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Speed Spooling: Cleaning Reel Bearings

Fishing reels are really good these days and you can literally keep them going for a long time and still have a well performing reel. Good ones are worth the maintenance and even the investment in parts replacement to keep them on the boat and out of the trash.

I have dozens of fishing reels and all of them are in perfect operating condition. I keep them that way...and as soon as they start to experience any issues, they get taken off my boat and onto my coffee table for repairs.

You have to be organized. One of the best ways to learn how to repair your own reels or maybe even set up your own reel repair business is to contact Lake Fork Tackle Repair. Connie and Tommy Kilpatrick have got it down! Everything from tools to organization plus tricks of the trade to get your reels back in shape.

Check them out at http://lakeforktacklerepair.com/ for maintenance and repair videos.

For now, I'll show you a simple thing you can do that will make your reels a bit smoother and better casting.

Bearings get dirty and dry. The best way I have found to clean them is with lighter fluid. I soak them for about 10 minutes and then put them on tweezers to spin them to see and hear if they will spin freely. If not, try cleaning again. If they still don't roll smoothly, time to replace.

Contact the manufacturer and replace the bad bearing. But first you have to remove the bearing. Most reels have at least 2 bearings, one on each end of the spool. The bearing under the spool adjustment cap usually will come out by tapping the reel and allowing it to drop out. Otherwise, I use tweezers or a bent hatpin "tool" I made.

For the other side of the reel, the bearing is in the side plate, held in place with a clip. This is where you might run into trouble!

I use a very small screwdriver and locate the part of the clip close to the open end. Keeping my thumb over the side panel to prevent the clip from launching across the room, I gently pull one of the arms out of the retaining groove and then pull it out.

The bearing should drop out. If not, then you can use either the tweezers or my special tool. Soak and spin and replace if needed.

Before you replace the bearings, you need to lubricate. I like Quantum's Hot Sauce. It has a great applicator. Only put a very small drop on the bearing…one very small drop on each side and spin the bearing to work the oil into the bearing.

Do not over lube! This will bog the bearing down and make it tough to use. Put the bearing back in, putting the retaining clip in after the bearing is in place. For the one under the spool cap, simply push it into place and replace the cap.

Clean the spool shaft and put a drop of oil on each end and reassemble. Done! The reel should cast better and be a lot quieter!

If you feel comfortable with this, you are ready for more…. stay tuned!

Shotgun Snags

If you fish, your baits will get hung up! The options are: pull until something happens, (usually the line breaks and you lose your lure), OR use some type of contraption to dislodge it.

There are a few things you can do to retrieve stuck lures, like dipping your pole down to it, (which sometimes can damage your rod in the process), or by snapping your line to try to allow the lure to pop free. If these fail, there are pole-type retrievers that work down the line and actually push the lure off whatever is holding it.

There are also heavier weights that slide down the line to the bait. These are attached to a heavy cord and allow you to make repeated drops to jar the lure free. These are the best, but do require two hands and the cord needs to be stowed.

In the early days of lure retrieving, many old timers used an old spark plug. They would attach a snap to the plug and drop it down to the hung lure and shake until it came free. This worked well and if lost, it was only a spark plug. Advancements started appearing with a regular lead fishing weight taking the place of the spark plug.

I've created what I call the SHOTGUN KNOCKER! Find your buddies who hunt with shotgun shells, preferably the tall brass. Gather their expired shells. Cut the plastic casing off to about ¼ inch above the brass with either scissors or a razor blade.

Next, use large paper clips (about 2 inches) and bend a lip on the center portion of the paper clip. I use the vinyl-coated clips to insure I don't have a sharp edge on a bare metal clip to cut my line.

Get some lead. I usually go to my local gas station and ask them for used, and hopefully free, tire weights. You can melt on a stove or a commercially available lead pot. http://www.jannsnetcraft.com/Content/pouring_lead_fishing_lures.htm.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When melting lead ALWAYS do so in a well-ventilated area.

Holding the paper clip with some pliers, lower into the brass shell to allow the clip to be submerged in melted lead just below the bend you put into the clip. Fill slowly and allow the excess plastic shell to melt over. Done!

Position the clip after partially filling the shell to allow the maximum amount of lead in each shell

To use these is very simple. Position your boat directly over where the bait is stuck. Attach one of the Shotgun Knockers to the line by slipping line under the lip on the clip you created.

Allow the knocker to drop to the lure…then shake and allow some slack. This will knock most lures off. Some of the bigger crankbaits require more weight and adding a few more knockers will usually do the job.

This is a great off season project and works really well on jigs, worms and Silver Buddy lures.

Make Soft Plastic Baits That Look Like the Factory Lures

If you could affordably and easily make your own Senko and Brush Hog soft plastic baits, would you? What about creating baits in hard-to-find or your own custom color patterns, then would you? What if you could make soft plastic baits and you, your friends and the fish couldn't tell the difference between them and ones you bought…would you…be interested? Sure you would.

Soft plastic lures come in just about every imaginable size and shape, keeping patent attorneys very busy. In the olden days of bass fishing, soft plastics were flat, at least on one side. They were poured into molds that were laying down and while the bottom of the poured lure was rounded, curved or had a "natural" shape, the top was flat. Fish didn't seem to mind then, and they don't seem to mind now.

