51 Cent-ish Fishing Lure




About: I don't have many original works, but I am decent at thinking of ways to improve.

Another way to title this would be "Turning memories into more memories."

I've been wanting to give back to the instructables community for years. I've wanted to contribute a new idea to the community, but alas I've been reminded of Mark Twain: "There is no such thing as a new idea." In researching how to bring my idea to fruition, I've seen a lot of other people accomplish similar things. The major contributor to my idea was watching this video on Makezine. It is really well done, but I don't own a jewelers rolling mill and can't afford one. I also don't own a set of punches or dies. When I watched that video through again last spring it hit me how I can do something similar.

I like collecting pressed pennies (also called Elongated Coins). They are cheap, small, easy to transport home, and help me to remember a trip as well or better than larger souvenirs like coffee mugs. But, I was running into a problem: they were starting to stack up in my childhood piggy bank. That's when it hit me to use the memories that I've pulled from many disparate places into new memories on the water with my children.

While this isn't truly $0.51 cents to make this (hooks, split rings, tools, etc.), it is pretty darn close. I already had everything I needed to make these on hand and I'm sure with some creativity you can figure out how to do something similar.

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Step 1: Plan

First things first. Get all your ideas, no matter how dumb, on paper. You won't realize how dumb or smart they are until you've written them down. Think things through. Come up with other ideas. Brainstorm with a friend or relative. Besides, if you forget an idea later on, you still have it. Remember, "The weakest ink is better than the strongest memory."

Step 2: Tools and Materials


Drill (can be a drill press if you want)

1/16" (1.5mm) drill bit

Ball Peen hammer (a framing hammer could do, but hitting metal on teh edge of one could chip the hammer and send shards of metal flying)

Indelible ink pen

1/4" (6mm) carriage bolt at least 2" long to keep your fingers away from the impact sites.

Center punch (or old screw like I used)

Metal file

Soft softwood scrap (more on this later)

Child Monitor is optional if you have helpers and can only work while they sleep

Not Pictured:

Split ring pliers (I didn't use them because I couldn't find mine. They make your life much easier)

Slightly larger drill bit than one listed above (I used a 1/8" (3mm) drill bit)


3 mm split rings

Size 4 Octopus hook (more on this later)


A word on pennies. Not all are made the same. The common ones that you will find in the USA today (sorry Canada, but you got rid of yours so you've got to come down here to get some) are a copper clad zinc. Older pennies (pre-1982) are technically a bronze. While the newer pennies are much easier to work with, they are also lighter (2.5 grams vs 3.11). If you are using a light action fishing rod vs an ultralight, you should probably go with older pennies.

Step 3: Get Your Souvenir Penny

Go someplace with your family. Enjoy yourself. Make memories.

This particular trip we took some friends visiting us in Oregon to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. I brought enough pennies and quarters for everyone to get a souvenir so so they did.

Sub steps:

1) Turn the crank to the design you want.

2) Put your quarters and pennies in the correct slots.

3) Push the money into the machine.

4) Get your helper to turn the crank.

5) Keep turning until the coin drops.

6) Quickly grab the penny from your helper so she doesn't put it into her mouth and choke on it. Make sure she is really upset with you on this part. That's really important.

Step 4: Prepare the Bolt

On the head of your bolt, there is most likely text. This either specifies the manufacturer or the material (depending on the manufacturer) or a combination of the two. Regardless, you don't want that distorting the lure, so file it away. Go slow and use little pressure. You only want to remove the text and not make a flat spot in the carriage bolt.

Pro Tip: Lift the file on the return pass. Just grinding back and forth does nothing to help. It only makes your file get dull faster.

Step 5: Selecting Your Soft Softwood

When I say that you need to use a soft softwood, I'm not talking about balsa or something like that. What I'm talking about is a soft board of pine or other whitewood (I use spruce/fur construction grade lumber scrap I picked for free). The grain density is what I'm really referring to. You want a low rings per inch. Grain orientation doesn't matter much. See the accompanying photos.

Step 6: Mark Your Penny

Use your marker to lay out lines between the high points of the curves. This tells you where to start dishing and to where your deepest point in the process should be centered.

Step 7: Dish the Penny

Line up the modified bolt on the x. The easiest way I found was to place the bolt on a tilt and roll it into place while making the bolt vertical. Hit the bolt sharply, but not so much as to be defined as hitting with authority. Your first hit is also denting the wood below so it need a bit more oomph.

