Simple Ways to Bring Old Lures Back to Life

By Capt. Steve Chaconas

Don't toss out your old lures — follow these simple steps to bring them back to life.

Clean Out And Clean Up!

Is your tackle box a tangled mess of rusty hooks, scarred lures, and melted rubber skirts? Don't toss them out! Lures today cost anywhere from $5 - $15 and more. It pays to take a little time to bring your baits back to life. They might not look like the originals when you are finished, but they'll be close enough to be effective, and different enough to catch more fish. For just about everything you need to revive your favorite lures, check out and

Start with cleaning your tackle box. Get rid of all the accumulated "stuff" that has found its way into your storage boxes. Rusty hooks can leave a stain in your tackle box and eventually transfer to your lures! There are many clear plastic storage boxes and most come in standard sizes. Put labels on your boxes to keep them even more organized. I label mine by size, depth, color and season. Once you have your lures out, it's time to go to work.

Spinnerbaits show their age the most. Skirts become discolored. Rubber bands holding skirts in place disintegrate and blades become tarnished. A little TarnX will put the shine back on, but be careful not to rub "gold" finishes too much, because they might rub off. If they aren't salvageable, paint the blades. I like white and chartreuse. Or you can give your spinnerbait a makeover, replacing worn blades and skirts. Upgrade spinnerbaits you don't use with a skirt or blade best suited for your fishing needs. If you have a lot of a particular spinnerbait, change blade shape and size to give your more of a variety to cover other conditions. To keep new skirts in place, a few wraps of nylon thread will secure them. They'll make it through the season and won't slide down coming through heavy cover. A bit of touch-up paint on the head will make these lures as good as new. Sharpen the hook to complete the job.

Love Your Lures

After getting slammed by fish, tossed into rocks and put away wet, topwater lures and crankbaits need love too. Start with the hooks. If they can be sharpened, do it. I prefer to replace mine I've been replacing the belly hooks with a RED treble. For topwaters, withered and worn feathered trebles need to be replaced! Companies like Mustad make some very good hand tied feathered trebles with quality hooks. For lures with split rings in the line tie, try switching to oval split rings to eliminate any confusion on where to tie your knots.

Vinyl lure touch up paint, fingernail polish and even marking pens restore baits and let you stylize your own. I even add black dots on the sides for contrast or orange to the bellies for more visibility. Buy some small brushes. If you're on a budget and aren't artistic anyway, try using a good old-fashioned pipe cleaner for your brush (Q-Tips work too). The fine hairs on the Q-Tip can drag color across a bait, leaving contrasting lines. A spray of "clear coat" will keep your lures from chipping as easily.

After removing paint from jigs, heat them and dip into powder coat or hand paint for a new finish. Attach a new skirt and secure with the same nylon thread used on the spinnerbaits and that jig is back in business! Use markers on the white nylon thread to dye, matching skirts. Don't forget to sharpen these hooks too!

While you're going through all of your lures, checking for paint, hooks, skirts and all of the above, it might be a good time to sort them and do an inventory of what you need. Clear plastic boxes allow you to see what you are missing and a short list on paper will allow you to replenish or supplement your gear for next year. This is also a good time to determine whether you really need all of those lures or, if changing a color might put an ignored lure into service. Whatever the case, if you find you just have too many lures, give some to a kid. Your old lures will be appreciated (and you'll have a good excuse to go out and buy more).