Flash forward from the 1960s to the 1980s when the soft plastic injection possess opened the mind and imagination of lure makers as legs, antenna, and other appendages were easily accomplished as soft molten plastic was forced into metal tubes where perfection was bagged up and shopped out all over the world.

But the industry took an interesting turn about 15 years ago and it was back to the future with handpours once again retaining their dominance for finesse plastics fishing as shakyhead and drop shot baits demanded laminated colors and were not inhibited by their flat sides. More daring hand pourers took on other shapes as well, meticulously pouring curl tails, antennas and legs. An entire industry was created by hand pours. Lure Craft (lurecraft.com) became the do-it-yourselfers Mecca. This on-line and catalog company provided everything needed to be creative and economical. Their supplies are still available in various quantities, thus making it possible for garage bait companies to be born and even bigger hand pouring ventures to become capitalized. Lure Craft surged when one of their bigger customers made a market breakthrough with their hand-poured Poor Boy's Baits, which was rapidly becoming the top hand-pour packager in the country. When opportunity knocked the Straley's, Shawn and Kim, answered by purchasing Lure Craft. Now they have taken do-it-yourself soft plastics to the highest level yet, round, tailed, and imaginative custom baits are now a piece of cake for hand pourers.

For some anglers, if it wasn't round, it wouldn't work. The Straleys had dabbled in the rounded baits, but realized they were in the wrong medium. Hand poured soft plastics utilized silicon molds. Fine for flat, not so fine for round. It was aluminum they needed. They found a metal artist who could precisely and affordably cut a mold that would employ a metal syringe to push plastic into hard to reach areas of the mold for perfect "pours" every time. The signature flat side of the do-it-your-selfer has now been replaced with store-bought look and feel, but with color and plastic mix consistency all their own!

Making rounded baits doesn't require cutting corners. Top-notch and affordable supplies are listed on-line and in catalogs. The recipe is simple. Cook Lure Craft's liquid plastic, add dyes and glitter…and even a pinch of hardeners and floating ingredients, stir, and then suction the "liquefied" plastic mix into the metal plunger and push into a bivalve mold. A minute or so to cool, and an open mold reveals perfect soft plastic lures. Kim says full sided baits via injection have been become popular in the last 3 years. "The guys can get more detail on all sides of the bait…for those who have the mindset that they need a perfectly round bait, you can fill in appendages and smaller antennas without having to trim them, and make them thinner for more movement."

They have even created a dual injector to push plastic in with two colors. It won't produce segregation like a hand pour, but does create color swirls, making each bait different. Kim says soft plastic paint and dyes can be used after molding to enhance color schemes.

The two sided aluminum molds are hinged or they have male female halves with a nut to hold them together. Some have up to 10 cavities. Lure Craft carries a senko mold with 7 to 10 cavities with one shoot. While the molds aren't cheap, they are indestructible and will produce perfect baits pour after pour. A hand pour mold is $10, and $55 to $60 for 4-cavity aluminum mold.

For those wanting to customize their own baits, they better be serious about what they are doing, the price tag for creating an aluminum mold $800…for the reliable silicon customized hand pour $85. Kim reiterates that the aluminum molds never wear out as do their silicon molds counterparts. With aluminum, the finish and detail of injection can never wear out.

Stuff you'll need: Aluminum mold, Injector, Pour pots, Wooden stir sticks, Liquid Plastic, Color dyes, Glitter

To get started, all you need is a cook top…if you cook indoors, make sure your wife isn't going to be home for a while and line the stove with foil to keep it clean. Work in a well-ventilated area! Small aluminum pots and stir sticks will keep the mix in a pourable state. Add color dyes and glitter. Using the injector plunger (wear gloves and protective eyewear!) suck up the plastic and inject into the ports above the mold. Remove when cool, (about 2 minutes). With several molds and a bit of free time, bass clubs, buddies and hobbyists are saving money and creating their own baits. For everything you need, check out LureCraft.com.

Plastic, dyes and glitter
Cook the plastic mixture
Precision aluminum molds
Suction liquified plastic
Finished creature baits

Stanley, I Presume? The Lonnie Stanley Lure Story!

So, which came first, bass fishermen or bass? In the mid 1960s, deep in the heart of Texas, a group of guys began filling their tackle boxes just as the groundwork of a grassroots sport was evolving with the filling of Sam Rayburn Reservoir in Texas. Until then, most bass fishing wasn't for sport as much as for supper!

Encouraged by a few hurricanes Sam Rayburn began an early rise giving a group of anglers a chance to rise to the top during the birth of bass fishing. Clunn, Nixon, Rowland, Martin, and Allen became known as the Hemphill Gang. Named after their nearby home town close to Toledo Bend, they emerged as founding fishing fathers of today's pro bass fishing sport. Together with Sam Rayburn, only 52 miles apart, Toledo Bend provided the best "big pond" bass fishing in the country. Rayburn's 114 thousand acres along with Toledo Bend's 188k acres became the birthplace of bass angling with over a quarter million acres of angling waters. Hemphill's gang rode the crest of the bass fishing learning curve, unlocking fishing secrets of large reservoirs, much different than pond fishing. Their trailblazing took them down the bassology path with steps putting them leaps and bounds ahead of anglers of their day. Their "discoveries" anchor many fishing techniques and they remain some of the world's top anglers. Longevity has become the trademark of pro bass angling as age does not take a measurable toll, nor are youth and physical condition competitive advantages.

