With practice, it becomes fairly easy. The nice thing is there are opportunities to correct screw ups while in progress. Caution – long post ahead.

Coming out of the back a body section you need a loop or 2 which can be eye screws, twisted wire screw eyes, and even wire through. The 9” bait pictured has two .092 LPO screw eyes coming out of the back of the front and middle sections.  Through wire can be done but requires more work if there will be more than one screw eye in the hinge. The screws should be long enough to make sure they are secure as possible. I used 2.5” long screws on this bait in the front section section due to the bait’s size. I used 2” long screws in the middle section. There is around 3/4” inch of exposed screw leaving over an inch embedded in the body. Make the screw eyes as long as possible.  I could have tightened this joint up a bit and left a little less screw exposed. It was an experiment in using a swinging tail fin made from paint brush bristles.

The easiest way to go is to make the screw eyes parallel. You can do non-parallel angled screws but you will have to cut angled slots which can be a pain to prevent friction. Parallel screw eyes are best at reducing friction which will reduce action. You put the screws in the center of the joint across the bait horizontally. Do not glue the screws at this point.  If you use 2 screw eyes, you must locate them on the vertical axis so there will be enough room in the following section for the slots. The following section usually tapers down. If you put the screw eyes too close to the top and bottom of the front section, there may not be enough material at the top and bottom edges of the following section for the slots. You don’t want the material at the top and bottom of the following section to be too thin or it could break. If you mess up installing the screws, you can slightly bend the screw eye shafts where they enter the front section if they are off a bit.  If you mess up installing them by a big margin, you can pull the screws out, fill the holes with toothpicks and super glue, and reinstall in a slightly different location.

Once the screw eyes are temporarily installed, line up the following section with the front section. Put the following section into the joint beside the screw eyes. Mark where the slots will go. Cut the slots. The depth will decide how big the gap will be between the sections and the potential range of motion. There is no set distance so you have to figure what you prefer. I cut my slots with a hand saw. I then clean up the slots with small files. The spade file and square file in this kit is very useful here.


After cutting the slots, I use a drill and small drill bit to scoop out some material inside the slot by drilling in on an angle from each side. Start around 1/8” inside the side edges of the slot. This gives the slot a curved back inside the lure making it easier for the top of the screw eye to fit and move.  Line up the 2 sections with the screw eyes going into the slots to check if the slot depth and gap between the sections are ok. Deepen/widen the slot, tighten the screws, extract the screws a bit until you get the gap and range of motion you want. You can temporarily tack twist wire screws with soft glue or even tape. You probably want the gap to be a bit bigger than you what looks good to you to accommodate a thick clear coat on each section which will decrease the gap. Looking down from the top of the bait, mentally note the location of the holes in the screw eyes for the next step.

Now you can drill the hole for the pin. You will be drilling straight down from the top of the following section in the center. Try to drill downward parallel to the pointed front of the section.  How close to the pointed front of the section will vary from bait to bait.  On the pictured bait which is western red cedar, there is just over a 1/4” inch of material between the hole and the front point of the section. Smaller baits will not require as much material between the pin hole and the point. After you drill through the top piece of material and just start to hit the middle piece, stop here. Take the drill out, put the sections back together for a test fit to see how you are doing so far. Use a test pin that is long enough to stick out of the top for easy extraction.  If good, keep drilling.  You can stop drilling just before you breach the bottom of the bait. If you go through the bottom, it does not matter as the hole can filled anyways. Once the pin hole is drilled, you can test fit again. If you need to adjust, you can elongate the pin hole a bit in the direction required with the drill. You can also use tooth picks here to fill in a messed up pin hole or even just a portion of the hole as long as you have enough material between the hole and front of the section. Just use toothpicks going in from the top and bottom for test fitting.

Once you have everything where you want, pull the pin out and any toothpicks out of the pin hole. Mark the depth of the screws where they go into the front section with a sharpie. Pull the screws out so you can glue/epoxy them in. Right after the screws are set in and before the epoxy/glue sets, you can test fit again to make sure you marked the screws correctly.  Make any adjustments to the screws before the glue sets. When the screws are set, I seal the sections. If you have not done so when shaping the sections, you probably want to round off any sharp edges as clear coat doesn’t cover those well.  Make sure you seal the slot as it will be hard to get in there after you permanently install the pin. If you want to seal the slot here with epoxy, you will have to deepen and widen the slot a smidge with a drill/file/sandpaper to make up for the epoxy’s thickness.

Install the pin. At this point, you can just cover the top and bottom of the pin hole with tape to test the bait. I use .062” or greater stainless shaft wire or a clipped off steel nail for the pin. The pin diameter depends on the size of the bait and size of the eye hole in the screws. If you needed pinhole toothpicks, put those in with the pin with super glue. Once the glue is dried, trim off the exposed parts of the toothpick. Seal any exposed toothpick caused by the trimming.  You can now the fill and seal the top and bottom of the pin hole.  I usually use a short piece of the middle section of a toothpick or a small wooden dowel to plug the ends of the pin hole. Seal the ends of the pin hole. Now you can test and finish the bait.

Some people prefer to paint and finish each section before permanently installing the pin. When starting out, I thought it was easier to complete the pin installation and test the bait before wasting time with painting if the bait was a dud.

You can just make out the pins in the pics.

smallmout swimbt.JPG

smallmouth hinge back.JPG

smallmouth hinge front.JPG

Edited by JD_mudbug
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I use SS shaft wire or a cut section of a SS steel nail for pins. I will use regular steel nails if I don't have the other two for freshwater.

I keep the pin in by trying to not drill all the way through the bottom of the bait. The top hole and the bottom hole, if I drill through, get plugged with a tooth pick or small dowel and super glue.

The bottom hole gets plugged first if I happen to drill through the bottom if the bait. Cut the point of a round toothpick off so it just barely won't go in the hole. Put the glue on the toothpick and use slight force to jam it in. You don't need it to go in too far.  Let the glue dry, trim flush, a quick sand, a drop of superglue on the flush cut part of the toothpick to seal. Next, put the pin in from the top, mark the length with a sharpie against the top of the bait, cut the pin just below the sharpie mark so the pin will be recessed. Once cut, drop the pin in to check the length. If you need to get the pin out to shorten it and can't grab it from the top or can't get it out by shaking the body section upside down, you can slide the pin up from the slots with small needle nose, flat screw driver, butter knife, or a blade on a multi-tool. Once you have the pin of the proper length, assemble the 2 sections, put the pin in, prop the 2 connected sections so they sit upright, and seal the top hole the same way as the bottom hole. 

If the hole diameter is too big for a toothpick, use small dowels. You can whittle a small dowel down to fit the hole with a razor knife.

Walmart sells small dowels for $1.27 and a variety pack of dowels for $5. You can use the larger dowels to plug ballast holes. 



Edited by JD_mudbug
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