How to Make Fishing Lures: Our Full 2024 DIY Guide

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Making your own lures is a great way to catch more fish and learn a new skill. 

And as fly fishermen know only too well, there’s great satisfaction in fooling a fish with something you created.

In this post, we give people new to lure, making the key facts on why it’s worthwhile, how to learn the techniques required (they aren’t hard), and where to get the supplies to start making their own lures.

Why Make Your Own Lures?

To boil it down, there are four main reasons

  • To save money
    Fishing is expensive these days. It’s not uncommon to pay $20 for a lure, and doesn’t it hurt when you lose it on a snag? Making your own lures will save you in the long run.
  • To get the exact kind of lure, action, and color that you want
    Many fishermen and women are into DIY lure making because it gives them a lure with the exact qualities they are after. Maybe there’s a specific type of baitfish in their area that commercial lures don’t imitate properly. The solution – make your own.
  • To help you catch more fish
    Research shows that fish learn from being hooked and develop a memory about lures. If you are using the same lure as everyone else is in heavily fished areas, that might mean you miss out.
  • Because it is satisfying
    We come from a fly fishing and fly tying background, so making your own imitations is second nature to us. There is nothing like the satisfaction you get from landing a fish on a lure that you yourself have created.

Related Lure Making Content:

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What Kind of Lures Can You Make?

Making Soft Plastic Lures

Making soft plastics is also relatively easy and a good place to start with lure making as all sorts of fish, from bass and trout to crappie and walleye, right up to muskies, love them.

You can purchase the plastic as a plastisol liquid that must be heated before use (you can melt down used or damaged soft plastics to recycle them, too). You can add colors, scents, and glitter as required.

The main hardware item required is a mold for the shape you want to create. You can find some examples here. See below for video instructions on the method or here for an illustrated example. Check out our full guide to making soft plastic baits.

Making Crankbaits

Making crankbaits takes the difficulty up a notch because you are dealing with a hard body – usually wood or plastic – and a lip to get the lure to dive. That said, they are easy to create with a few tools and the right materials – wood, terminal hardware, paint, and polycarbonate sheet for the bib.

There are some nice written instructions here and a video tutorial for those who prefer below. You can use a wooden lure making kit to make crankbaits, too.

Making Jerkbaits or Stickbaits

Making jerkbaits involves similar techniques to crankbaits minus the complexity of the bib or lip. Here’s a written guide to the technique, and there’s a video tutorial below.

Making Spinners and Inline Spinners

Making your own spinners for trout and other species is relatively easy, and if you buy in decent quantities, the parts required (the blade, beads, and wire) are relatively inexpensive.

This article has detailed instructions, as does the video below.

Making Spinnerbaits

Making a spinnerbait takes the difficulty up a small notch as we are now dealing with a more complex frame, potentially two blades, and the addition of a skirt and swivel. That said, it is easily achievable with a decent set of pliers and other basic tools. These instructions make the task straightforward, as does the video below.

Making Your Own Surface Lures or Poppers

Making surface lures, or poppers, for bass and other species is a great way to start lure-making. These are bibless, so they don’t quite involve the degree of finesse or fine-tuning that making a crankbait involves. With some basic tools and some wood, epoxy glue, paint, and sealer (and hooks and other hardware), making a surface popper is a relatively straightforward task. The one below is easy to follow for those who prefer a video tutorial.

Making Jigs and Jig Heads

Making your own jig heads to create great jigs for bass and other species is a great way to save money, as these are not cheap when bought commercially, considering the materials are so cheap. What we are doing here is creating the lead head with the hook inside it. This involves a bit of gear to safely melt the lead and pour it into the molds, but it’s not too technical, as can be seen here and below.

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More Info on Making Lures

lure making

Is Lure Making Difficult?

In relative terms, no. As you’ve seen in the above examples, the process is relatively simple, and most people who fish know the basics for this kind of handiwork.

What Lure Making Equipment Do I Need?

Apart from the parts themselves, the following equipment is helpful: an electric sander, a melting pot to heat the lead in, some decent needle nose pliers, and paint brushes. An airbrush for painting and a heat gun/hair dryer is a huge advantage with crankbaits and jerkbaits.

What Is Involved in Painting Crankbaits, Jerkbaits, and Other Hard Bodied Lures?

Painting these lures is almost an art form of its own (see our guide to painting lures for more info). Basically, you take the lure blank and clamp it in a handheld clamp by the hook mounting point or by the bid (which you can cover with tape to avoid it getting painted) and use the airbrush to apply the paint (see here for info on choosing the best paint).

Using stencils helps to create patterns – for example, a mesh can help create scales and cut out stencils to create blotches. Once done, you can seal the crankbait paint job with epoxy, as shown here.

Where Can I Buy Lure Making Components?

You can the components you need at a reasonable rate from suppliers such as Jann’s Netcraft, Lure Parts Online, or Mud Hole. Canadians can use Lure Making and Australians Kingston Lures.

Where Do I Get More Advice and Information About Making My Own Lures?

In our experience, once you get into making your own lures, it becomes quite addictive. 

Perhaps because of that, there is a good community of lure makers – both professional and amateur – on the internet. One of the places to go for advice is Tackle Underground, which has the most active forums and discussions on lure making.

There’s not much about lure making that you can’t learn from these forums. They are actively moderated by a huge number of knowledgeable contributors.

In terms of instructional videos, YouTube has a wealth of content on lure making that can help you get general advice or resolve issues you are facing in building a particular lure. We have used several good ones in this article, and there really is a wealth of material there.

What’s Next?

Get out there and start making some lures! You won’t look back… trust us. Before long, you’ll have your lures on the end of your line, and you’ll probably be catching more fish than ever before with more money in your pocket for other fishing needs. And each fish you do catch will be significantly more satisfying because you’ve fooled them with your own handmade lure!

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Rick Wallace is a passionate angler and fly fisher whose work has appeared in fishing publications including FlyLife. He's appeared in fishing movies, founded a successful fishing site and spends every spare moment on the water. He's into kayak fishing, ultralight lure fishing and pretty much any other kind of fishing out there.
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