During pro bassing's conception, another angler was emerging as one of the best around. Lonnie Stanley started reeling in trucks, cars, boats and prize money in competitive events from the late 80s into the 90s. According to Stanley, in the 70s the only problem with bass fishing, there weren't enough bass. Until large bass reservoirs were constructed, most anglers fished for the fryer…rivers for catfish and small private ponds for panfish and bass. Bass fishing was beginning to pique the interest of local anglers in the late 50s. But closing of the gates in the mid 60s to fill Texas reservoirs opened bass angling opportunities for local experts. Bigger waters soon became home to booming bass populations…the fisheries came first, then the anglers. Bass populations exploded and people came from across Texas and the country to sample these fertile bass waters. Bass fishing success spawned other hot fisheries like Lake Conroe following in the 70s. Bass fishing was a cast away from becoming a professional sport as the early super pros competed and guided on these awesome bass fisheries that enabled them to learn as they fished.

Stanley began sharing what he had learned on the water competing with and against the best in the group's bass club dating back to 1972. They learned how to fish from each other. While better fisheries were being created, Stanley sought to make a better fish trap. His garage became a laboratory for creations, many of which remain tackle box mainstays. But it was after he won the 4th consecutive tournament that everyone wanted to buy his "Stanley's jig"". When able to crank out a hundred a day, Stanley was pulling in 50-100 dollars a day. Not much or enough as a part-time business, but he saw the full-time potential. Realizing it wasn't practical to run a business, raise daughters and grandkids, and still be tournament competitive, he focused on staying home and in business! Given the go-ahead from his wife, Stanley Jigs was ready to outgrow his garage.

In 1979 he started making jigs at a time when "living rubber" skirt material was not in widespread use. Until Stanley came around, jigs were not really specialized, nor customizable. He created a technique for wrapping the rubber strands with another rubber strand, allowing the user to change skirt colors. This became a big advantage over other lure makers using wire to hold skirt strands in place. Skirt colors were not randomly chosen. Realizing this crawfish imitation would work better if similar to color patterns of local forage, Stanley placed his skirts side-by-side with the real thing to exact a match for different fisheries across the country, becoming a fish and angler favorite! Head designs were poured with his molds employing a special hook to make his baits even more effective as they would come through heavy cover with ease.

Banking on his jig success, Stanley branched out to include spinerbaits and soft plastics, even hooks for soft plastic frogs. Colors expanded to include hundreds of patterns to mimic not only crawfish, but also baitfish and lizards. Stanley noted that bass forage in a particular lake changed during certain times of the year or subsequent to other situations like water clarity and season. Taking a scientific look, Stanley recruited the knowledge and tools invented by fish biologist, the late Dr. Loren Hill to ascertain what colors fish could see best. Using Hill's Color-C-Lector, Stanley enhanced and verified color patterns.

Aside from colors, Stanley's products always appeared to have an edge. Once in the hot lead business Stanley was set up for spinnerbaits leading to his Vibra Shaft spinnerbait with patents protecting two very unique features. First, the spinnerbait wire frame is tapered, hand ground to be continually thinner toward the blades to create more vibration while providing a stout lure to pound and crash through very heavy cover. In addition, Stanley's willow-leaf shaped blades are thicker and heavier toward the end, creating more "pul"" and vibration. Combined with Stanley's color combos, these lures stand alone on the shelf of wire-to-wire spinnerbait styles.

It's more than creating tackle tools for advanced anglers; Stanley's designs also make fishing easier for beginners. His Double Take Stanley Frog Hook increases hook ups on soft plastic frogs like his Stanley Ribbit. His new soft plastic lure line-up features Stanley"s Y-Not, combining a ring worm's vibration with an air chamber to enable legs to stand up, great for shaky head, a jig trailer or as a stand-alone flipping bait. Innovation without imitation, the 65 year old proclaims in his 30 years of lure making he has never copied a color or style. "We have so much new stuff in shoe boxes we can work on things for a while."

Stanley's brand has appeared on the shirts of top pros; but today larger tackle companies have supplanted that space. The modest "Made in Huntington, Texas" company supports local anglers and sends products to a few pros. Stanley's products are on the shelf at major stores like Bass Pro Shops, Academy, Dick's and Cabela's. Staying ahead of the curve, Stanley is a bit tight-lipped about his upcoming new technology designs for a jig and worm weight. Lonnie Stanley shares credit for product developments describing them as a "team" effort with input coming from his staff. "We never agree. If we all agree, somebody is wrong". www.fishstanley.com

Gadgets & Gizmos?

Build a shelf and fishing manufacturers will fill them with every color shape and size imaginable. Trouble is…do they catch fish or fishermen?

