Intro: DIY Wood Topwater Popper Fishing Lure
Making wooden fishing lures is fun, easy, and instills a sense of pride when catching fish. No fancy tools or equipment is needed to produce an attractive and functional fishing lure.
These topwater popper style fishing lures really make a splash out on the water. Inspired by the Rebel Original Pop-R lure (http://www.rebellures.com/rebel-pop-r-8043), these lures are great for bringing fish to the surface while evoking a strong strike from the fish.
Step 1: What You Need.
Safety Glasses - used as a safety precaution against flying wood chips and dust
Dust Mask - used as a safety precaution against airborne saw dust
Work Gloves - used to provide secure grip when sanding and drilling
Nitrile/Latex Gloves - used to prevent paint, epoxy, and EnviroTex from contacting skin
Always work in a well ventilated area when working with airborne saw dust or using chemicals such as paint and epoxies. Follow all safety instructions listed on any materials used.
Wood - This will be used as the lure body. Soft or hard woods can be used in lure making but I prefer to use a hardwood called poplar. This is classified as a hardwood but is still on the softer side. The wood I used for this project was purchased at a home improvement store in a 1-1/2 in x 1-1/2 in x 3 ft size.
Epoxy - This will be used to secure the metal eye screws into the lure body. There are many different brands available at home improvement stores and I used Gorilla Epoxy which is a two-part 5 minute cure epoxy.
Sealer - This will be used to seal/coat the wood before and after painting the lure. I like using EnviroTex Light Pour On High Gloss Finish as my sealer as this provides a smooth and durable finish to my lures.
Paint - This will be used to apply color and patterns to the lures. A lot of lure making enthusiasts use air brushes and compressor to paint their lures and this method can provide a clean and professional finish. That being said I have kept to using spray paint to paint my lures and I am happy with my results.
Coping Saw - used to cut wood to size.
Belt/Disk Sander (or sanding block) - used to further shape the wood lure body.
150 Grit Sand Paper - used to smooth out edges after sanding.
Electric Drill and 1/32in Drill Bit - used to drill the holes for the metal screw eyes.
Combination Square - used to mark center lines on the wood.
Circle Template - used to mark lure body outline.
Metal Screw Eyes - used to mount the hooks for the lure and act as a line tie for the fishing line.
Split Rings - used to allow hooks to move freely on screw eyes.
Trebble Hooks - used to catch the fish when it bites.
3D Eyes - used to add eyes to the lure, eyes could also be painted on instead of 3D eyes.
Step 2: Cut Wood to Size
I planned on my topwater fishing lures to be about 3 inches in length and have a maximum outer diameter of about 1 inch at the mouth of the lure. I wanted to make two lures at the same time so I used my coping saw to cut the wood to a little over 6 inches long or a little over double the length of 1 lure.
Step 3: Prepare and Mark Wood
Start by squaring off the cut end of the piece of wood by using the belt sander or sanding block.
With the ends of the wood square, mark the center on the both ends of the wood using a combination square and pencil.
Use the circle template to mark a 1 inch diameter circle and a 3/8 inch diameter circle in the center of the wood on both ends. The 1 inch circle will be the outer diameter of the mouth and body of the lure and the 3/8 inch circle will be the outer diameter of the tail end of the lure where it tapers down.
Step 4: Shaping the Wood
Use the belt sander to sand the wooden block into a wooden dowel with a diameter of 1 inch as marked in the previous step. Rotate the wooden block during sanding to remove material evenly from the block until you reach the 1 inch circle marking. Periodically inspect your work to ensure wood is being removed evenly along the entire length of the wood block.
Once you have a 1 inch diameter dowel, use the combination square and pencil to mark 2 inches from each end of the dowel along the total circumference of the dowel. These lines will be the marker for where the taper on the dowel will start. The taper will start at this line and then end at the 3/8 inch circle that was marked in the previous step. Adding tape along the marked taper line can help when tapering to visualize where to sand and where not to sand.
Use the sander to taper the 1 inch dowel down to the 3/8 inch circle marked on each end of the dowel. Like before, make sure to rotate the dowel during sanding.
When complete you will have a 1 inch diameter dowel in the center that is a little over 6 inches long and that has been tapered down to 3/8 inch diameter on each end of the dowel.
Step 5: Cut and Shape the Lure Mouth
Take the 6 inch long tapered dowel and use the coping saw to cut the dowel in half to produce two 3 inch tapered sections. These sections are the rough lure body blanks.
