Introduction: How to Make Artificial Fishing Bait for Little to No $

Picture of How to Make Artificial Fishing Bait for Little to No $

I will show you how to recycle a few common household items and make them into new eye-catching fishing lures.

I was thinking the other day about how much it costs to buy fishing lures, when I always lose or break them. I also thought it would be great if I could come up with a way to customize them somewhat and create a whole new, possibly better artificial bait. After some searching, I found that commercial molds and plastics are extremely costly. I was in dire need of an alternative. What I came up with works extremely well, and can be made for cheap using old lures for the plastic and a few recycled materials for the molds and injector.

Step 1: Gathering Materials

Picture of Gathering Materials

First, you need to gather your materials. I used mostly things lying around my house and garage, with the glue gun being the only thing I actually bought. There are essentially 2 parts to this instructable, the injector for the heated plastic, and the actual mold.

Step 2: Materials for Building the Plastic Injector

Picture of Materials for Building the Plastic Injector

To build the injector, which pushes the plastic into the mold, you will need to gather the following:
1. A hot melt glue gun. I got this from Dollar General Store for $3.00, and was the only thing I actually had to buy.
2. A small piece of copper pipe which acts as a plunger to push the plastic into the mold.
3. A cap from a plastic soda bottle. It is fastened onto the pipe to make it more comfortable to push, and to protect your hand from heat.
4. Car body putty (Bondo). I use this to hold the bottle cap to the pipe. I will also use it later for the molds.
5. Epoxy putty, you know, the stuff Bill Mays advertises on TV to hold stuff. This becomes the tip of the plunger and helps seal inside the glue gun element.
6. Vice grips to hold the heating element.

Tools: Hacksaw and Philips screwdriver

Step 3: Materials for Making the Molds of Your Baits

Picture of Materials for Making the Molds of Your Baits

You will also need a few odds and ends to make your molds. After doing some research, I found most people in the bait making circle were using a couple of different methods for making their molds. They used Plaster of Paris and RTV silicone. I tried Plaster of Paris and had issues getting it apart, and the setup time is a little slow. I didnt try the RTV silicone, because it costs about $30 a gallon, which is way out of my price range. What I finally settled on that works great in my opinion is Bondo, for car bodywork. So, with that being said, here are the items that you will need to make molds of some existing lures.

1. The artificial lure you want to copy. This can be about any lure, but the stretchy worms work best in my opinion. If youre a fisherman, look in the tackle box.
2. Car putty, I had some lying around from a previous restoration. Wal-mart also sells it for a reasonable price.
3. Some container to pour the mold into. I used a TV dinner tray from the night before. It is almost perfect depth and length to pour a mold of a worm bait.
4. Vaseline, I found some in my medicine cabinet. Use this to put on your mold halves and pieces while you are pouring to keep them from sticking.
5. Something for a vent so the plastic can fill the mold. I used a stir stick I found in the cabinet. About any small plastic stick will work.
6. Small beads or marbles. These we will use as references so the two mold halves will line up. Virtually anything will work in a pinch. I used beads.
7. Something to make a pour hole in the mold. I used the cap from window chalk, and it worked perfect. Use your imagination. I am sure you have some type of trash which will work great.
8. Something to mix the putty on and with. I used a piece of cardboard box. And plastic spoon.
9. A c clamp for holding the two parts of the mold together.

Step 4: Materials for the Actual Baits

Picture of Materials for the Actual Baits

We also need some actual plastic to pour into the mold, which becomes the lure itself. I found that the commercial plastic was extremely expensive, so I just cut up some old, broken lures in my tackle box and made them into cool, recycled baits. Scissors will work fine to cut them.

Step 5: Removing the Heating Element

Picture of Removing the Heating Element

Okay, we will start by making the plastic injector. Start by taking apart your glue gun. This is done by removing the screws on the side of the case with a screwdriver, and pulling the two halves of the case apart. Inside you will see basically two parts, the part which pushes the glue stick into the heating element, and the heating element itself. All we want is the heating element. It is the piece at the tip of the gun, and has red rubber pieces at either end. Keep the rubber piece toward the back of the gun on the element, but remove the one on the tip. We wont use this. The rest of the gun can be used later in your own project, possibly an evil ray gun or something.

