article describes how to make a Japanese style minnow with
the metallic finish commonly found on high-end imported lures.
The article is courtesy of Hiroyuki Konagai.
THE LURE BODY
Using a paper pattern, trace an outline of the lure body onto
both sides of your wooden carving block (Paulownia wood is
used in this example, but basswood would also work well).
In this example the wood is 13mm thick and the length of the
minnow is 9cm. Paulownia is easy to shape and hard enough
to make a durable lure. Moreover, the wood's high buoyancy
adds lively action to the minnow plug.
2. Draw a center line down the belly side of the wooden
carving block and make a cut into it using a saw. The cut
should be narrow and shallow, forming a groove in the belly
of the lure. This groove will be used for inserting a wire.
3. Saw along your pattern to create the lure's rough
4. Smooth the surface with sandpaper and shape both
sides so they are symmetrical. The head and the tail must
be tapered for smooth painting.
5. Remove the four angled edges with a carving knife
to round the lure.
6. Smooth the edges with sandpaper and make the final
shape of the lure. At this time, check if the right and the
left half of the lure are symmetrical. If they aren't, sand
or carve the lure to make the side's match.
7. Use a box-cutter to make the groove for attaching
the lip. Use a punch to make the indentations for the eyes.
8. Make an eye wire with 8mm stainless steel wire,
and insert it into the groove on the belly of the lure (see
step 2). The eyes (3 wire circles) can be made by twisting
a wire around a round metal stick and binding it tight with
a pair of pliers. The wire eyes will become the hook connectors
for the lure. This method of connecting the the head and the
tail eyes are with a single wire insures makes the bait withstand
intense strikes. After you insert the wire, apply a small
covering of woodworking glue on top of the wire to hold it
9. Insert a long narrow lead weight into the slot between
the middle and front wire eyes.
Play around with different weights until you find one that
provides the desired action.
10. Close the slot with waterproof wood putty or epoxy.
When the putty dries, shave off any excess and smooth the
surface with sandpaper.
THE METALLIC FINISH
11. Buy some aluminum foil tape (sticky on one side)
and apply it the lure. Smooth the tape by rubbing the surface
with a wooden stick.
Note: If you do not have aluminum foil tape, you can use glue
or double-sided tape to apply common household aluminum foil
to the surface.
12. Cut off any excess aluminum foil. Next, rub the
surface of the aluminum foil with an iron stick (if you don't
have an iron stick, use anything else that is made of iron).
This will cause the aluminum foil surface to take on the realistic
glitter of the live minnow.
13. Dip the lure into clear urethane and let it dry
for one day. Then turn the lure upside down and dip it again.
Repeat this four times.
14. Mix clear (transparent) orange paint with clear
(transparent) yellow paint to create a clear (transparent)
gold color. Paint both sides with the clear gold paint using
15. Paint the belly with orange, and paint the back
with black. Hang it to dry it for one day.
16. Spray the whole surface of the lure with a clear
paint and let it dry. Repeat this three to five times. This
prevents the color from melting down on the next dipping.
17. Stick on the eyes with a quick-drying glue. Next,
dip it four times in clear urethane (like step 13).
18. Cut a polycarbonate board (2mm in thickness) and
shape the diving lip (or purchase a precut lip).
Put the lip into the slot using the epoxy glue.
19. Attach the treble hooks using split-rings and your
lure is complete!
FAQ. After this article was published, we received
many questions. Hiroyuki answered the most common ones:
Where do you put the join of the foil. (How To Guide, Step
First I stick a sheet of aluminium foil tape on one side of
the lure and cut excessive aluminum foil. Next I stick an
another sheet of aluminium foil tape on the other side of
the lure and cut excessive aluminum foil.(I can see straight
cutting lines both on the top and the bottom of the lure.)
What kind of paint are you using on your lures? Can I use
it on my flyrod poppers?
I'm using acrylic paint (usually used for hobby painting like
plastic models). I think it's okay if you're making poppers
with cork or some other woods. (You may need undercoating.)
Where can I purchase the "urethane clear" coatings?
"Urethane clear" is used for wood flooring coating
in Japan. I buy that from a fishing-tackle shop in Japan,
but I'm not sure where you can buy it in other countries.
(Editor's note: This coating is available at most hardware
stores in the US. FLEX COAT is also a great alternative to
the Urethane and doesn't require as many coats.)
Is there something close to the "urethane clear"
In Japan "Cellulose cement" is also popular and
some people use "Epoxy clear coating".
Does the aluminum foil have adhesive or glue on one side
to make it stick to the wood? (How To Guide, Step 11)
Yes, the aluminum foil has adhesive tape and I can buy it
as an "aluminum foil tape" (for repairing kitchen
sinks) in Japan. If it's not available in your country, I
think you can use an aluminum foil and a double-sided adhesive
tape or glue instead.
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