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Picture of Crankbaits

Back when hunting was the only available way to catch food, many near lakes and rivers turned to fishing to survive. Obviously, whatever caught more fish was better. As humans evolved, we no longer relied on fishing for food, and instead it became a sport. But one thing still holds true; a lure that catches more fish is indeed superior.

 
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Step 1: Part 1: What is a Hard Bodied Crank Bait?

Picture of Part 1: What is a Hard Bodied Crank Bait?

In general, a crank bait is a fishing lure made out of wood or plastic, and as it is pulled through the water, it swims and mimics a wounded fish. Larger predatory fish see it as an easy target, and bite. The action is generally imparted on the lure by either a lip affixed to the lure, the angler, or a combination of both. It may be painted any color, generally to “match the hatch”, as they say, or to mimic the colors of real fish in that lake.
Crank baits can be either surface lures, or diving lures. Diving lures have a large lip that propels them down to the desired depth. Sometimes, this can be the only way to get a strike. Other times, surface lures,which have no lips and are generally a very exciting way to fish may work better.
Hard bodied crank baits have been proven effective by the test of time. They have accounted for plenty of world records.

Step 2: Part 2: Choosing the Material

Picture of Part 2: Choosing the Material
There really are a lot of materials you can make a lure out of, such as polyurethane, pine, and balsa wood. Generally, plastic lures are more robust, but require the maker to buy more equipment. So, this guide will focus primarily on wooden lures. Most people, however, have access to a chunk of wood. In general, for most lake-sized fish, your lure should be about a half inch thick and 3-4 inches long. So, clearly, a half inch thick piece of wood is ideal. But the type of wood is also important.
Balsa is very buoyant, so your lure will have a fast reaction when twitched. The best tactic here is just to try with different material until you find the one that works the best.

Step 3: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

Tools:
• Drill with drill bits to match eye bolts
• preferably a sanding drum
• sandpaper
• miter box with saw or scroll saw or band saw

Materials:
Top water:
• A block of wood(min.dimensions:1/2 x 4 x 1
• eye bolts
• split rings
• hooks(treble preferred)
• paint(optional)
• To make it diving:
• Aluminum sheet or thin polycarbonate
• polyurethane glue
• thin wire

Step 4: Part A: Deciding Shape

Picture of Part A: Deciding Shape
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Part A: Deciding Shape
There are many shapes one could choose. The most common is the minnow. A minnow is a long, slender bodied fish. They are primary forage for bigger fish, so they are used to eating them. Another common shape is the shad. It looks like this:


The first piece you cut should always be from the side view!!!
These are just basic guidelines though. The best possible shape is the same as the small fish where you will be fishing.

Step 5: Part B: Manufacturing

Picture of Part B: Manufacturing
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       Once you know what shape you will use, draw it on a piece of paper. Keep tinkering around with the drawing on the paper until you have it just right. For crank baits, the tail and fins are normally not included, so leave those out of your drawing. Then, cut it out, and trace it onto the wood you will be using. This is when it is nice to have a scroll or band saw. Try to keep the edges as perpendicular as possible so that when you drill holes, the eye bolts will go straight down.
        Now is a good time to drill the holes for your hooks. A good spot for hooks on a crank bait is 1/3 of the way back on the belly, and one where the tail should be. Try and get those as straight as possible. Don't install the eye bolts yet, because the whole body needs to be clear-coated which I will explain later. If you are making a surface lure, you may skip this next part.

Step 6: Part C: The Diving Lip

Picture of Part C: The Diving Lip
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          Any diving lure needs a lip. That lip should go straight across the body of the lure. Lips generally go a little below of where the mouth would be. A lip that sticks out almost straight will make a lure dive more that a lip that sticks down for obvious reasons. To cut a slot for the lip, use the miter box or the scroll saw. If you are using an aluminum sheet lip, generally one blade thickness is good. For a lexan lip, one will generally need at least 2 blade thicknesses.
         The next order of business is actually making the lip. To get both sides symmetrical, fold a piece of paper in half, then draw a half of the lip. Then, cut this piece out of paper, and trace it onto the aluminum. Good scissors should be enough to cut the aluminum sheet. If you use lexan, multiple passes with a utility knife may be necessary. Alternatively, one could use a scroll saw.
Get your drill out again, along with the thin wire. Along the centerline of the lip, drill 2 holes an eighth inch apart. Make sure that those holes are at least ½ inch away from the body of the lure. Try and make the hole size as close as possible to the wire diameter.
         Next, bent a piece of wire into an eighth inch arc, so the wire forms a thin “U”. Next, put that wire through the two holes you drilled. Pull it all the way through. Now, make a 90degree bend away from both of the holes. Push the wire back up. There should be enough space to attach a split ring. Optionally, glue the wire into the up position with super glue. To prepare the lip for gluing, sand the part that will go into the lure. This will help the polyurethane glue stick better. DO NOT GLUE THE LIP IN YET.

Step 7: Part D: Shaping the Lure

Picture of Part D: Shaping the Lure
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Step 8: Part E: Sealing and Painting


       For your lure to not fill up with water and be ruined, you will need to seal it. A trip to the hardware store will yield plenty of sealants. For ease of use, acrylic spray sealant is best. For the lure to be more attractive, a good paint job is a must. After the first sealant coat has dried, one should start painting.
       In clear water, one should use natural colors like green, or brown. In murky water, bright colors are great. Eyes are also important. The easiest way is to put down a white dot, then when it dries, a black dot. Stickers could also be used. Don't skimp on details! Take your time putting in all the dots, stripes, and even the gills for maximum effect. Once the paint is done, you wouldn't want it to be ruined, so put another few layers of sealant on it. To spray the sealant and let it dry, hang the lure by fishing line to a tree.

Step 9: Part F: Hardware and Attaching the Lip


       Generally, one should start with the lip, but it doesn't really matter. The lip should fit into the slot with a few thousandths of an inch wiggle room. Make sure that the lip is nice and rough where it will be glued to the lure. This gives the glue more surface area to adhere to. Use the glue as per the directions on the bottle. Polyurethane is one of the few glues that bonds aluminum.
       Make sure the lip dries in the right position, then screw in the eye bolts. This is pretty simple. Then, with fine pliers, open up a split ring, and thread it though the eye bolt. While it is still held open by the wire of the eye bolt, slip a hook on. For a 3-4 inch long lure, size 4 or 6 is good.
DO NOT USE ANYTHING EXCEPT STAINLESS STEEL HARDWARE!

Step 10: Step 4:Tuning the Lure

       Now that your lure is finished, bring it to your local pond, and throw it in the water. Chances are, it won't swim correctly the first time. Take pliers, and bend the lip a little until the lure tracks true. You may want to re-tune the lure after a fight. You now have a functioning, high quality fishing lure that you made all by yourself. This guide works for any size lure.

       I hope you have learned something from this guide and that it helps you to make your own fishing lures for years to come. Once you have the hang of it, you will never forget. Lure making is a great hobby that I hope all readers pursue.