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3D Printed lures lessons learned so far

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So I finally gave the lures I had made a proper field test and in general they performed well if not always as expected.


I had no bodies fail and they stood up to the small and medium sided pike that we caught, nothing over 36" but oddly the bigger the pike are the easier they are on the lure body little 20-24s will shred a lures finish.

I did break lips but I am not sure how there are no rocks to bounce off so a redesign is in order I'll need to learn how to model a lip that is more like what is on an injected molded lure blank. Another option is to make a standard Lexan lip I could probably print up a template and go/no-go gauge easy enough.

I had none of my twisted wire hook hanger fail so that will likely be my default unless some other consideration dictates otherwise. I will try gelled ca glue since 5 min epoxy is a pain and wasteful.

I did have some paint adhesion issues but I think I can lay that at the feet of a batch of lures that I used a rattle can primer. The lures I just cleaned and painted with normal acrylic seem to be fine.

How the lure performed.

Meadow Mouse reproduction
To be honest this one did not get much development yet the lake I was fishing has almost no topwater bite I have been fishing it for 20 years and I have only caught a couple of fish on top water but lakes closer to home do have good top water bites so I will take the one clear strike as an indication that I should paint the test lure and add a tail.

8" minnow or as my nephew named it "the meme" 
It swam well and actually manage to put a 29" walleye into the boat which was a thing since the bay was loaded with 2-3 inch whitefish fry and the fish in general were very size and color specific this trip. It dove too deep for the place we were fishing most of the time and it does take effort to cast it. But it should be a  a killer when we are trolling deep weed edges so I will have to print out a few more.

Jointed Pike
This one swam well and did catch fish but since the fish were so color and size specific it under performed. I only had a natural paint job version so I think I may have to have an unnatural firetiger like paintjob in the box as well. The lure did land a couple of 30"+ pike and the joint seems to be fine so other than stiffening the lip this one is winner.

Bomber Long A KO
This one I had in both a printed version and a cast version (Smooth-on Smoothcast300 10% micro spheres by weight) Both caught some fish the 3d printed version seemed to have a snappier action but with those bodies I just dropped the ballast into the mold and hopped the best. and the ballast seemed to move around so maybe if I use a splitshot on the wire form it would preform better. All of these lure had paint problems but the cast lure shed the pain almost instantly. In an alumilite video they talked about painting the mold so you get a chemical bond to the undercoat.

Has anyone here tried that?

Since the jointed pike worked a jointed version of this is on the list.

4" minnow

This one did not perform as expect but it was certainly a Bob Ross happy accident. As it turns out what I though would be a run of the mill 4" floater diver turned out to be neutrally buoyant and dead flat with a steel leader. I do want a true floater diver but this version is a keeper. I will have to stiffen the lips on these hopefully it does not effect the buoyancy too much.

3.5" lipless

This one performed decently but sufferd from the bad paint job, like most slower sinking lipless the swim is effected by a kinked leader but as it sits it should be killer through the ice. a little wiggle and noticeable forward motion on the drop. it caught well on a rip and fall retrieve while the paint lasted.

The stencils are off the hook awesome I will have to try 3d scanning a commercial blank there could be a business opportunity there.

I have ordered what is call light weight PLA folks use it for printing RC planes  it is regular PLA that either is pre-foamed or it foams as you heat it. I am getting the pre foamed type it supposed to be 35% lighter and should help me with lower volume floater diver lures I tried to make a lazy Ike KO and it was a complete dud.

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Just wanted to report back on the foamed filament, it's very interesting. 

When I got it I snapped of a chunk and put it in water, and it floated. I did not get the 35% lighter but I did get an average of about 25% so not trivial.

I am printing samples of my my bodies to see if there is a noticeable difference. I did find some difference already, it's not quite as stiff as regular PLA, but as long as it is stiff/strong enough I am OK with it. Because it's foam the surface finish is different sort of coarse but that should make it take paint better

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Actually vapor smoothing is a common practice at least with some filaments. As an example exposure to acetone fumes will smooth prints from ABS filament. There are smoothing products for prints but simple sanding sealer works even a thin coat of CA glue, CA also is a great sealer and is useful for bonding any layers that did not bond completely, 3d print at least from a FDM printer tend not to be water tight. 

There is no way to completely avoid sanding. I don't think an FDM printed lure will never win a beauty contest but they do catch fish. 


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I have tub tested the printed with foamed PLA and the baits do have a more lively action. I have printed a whole bunch with luck I can field test them sooner than later. My gut tells me they should be fine since the surface finish is sort of rough it bond better to screw eyes and lips. 

Speaking of lips, I spent the time remodeling the lip since I had a couple of broken lips in the first batch. The lip now look more like a commercial injected molded body. At the body the lip is 2.8-3 mm instead of 2mm.  But it tapers to less than 1mm at the leading edge. I also made the lip and corresponding slot "Keyed"  so the lip is always centered and straight.

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