The Allure of the Fisherman’s Lure: Identify Yours

Hand-made spoon baits, tackles and wobblers
Hand-made spoon baits, tackles and wobblers

Updated December 05th, 2018

I spent a good portion of my childhood growing up in Minnesota, a place I still love. Both of my parents worked, so I often spent afternoons after school at my grandparents' cheerful home. During the long winter season, there wasn't very much to do, but my grandfather and I enjoyed making DIY fishing lures and dreaming about the great catches we'd make all summer long. There's no cold like Minnesota cold. I didn't relish ice fishing and neither did my grandpa. We liked to chat indoors and compare progress on the lures we were crafting. I think we may have ultimately made between 50 and 75 apiece. It seems like we were always sitting at his workbench to make DIY fishing lures. I still have several that he made, but I don't use them. I just display them to remind me of those days.

After warming up with the tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches my grandmother made us, we'd head down to my grandpa's rustic work bench and create our specialty DIY wooden fishing lures. He always had wood scraps and sand paper. He'd usually do the sawing and I'd smooth out the rough edges before we got down to transforming them into useful gear. If you don't have a workbench, any old table will do. Sometimes I sit out in the yard at our picnic table to make mine. Epoxy can be tricky to work with, so I try to protect my work surface from drips or spills.

Today, I still love the gratification of making homemade lures from bits of junk and scraps. Not only do they help me save money, but they make me feel nostalgic for those old days when making fishing lures trumped homework and dreams of the big catch brightened the dreary winter season. Plus, an effective lure means that there's fish on the table. I take fishing seriously and if you do too, you know how important the right gear can be. Part of the fun for me is hunting for scraps to decorate my DIY fishing lures with.

DIY Fishing Lures: Not Just a Trend

Before it was "diy," it was homemade…and before it was homemade, it was a matter of necessity—even survival. Do-it-yourself fishing lures were first done by the ancient Egyptians and Chinese, according to historical artifacts. Early fishermen used bronze or, more often, bone to create functional fishing lures. For centuries, DIY fishing lures were all the rage up until the Industrial Age when manufacturers like W.D. Chapman made them in mass quantities for fisher folk who didn't have time—or inclination—to make their own. Soon, buying fishing lures from manufacturers became the trend. I suppose, people who have more money than time don't mind spending their cash on gear.

Even so, in order to save money and, maybe, to show off some creative flair, people like me have once again decided to make their own DIY fishing lures. Personally, I love to craft DIY wood fishing lures, but there are different types. Here are a few things to consider as you contemplate the different types of fishing lures.

Wood Lures

The earliest lures I made with my grandfather were fairly rustic. We relied on hand tools to create rough outlines of fish. I had trouble with tails and fins, so mine, more often than not, looked like curvy blocks of wood that I painted green and blue scales onto. I liked to create realistic lures, but sometimes I'd try to fashion something out of the ordinary. My grandfather would then attach a couple hooks onto my finished lure and we'd save it for the summer fishing to come. Today, I have my own work bench where I use power tools like my jigsaw to create my wood lures.

To create a realistic look for my DlY fishing lures, I use metallic paint to suggest "scales" because I think it attracts more fish to my rod. I take my time when I paint, but I have some pals who do a slap-and-dash job—and the lure still manages to do the trick. I attach the hooks when painting is complete and ensure that my wood lure is well sealed against moisture. I use an epoxy, but there are lots of sealers on the market. You can make DIY wood fishing lures to your liking. I enjoy testing mine and I've discovered that certain ones definitely have a higher success rate than others. I feel good about giving them as gifts too. I've presented by nephews with some in the hopes that they'll discover a love for fishing and making homemade lures too.

Old Spoons

Although we never made them, my grandfather did have a few spoon lures in his tackle box. Today, I've noted that many fishing enthusiasts are making their own DIY fishing lures using old spoons. I think the silver of the spoon is a great way to attract fish to your line. To make them, you'll need to remove the handle of the spoon. You can then drill a hole at the top and bottom of the spoon bowl to attach your hook. You can camouflage the hook with numerous items. Were I to make one of these, I'd opt for some bright synthetic feathers in a bright neon shade of pink or yellow. If you don't have any old spoons, you can find them at thrift stores, flea markets, or yard sales where they're typically priced dirt cheap. I think in the future, I'd like to try one of these spoon lures. I remember that my grandfather had one that he sometimes used to hook largemouth bass. The spoon was painted with red and silver stripes and had a copper penny dangling from its base along with the hook.

Cork Lure

The queen of DIY fishing lures—the cork lure--is a breeze to make, in my opinion, and will certainly do the trick in a pinch. Be sure to save the corks from your wine bottles. I like to store mine in a glass jar near my work bench. You can also pick them up at craft stores where they're generally priced inexpensively. I find that cork is easy to work with. You'll see that it's easy to slip your hardware (i.e. the hooks) straight into it. You can then attach other decorative items that are likely to attract fish like bottlecaps, metallic beads, or even shiny silver coins. Keep in mind that cork is light, however, so you may need to attach something else if you want it to verge more deeply beneath the water's surface. I don't like to use cork very often, but I do have success in certain situations when I use it.


Get Creative

Making your own DIY fishing lures is a fun hobby that can save you money. Once you get the knack for it, you might even want to earn some money by selling your homemade fishing lures online. You can then begin to amass some common items you'll need to make lures like pieces of wood, epoxy sealers, paint, feathers, hooks, and screw eye hardware. If you head to yard sales or resale shops, always look for small items that you can repurpose to make or decorate your fishing lures. You can exclusively use found items to make seriously effective lures if you're determined to do it. I also like to pick up paint and varnish when it's on sale so I always have my needed supplies on hand.

If you're like me, you'll want to test your DIY fishing lures and then refine them as needed. Some people take this hobby to the level of an art form. I simply enjoy making them when the weather isn't conducive to fishing just like I did as a kid. I have a large collection of about 250 lures. Once, I was able to show them off in a local library display. I'm hoping to start an online gallery where I can show them off all the time—and keep track of what I've done. I have sold several, but I kept photographs of them to remind me of their designs. I will sometimes repeat a design if it's particularly successful. For inspiration, you can check online to see what other DIY enthusiasts have created in the fishing lure line. I often check on sites like Pinterest for fishing lure inspiration.

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