BoatUS ANGLER: Do It Yourself Department
Make Soft Plastic Baits That Look Like Factory Lures
by Capt. Steve Chaconas, BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff
If you could affordably and easily make your own Senko and Brush Hog soft plastic baits, would you? What about creating baits in hard-to-find or your own custom color patterns, then would you? What if you could make soft plastic baits and you, your friends and the fish couldn’t tell the difference between them and ones you bought…would you…be interested? Sure you would.
Soft plastic lures come in just about every imaginable size and shape, keeping patent attorneys very busy.
In the olden days of bass fishing, soft plastics were flat, at least on one side. They were poured into molds that were laying down and while the bottom of the poured lure was rounded, curved or had a “natural” shape, the top was flat. Fish didn’t seem to mind then, and they don’t seem to mind now.
Flash forward from the 1960s to the 1980s when the soft plastic injection possess opened the mind and imagination of lure makers as legs, antenna, and other appendages were easily accomplished as soft molten plastic was forced into metal tubes where perfection was bagged up and shopped out all over the world.
But the industry took an interesting turn about 15 years ago and it was back to the future with handpours once again retaining their dominance for finesse plastics fishing as shakyhead and drop shot baits demanded laminated colors and were not inhibited by their flat sides. More daring hand pourers took on other shapes as well, meticulously pouring curl tails, antennas and legs. An entire industry was created by hand pours. Lure Craft (lurecraft.com) became the do-it-yourselfers Mecca. This on-line and catalog company provided everything needed to be creative and economical. Their supplies are still available in various quantities, thus making it possible for garage bait companies to be born and even bigger hand pouring ventures to become capitalized. Lure Craft surged when one of their bigger customers made a market breakthrough with their hand-poured Poor Boy’s Baits, which was rapidly becoming the top hand-pour packager in the country. When opportunity knocked the Straley’s, Shawn and Kim, answered by purchasing Lure Craft. Now they have taken do-it-yourself soft plastics to the highest level yet, round, tailed, and imaginative custom baits are now a piece of cake for hand pourers.
For some anglers, if it wasn’t round, it wouldn’t work. The Straleys had dabbled in the rounded baits, but realized they were in the wrong medium. Hand poured soft plastics utilized silicon molds. Fine for flat, not so fine for round. It was aluminum they needed. They found a metal artist who could precisely and affordably cut a mold that would employ a metal syringe to push plastic into hard to reach areas of the mold for perfect “pours” every time. The signature flat side of the do-it-your-selfer has now been replaced with store-bought look and feel, but with color and plastic mix consistency all their own!
Making rounded baits doesn’t require cutting corners. Top-notch and affordable supplies are listed on-line and in catalogs. The recipe is simple. Cook Lure Craft’s liquid plastic, add dyes and glitter…and even a pinch of hardeners and floating ingredients, stir, and then suction the “liquefied” plastic mix into the metal plunger and push into a bivalve mold. A minute or so to cool, and an open mold reveals perfect soft plastic lures. Kim says full sided baits via injection have been become popular in the last 3 years. “The guys can get more detail on all sides of the bait…for those who have the mindset that they need a perfectly round bait, you can fill in appendages and smaller antennas without having to trim them, and make them thinner for more movement.”
They have even created a dual injector to push plastic in with two colors. It won’t produce segregation like a hand pour, but does create color swirls, making each bait different. Kim says soft plastic paint and dyes can be used after molding to enhance color schemes.
The two sided aluminum molds are hinged or they have male female halves with a nut to hold them together. Some have up to 10 cavities. Lure Craft carries a senko mold with 7 to 10 cavities with one shoot. While the molds aren’t cheap, they are indestructible and will produce perfect baits pour after pour. A hand pour mold is $10, and $55 to $60 for 4-cavity aluminum mold.
For those wanting to customize their own baits, they better be serious about what they are doing, the price tag for creating an aluminum mold $800…for the reliable silicon customized hand pour $85. Kim reiterates that the aluminum molds never wear out as do their silicon molds counterparts. With aluminum, the finish and detail of injection can never wear out.
Stuff you’ll need: Aluminum mold, Injector, Pour pots, Wooden stir sticks, Liquid Plastic, Color dyes, Glitter
To get started, all you need is a cook top…if you cook indoors, make sure your wife isn’t going to be home for a while and line the stove with foil to keep it clean. Work in a well-ventilated area! Small aluminum pots and stir sticks will keep the mix in a pourable state. Add color dyes and glitter. Using the injector plunger (wear gloves and protective eye-wear!) suck up the plastic and inject into the ports above the mold. Remove when cool, (about 2 minutes). With several molds and a bit of free time, bass clubs, buddies and hobbyists are saving money and creating their own baits. For everything you need, check out LureCraft.com.