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Making your own fishing tackle is an enjoyable and rewarding process. This melting pot (left) melts lead to pour into a jighead mold (on right). (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

The art and craft of making your own lures

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outdoors Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Walking into a sporting goods store and finding the right fishing lure should be simple.

Yet with aisles filled with every color, shape and sized angling accoutrement, choosing the "hot product" can become confusing.

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To keep costs down and allow creative customization, some people make lures in their basements and garages instead.

Numerous catalogs and websites sell the components for making fishing tackle, providing materials ranging from molds to pour jigs and plastic baits, to plastic and wooden bodies used for making crankbaits and surface lures.

Although I typically buy my tackle through local bait shops or order direct through the manufacturer, I still enjoy making fishing tackle. And catching a fish on a product of your labor is quite rewarding.

Personally, I learned a lot about lure making from Randy Anderson and Arlene Hukki of Nevis, who have produced items for the family owned company, Irv's Magic Jigs, for decades.

Bubbling pots of gooey plastic is eventually molded into artificial jig bodies. Hooks are carefully laid into aluminum cavities as hot lead is cast to create the ever-popular jighead. Several coats of paint are added for a finishing touch.

Last Wednesday I got together with a motley crew of lure building enthusiasts for a jig-pouring party.

Although the setting may have differed from, say, a scrap-booking get-together, the camaraderie is similar; a group of people with the same interest.

It doesn't take a lot of fancy equipment to make your own jigs. A hot-pot (which has a heating element to melt the lead, bismuth or tungsten), a mold, hooks, heavy leather gloves and a breathing mask to protect you from the potentially harmful fumes are all required to effectively complete the project.

For our jigs, we melted discarded wheel weights. Since the weights were previously used to balance wheels on automobiles, we had to skim a lot of "slag" (lesser quality lead) from the surface of the melting pot.

One recommendation, if deciding to try this on your own, is to pre-heat the jig mold before filling it with lead, bismuth or tungsten. This allows the metal to flow easily into the entire space of the mold and reduces the number of misshapen jigheads. Pre-heating the mold can be done by placing it inside an oven to warm up, or by simply resting the mold atop the melting pot as the jig pouring material melts.

Other precautionary measures include ventilating the work area and never leaving the melting pot unattended. Electrical cords should be out of the way so the user doesn't accidentally trip or tip over the melting pot. And when the hooks are strategically placed into the cavities of the mold and it's closed, it's imperative to make sure the mold is tight without any gaps.

Once the jigs have been poured, the excess lead is removed with a nipper tool. Then the jigs are ready to be painted.

If you're interested in making your own lures, an array of supplies can be found at jannsnetcraft.com and lurecraft.com.

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