When Laser Lures "better idea" light went on, it landed in the nose of some pretty well designed lures! Classic pitchman, Bass Cat/Yamaha pro Michael Iaconelli has seen the light! Ike proclaims his cat-catching laser works on bass too! The same curiosity that killed the cat is hooking bass! Laser pointers beat strings as cat toys and Ike says bass are just as curious when approaching the water-activated, computer-controlled intense beam of laser light that does not diffuse, infused into five pretty good lures. Ike says all of the features wiggle, wobble, colors, rattles, and deflection trigger reaction strikes. Sometimes it's something else, something different and the Laser Lure light sets them off. He also says there are some conditions where crankbaits really might not be effective. The laser light extends the window of opportunity for crankbaits allowing him to use them in water that might be too stained for dim lures. Batteries are included and last about 80 hours. After that it's lights out, but the crankbaits, poppers and jerkbaits with red hooks and 3-D eyes can still catch fish after losing their super powers. About the same cost as high-end Japanese hard lures. laserlure.com.

Thinking outside the tackle box isn't easy in this copy-bass lure market. Knockoffs are the name of the game. But, Minda Lures "The Injured Minda" stays in the strike zone aggravating bass into biting. After all, vulnerable, injured prey won't swim away. The bright lights of YouTube showcase this Lazy Ike-ish lure. It's larger and a few small taps on a taught line causes the head to dip down. The injured Minda rocks into a bass-biting lullaby! It will even "walk the dog!" If you really feel the need to go "mainstream", you can wind this lure and it behaves like a crankbait. mindalures.com

In the late 1990's, a small Japanese lure maker, Lucky Craft came to the US with $15 versions of existing $3-$6 baits. As Lucky Craft lures raised angler expectations, they also raised the bar on how deep anglers will reach into their pockets to tie on one of their baits. With unique designs, fish-like finishes, weight transfer systems, ballast, and noise, Lucky Craft lures have set Olympic standards for hard baits in every class. And now, Lucky Craft is once again scratching the surface, just barely with a unique wake bait. Size does matter! Not only does this bait weigh in at 2 ounces and is 4 inches long…but it's also louder and flashier than others on the market. Bulky Bullfish loudly announce their presence with rattles and a substantial wake. Surfing bass can catch a wave! But wait, there's more! Backed up with your choice, an oversized ball bearing propeller or a thumping spinner blade creates irregular actions! The number 2 hooks are stout enough to hook up with the bigger fish this lure attracts. Using heavier line and a stouter rod, the Bullfish is perfect to pull fish out of heavy grass or along the edges of cover like docks or laydowns. luckycraft.com

Feeling creative? Jann's Net Craft has more than just all of the little stuff, hooks, weights, rod building and repair…the on-line catalog has lures in various phases of construction, components to modify original lures, or supplies to create your own! Some crankbaits only require hooks; others allow air brushers to fancy their own designs. Or, carve up something new from blocks of wood! Jann's has the lips, hardware, hooks and coloring for nearly every crankbait design on the market, including some of the Japanese designs! Build "custom" spinnerbaits or just attach blades. Paint the heads or buy the pre-painted. Customize with a huge variety of skirts and blade configurations or just repair your old ones! Poppers, walkers, and just about every lure in the tacklebox at super low prices. Jigs of all kinds too! Perfect for the hobbyist or for the angler looking for the edge "uniqueness" provides. jannsnetcraft.com

Checking out new boats and especially USED boats? Elite Series Triton/Mercury pro Brent Chapman turned me on to something new from the trailer winch and jack experts, Fulton! While most jacks and winches do their jobs, they are slow and sometimes hard to engage! Forget about moving your trailer after it's off the tow vehicle! Now, Fulton has introduced the F2 trailer jack with 1600 lb lift capacity and precision machining designed with the strongest mount and swivel on the market. It's fast and you don't get a "winch workout!" The release "pull pin" is easy to use! No more getting the release pin stuck in your fingers! The wider wheel base and the option to have two wheels makes this jack the one if you want to maneuver your trailer into a garage or parking space! And finally a winch that's strong enough and can be cranked on either side! The new F2 has a user-friendly pull and turn knob that engages the pawl easily. No more exposed springs to pop out or catch on your clothing! If you buy a used boat, replace the winch and jack! If you are ordering a new boat, you'll be glad you upgraded to a jack that you won't have to worry about!

Just about every lure company is tackling hollow frogs. Snag Proof has probably sold more frogs than all the other companies put together! They've been around since the 1950's! Snag Proof is the biggest frog in the frog pond because they never stop tinkering. This time it's Ranger/Yamaha pro Ish Monroe solving one of the biggest problems with hollow frogs. A molded chamber encases the hook…result? Ish's Phat Frog is tighter than any other! No more water entering through the hook area, period! Apologies to Harry Ehlers, the inventor of the hollow frog, but this is absolutely the most innovative design in froggy history! I'm sure Harry is smiling down on Ish for turning a frog into a prince of a leak proof bass catcher! Ish's Phat Frog has a very soft body that compresses to reveal the business end of two very strong hooks! Oh, the colors are awesome…leave it to Ish to colorfully moniker his line up! Da Man is white, Papa Midnight is black. The rest of the colors have colorful names, including the Sexy Ish…snagproof.com

And here's a small item that could make big changes in tackle systems. Until now, swivels have been made of metal. Metal sinks and will affect the fall of lures. A new concept putting fishing techniques on a new swivel is Aquateko's new Invisi Swivels. The fluorocarbon swivels are invisible under water and neutrally buoyant. These features allow baits to be attached to a leader to braided line without interfering with the natural action of the bait. It's also easier to tie a knot from a leader to the braid using the Invisi Swivel. Many applications in Carolina rigs and weightless soft plastics to eliminate line twist! aquateko.com

But, as you pull out the plastic to pay for your new stuff, remember, three axioms that come to mind…fishing lures don't catch fish…fishermen catch fish…fishing lures catch fishermen. With every new season, come a new gadget or gizmo and an angler eager to own one. As my wife says, "fish until you drop!"

