As the surface of the water explodes, adrenaline shoots through your body. Your muscles lock you into position for a fight against whatever has just smashed your top water plug. No doubt about it, you're in for a scrap. You sweat, ache, curse and pray you'll get the fish into the boat. Your heart pounds as you wonder, "Will my knots hold? Did I set the hooks deep enough? Will everything hold together long enough for me to get this fish in?" The eventual catch is made all the sweeter by one outstanding fact – YOU hand crafted this plug yourself. It was you who dreamed it, whittled it, sanded it, painted it, and fabricated its every facet. Now you have your dividends in spades. There's a fish on. But first, let's hand craft a minnow-imitation, Rapala type lure.
Hand Crafting a Lure
To hand craft wooden top water fishing plugs requires minimal equipment. Here's what you basically need:
o 5 "long Wooden plug blanks, sawed off from an old broom or mop handle You can also use wooden dowel stock
o A whittling knife or a box-cutter with break-off blades
o Small cans of white, red, yellow and blue enamel paint to color the lure
o Two Plastic doll eyes for each lure (the kind where the black eye part moves around)
o 3 or 4 Long-threaded screw eyes in brass or stainless to attach hooks and leaders
o A small spool of red or white sewing thread for wrapping on buck tails
o 3 or 4 number 5, 6 or 7 stainless steel split rings to attach hooks and leaders
o Barrel swivels to help prevent line twist above the leader
o A few 3 "to 4" square pieces of medium to fine sandpaper to finish the lure surface
o 4 "lengths of nylon ribbon or nylon rope to make the buck tail
o A tube of Super glue to cement in the screw eyes into the plug body
o Rubber cement to seal the thread wrapping of the buck tail
o A little love, patience and a sense of pride to add to the patina of your work
Lure Assembly Procedure
The procedure is simply to whittle down the wooden plug into a minnow-like shape, then sand the plug body to a smooth finish. Screw in the screw eyes, back them out, fill the holes with super glue then immediately screw them back in. You'll need one screw eye in the head, one in the belly and a tail screw eye. Paint the lure with a color pattern of your choice. The lure assembly should thoroughly dry for at least a day in good sun. You want solvent odors and residue gone completely.
Make big, bug-eyed lures
Attach lure eyes with super glue. Use the largest doll eyes that you can for the lure size. Yes, the bigger, the better. They drive the fish nuts, so you want a big-eyed lure. Attach hooks to belly and tail screw eyes using split rings. Wrap a buck tail on to the tail hook shank using the sewing thread. I like red thread with a white buck tail. Coat the thread with rubber cement to seal it. Use a fine comb to "comb out" the buck tail so it's nice and fluffy. It should be just a bit longer than the hook. I use a moustache comb and small scissors to trim it up just so.
Attaching Terminal Tackle
Clip or tie on your leader or leader material. For strictly salt water use, I always use stainless steel wire leaders which are wrapped or double-looped and hand-tied on. The lure assembly should thoroughly dry for at least a day in good sun. You want solvent odors and residue gone before its baptism in seawater.
The final step is to test your lure by trolling it a medium speed about thirty yards behind your boat. Just be ready for an explosive strike. Then, as the surface of the water explodes …