Best Paint for Fishing Lures: Types and Brands Explained

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Painting fishing lures feature image

There are a couple of types of paint that can be used for painting fishing lures. Let’s take a look at the paint types and the methods used to create great-looking custom baits.

Airbrush paint vs. regular paint for fishing lures

The two main types of paint used in painting lures are airbrush paint and acrylic paints, commonly found in many retail stores’ hobby sections.

Airbrush paints come in multiple types, with the most common paint for lures being water-based and urethane-based automotive paints.

You can use spray paint if you want to, but you won’t be able to do the fine detail work needed to make a good-looking bait, and it will only be a base color and maybe some scales.

Ordinary paints like acrylic paints that are cheap and found in most hobby store sections work well for specific methods like painting with a brush, piece of foam, or sponge but do not work well in an airbrush.

If you thin acrylic paints heavily, it can be used in an airbrush, but the paint dries hard and fast, and if you do not thoroughly clean your airbrush, it will clog up and potentially ruin the brush. For these reasons, it’s best not to try it.

Best Airbrush Paint for Fishing Lures

Createx Airbrush Colors
Createx Airbrush Colors
Createx Airbrush Colors
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Airbrush Colors by Createx is the most common type of airbrush paint used by me and most lure builders and painters.

This paint is water-based, easy to work with, thin, and clean. You don’t even need to thin this paint for many airbrushes and can simply fill up your cup and start painting.

The airbrush paint comes in many colors, so finding the color you want for most lure paint patterns isn’t a concern, and the paints are pretty affordable.

The paint cleans pretty quickly, and typically you need to clear the airbrush by spraying water to clean the airbrush system between color changes.

For color patterns with several layers of different colors, you will want to use a hairdryer to quickly dry the paint before applying a new layer.

One thing to note is that you don’t want to layer the paint on too thick, this can cause issues if you epoxy the lures, and delamination may occur.

  • Great color selection
  • Easy to work with
  • Great results
FolkArt Acrylic Paints
FolkArt Acrylic Paints
FolkArt Acrylic Paints
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When it comes to using acrylic paints either with a brush, sponge, or foam, you don’t need to use anything expensive, and the cheap stuff will easily get the job done.

I use FolkArt acrylic paints; they are cheap, typically a couple of dollars a bottle, and when you thin the paint for lures, it goes a very long way.

Like all acrylic paints of this type, this paint is incredibly thick, so you will need to be very aware of how thick you brush the paint on your lures.

The great thing about these paints is that they dry fast, especially with a hairdryer, and you can work quickly without having to wait minutes for the paint to dry.

An excellent method for acrylic paints is to use them in conjunction with water-based paint.

I will use water-based paints for the base and potentially other details and then use acrylic paints for fish markings or accents.

As with any paint, you will want to layer this paint as thin as possible to avoid any delamination after coating with epoxy.

As mentioned earlier, you will want to avoid using an airbrush to spray acrylics on a bait.

  • Cheap
  • Dries fast
  • It lasts a long time
Createx Wicked Colors
Createx Wicked Colors
Createx Wicked Colors
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Createx Wicked Colors airbrush paint is excellent to use in conjunction with their water-based acrylic paints.

They feature candy, metallic, and pearlescent colors that you don’t get with the base paints.

Many of these colors, especially the pearlescent and metallic pigments will need several coats to achieve a good base. I use them by painting over a base color using stencils on top of the standard Createx airbrush color.

These paints may need a little thinning depending on the type, and create great accents like golds, blues, and silvers to add life-like flash and sparkle to your fishing lures.

Wicked colors are more expensive than the standard Createx airbrush colors, but for the methods, you will likely be using when painting lures, they will last you a considerable amount of time.

  • Great accent colors
  • Metallic and pearlescent colors
  • A little goes a long way when painting

Acrylic Paints

Acrylics can easily be used with brushes to create fine details and build markings for color patterns like fire tiger, perch, and crappie fishing lures.

Acrylic paint jobs can vary, and in my case, I build large musky lures, in which I use acrylics to create the dark backs and markings for color patterns like fire tiger, perch, and crappie fishing lures.

I will also use them to blend in shades of brown and gold for walleye and sucker pattern fishing lures among others.

For small bass lures or other baits, acrylics can easily be used with brushes to create fine details, but for base layers, using stencils, or netting for scale patterns, an airbrush will be a far better option.

Use your imagination, and you will come up with a good use for acrylic paints.

Automotive Paints

Automotive paints are the more expensive type of paint used for lures, and they work great for making fine details like gills and fins, among working well for overall color patterns.

The only real issue with using urethane-based paints and other automotive-style paints is the fumes they emit.

You should only use automotive paints if you have well-ventilated areas, and a respirator is required. For this reason, most lure builders and painters use water-based paints or acrylics for fishing lures.

Final Thoughts on the Best Paint for Fishing Lures

Learning the proper way to use the different types of paint for lures takes time and experience. Once you get some time behind an airbrush or by painting with acrylics, you will learn the best ways to use each, and over time you will discover methods to create great-looking lures that will turn the heads of fish and anglers alike. 

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Shawn Chapin is an experienced fishing writer and guide based in Wisconsin, where he loves targeting muskie and a range of other species.