Use the rounded edge of the belt sander to create the concave mouth on the front of the lure. Do this by holding the lure mouth square to the rounded edge of the belt sander while applying even pressure. The size of the mouth can be controlled by sanding more or less material away.
To finish the lure blank, sand all edges and faces smooth with sandpaper.
Step 6: Drill and Install Screw Eyes
Mark a center line along the front or mouth of the lure from the top to the bottom. On this line mark about 2/3 of the way down from the top of the lure. This is where the screw eye will be installed to tie the fishing line to.
Mark a center line along the bottom or belly of the lure from the bottom of the mouth to the tail. On this line mark about 1/3 of the way down from mouth of the lure. This is where the screw eye will be installed to attach the belly hook of the lure.
The center mark on the 3/8inch diameter tail of the lure is where the screw eye will be installed to attach the tail hook of the lure.
Drill 3 pilot holes using the 1/32 inch drill bit on the 3 marked areas as described above.
Dry fit the screw eyes into the drilled holes to make sure everything fits correctly.
Remove screw eyes and prepare and mix the 5 minute epoxy to apply into the screw holes. Dip the end of a paper clip into the epoxy and insert it into the screw holes apply the epoxy deep into the screw holes. Dip the threaded end of the screw eyes into the epoxy and install the screw eyes into the screw holes.
Step 7: Seal, Paint, and Finish
Before painting, the wooden lure body needs to be sealed with the EnviroTex. Cover a space with newspaper for easy cleanup. Mix some EnviroTex according to the included instructions and apply the EnviroTex in an even coating using a disposable paint brush. When the lure is fully covered in EnviroTex, hang the lure to dry using a paperclip though a screw eye. Allow the lure to dry for 20 minutes. After drying for 20 minutes, wipe excess EnviroTex off the lure with a stiff piece of paper or cardboard. Allow the lure to dry for 24 hours.
After the sealing coat of EnviroTex has dried, the lure can be prepared for painting. Lightly sand the outside of the lure using sandpaper. Wipe away dust from the lure. Hang the lure in preparation for painting and use white spray paint to apply a base coat. When applying the white base coat use multiple even light coats.
The next step is to make the scale pattern. I used an old mesh bath scrubber to create the scale pattern on the lures. To make the scale pattern two paint colors are needed. The first color will be the undercoat to the scale pattern. The undercoat will be the color seen between the individual scales and makes a layered effect to make the scale pattern pop. The second color will be the topcoat to the scale pattern and will be color of the actual scales. I chose an undercoat of gold with a topcoat of green for one lure and an undercoat of silver with a topcoat of blue for the other lure.
Start by spraying the undercoat color on the back or spine of the lure. Only use the undercoat where you want the scales to be. Use even light coats as before and let dry completely before next step. Think less is more when applying the paint for the scales. Cut a section of the mesh bath scrubber to a size that will stretch over the entire lure. Secure the mesh to the lure using multiple binder clips. Make sure the mesh is stretched over the lure and tight against the lure. If the mesh is not tight against the lure the paint will bleed under the mesh and make a messy scale pattern. Spray the topcoat color over the back or spine of the lure the same as before but with the mesh attached. Let the topcoat color dry for 5-10 minutes and then carefully remove the mesh from the lure. Hang the lure to dry completely. Finish the painting by dipping or spraying red on the mouth of the lure.
Allow the paint to dry overnight. Apply the 3D Eyes and stick them in place.
With the paint and eyes complete, the final topcoat of EnviroTex can be applied. Apply the EnviroTex the same way as done for sealing but instead of wiping the excess off allow the EnviroTex to settle and become evenly distributed. Give the EnviroTex 10 minutes to settle and allow any bubbles to come to the surface of the EnviroTex. Take the torch and quickly pass a small flame over the surface of the lure to pop any bubbles in the EnviroTex.
Hang the lure to dry as mentioned before. Every 10 minutes for the first hour, reverse the hanging direction of the lure (head to tail) to allow the EnviroTex to evenly settle on the lure. Allow the EnviroTex to fully cure according to the included instructions. The full cure can take up to 3 days.
Step 8: Attach Hardware and Test
With the finish fully cured, the lure can be tested. Attach the hooks to the split rings and the split rings to the lure screw eyes. The lure is now complete. Fill up a sink and test the lures to see how they float. Now go catch some fish.