Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Balsa Baits

Image Above: Pike taken on a Balsa Lure

I had an idea; this is not a rare occurrence, the trouble is that often I have too many ideas and not enough time to make anything out of them. The idea was to build a Bass fishing lure for the summer if I ever get the chance to get down to the Welsh coast again. Ordinarily I would sculpt a bit of wood add some weights and hooks and hope for the best. This method is not very repeatable and while I have made some great lures this way I have had my fair share of duds. So the day before yesterday I sat down with a drawing board and a sketch of a Mackerel I had made in December and set about designing and building a prototype. What I wanted for the lure was that it bore some resemblance to a Mackerel and wasn’t just a minnow lure sprayed to look like the aforementioned. It needed to float and dive but not deep and when retrieved it should wobble. On the cast it should be able to punch out in a straight line in a bit of wind. To some extent all these competing needs call for a bit of sacrifice somewhere, long lures don’t wobble as much as short but then short lures don’t always cast as far or as accurately.

From the drawing to the final shaping it took me a couple of hours, having a drawing to work from was great, it meant I could actually work to dimensions, better still I had a record of what I had done. I messed up the lower jaw and shaved a bit too much off but as a rough start it looked good. I gave it a sap coat of epoxy and left it overnight to harden up. The next morning primer and then paint, I wasn’t looking for a final finish quality more an impression and believe me I cut corners. Another flood coat of epoxy and a night on the turning rack. This morning the coat of epoxy was almost dry but not fully cured.

Outside it was a great day for testing lures, the rain had stopped but a north wind was blowing on the edge of gale force. So I grabbed my rod, net and bag and almost ran to the park lake. It took me a few minutes to find enough shelter to thread my bait caster and rod. I tied a small trace and clipped on my lure and adjusted the brake and the magnets. The first cast was to be the first test, having been used to testing the more compact resin spoons I wasn’t expecting this lure to give that kind of distance or accuracy but I was wrong it ate up the distance cutting straight through the side wind leaving the line to parachute out behind. On about the tenth cast it went too far as the clip on the trace failed and my new lure was free, shit. I have a bit of a habit of doing this, I put on a new trace and spoon lure and hook up with it after a few minutes. I put the spoon back in the bag and began bashing the lure every which way trying to find a weakness up against the gusts but it was all good.

A long cast into the shallows on the opposite bank brought me my first Pike, I was a little shocked sometimes it can be a while before lures lose their virginity. The Pike a jack was in the 2-3 pound range and a good start. I moved down into the main basin of the lake and twenty minutes later I was into something a little solid. It cut across the lake almost ignoring the fact we were connected by a length of line, I steered it into the shore where it erupted as I scrambled for the net. Even giving away a couple of pounds for exaggeration it was over ten pounds. I fumbled for forceps as my landing mat was taken by the wind for a swim. So I unhooked the Pike in the net and then reached into the rucksack for the camera as the Pike rolled out of the net and was gone. The next job was to cast for the landing mat which when hooked put up a brave fight.

I packed up, unclipping the lure with its slightly tacky coat of epoxy and found a snug corner of the rucksack for it to enjoy a well dissevered rest. The next story should be prototype to production, this I suspect will take a lot longer.