Anglers are always in pursuit of that extra edge, but it doesn’t necessarily mean splurging on the latest big-name brands. Enhancing your favorite lures can often be achieved with items you already have around the house. Here are some clever tricks to elevate your baits to the next level.
Eyes on the Prize
Adding 3D eyes, especially to swimbaits and drop-shot baits, is a rising trend for soft-plastic baits. While some companies incorporate this into their high-end soft baits, you can upgrade many baits with the addition of 3D eyes. Picture your beloved fluke or creature bait with an extra touch of allure. All you need are a few sizes of 3D eyes and a dab of superglue.
Buying 3D eyes in bulk from overseas manufacturers through AliExpress can be a cost-effective option if you plan to enhance numerous baits. Alternatively, you can transform 2D eyes inexpensively. Apply a small drop of clear epoxy to each eye while still on their sticker sheets. With proper mixing, your substitutes will be indistinguishable from commercial 3D eyes.
Premium jigs often boast hand-tied skirts for durability. If you’re investing in hand-tied jigs, consider purchasing a more affordable jig and rewrapping the skirt yourself. It’s a straightforward process, especially if you have a vise. Secure the jig in the vise, position the skirt out of the way, and tightly wrap your thread ahead of the band. Add some flashabou or marabou strands for extra flash and action. A touch of superglue on top ensures longevity.
Eyes Wide Open
Most jig heads come powder-painted with paint on the hook eye. Over time, this paint chips, creating an unwanted rough edge. Unpainted jig heads with high-quality hooks are available. With a pack of these and some powder paint, you can outperform many products on the market. When powder painting your jigs, use a small piece of shrink tubing over the hook eye before heating and dipping. Remove the tubing after dipping but before curing the jig in the oven.
Instead of discarding broken plastics, recycle them into new baits. Sort them by color, melt them in a microwave until they reach a liquid state, and inject them into a new mold. Experiment with melting used pieces together in different ways. Combining flapping claws or twisting appendages from one torn bait onto another extends the life of old plastics. Get creative, and you might discover a winning combination.
While requiring an initial investment, a lead melting pot and a couple of jig molds can save money in the long run and offer customization opportunities. High-end jigs can be pricey, so buy hooks separately for use in your molds. Alter molds to fit unique hook sizes and produce jigs not commercially available. For instance, place a 1/0 jig hook in a 5⁄8-ounce tube jig mold to create a specialized jig for dragging a mini-tube in deep waters.