Introduction: How to Print Colour to a Fishing Lure

Painting lures is much easier if you don't know how. I dont, but I have a printer that can.

Here I'll be describing how to get the most out of your normal old 2D printer by asking it to make handmade fishing lures, instead of whatever it is you do with your printer at the moment. I wont be describing the carving of the blank or adding a bib and wire loops. That would run to 50 pages or so.

You can buy bibs, tow points, and screw in wire loops from good tackle stores, and glue them in place, or you can make them yourself with wire and bits of plastic.

This instructable will be all about adding professional colour to your lures.

Step 1: You Will Need...

-A printer
-A sheet of paper
-A lure blank (you can use a bit of a tree and make it look a bit more like a lure than it did before, or just buy one)
-Some wood glue
-A toothpick
-Some marine grade varnish (or two part epoxy clear coat. (I'll be using varnish))
-Fine grade sandpaper

This will be a rather plain example here so you can see how good it will look, even though it wont be too complicated. I'll also keep it plain so as not to distract from the method.

I'll not be too fussed about any minor errors. Seeing some errors and seeing just how little they matter on the finished lure gave me a stack of confidence, and allowed me to tackle more complex designs and lure shapes.

If you make one it will look great, and be really easy.

I promise!

Step 2: The Design

I created this in Gimp. Feel free to print my design and give it a try, but you may also want to go a bit further and design your own. A good free program is Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program). You can download Gimp here . I happen to use Linux (also free) but there is a download for everyone regardless of what operating system you use.

As a rough guide, I started from the background and worked my way to the foreground detail like the eyes.

By starting from the background, it's easy to blur the bits that need blurring without messing with the bits you want to stay focused and sharp.

I also only created the left hand side, then copied, pasted, and flipped it to create a matching right hand side.

Most graphics programs also have some nice filters that do things like add tiles or meshes to your work that can be good for simulating scales. I used a random speckle filter on this one.

I also put a name on mine in the first black strip under the eyes, but I put this pic up without the name in case you want to print my design and put your own name on it. If you add a name, make sure you add it towards the top of the strip so it will be displayed properly. I explain later, so read on.

Step 3: The Lure Blank

Start with a hand carved wooden lure with a slot cut for a bib, and holes drilled for the rear and belly hook hang points.

I wont go into the mounting of the tow points and hook points in this instructable. Also the bib construction will have to be for another day as it would be too long to take it all in.

Bib's and the hang points (screw in wire loops etc) can all be bought online and at decent tackle stores.

I've carved lure bodies like this one before from short lengths of dowel, but from memory this was a birch tree I trimmed down to a more manageble size. Typically I'll start with a roughed out shape, and then use a bench grinder to shape the rest. Perhaps finishing it off with a file, then some fine sandpaper. DONT FORGET SAFTEY GLASSES, A DUST MASK, AND SOME GLOVES! Bench grinders bite!

At this stage its best to seal your lure with a wood sealing product to make it water proof in case the lacquer coats get cracked or chipped. To seal you can simply dip your lure by putting a toothpick into the hole drilled for the rear tow point eyelet.

It's also worth drawing a center line down the back and belly to aid in keeping everything inline. This will make more sense once you've read through this instructable.

I promise.

Step 4: Measuring Up

Take your printout and make sure you have some points that are the same on each side so you can fold it and be certain the image will line up on both sides.

Fold the printed design in half along the lure's spine and crease it firmly.

Measure your lure, and make sure you have around one third more lure design than lure. We will be cutting the design into strips and laying them over a curved lure, so some overlap will be required.

I'm using around 120 mm of lure design for my 90mm lure.

Trim any excess. (In my case I cut at the end of the ruler). If you were making a lot of this one design you can edit your image so its cut to the correct size to save ink. Otherwise it's a good idea to leave some excess, because a hand carved lure doesnt always end the length you originally imagined. But that could just be me.

Step 5: Strips and Stripes

The next step is to cut a strip off the main image in preparation for glueing to the lure blank.

It's best to only cut the strip you are working on rather than cutting them all right away. Once cut, they all look the same to some degree, and it can get a little confusing.

I tend to cut my strip around 15mm wide for a lure like this, but it will vary depending on the size and shape. The greater the curve, the thinner the strip, because paper doesn't like bending in more than one direction at a time.

The strips will be glued around the lure until it 's covered.

It's worth noting at this stage that there will be some overlap with each new strip being glued over the edge of the last. This means that if there is a pattern on your lure, you may need to take it into account when deciding where to cut each strip. With a striped design like this one, I found its best to pick a spot so that your cut goes through the tip of each stripe. The main thing is to cut at the same place relative to the stripe so that as each one is laid down, the overlapping makes for a desirable design.

But it doesnt really matter, it will look great.

I promise.

Step 6: Decoupage

Apply some wood glue to the back of the strip. Keep it thin and even.

Take note of the arrows on the side of the graphic, to be sure the front is to the front. It can look a little odd if you mix up the direction, especially on a lure design like this where it gets thicker at the front.