Step 6: Making the Plunger

Picture of Making the Plunger

So, you have your heating element. Now youre going to make the plunger for it. This is what you will push down to force the plastic into your mold. Get the copper pipe and the epoxy putty. This doesnt require much putty. A ball about the size of a marble works fine. Mix the putty well, as according to directions. Next, place this on the tip of the copper pipe, and form it onto the pipe so that it kind of looks like the plunger of a syringe, and is slightly bigger than the hole on the end of the heating element. After you do that, gently push the pipe, putty end first, into the element so that it forms the putty to a tight fit inside the element. Pull the pipe back out and let the putty harden on the end.

Step 7: Making a Handle for the Plunger

Picture of Making a Handle for the Plunger

Now get your bottle cap and a small amount of body putty, enough to fill the cap. Use a piece of cardboard, and put your putty onto it. Squeeze a little hardener onto the cardboard (it doesnt take much) and mix it thoroughly. After it is mixed well, spoon it into the cap, and press the end of the copper pipe that doesnt have the epoxy on it into the middle of the cap. This creates somewhat of a handle to push down and pull up the plunger we just made. After this hardens, which wont take long, depending on how much catalyst was used; your injector is basically finished.

Step 8: Finishing the Injector

Picture of Finishing the Injector

I clamped a pair of vice grips onto the part of the element that the wires go into, so I would have a convenient handle to use. Now you have your completed plastic injector for a whole lot less cost than a commercial one.

Step 9: Start Making the Mold

Picture of Start Making the Mold

Next, you are going to pour your mold for the plastic to go into. I found that using the car putty works well, and cures fast.

Step 10: Pouring the Bottom Half of the Mold

Picture of Pouring the Bottom Half of the Mold

First get your TV dinner tray, and thoroughly rub the inside down with Vaseline. This keeps the putty from sticking to the tray. Now mix a decent amount of the putty to fill half of that tray. After it is mixed well, spoon it into the tray and smooth it out a little so that it is level and smooth.

Step 11: Placing the Master Bait, Vent Tubes, and Injector Hole

Picture of Placing the Master Bait, Vent Tubes, and Injector Hole

Next get the bait you are going to clone and rub it down with the Vaseline as well. Place it into the putty until it is sunk halfway into the putty. Usually the baits already have seams where they were poured in the factory, so that makes a convenient half-mark. We also need to make a vent so that the plastic will make it all the way through the bait, and we will have no bubbles or dents when the lure is done. This is solved by placing a small stick, I used a stir stick, into the putty, sinking it halfway and touching one end of it to one end of the worm and the other end of the stick to the outside of the tray. Rub this down with Vaseline as well. We also need a hole to inject the plastic into. I used the cap from window chalk. It is roughly funnel shaped, and is big enough to allow the end of the heating element to go inside. Take this and again, rub it down with Vaseline, and press it halfway into putty on the opposite side of the lure as the stick. Make sure it is touching the end of the lure. Now take the marbles or beads and press them halfway into the putty to use as reference points when the two halves of the mold are put together. All we do now is wait for the putty to harden. This will take around 30 minutes. Go watch some TV, eat a sandwhich, whatever.

Step 12: Pouring the Top Half of the Mold

Picture of Pouring the Top Half of the Mold

After the putty has hardened, remove the marbles or beads you used as reference points and smear the whole top of the mold down with Vaseline. Try to get it into every crevice, otherwise the two halves of the mold will stick together. Now mix up about the same amount of putty, enough to fill the rest of the tray. Pour this over the half of the mold you just poured, and let it harden. Again, watch more TV, eat another sandwich, whatever.

Step 13: Opening the Mold and Removing the Pieces

Picture of Opening the Mold and Removing the Pieces

Now that your putty is hard remove the mold from the tray and pry the two pieces apart. They should be easy to get apart with the help of a knife. Once they are apart, remove everything that we used to make it, including the lure, leaving just the two pieces of hardened putty. Now we have a two-part mold to make a 1-1 replica of your lure. Awesome, huh?

