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Dyeing to Catch Fish
by Capt. Steve Chaconas

Looking in my Tacklebox, I found fishing lures I collected and cast aside as the colors were not what I found to be effective. Just like my wife holds on to her old shoes hoping they come back into style, I closeted my old lures hoping someday, somewhere I would be able to use them to catch fish.

Changing colors of lures or adding color has been something I have done for decades. Markers and vinyl paint were my “crayons” of choice when it came to adding black lines and dots or covering the belly of a crankbait with orange. But there were many limitations including the appearance of the lures. I have tinkered with painting lures, but an airbrush is above my pay grade. Mixing the colors, spraying them, and cleaning up was not something I had the space or time for. I even thought of sending lures to custom painters. That gets kind of pricey. So, I continued to use my pipe cleaners and Q-tips to roll on my go-to vinyl colors.

Metal for instance is very difficult to alter. Hooks, spinnerbait blades and chatter jig lips came in one color and unless I bought specially coated blades, that’s the way they remained. Painting or powder coating changes the thickness of blades and was a difficult process. Metal blades benefit from dyes in a huge way!

Cascade Crest Tools Creative Coloring System at Lurecraft.com is great for coloring fly-fishing and bass lures. Cascade adds color to popular fly tying materials: Hooks, Foam Poppers, Mylar Flash and Mylar tubing, just about any synthetic material as well as feathers.  It takes approximately 5 minutes to dry and cures soft which eliminates cracking. Great for adding colorful flash to spinnerbait blades, chatter jig blades, blade baits and lures!

Even hooks can take color to enhance any lure. Dipping a spinnerbait hook or even a crankbait treble can be done easily. I had great success dipping a lipless crankbait in red dye to cover up an unproductive finish. In the photo, the original lure had a black back, which showed through the dye. Next time, I’ll probably use a Sharpie to put a few black lines on first or even a few dots…then dip it as these will show through. Yellow chartreuse, green chartreuse, hot pink, blaze orange, electric blue, black and purple are colors LureCraft.com stocks. A single dip will do, sometimes leaving hues and shades providing more unique finishes or an extra dip for solid color patterns.

With soft plastics the process is also simple. From the LureCraft.com Fisherman’s shop is Poor Boy’s Lure dye. Very bright colors add fish attracting visibility to any lure. Tipping or soaking an entire lure can take a bag of duds and turn them into a favorite lure. I’ve used dyes for soft plastics for years. Just a dip and they were changed!  If I wanted to only cover one side of a soft plastic, I could lay it flat in a small dish. Tail dipping soft plastic worms is very effective. Chartreuse tails are a standard in fishing anywhere with any bait. Tipping craw claws in orange dye is also a Tacklebox staple. But taking any productive lure and touching it up a bit or the entire body will result in a contrast that exists in Mother Nature while providing a more visible target. This works for grubs, craws, worms, and swimbaits…all soft plastics. This dye is non-scented and odor disappears when dry. Poor Boy’s Lure Dye works on worm tails, claws, heads, or even whole baits to get just the right color contrast or highlight. It comes in six hot fish-catching colors: Chartreuse, Red, Orange, Black, Green Pumpkin, and Watermelon, 2 plus ounces per bottle. Another great use for dyes is changing or modifying spinnerbait skirts. An entire dip gives a solid color and might even turn out with a different shade. Tipping or dipping half a skirt will also add to an otherwise boring presentation. Take a look at the grubs dipped in Poor Boy’s dye. They all started with one color, but now offer a variety to present to fish.

The next time you go into your tacklebox and see a soft plastic, a spinnerbait or other lure that isn’t getting much use, modify it with dyes. In fact, take a bold move and modify your successful baits to give them a unique look.

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