Create Your Own Soft Plastics

A couple of decades ago, I was pre-fishing for a regional tournament. I wanted to save the soft plastic baits I was using, as they were working very well. I grabbed a rather plain bait made by the Zoom Bait Company called a centipede. No legs, arms or tail and this lure started fooling fish, bigger fish. I was excited and ran to the store to get more. No luck. The bait hadn't hit the shelves of my local stores yet! My artsy-crafty wife told me to make a mold and melt some plastics to make my own.

She returned from her craft store, the one that smells like lavender, with some plaster casting materials. She made a mold from one of the centipedes and microwaved some of my old soft plastics to pour into "her" mold. It worked! These baits were just like the factory baits, with a twist since I wasn't able to control the colors of the re-melted plastic, colors were inconsistent that was the bad news. The good news was that each one was a bit different and they caught fish! I kept those molds for a long time until I found Lure Craft (lurecraft.com). This company took the guesswork out of my worn out plaster molds and I found they supplied everything to make exactly what I wanted. This was at a time when hand poured baits were losing ground to the injected soft plastics. However, in the past 5 years or so, the hand poured industry has seen a revival!

In the early 1970's bass fishing was becoming a sport: tournaments, magazines and B.A.S.S. decals everywhere. Soft plastics weren't all that soft and didn't have appendages. Hand poured soft plastics - literally hand pouring melted plastic into flat molds - were effective and dominated as expectations were low. Creative coloring was developed for Western clear-water techniques like Don Lovino's doodling. The early finesse fishing era was short-lived and hand pours were cast aside as power fishing and injection molding surfaced. Ignoring soft plastics altogether, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and jigs dominated on the water and in tackle stores. Anglers using soft plastics were impressed by injection ingenuity...arms, legs, and tails that hand pourers could only dream about, but never having the steady hand to pour. The king is dead long live the king! Injected plastics were crowned.

Hand pours took a back seat until the mid 90's when western anglers, taking cues from the east - the FAR EAST - perfected clear-water techniques like drop shot, spawning the finesse fiesta. Split shot and seldom-glorified shaky head (AKA: decades-old "jig and worm"), techniques that didn't demand dangly parts, meant straight tail worms were back; opening doors for hand pour resurgence. Demand was in dormancy, but hobbyists and astute anglers had never put away pouring pots. Serious anglers were making secret baits, out-fishing anything shot through injection cylinders.

Today's finesse techniques don't require legs, arms, or tails. They do require finessy colors. Being able to pour one layer, then another color on top for a laminated appearance, created a two-tone appearance found in nature - everything has a dark and a light top/bottom. These baits were more natural and for techniques requiring baits sitting in one spot for a while, like drop shot and shakyhead, hand pours were back!

Here's how to do it. If you don't want to go to the store that smells like lavender and make your own plaster molds, there are commercially made molds, in fact there are hundreds of them. You name it; it's out there with very few exceptions. If it isn't exactly what you wanted, there's one that's very close, or you can buy the molding materials and make your own copy but beware of legal patent restrictions! The molds are made of a soft material that won't melt at the temperature of the melted soft plastic. You can buy a milky color liquid plastic that turns clear when heated, or re-melt used plastics or a combination of both. Get some small metal pouring pots and find someplace to cook. I suggest you do this outside or your significant other will have some issues, not to mention breathing fumes. Find a well-ventilated area and make sure you take fire precautions as well! The melted plastic is very hot! If you get it on you it keeps on burning until you get it off.

There are tons of colors, which you can combine to make a new color - loads of colored flakes in a few sizes - and even additives to make the plastic hard, soft or float. The owners of Lure Craft used to be customers of the supply company and have achieved success with their own soft plastic line, Poor Boy's Baits. Lure Craft/Poor Boy's "how-to" DVD shares success secrets.

Now that you have your molds and are ready to pour, it's pretty simple. Heat the plastic according to the instructions on the bottle. Do not over-cook the plastic. Stir constantly to keep the glitter suspended and to keep the plastic from burning. Start with the thinnest part of the mold first and let it run into the body of the mold to make tails or flippers thinner for more action. If pouring 2 or more colors, pour as soon as possible after the first pour to get the different layers to bond. Let them cool, and pull them out of the mold. The plastic baits need to be laid out straight until they are finished cooling or they will have a permanent bend in them. I usually lay mine out on foil. Put in a plastic bag. I soak my baits in an attractant, called Jack's Juice. This soaks into the plastic and also keeps the baits from sticking to each other, which also keeps them relaxed and wrinkle free.

Let the hand pouring begin, and not just for the frugal! Hand pouring can be a lot of fun, tinkering until you find something that works and it will be something no one else will be using! Today, several injection companies now include hand pours in their line-ups! Whether for personal use, starting a business or just fishing to win, hand pours are back and here to stay!