Step 14: Making the Baits

Picture of Making the Baits

Now comes the fun part!!! Making the baits. Get your plastic ready. I used scrap baits, but you can also use many different kinds of sort plastics for this. I also found some clear plastic from a company who sent me a 3lb sample free. With this plastic I can color with crayons. Cut up your baits into small enough pieces to fit into the injector. You can achieve many cool designs using different colored baits.

Step 15: Preparing to Inject the Plastic

Picture of Preparing to Inject the Plastic

Get your two pieces of mold and put them together. Place the C clamp on them and screw it down so that it will hold them tight. Plug in the injector and let it heat up. Next, Place the cut up plastic into the injector; it works well to poke them in with a toothpick or the end of the plunger. Once you have the injector full, put the plunger into it and put it into the hole of the mold.

Step 16: Injecting the Plastic and Removing the Lure

Picture of Injecting the Plastic and Removing the Lure

Push down on the plunger until it stops, pushing the melted plastic into the mold. Some plastic will probably come out of the vent hole at the bottom of the mold, but we can reuse it later. After the mold cavity is full of plastic, remove the injector and set it aside, being careful not to burn anything. Now unscrew the c clamp. Pull apart the two halves of the mold, and VIOLA!!! It may need a little trimming, but otherwise we have a perfect replica of the lure!

Step 17: Other Ideas

Picture of Other Ideas

So there you are, now you can replicate your own fishing lures for very little money, using some common recycled materials. This is a very addictive and rewarding hobby. You can also mold your own designs and use other materials. This is not limited to lures; it could be used with many materials and molds. Wax may work as well. Next time you find all your lures are old and possibly torn up, before you go out and spend money on more at Wal-Mart, just look around your house and recycle some old ones to fish with!


fisherman0617 (author)2016-03-29

What about the process of making the bait

redneck steven (author)2015-10-24

I love it

jonathank9 (author)2015-05-11

i ll give it a go

kamhunter (author)2014-11-23


lilchumy (author)2014-09-10

Amazing, I am defiantly tryinmg

POVILLIC (author)2014-04-25

Fantastico! yuo are very big fisher man! ! ciao da Italia

sonnyblu42 (author)2013-12-27

Hello.. I don't understand what speciffic materials you used from PolyGel and how you used them... Can you please explain... Thanks...

cliffyd (author)2013-12-11

Like your ingenuity.

rimar2000 (author)2013-09-19

Very clever!

oking (author)2012-05-20

Why not that silicone rubber/cold mix stuff that I someone else on here had talked about making?

Silicone sealer, naptha, and coloring. Or something like that.

It was in how to make your own flexible frisbee thing.

zwilson2 (author)2011-08-10

Great idea, but you are working way too hard at it. Use your bondo to make your molds but sink the lure you are copying 7/8 into the bondo. Let it get hard and you have a mold. Make a bunch of them they are cheap. Heat your old torn, worn out, used worms etc in a cheap pan over an electric hot plate until the plastic turns to a liquid. Pour into the molds and let harden. No the worms will not be perfectly formed on the top but a fish will not notice. Think, how big is a fishes brain. Its only thoughts I suspect are am I hungry or mad at it and will it fit in my mouth. I have only been doing this for about the last forty years. Your use of bondo to make the molds is a great idea. I made mine out of liquid casting plastic.

theRIAA (author)2009-02-23

is that plastic safe for the fish?

John Smith (author)theRIAA2009-02-27

if you're going to kill the fish anyways, does it matter?

Bjorno (author)John Smith2011-01-27

Ever hear of catch and release?

But the main concern is that people lose lures, and nobody wants a toxic mixture of plastic and glue on the bottom of their river or lake.

servant74 (author)John Smith2009-03-02

Actually, IMHO, it does. If it is toxic for the fish, it is for us too by all odds. And fairly often the lures 'break' or get parts 'nibbled' off. So having non-toxic lures does make sense. If fishing was a 100% situation, where every lure was only consumed by a caught fish, and we do no catch and release, then other than the being toxic to us or other animals that eat them eventually, I could agree. It doesn't matter at that point..

Lokisgodhi (author)servant742010-03-03

Soft baits are made out of vinyl plastisol.  It melts at 325 F. It can be pour or injection molded.

It can also be used for making recyclable molds for objects like plaster castings. 

