Lure building is winter fun

I’ve watched in wonder as fly fishermen tie their own flies in preparation for an upcoming fishing excursion. This past week, I watched Byron Grubb tie a couple of favorite presentations, all the while understanding the pleasure a fisherman derives from catching a fish on a lure of his own creation.

No, I’m no fly-tier. Someday maybe, but not now. Still, I enjoy putting together lures that I can use with a spinning rod or baitcaster. Just the basics, nothing spectacular, but a fun way to get ready for the open water fishing season.

Like many fishermen I’ve tied my share of spinners designed to catch walleyes. I’ve painted and assembled spoons too. Anyone can do it. Lately I’ve taken to assembling spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, two of my favorite and most versatile lures. It saves money and I can create whatever color combination I desire.

Components can be ordered from several well-known outlets. Sometimes they can be picked up at a tackle store. I’ll take apart old spinnerbaits and buzzbaits that have become bent or damaged and save the parts to build other baits too.

I’m not doing anything spectacular, but I enjoy putting the baits together and then catching fish on them. When I lose one, I do so knowing that it is less of an expense than losing a store-bought lure. The price of homemade lures depends to a certain extent on the amount of components purchased. Buy more, save more – that’s the theory anyway.

For spinnerbaits, I prefer to start with jigheads already painted and molded around wire. I like a loop in the wire too, that way it is easy to use a small snap on a spinnerbait without worrying about slippage. Some lure builders take it a few steps further, purchasing wire separately and pouring their own jigheads. There are several small tools on the market that can be used to bend the wire properly. Keep in mind that I spend a lot of time fishing northern pike, so a stiff wire is desired.

Skirts of any color combination can be added to spinnerbaits. They can be purchased pre-made or a fisherman can make his own out of bulk spools of skirt material. All that is needed is the small bands used to secure the skirt to the back of the jighead and over the hook.

Spinnerbait blades come in lots of different sizes and shapes. Some are painted too. Otherwise the choices are silver or gold, both proven fish attractors. I prefer gold, which is more reflective in murky water than silver. Willowleaf blades are a favorite of mine, too, but the rounder Colorado blades create more vibration in the water.

One thing to consider when building a spinnerbait is that the blades create lift, Colorado blades more so than willowleaf. For fishing deep, say 10 to 25 feet, willowleaf blades or smaller Colorado blades are a better choice than using blades that create a lot of vibration and lift.

Buzzbaits require only a little more work to assemble and a few extra components. The blades come in several styles, so choose one to your liking. To me, the bigger the better. As for the jighead, I prefer the flat style rather than the rounded jighead. The flat jigheads are easier to keep on the surface, which is the whole idea behind fishing a buzzbait. Again, skirts of any color can be added. Remember though, add too much weight and it can become difficult to keep a buzzbait on top of the water.

If you are considering building a few baits of your own, my suggestion is to order a small amount of components and give it a try. That way you’ll be able to learn without investing too much money in parts you may never use again. Chances are, though, you’ll find some enjoyment in creating a few lures and will find yourself thinking of ways to improve your own products.

You don’t have to limit yourself to the lures I’ve described here. Leaders and in-line spinners are easy to make too. The next time you are in a tackle shop, don’t be afraid to ask a few questions and take a close look at components. You might discover another reason to enjoy fishing.