This past week I received my order of powder paints from TJ’s Tackle.com . These guys from Michigan have in my opinion the best selection of colors around. When I shopped around for a fluid bed, they had by far, the best price. Picked up a couple of new “candy” colors, resupplied a couple of standards and a jar of clear with a small container of holographic glitter for some finesse looks. There are probably a few more colors to get, but for right now, this spring, I think I am ready.
One of the reasons I like powder paints for my jigs and other projects is the famed durability of the paint itself. Once you heat your “subject”, apply the paint, and then cure in an oven, it forms a very durable finish. You can literally drop a jig on the cement floor and not chip the finish. Now think of the underwater terrain of the Detroit River and Lake Erie, and it makes sense that you want your jig to be able to stand up to the harshest of conditions. Zebra muscles, reefs and rocks…..Oh My!
Last fall I placed an order from Do-It Molds for my first molds to make my own jigs, baits and sinkers.
Why make your own “stuff”? For myself, where do I start should be the question. When thinking about it, heritage definitely plays a part. Dad’s family is from the Downriver area of Detroit and fishing on the Detroit River was a favorite place to go. Grandpa made a lot of his own equipment, including converting the old Victrola’s into handline reels. It was a different day and age back in the 1930′s and 40′s, if you saw a need for something, you simply made it yourself. Dad and my uncles were the same way, if they saw something as a problem to overcome, they solved it themselves. One uncle even went so far as to make his very own planer boards from the designs published in an issue of “Popular Mechanics”.
These days I do it for some of the same reasons, one being to make the lure the way I want it. Crawler harnesses or spinner rigs are a great example. I do not want the factory standard 14 lb test mono for the fishing I do on Lake Erie, with all the zebra mussels out there, nothing less than 20 lb test will do. Also, I don’t care for just two hooks on my rigs, more often or not the crawler would come back with the tail section bitten off, or the worm was in snipped in half between the two hooks. Detest missing fish more than almost anything, so I tie my rigs with three hooks. Then there was the year where I could just not keep the white perch and silver bass from stealing the worms left and right. It reminded me of a pro who had told me that they had won a tourney using plastic worms and it worked the next time I went out. But, I still wasn’t happy with it. On the big water, #2 sized hooks are the standard for just about everyone. My issue was the hook gap with the rubber worms, my solution was to slightly modify my presentation. I bought some size #1, Matzuo Sickle Hooks and used those as my lead hook right behind the beads. Most strikes take place near the spinner itself, so for that one hook I went bigger, and still used two #2′s for my trailers. Problem solved, it put more fish in the boat, and I did it myself.
Satisfaction is another key reason. Let’s face it, if you can do it yourself, and it catches more fish than what is readily available in retail locations, it is pretty satisfying. It gives you a sense of well deserved accomplishment. Sure you might have your “misses” along the way, but the “hits” are definitely worth the wait.
One of those “hits” for me has been adapting the current Lake Erie Hair Jig, and as the commercial says, making it my own. Lots of the standard one or two color hair patterns work, and they work well. In fact, I probably did not need to tinker with the concept at all, as you can see above, the ones I tied turned out pretty well. In my head though, there was more I could do, call it giving it an artistic flair. Two of my hottest cranks last fall were the Helsinki and Regal shads from Rapala, so I made up some shad like patterns in the hair.
Even that wasn’t enough, so I took some more of the jigs that I had poured, then powder painted and revamped an old idea. Way back when, say five to seven years ago, I read where the legendary Gary Roach had used skirting to dress up his spinner rigs. I had gone a step further when I rigged a few choices up with the same type of tinsel “hair” that they use in making salmon flies. Classic fail on my part, did not catch a single walleye.
But, not being the type to let an old idea die in peace, I brought back the look for this spring. Hopefully it works better on the jig, than it did on the rig. Not a huge fan of green lures, but I have big hopes for the bottom one with the Dragonfly painted head and the green tinsel. Face it, it looks pretty sweet and a lot of lures are designed to catch the angler’s attention, even if he made it himself. I almost, half jokingly hope this is a fail, that tinsel is HARD to tie, but if it works, you know I will doing more of them soon.
So with so many new ideas for this spring, there is only one more thing to do today, and that is to paint some more jigs out in the shop!