Starting at the tail end, lay the strip over the back of the lure so that it can wrap around to the underside. Use the crease in the center of the design to line up with the line you drew on the back of the lure. Bring it around to pinch together at the underside, aligning the meeting of the two ends of the strip with the line you drew on the belly.

Bend the joined strips to one side and crease the paper.
Then bend the other way and crease again.

Straighten the strip again so it stands straight out from the lure, and cut the excess off. Cut it so that it is as closely cropped to the belly of the lure as you can. Dont worry too much about getting it super close because it wont matter.

Small adjustment can be made when you press down the ragged bits from the cutting away of the excess. By pushing the seam down and to a side, you can adjust for any slight alignment error.

Don't worry if it looks a bit rough. You will be amazed at the final result

I promise.

Step 7: More Decoupage

To check against any secret lure making super powers I might have accidentally picked up, I got my mum to make one and it was perfect the first time with only these instructions to follow. She had never made a lure before, or anything like it.

Keep cutting and adding strips.

Remember to cut through the tip of any stripe on your design, or at least keep cutting at the same point each time.

The amount of overlap will depend on the shape of your lure. The reason we are doing this in strips rather than all in one piece is because the strips, and their overlap, adjust for the shape and prevent creases. It also adds a lot to the finished product to have the strips turn into stripes.

It's now possible to see this thing taking shape.

Most of the things you might think are going to be flaws or compromises will in fact turn out to be features.

Things like the overlaps, the seams, and even fingerprints of glue, will be seen in a very different light as soon as we add some gloss coats to this beastie.

If you have added a name, make sure you remember the overlap.

Make sure the name is towards the bottom of it's strip. Otherwise the one after it will overlap the name and cover it.

This is the strip before the one with the name on it.

Note the stripe pattern, even though its cut, is still repeating nicely.

Step 8: Tricky Front

I leave the eye strip and skip to the one after the eyes.

The one after the eye strip, the front most strip, can get a little distorted because it has to bend in too many directions. Leaving the eye strip until last allows some room for error as the eye strip can cover any gaps and wrinkles.

This is a view of the lure looking straight at the front. Adding a flat piece of paper to a surface curved in two directions is difficult, so I cut a V out of the center to allow for the excess paper and prevent wrinkles.

Don't be too fussed if there is a gap or some bare wood visible. Don't worry if there are creases you cant get out, tears in the paper or anything else. If something goes wrong here you can cut out a scrap of paper and add it, you can colour it in with a marker, or do nothing.

For one thing, fish don't look at this end so much, because they tend to be chasing it from behind.

But more importantly, it's going to look amazing in the end. Trust me.

I promise.

Step 9: Organic Awesomeness

Glue on the eye strip making sure it overlaps everything underneath except the bib slot.

Make sure the actual eyes are not going to be dissected by the bib when it finally gets mounted in place.

At this stage go over your lure and use a marker to add some colour to anywhere you can see bare wood. Trying to cover something like the tail end with paper makes more mess than it's worth. 

This is one of those features I promised. On the finished product it will add some nice natural qualities to the look of this lure.

I think it already looks organic. It reminds me of a moth or shrimp.

Step 10: Clear Coat

To make handling easier, and to keep your new lure clean and dust free whilst you clear coat it, jam a toothpick into the hole in its tail that will one day be for the rear hook eyelet.

The stick will also allow you to keep the lure off the ground when you dry it, or even mount it in some kind of rotating thing to make the coat dry more evenly. I made a rotating thing with an old photocopier fan and gearbox with some corks mounted on the spindle to allow the toothpicks to be stuck into it. The slow rotation helps get an even finish, because a rolling lure gathers no drips. The first few I made worked well just by twirling them between my fingers until the drips stopped forming. If you make a motorised twirly thing, aim for around thirty revolutions per minute. Sutable electric motors with little gearboxes can be bought from hobby or electronics stores for not much.

Dip the lure into a pot of varnish. I bought marine grade timber varnish, but whatever you have at hand is worth a try. Two part epoxies are the strongest finish for a lure but I think this product I'm using is a good place to start.
The secret to a great finish is to get as thin a coat as you can, and do multiple coats.

One important thing to do when dipping is to lift the work out very slowly. I take 30 seconds or more to lift the lure out of the varnish. This makes for a much thinner coat, and a smoother coat. Any air bubbles in the varnish follow the slow, outgoing tide and stay in the varnish rather than being left behind on the lure.

Leave your lure to dry completely between each coat. This might take a few days depending on your climate. Check the packaging on whatever clear coat you are using for drying times.

A light sanding between coats is a good idea to remove whatever bugs may have decided to live on your lure whilst it dried.

Remember a rolling lure gathers no drips.

Step 11: The Finish

In spite of the number of times I may have mentioned you needn't worry about being fussy, the final finish largely depends on how careful you are with the dipping and sanding. If I tried to make a perfect lure, I wouldn't want to risk actually using it, so some compromise is required. I think fingerprints and seams add to the final appeal of the finished lure, but I can see why some might want to take a little more pride in the finish.

Four coats is probably a good idea if you want it to last.

Bibs, tow points, and hang points for hooks can all be bought from good tackle stores and glued in place, or you can make them yourself with wire and bits of plastic.

Thanks for reading!
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