BoatUS ANGLER: Do It Yourself Department
Make Your Own Plug Knockers
by Capt. Steve Chaconas, BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff
With the cost of lures like crankbaits from $7 to $15 and even some in the $25 range, fishing without a good plug knocker can be expensive. Not to mention that leaving fishing line behind in your favorite spot can make it tougher to fish in the future! Trouble is, most conventional plug knockers just aren’t heavy enough to really jar the trapped lures free! For example, one commercially available device only weighs 8 ounces.
So, needing a heavier knocker, I constructed my own. I usually can find all of the materials in the hardware store. First I scavenge for aluminum tubing. I like to pick up old lawn chairs and cut tubing from them. A tube cutter works best for this. I like tubes with a 1-inch diameter and preferably made of aluminum. Steel works but will eventually rust. Cut this tube about 5 inches.
Next find some 3/16th inch diameter soft metal garden stakes…or use a thick gauge copper wire of comparable diameter. This needs to be pliable but strong enough to withstand some pressure without bending.
Two links of chain will suffice for the line tie and then some lead. I like to use tire weights for this. Pick some up at your local auto service station. The only thing left is some aluminum foil. This is used to cap the bottom when you pour the lead and to act as filler if you want a lighter knocker.
As for tools, (other than the pipe cutter), a 7/32 drill bit or one that fits the size of your wire, a cutter for the wire and a pot to melt lead. IMPORTANT: Use appropriate precautions when pouring lead…proper ventilation, eye protection and gloves!
First cut the wire to 12 inches. Go to the center point and measure 1.5 inches from the center and mark each side to be bent. Bend the wire at a 90-degree angle. Now hold the small bend up against a “shaping pipe”…this can be PVC or other hard cylinder with a diameter close to 1.5 inches. While holding the short bent section firmly against the shaping pipe, wrap one end around, then the other as shown in the photo. Bend the ends at 90-degree angles around ½ inch.
Next drill a hole near the bottom of the tube. Mark where the other hole should be and drill it, keeping it in line with the bottom hole. Test fit the wire into the tube.
Make a bottom to keep the lead contained in the tube with the wire in place. Slip the top wire into the hole through one of the links of chain. Hold the other link out of the cylinder. Pour melted lead to cover the wire inside the tube. At this point you can add more lead or pack with foil to take up space. Note: it is best to set the tube on a wooden board and hold down firmly against the foil cap to prevent lead from pouring out. Then fill the rest of the tube with molten lead while holding the top of the chain link out of the tube so it can swing freely.
Let it cool and you are finished! I use a heavy nylon line that can be spooled on an old casting reel. I also use an old rod…one that has been broken to hold the reel that stores the line. Just cut the old rod off just above the butt. Once you wind the line in, the knocker can be stored on the butt. Tie the line to the chain link and you are ready to get snagged!
Use this plug knocker at any depth. Position your boat directly over the snagged bait. Slide the line into the wire loops while keeping the line taut. Allow the plug knocker to drop down the line to hit the plug. Hold the rod in one hand and the line for the plug knocker in the other. It might take a few drops, but it works nearly all of the time on all lures!
Advanced use of the knocker for difficult snags - try pulling the knocker to the side opposite your position when the snag occurred and allow it to drop a few feet behind the snagged lure. Yank on the fishing line and it will pull the bait away from the snagged side.
For smaller baits, I make the retriever smaller…for bigger baits or for baits that are deep, I make it heavier.
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