Simple Ways to Bring Old Lures Back to Life

Is your tackle box a tangled mess of rusty hooks, scarred lures, and melted rubber skirts? Don't toss them out! Lures today cost anywhere from $5 - $15 and more. It pays to take a little time to bring your baits back to life. They might not look like the originals when you are finished, but they'll be close enough to be effective, and different enough to catch more fish. For just about everything you need to revive your favorite lures, check out jannsnetcraft.com and lurcraft.com.

Start with cleaning your tackle box Get rid of all the accumulated "stuff" that has found its way into your storage boxes. Rusty hooks can leave a stain in your tackle box and eventually transfer to your lures! There are many clear plastic storage boxes and most come in standard sizes. Put labels on your boxes to keep them even more organized. I label mine by size, depth, color and season. Once you have your lures out, it's time to go to work.

Spinnerbaits show their age the most. Skirts become discolored. Rubber bands holding skirts in place disintegrate and blades become tarnished. A little TarnX will put the shine back on, but be careful not to rub "gold" finishes too much, because they might rub off. If they aren't salvageable, paint the blades. I like white and chartreuse. Or you can give your spinnerbait a makeover, replacing worn blades and skirts. Upgrade spinnerbaits you don't use with a skirt or blade best suited for your fishing needs. If you have a lot of a particular spinnerbait, change blade shape and size to give your more of a variety to cover other conditions. To keep new skirts in place, a few wraps of nylon thread will secure them. They'll make it through the season and won't slide down coming through heavy cover. A bit of touch-up paint on the head will make these lures as good as new. Sharpen the hook to complete the job.

After getting slammed by fish, tossed into rocks and put away wet, topwater lures and crankbaits need love too Start with the hooks. If they can be sharpened, do it. I prefer to replace mine I've been replacing the belly hooks with a RED treble. For topwaters, withered and worn feathered trebles need to be replaced! Companies like Mustad make some very good hand tied feathered trebles with quality hooks. For lures with split rings in the line tie, try switching to oval split rings to eliminate any confusion on where to tie your knots.

Vinyl lure touch up paint, fingernail polish and even marking pens restore baits and let you stylize your own. I even add black dots on the sides for contrast or orange to the bellies for more visibility. Buy some small brushes. If you're on a budget and aren't artistic anyway, try using a good old-fashioned pipe cleaner for your brush (Q-Tips work too). The fine hairs on the Q-Tip can drag color across a bait, leaving contrasting lines. A spray of "clear coat" will keep your lures from chipping as easily.

After removing paint from jigs, heat them and dip into powder coat or hand paint for a new finish. Attach a new skirt and secure with the same nylon thread used on the spinnerbaits and that jig is back in business! Use markers on the white nylon thread to dye, matching skirts. Don't forget to sharpen these hooks too!

While you're going through all of your lures, checking for paint, hooks, skirts and all of the above, it might be a good time to sort them and do an inventory of what you need. Clear plastic boxes allow you to see what you are missing and a short list on paper will allow you to replenish or supplement your gear for next year. This is also a good time to determine whether you really need all of those lures or, if changing a color might put an ignored lure into service. Whatever the case, if you find you just have too many lures, give some to a kid. Your old lures will be appreciated (and you'll have a good excuse to go out and buy more).

Spring LURE Cleaning

It's time to fish…unless you are a diehard and have been out during the winter. A lot of anglers are hunting during the off-season. Or they have been reconditioning their tackle. If you didn't it's not too late.

Start with the lures you will be using first. Lipless cranks jerkbaits and medium diving crankbaits. The Plano 370 boxes or BPS or other brand are the perfect size for most well thought out boat storage systems. My Skeeter has dividers for them.

Changing hooks is the best way to insure you will hook and land more fish. While you are taking the hooks off, it's also a good time to use some jig and vinyl paint to touch up some of the battle scars on your lures. Jann's Netcraft has the paint and brushes for this. I also use pipe cleaners and Q-Tips.

Go through every lipless crank and replace hooks! I replace mine with the new KVD short shank Mustad Ultra Point Triple grips. The shorter shank allows me to go with a bigger hook…essential for this style of lure. Then sort them by size, weight and color. If you are really into it, you can sort by sound too! That should fill that box.

For jerkbaits, Start with suspending lures. Sort them by length and color. I replace hooks here too, but use the round bend Mustad trebles. I put a red hook on the belly.

From there it's the medium diving crankbaits. Replace the hooks and touch up too. You might sort by sound in this category…silent and loud. Thin body and fat body...all around the 4-8 foot depth range.

Give a good examination to rod guides, looking for chipped or cracked guides. Pay particular attention to the tip then work your way back to the butt of the rod. Chances are if your tip is OK, then the rest are too, but check them all out and replace if you can or take to a rod shop. I have learned how to do my own with a bit of help from Jann's Netcraft. They are the one-stop shop for rod repair and the techs can even help you pick out the right guides with a template in their catalog.

Line is next! Before you head onto the water with last year's line, strip and re-spool. I like to tie fresh line onto backing. You don't use as much line and it is always fresher. For the most part, bass anglers don't need to fill their spools all of the time. Here's what I do. Make a long cast…cut. Make another long cast, cut. One more long cast and cut again…pull off a bit more line and that's where the knot goes. Fill the spool after tying a Uni knot. And you are all set. I also like to oil my reels while changing line to work the oil into the reel.