John Smith (author)servant742009-03-03

ha, i know, i was just joking because it sounded like theRIAA was worried about the fish that was caught.... its kinda like how they use bismuth for duck hunting, i guess. not so you don't poison what you're shooting at, but so that what doesnt go to the duck doesn't end up poisoning you or other fish.

unexplained_3 (author)theRIAA2009-02-24

If you use recycled lures, they will be fine for the fish.

Al Terego (author)unexplained_32009-02-26

Phalates are nasty chemicals used to make plastic soft and all those gummy, squishy plastic things are just oozing, literally, with the stuff. Ever notice how there's a kind of greasy feeling on you fingers after handling fake bait or squishy toys? Well that's the phalates. I read about it as a dangerous chemical because it was being pulled from use in baby's toys (and if you'll google it you'll learn that it's apparently used in sex toys too =0). Nasty stuff for all of us, the fish that swallows it and us who swallow the fish.

Fred82664 (author)Al Terego2009-02-27

What the article failed to say is the fish and or person will have to consume 15 to 20 tons of the phalates to be of any danger . Oxygen can dangerous to breath in certain conditions but can you live with out it ?

Al Terego (author)Fred826642010-01-23

The FDA seems to disagree with Fred82664's estimate of what constitutes a dangerous dose. Baby chew toys (which contain phalates) weighing significantly less than "15 to 20 tons" have been banned. A quick search revealed a study where phalates were described as Antiandrogens which are often indicated to treat severe male sexual disorders. So feel free to handle and even suck on all the worm lures you can get your hands on just don't be surprised if your libido goes into hibernation.

Fred82664 (author)Al Terego2010-01-24

considering the FDA is a part of the vary same government that has been so vary deceptive and all out lairs through out its exestanse. Proven by many history books any one can find in most major city or collage library. I would not put much investment on what the FDA has to say about any thing. As for the sexual disorders dude I been fishing for many years as well as my grate grand father using those same worms and well there has been no reduction in libido in none of my family tree.  I got 15 - 20 grate uncles and ants from his sperm and three of his misstates, From  my grand dad there was eight kids and had sex up words of four times a day. My father is still pumping some chick he is in his 70s now. As for me I still get it up and do vary well in the sack at 45 years old. so looks like the FDA is blowing out BS             

Al Terego (author)Fred826642010-03-19

The defense rests.

windfriend (author)Al Terego2010-05-11

The FDA does not recognize "safe dosages" of phthalates, but that is more of a bureaucratic convenience than a scientific opinion. The European Commission Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER), however, considers that, even in the case when children bite off pieces from erasers and swallow them, it is unlikely that this exposure leads to health consequences. Phthalates are also found in medications, where they are used as inactive ingredients in producing enteric coatings. A recent study showed that exposures from phthalate containing medications can far exceed population levels from other sources. Not a single study has shown any positive correlation of phthalates with any health issues, including the antiandrogenic effects that you allude to.

Fred82664 (author)windfriend2010-05-12

Thank You vary much someone that dose see this as I do. lol thats a big switch to many other topics I have posted in . but oh well  Mr or Miss windfriend I do really THANK YOU !  for your support in this one 

windfriend (author)Fred826642010-05-12

Heh. "the defense rests" was too arrogant not to respond to.

firehorse (author)Al Terego2009-03-01

I thought that it would be interesting to make my own window cling gel decorations and that this Instructable would help but after reading Al Terego's comment on phalates - I'm going to pass. Yikes! Very interesting project, thanks for the explanation

m3harri (author)2010-08-24

I think I will give this a shot and use some glowing phosphate pigments or maybe a led jig

m3harri (author)2010-08-24

When I was young (35+ Years ago) my dad made his own bait. He was able to buy all he really needed off the shelf at the bait shop. It nice to see someone still keeps up the art. "IF" i remember correctly he did not need to heat the plastic. It was some two part compound. He would just pour it in and wait.

m3harri (author)2010-08-24

When I was young (35+ Years ago) my dad made his own bait. He was able to buy all he really needed off the shelf at the bait shop. It nice to see someone still keeps up the art. "IF" i remember correctly he did not need to heat the plastic. It was some two part compound. He would just pour it in and wait.

