The art of Lure Making can be divided in to 3 different categories. Spinners and jigs, plugs, and flies. Each category has its own set of skills and although there are several common tools, each category has its own set of unique tools.
One of the most important things common to making any kind of lure is to have a place to work. The work space should be sturdy, and have enough room to actually do the work and keep your tools close by. The ultimate set up is to have a whole room that you can devote to your lure making activities. But most of us don’t have that luxury, and make lures or tie flies on the same work bench we use to fix carburetors, or a broken lamp.
The next issue is storage of materials. Spinners and jigs have lots of small parts and you don’t want to be looking through parts scattered all over the bench. A set of plastic parts drawers will fill this need very well. They come in several different sizes, some of them slide together to make large arrays of bins, and they are inexpensive. You will also want to have some sort of bowl or tray to catch the strays. For this purpose I often use a margarine container. It is big enough to contain a lot of spare parts and small enough to reside almost anywhere on the bench. It also doesn’t tip over real easily.
Some of the variety of parts you will need to store will include, but is not limited to:
* Spinner blades
* Wire forms
* Split rings
* Crimp sleeves
* Swivels and snaps
* Rubber Skirts
* Lure bodies
This list will expand to meet your requirements and as your skill level increases.
To help us contain the small bits and pieces, it is also nice if the work bench has a lip around the outside edge. This will help prevent beads, sleeves and other small parts from rolling on to the floor and disappearing into the carpet or under the work bench.
One of the truly unique tools used to make spinners is the wire former. This tool forms all of the stainless steel wire that is used as the back bone of a fishing lure. You can do the forming with a couple of pairs of pliers, but the wire former will make your life a lot easier. It takes a bit of practice to learn how to set up the former and use it properly but it is well worth the effort to learn how to use it. If you are making Walleye jigs or Bass jigs you may also want to invest in a wire coil former tool.
Some of the other tools you will need to build spinners and jigs will include split ring pliers, needle nose pliers, channel lock pliers, chain nose pliers, and jeweler’s pliers. You will also need a pair of crimpers, and a pair of sturdy wire cutters.
Depending to what extent you want to take your lure building you will also need a ball peen hammer, several punches, a sturdy pair of metal shears, a drill or drill press. Also in the nice to have department is a grinder with grinding wheels and buffing wheels. You may also want to have a small gas torch for the odd soldering job. It is also nice to have a vise handy to help you hang on to your work when you are putting that perfect twist in to that new proto type lure you are developing. If you are going to build your own jigs you will want to have a melting pot and forms for metal. If you decide to make your own plastics, you will want to have a set of forms. You can either buy these or make them.
If you decide to build plugs, you will need a whole different set of tools. This category of lures is different from building spinners in that it uses a lot more power tools. This category also uses different materials and components. The small parts bins are still handy to store the small parts but there are fewer of them. You will want to have some bins or shelves that are a bit larger where you can store blocks of wood and Styrofoam.
You can build plugs completely using hand tools, but like building anything it is much quicker and quite often results in a much nicer product if your use power tools. If you are cutting your own plug bodies, you will want to use a band saw or a scroll saw. You can use a coping saw, but again it will take a lot longer. For the final shaping, you will want to use a sander. The best type to use is a bench sander. You can also use a rasp and sandpaper. If you are going with a full compliment of power tools it is hard to beat a Dremel tool with all of the possible cutting and shaping heads that are available.
In the hand tool department it is always nice to have a set of rasps, files, and sandpaper handy to take care of any high spots or imperfections you find in your creation as you go through the construction process. You will also want to have a sharp knife of carving set available for those final touches.
If you are building tubular plug bodies and you are doing lots of them, you may want to invest in a small wood lathe. This handy tool will make short work of the shaping process and will allow you to do several bodies in a very short period of time. You will also need a drill or drill press to pre-drill all of holes for your screw eyes.
To complete your plugs you will want to add some paint to them. I once saw 2 hand carved, hand painted plugs that were 30 years old. A lot of the paint had been worn off from catching fish and rolling around in the tackle box. But the paint pattern and color was still visible. The thing the impressed me about these 2 plugs was that they had just caught a pair of 20 pound Rainbow Trout at the same time. I can only hope that a plug I make will someday catch a trout that big.
The other way to paint your plugs is to use an airbrush. With this nifty tool you can add spots, stripes, slashes, and eyes, whatever you want. The paint scheme will only be limited by your imagination and your skill with the air brush.
The third category of fishing lure making is fly tying. Your storage requirements for this category are again different. You will need some of those small parts bins but you will also need a set of drawers to store hackles, capes and such.
There are not very many power tools associated with this category. But you might want to use a glue gun or a heat gun to help you complete the construction of a few of the patterns you may choose to build.
The most common tools used for fly tying are;
* A Fly Vise
* Hackle pliers
* Dubbing twister
* Whip finisher
It is also handy to have a craft knife or scalpel on the bench for miscellaneous cutting jobs. As you tie flies you will find better or different tools that work more efficiently for you.