For spinning reels, it's the line roller and the bearings in the reel where the handle goes that get a droop. For casting reels, a drop on the bearings on the side plate and under the spool adjustment cap. I also put a drop on the worm gear. Use oil sparingly, especially on bearings.

Go fish!

Putting On Your Own Spin

So, you tie on your last spinnerbait that has been catching fish for years. You snag a log and you lose it. But, you can't find that blade and size combination anywhere. Either the company is out of business or they have discontinued that particular lure. Why not make your own?

Building a spinnerbait is as simple as assembly or can be as detailed as bending the wire and molding the lead head all the way through detailed air brushed paint jobs.

For now, take a look at simple assembly. The first step is an inventory activity. You will need only one tool, round bend pliers. While you can use needle nose piers, the round bends will make a better curve to prevent the rear blade swivel from hanging up. Also, you might want to have split ring pliers to make it easier to attach blades to the split ring on the swivel.

Start your parts list by first getting the right shapes colors and sizes. Take one of your favorite spinnerbaits and print out the free chart from Jann's Netcraft. http://www.jannsnetcraft.com/Content/Parts_Sizing.htm. Lay the blades, swivel, beads, spacers and clevis on the chart and take note of the sizes. Match the size and the color of the blades.

For the spinnerbait heads, you have a choice of sizes and finished or unfinished heads. Unfinished heads can either be powder coated, a very durable chip proof finish, or they can be airbrushed or even hand painted with vinyl jig paint. In either case, it's pretty easy to get very close to the original.

After choosing heads, it's time to accessorize. Stick-on eyes and skirts in a variety of materials and colors can be added to match or modify the original.

Assembly is very easy. For our bait, start with a bead, then slide the clevis into the first nickel blade and then onto the wire. Add another bead, then the spacer. Put the back gold blade on the swivel. At this point take the round bend pliers and roll the end of the wire downward toward the hook. Just before you close it, put the swivel into the loop, then close it. Add the skirt and you have your copy, as good as new and about half the price of buying one.

At this point, if you wanted to make large quantities, you can bring the cost down even more! A lot of bass clubs buy in bulk and assemble their own. Some even sell them to raise money for their charitable events. In any case, these cost savings will allow anglers to be more aggressive with their casts into very heavy cover.

Now it's time to experiment with different colors blade sizes and shapes. To get started Jann's Netcraft has a kit to "play around with" to build 10 spinnerbaits. It comes with instructions and materials for experimentation. (Catalog # 325900)

For this spinnerbait, get these supplies from JannsNetcraft.com: Colorado Blades #1 Smooth Nickel, Mag Willow #4 Gold, Ball Bearing Swivel w/ring Size 2, Wire Clevis Nickel Size 3, Turboflare Skirts, Premium Spinnerbait head ¼ oz, Molded Eyes 5/32", Powder Paint, Round Bend Pliers

Rolling Your Own Rod Sleeves

If you have more than one rod, you have experienced the tangles and sometimes the damage that occurs when the line on rods snags other rods, causing guides or rod tips to break. Not to mention the coat hanger-like snarls in rod boxes. Rods with line can be unmanageable.
Not any more. Several companies are making rod tubes out of a variety of materials. Some of them are hard tubes…a bit more difficult for storing and transporting rods. Others are made from a nylon that is sewn and have a strap on the end to attach to reels. Yet others make use of an existing material used in electronics for bundling wires.

This material not only makes sense, but also is available for the do-it -yourselfer. FLEXO PET (PT) from Cablemarkers.com is used in electronic, automotive, marine, and industrial for wire harnessing applications. Its braided construction expands gently and securely over rod guides, kind of like the childhood Chinese Handcuffs…but also releases easily. This material is available in various sizes and colors, so it can be used for casting and spinning reels and can be color-coded as to type of rod if desired. It is also fairly "hook friendly" that is, hooks are easily removed if snagged.

The material comes in rolls and is flat, yielding to insertion of a fishing rod. The size for most spinning rods would be 1 ½ inch and casting rods with smaller guides could be 1 ¼ or 1 inch. The only other material required is a bit of heat shrink tubing.

Measure the rod length from the tip to just above the reel, or where lures are secured. Add an inch for the opening to fold back and use your hot knife to cut the material. Cutting this material is easy if you have a hot knife. If not, take an old style Weller Soldering gun and file the tip to an edge and it will work well…cutting as it seals the frayed ends. As soon as you cut the sleeve, quickly open the ends to prevent it from sealing the ends of the cut.

If there isn't a hook keeper near the reel, you might consider installing one available under several style and brands from JannsNetcraft.com. This will allow you to hook the bait close to the reel and not on the lowest guide enabling you to make a sleeve that goes to about 6 inches above the reel.

After cutting the PET braid, it's time to make the opening for the rod. I found double folding the opening end is best. Fold about an ¼ inch and use a curling iron on HIGH to mold a crease into place. This might take a while depending on the heat of your unit. (Don't let your wife catch you with hers). No damage to the curling iron. Once the ¼ inch fold is complete, Fold again about ½ inch and use the curling iron to mold a crease into the sleeving again.

Moving on to closing the tip, take the end and roll it to fit 3/8-inch shrink tubing over the tip. Using a lighter, heat the shrink tubing until it shrinks and holds tight, also heating the tip of the sleeving itself.

