There are many reasons why you should make your own salt-water fishing plugs. First, of course, is to save some money since the larger plugs are quite expensive if purchased. Anglers lose more salt-water plugs than fresh-water plugs. It is possible to fish with one plug in fresh-water for many years. But you’re lucky if you don’t lose some salt-water plugs in a few days of fishing.
The fishing line may break on a cast, or the plug gets tangled in rocks, piles, or weeds. Also, the big salt-water fish are always breaking lines and taking the plugs with them. Finally, the wear and tear on salt-water plugs quickly ruins the paint and the wood body and rusts the hooks. A salt-water fisherman continually has to replace lost or ruined plugs.
Furthermore, fishing with salt-water plugs is comparatively new. Fishing with such plugs didn’t really become popular until after World War II, so there is still plenty of room for experimentation. Many salt-water anglers, especially surf anglers, are always trying to create new plugs or improve the old ones. They add stronger hooks, rearrange hooks, make plugs of different shapes, sizes, and weights, and try out different color schemes.
Salt-water plugs can also be made from cedar, and this is the best wood to use for the smaller type plugs. This light wood has the buoyancy to support metal parts such as lips, screw eyes, screws, and hooks without sinking. The use of cedar is especially important when making surface plugs. But cedar may be too light for the larger-sized salt-water plugs, unless loaded with lead. Hence, many surf anglers who use big plugs make them from heavier woods such as birch, fir, maple, and walnut.
Even such hard woods as ash, oak, and hickory have been used when a heavy salt-water plug is required. However, these woods are tough to cut, drill, or shape with hand tools, and they do not support too many hardware parts without sinking. In fact, when making any salt-water surface plugs it is necessary to check carefully to make certain that the wood body will support the metal plates, screw eyes, hooks, and other hardware without sinking.
In salt-water fishing the deadliest type of plug is usually a surface model. The easiest plug of this type to make is the simple popper This plug can be about 6 1/2 in. long and have a diameter of 1 1/8, in. The head can be straight cut at a 45-degree angle. The plug is equipped with three 5/0 extra-strong treble hooks.
The quickest way to attach these hooks to the body is by means of screw eyes, which should be fairly large and of heavy wire with long, deep threads. The best screw eyes are made of brass since they don’t rust in salt water. However, you can use galvanized iron screws if they are heavy and strong.
If this popper is made from a heavy wood it will cast far without additional weight. But if you use light wood or want as heavy a plug as possible, add some lead to the tail end of the plug. You drill a hole and plug it up with a round chunk of lead. If you make a tight fit you can tap in the lead after putting some cement in the hole.
Heavy screw eyes will usually prove satisfactory as hook holders and for attaching the line to the plugs described here. For stronger plugs, however, attach the hooks by using hook hangers similar to the one used for fresh-water plugs. For salt-water plugs, such a hook hanger must be heavier than that used for fresh-water plugs. You can make such hook hangers by using a brass piece I 1/2 in. long by 1/4 in. wide and 1/32 in. thick. File the brass in a bench vise then bend it with round-nosed and flat-nosed pliers.
The lure is not too difficult to make, and once made, you should enjoy great success fishing. Good luck!
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