BoatUS ANGLER: Do It Yourself Department
by Capt. Steve Chaconas, BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff
Bass fishermen are skirt chasers. They are hunting down the right color for their spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, and jigs to either match the hatch, or for something different that will give them an edge. Most of these lures come with skirts, but just not quite what the fish or fishermen are biting!
What’s worse, if the one of a kind skirt that has the perfect strand mix of colors that work on a specific lake during a specific time of the year can’t be found, a panic search begins! Somebody made it and the recipe is gone. Or what about just replacing worn out skirts or the skirts that don’t get used because of color?
What can you do? How about making your own? What? How do you get those thin strands into the tiny rubber band collar? There are numerous contraptions on the market that expand the collar and pull the strands through to create the magic skirt. Cost savings are a factor as well in making skirts. The costs of purchasing skirts range from 50 cents apiece on up. Making custom skirts is as low as 15 cents apiece!
There are several types of skirt making materials. Round rubber is the most popular and is available in 10 colors. Round rubber has more spring in the “legs”, giving lures the appearance of a living breathing creature with more action than other types of skirt material in easy-to-use 1" wide strips. Round rubber comes in flat strips and can be cut to any length. Once assembled, the “legs” can be pulled apart.
Silicone strips are no-stick and colorfast and can create unlimited color combinations. Nature Scale silicone strips have a natural looking printed pattern. Totally original and natural patterns can be mixed and matched by combining strips. Metallic, striped and barred patterns of silicone skirt strips create endless combinations. This material comes pre cut with uncut tabs at the ends. After assembly, cut the tabs and the skirt is ready.
A finished skirt looks deceiving. A small rubber collar with 20 strands or more of material forming the skirt. How does the tight collar open up enough to thread skirt strands? The magic act begins with a special, simple, tool! Jann’s Netcraft (jannsnetcraft.com), maker of all kinds of do-it-yourself gear and supplies, has perfected skirt making!
It starts with the skirt tool. It can be mounted to a workbench with an included clamp or to a pedestal. Insert the pointed piece, with a hooked wire attached to it, into the barrel. Slide or roll a rubber collar over the small point onto the barrel. You can do several at one time if making multiple skirts. Attach the skirt material onto the hook and pull through the barrel, holding the pointed tip. When the hook clears the barrel, roll a collar onto the skirt material and pull it through. For the precut, tabbed silicon material, cut off the tabs and adjust the rubber collar to about the halfway point and you are done. Time…10 seconds?
For round rubber, it’s the same procedure. One strip is all you need for the round rubber strips; two of the pre-cuts make great skirts. You can add more for a thicker, more bulky skirt. But creativity is only limited by imagination. Stacking different colors or partial colors to give highlights or to create a skirt with a top or bottom color contrast is very easy.
For the bottom contrast, take the main color and about 4 strands of the contrast color. Lay them across the hook to pull through the barrel and once the collar is in place, and the ends cut, the skirt will have a highlighted contrasting feature. Orange bellies, white bellies, or darker tops can create more natural appearances.
Fun to make, even more effective when created, skirts can revive or enhance any skirt toting lure. To get started, Jann’s Netcraft has assembled everything needed in one reusable Plano 3750 Stowaway box. Round rubber and silicone skirt material is included with enough skirt collars to make about 100 skirts. This kit has been field-tested and approved by the North American Fishing Club, 9.3/10 rating with a 100% recommendation!
Skirts can be further customized with special collars to attach rattles, also available from Jann’s. The company also sells another easy-to-use skirt making tool to allow assembly of Super Breather skirt styles found on jigs and spinnerbaits. Skirt making pliers work with round rubber and silicone. Tool kit comes with skirt collar pliers and holder, instructions, and 100 skirt collars. Collars are sold in black, white, chartreuse and amber to match the final skirt product.
Jann’s Netcraft also carries start to finish, at various stages, hooks, molds and painted or unpainted un-skirted spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and jigs. Do-it-your-selfers can enter assembly at any level.
Making your own skirts is much more than saving money. With the wide range of colors and materials available anglers will be able to construct skirts for spinnerbaits, buzzbaits and jigs that will be not only unique, but will match conditions and forage for a specific body of water in various locations around the country.
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