Move the head of the bolt around in a tiny circle making lighter hits (heavier than taps) than your first one. If you had consistent power in your hammer blows and even movement around the tiny circle, this should put a fairly even dish into the penny. If not, work around the less dished side to make the curve consistent.

This step writes (and probably reads) like this is difficult to get the hang of. It isn't. As long as you start hitting it too softly and work your way up in power cautiously, you'll get the feeling of working the penny. A fully bronze penny (pre 1982) will be much harder to work than a copper clad zinc one. Keep this in mind while hammering.

Step 8: Center Punch, Drill, and Debur Holes

Close to the edge, along the long line you drew on the penny earlier, use your "center punch" and lightly tap to make a divot. I cannot emphasize enough to do it lightly. You aren't trying to punch a hole through the penny, just make a tiny indentation. Think of it like you are just trying to make a divot without the mark transferring through to the other side.

Once that's done, use your drill and make a hole. Use your scrap wood to protect your drill and work surface.

Debur the hole by using your larger drill bit and your fingers. Spin the bit between your fingers while applying downward pressure. You are only wanting to remove burrs, not countersink the hole.

Step 9: Add Split Rings and Hook.

Use your split ring pliers and add split rings to the lure. I don't have pictures of this because I used my thumbnail. I don't recommend that route as it sent a split ring under my nail. I'll spare you all the picture. Every project needs a blood sacrifice for it to be successful and my thumb obliged.

After your rings are on, put the hook on the end where the dish is concentrated. In other words, put it on the wider end. Make sure the hook is pointed toward the convex side so you snag less on the bottom and debris.

Step 10: Optional Step (Warning: Soapbox Alert)

While this step is entirely optional, I'm going to hop up on a soapbox here. You should only be using single hooks. Don't use double or treble hooks. Yes, you will get less hook ups. Yes, it is much easier for a fish to throw your hook. But, you will also snag only a 1/3rd of the time and you cause less trauma to the fish. The later is important if you are catching and releasing.

Speaking of catch and release, pinch your barb if it this lure is ever going to be used in a catch and release scenario (or if compelled by law in no barb fisheries).

I've pinched mine for the above reason. Just grab the barb with the point of needle nose pliers and pinch. Just make sure you don't grab the point of the hook as well and dull it.

Step 11: Time to Actually Make One...

Thank you so much for sticking with me through this whole ordeal. This last step is just to show how little time it takes to make one once you've got everything together. My phone shows 5 minutes, 46.33 seconds. I wasn't rushing when I did this to make sure that I did it right.

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    12 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Uhh. Err. Balsa is technically a hardwood. It's an angiosperm.

    3 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    Correct. The only reason I called Balsa out is that it is entirely too soft for this purpose. Most people think that hardwoods are always harder than softwoods, but this is not the case (Balsa is a good example and Yew is a good example the other way). I suggested getting a soft softwood for a couple of reasons: 1) they are common in the form of big box dimensional lumber; 2) they are cheap or free due to the first reason. Go talk to a construction worker and I'm sure you can get some soft dimensional 2x4 scrap for free.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Yeah - I collect 2x4s and 2x6s from construction sites and build them into bass guitars.

    I don't want to scoop your post, so I won't upload a pix here.

    Maybe I can get some pennies flattened by the train that goes through town tomorrow. The train is very slow and I bet the pennies will come out nice and flat.


    Reply 2 years ago

    That'd be fun to see. If you get them made up, please post pictures!


    3 years ago

    Such a simple and cool idea. I wish I had a brother with like you to go fishing with.

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    I like this! Well done.

    And thank you for the tip on closing the barb for catch and release. I never heard about that before and will be doing that from now on.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago


    While pinching the barb is good for catch and release (since it makes the release easier) it is also harder to keep the fish on the hook (because the release is easier). Just keep that in mind and keep pressure on the line while you get the fish in as fast as possible and you should be good.


    3 years ago

    Hi jobar007
    You did a Great job, keep sharing new ideas.
    The idea curving some metal is great, I am impressed, we can use this technique in many DIY (do it yourself) projects.
    Thanx a lot for sharing this idea.


    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thank you for your kind words. I hope that the carriage bolt idea helps others to experiment with new materials without investing a lot of money in tools.


    3 years ago

    These are great! Excellent first instructable too. Nice to see from one of the long-timers on the site ;)

    1 reply