Friday, March 25, 2011

Swimbait building 101 part II

This post will cover mostly cosmetic issues with the bait building process.

First off, let's look at the hardware and its placement. Note the use of two inch screw eyes at critical high stress locations. These are .92 inch stainless, and built to take massive abuse. I was completely unable to forcefully remove one from a scrap piece of stock, and I tried flexing it sideways and pulling on it with Vice Grips. I could support my full weight (195 lbs) and not pull it out. The eye eventually failed, but the shank remained imbedded. These eyes are more than muskie tough. The pin in the back half of the bait is a bicycle spoke, swiss hi-tensile stainless. The hook hangers are open-eye screws, as I will close them over the 200 lb. test three revolution #5 split rings. The weak spots on this bait will be the Owner 3X strong black chrome hooks. On another note, I cut the notches for the screw eyes in the back half of the bait with a cut-off wheel on my Dremel.

Detail of the joint. This joint is designed to accommodate full 90ยบ play at the point of articulation. In testing I found that I could walk this bait with virtually no forward movement. Twice the displacement of a Zara Spook with half the speed! Yowza! This is a real killer bait if my test swims are any indication. It can wake, twitch, walk, AND burn. I am going to light up some fish with this thing. I promise.

So yeah, cut out a tail and a bill from a sheet of Lexan. DO NOT USE PLEXI-GLASS, it will shatter. Use Lexan. Get a piece of cardstock/heavy paper, and draw one half of a tail on it. Herring and shad have a deeply forked tail, so take that into account if you are doing a herring type bait. Fold the paper over at the exact middle of the tail, and cut it out. It is like making paper dolls or a snowflake, it comes out nice and symmetrical. Same thing for the bill. Now you have the template for the parts, lay it on the Lexan and trace it with a marker. Cut it out. Grind details in the tail if you want to be a fancy pants. I do. I found some killer foil tape. It is so much faster and easier than the metal leafing that I will never do a leaf again. Anyway, you need a right side and a left side, basically a mirror image with the tape. Cut it to shape before it goes on the bait, "it am way more betterer" to do it this way. Trust me. I also like to round the corners of the halves so it goes on without creasing. 

Burnish the foil into place with the barrel of your friend, the Sharpie. You can buy a burnishing tool for like $20, and it looks like a Goddamned marker. Just be a clever sort of chap* and use the marker, M'nkay?

For a photofinish, you need, drumroll please... a photo. Use the mystical and godlike computer to retrieve an image of whatever forage fish you seek to replicate. Use whatever computer skills you may possess, and create a mirror image document containing the original and the flipped version of the pic. Do whatever you want to it as far as color and contrast etc., and print the whole silly works out on tracing paper. The tracing paper goes clear when it gets the epoxy, and the foil shows through pretty darn good, giving the image depth and sparkle. An important note: you must use water/soy based ink in this part of the process. A solvent based ink will interact with the topcoat and go all Ken Kesey on you. Might make a far-out looking bait, but it is not what we are after here. Yes, smarty pants, I am well aware that the above herring are printed on regular paper, they were my test prints. Besides, they photograph better than the tracing paper does. So there. 

Foiled baits in repose, awaiting more work...

Tracing paper over the foil. It looks blurry due to the reflection coming through the paper from the foil, it is in fact nice and crisp. The areas where the photofinish does not cover the foil will be blended in with the airbrush. It will kick ass, just you wait sucka.

More to come...


Shaun Solomon

*Because chap you are. Females do not on the whole engage in this sort of tomfoolery, we know it, they know it, and that is how it is. On the other hand, if any females do happen to utilize this silly little vanity exercise, do tell. I actually enjoy having my suppositions called into question. Just don't do a better job than me, or my man-fellings will be hurt. SS


  1. Excellent write up on this process and GORGEOUS shad! Very impressive skills. The additional humor takes this over the top and kept me from yawning the whole time like other “How To” posts. Light them up indeed.

  2. WOW! That is really freakin cool!