Javin007 (author)2010-04-05

I found this 'Ible because I'm an avid fisherman and was looking at various tips people have.  However, this method of creating molds for ANYTHING is brilliant.  I've never considered using Bondo as a mold agent.  How strong/reusable do the molds seem to be?  Is there any shrinkage over time?  Great 'Ible!

tlowe65 (author)2010-02-21

try putting salt in the plastic mix. I used to mold my own stick baits and the salt changes the way the plastic floats and it also gives it flavor which will make the fish hold on a couple seconds longer before they spit it out.  table salt will work but bigger grains are better.

skunkpunk (author)2009-02-24

Great job! I'll have to try that soon we have a bunch of lure rubber because my mom works for a lure manufacturer and get tons of scraps.

unexplained_3 (author)skunkpunk2009-02-25

I appreciate you looking at my instructable. I actually searched all over the internet looking for scraps like you mentioned. You are very lucky to be able to get things like that.

foxtrot6 (author)unexplained_32010-01-17

Can you use a cut up milk bottle?

skunkpunk (author)unexplained_32009-02-25

Yep and we've been trying to figure out how to do this for awhile.

unexplained_3 (author)skunkpunk2009-02-26

That's cool I like to do this but it hard finding scraps.

bobby sissom (author)2009-11-17

if only the two halves were in the top and bottom of an altoid tin they could be found together any time you wished to use them ,i love the instrucktable as is tho

Samuel H (author)2009-11-16

What company did you get the clear plastic from?

unexplained_3 (author)Samuel H2009-11-17

30 Leslie Court
Whippany, NJ 07981

P: (973) 884-8995
F: (973) 884-1331
That is where the plastic came from.  They sent something like a 5lbs brick.  Hope this helps,

ZIGGYDAN (author)2009-11-09

this looks like a fantastic instructable, but i myself would be a bit cautious about pushing a metal pipe into any electrical device, if my glue gun had a faulty or defective element or was damaged from being dismantled then there could be a serious potential for electrocution, so when i make this i might substitute this for a more insulated plunger or perhaps some sort of composite material, this simple idea is perfect for a plastic extruder that i require to recydle plastic bags.

capsaicinrain (author)2009-06-15

My dad tried making a rubber to dip his tool handles in (hammers, etc.) to have a grip. So he melted a bunch of rubber bait in the microwave, took out the jar, dropped it, and spilled it all over his hands. He had very bad burns. He was taking medicine for it without food and got a stomach ulcer. While in Mexico. How unfortunate. And funny.

clown96 (author)2009-06-04

wow!! That is real cool i ahve been trying to find a way to make my own lures. Me and my father went to gander mnt. and spent like $70 only on lures.

scubagal (author)2009-03-07

Wow. Way to go! What plastic were you referring to that can be colored with crayons? Also, and this is important.... Could you or ANYONE come up with a way to please help me figure out a way to take plastic bottles, mostly water bottles and either compress or melt them into small blocks or tubes that THE VERY POOR PEOPLE OF THE ISLAND I am moving to to help, could use to BUILD THINGS WITH? If you can, you will be helping thousands of hurting people. I will be moving there to do the same as the Honduran government could care less about their people. Thanks again.

unexplained_3 (author)scubagal2009-03-07

The plastic I was coloring with crayons was a free sample from a medical plastics company. About the bottles, someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe it requires both heat and a high pressure for pop bottles to be formed.

sharlston (author)unexplained_32009-05-05

i should know my dad works for coca cola they start like thick little plastic tubes and they blow hot air and preesure into them and have a mold round it to expand it my dad went to work and made a plastic bottle but didnt use the mold and the plastic bottle was 4 metre long

thumbs5 (author)scubagal2009-04-23
Check out Mopti's ecological pavestones.

Go for it
Viaticus (author)scubagal2009-03-24

There are some other instructables about melting plastic's pretty toxic. Having firsthand experience with these materials, I'd urge you to find a better way to help the poor of Honduras. You're liable to risk their health and introduce a pollutant that doesn't already exist there. Good luck!

profiteer (author)scubagal2009-03-10

I don't know about water bottles into blocks, but there's a cool instructable for making plastic wheels out of old plastic bags search "plastic smithing"

lilgamoma (author)2009-04-23

really cool!

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