That's it! You are finished. Depending on how many you make, the cost is about 1/3 or less doing it yourself and you can choose from 19 colors.

Replacing Your Rod Tips

Use these easy steps to replace your old or damaged fishing rod tips:

Get the correct replacement rod tips
Remove the old tip
Heat the glue
Apply the new rod tip
Remove excess glue
Apply rod varnish
You make a cast and snap, your favorite lure goes flying into the next county as the line breaks; you set the hook on your biggest fish ever and the line snaps; or you just about have Bubba in the net and snap…another big one gets away. You don't have to tell fish stories if you would just check your rod tips!

One of the simplest do-it-yourself repairs is replacing the tip on a rod. This top guide takes more abuse than any other! It is the first contact with fishing line during retrieves. If you do a lot of cranking or spinnerbaiting, just plain old winding, then you need to inspect this tip frequently! In addition, this tip takes a lot of abuse when anglers dip their rods into cover to free stuck lures. Not to mention the abuse in rod boxes. I check my tips whenever I'm in doubt!

Trouble is, that unless you check the tip, you could be creating a weak spot on your line. If you start to see "fuzz" collecting on the tip of your rod, there is probably a scratch or cut in the ceramic or metal guide. If your line is starting to shred or even break, there's a problem. In any case, the guide will cut your line and you will either lose fish or lures, or both.

Here's what's happening. Lines, especially braids or fluorocarbon lines, will wear a groove in guides. In addition other abuses, this can lead to chips or scratches in the guide ring. Both will cut line.

To check the guide, take a Q-Tip and wind it around the tip guide. If there are any stray fibers left behind, you have a chip or crack in the guide. I use a magnifying glass and take a very close look at the guides. If I have been having trouble, I replace even if the trouble spot seems minute.

To replace you first have to remove the existing tip. First, scrape the epoxy rod coating off the guide. Also remove any windings on the tip. Heat the tip with a lighter and gently pull straight off with a slight twisting motion, careful not to force the tip. The glue will heat up enough to allow you to remove it. While the rod is still hot, take a rag and wipe off excess glue.

It is important to match the style, color and size of the tip. I have found that the folks at Jann's Netcraft are very helpful and can actually help you find the right tip over the phone! They also sell top and ring gauges. You just measure your top and order the right one.

A handy top chart will measure the size of the rod top and another will measure the size of the guide ring. From these measurements, you can choose the right style and size. Or, you can use the free ring and rod tip guide in the Jann's Netcraft catalog! (Jannsnetcraft.com)

Once you receive the tip, compare it with the original. Check to see how it fits on the rod after you clean the tip of the blank. If it fits snugly, then you are ready to put it on. Heat the glue stick and apply to the rod blank.

Heat the guide a bit to allow it to expand and to heat the glue a bit more, then insert the rod into the tip and line it up by looking down the rod to ensure the tip is in line with the rest of the guides. Adjust while the glue is still pliable. Let it sit, remove the excess, and re-apply some rod varnish!

Done. Your rod is as good as new, ready to reel in memories! I carry a few rod tips with me all the time! Jann's Netcraft has a handy assortment pack.

Chatter Wacky

It wasn't enough that there are bunch of chatterbait knock offs on the market. The original is pretty good, the rest are pretty good. Most are very similar. Some have holes in the blade, others have a different shaped blade. The Rock N Runner is a horsy headed bait with a fixed willow blade beneath the head.

My problem? I wanted a heavier one! I wanted a 1/2 ounce bait to run deeper and contact grass and other deeper cover! After experimenting with some old spinnerbaits, I found I could cut the wire of the spinnerbait and use a chatterbait blade and I got what I wanted. But, I liked the small willow blade from the Rock N Runner. So I attached one and found that it made the bait kick off to one side at random! This triggered strikes! This bait is awesome. I am not going to sell it to you, but I will give you the list of materials and instructions to make your own!

First, get a Jann's Netcraft catalog...1-800-NETCRAFT...or go on line www.jannsnetcraft.com.

STUFF YOU NEED:

1/2 ounce spinnerbait frame....heavy wire with a Mustad Ultra Point Hook! 325410
Shaker Swim Blade 330632
Shaker Blade Die Cut 309056 GOLD (027)
interlock snaps 002472 size 2
#3 willow blade 320383 Hammered brass (101)
Ball Bearing Swivel w/ring 305349 (SIZE 1)
Turboflare 5 inch skirts I like Cumberland Craw (312)
ASSEMBLY REQUIRED!

Put the gold die cut sticker on the shaker blade and attach a snap.

Cut the spinnerbait wire and bend the wire.

Before you close the wire, slide the shaker blade on and then finish twisting the wire to secure it.

At this point take the head and dip into Jann's Netcraft powdercoat...I like 381100 Brown. Let cool, paint eyes. Then attach the willow to the swivel and then to the lure, below the shaker blade.

Attach a skirt and a Mann's HardNose 6 inch Jerkbait in Ark. Shiner...cast and retrieve just over the grass, taking care to contact the grass...on a 6'6" med/heavy rod and fast reel! I use mono, but you might try fluorocarbon. When the bait contacts cover, snap it free. When it kicks off to the side, a bit of slack and another snap will get it back on track.

Good luck! This is a killer bait!


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