A Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting Your Own Fishing Lure Molds

A Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting Your Own Fishing Lure Molds

Fishing lures come in all shapes and sizes, but for many anglers, nothing beats the satisfaction of catching a fish on a lure you made yourself. With the right materials and techniques, you can create reusable molds for pouring your own soft plastic baits perfect for targeting the species you want.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know to craft high-quality fishing lure molds for making bass jigs, panfish plastics, topwater frogs, and more out of inexpensive silicone rubber.

Selecting the Right Materials for DIY Fishing Lure Molds

The most important component in any handmade lure mold is the mold material itself. For resilience, ease of use, and quality of finished lures, silicone rubber is hands-down the best choice.

Silicone allows for fine detail, quick setting/curing, and easy release of finished lures. It also holds up well to repeated pressing with super soft (00) to medium soft (30) plastics.

Other mold materials like latex, urethane rubber, or modeling clay can work but make compromises in durability and lure quality.

When shopping for silicone, aim for “tin cure” silicone rather than “platinum cure” versions. Tin cure silicones are less expensive and easier to source. Just avoid the very cheapest options, as they often have manufacturing defects.

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For color, clear silicone works well for many lure designs. But you can also choose colored silicone in red, black, blue, etc. to make opaque lures instead of see-through.

In addition to silicone, you’ll need mold frames to contain the liquid silicone as it sets. Simple wooden craft frames with one open side from any art store work perfectly.

Preparing Masters for Fishing Lure Molds

Before pouring liquid silicone into a mold frame, you need to create a reusable positive master model that will shape the interior of your finished mold. This master acts as the 3D form around which the liquid silicone cures.

Mold masters can be carved from wood, sculpted from modeling clay, or 3D printed from plastic. The material isn’t critical as long as it holds crisp detail.

If starting from scratch, consider opting for modeling clay masters. Sculpting with clay allows freedom to create any lure shape imaginable. And clay tools make it easy to add details like scales and fins.

For beginners, an easier option is to modify existing lures into masters. Just cut off treble hooks and make any tweaks to shape or size. Hot glue can extend bodies or build up key details.

No matter the material, make sure to seal masters with clear acrylic spray paint before molding. This keeps the silicone from sticking and provides a smooth casting finish. Apply multiple light coats to avoid bubbles.

Setting Up the Mold Frame

Once master models are ready, it’s time to prepare the mold frame. First, prop up your open-sided frame slightly on one end by placing a small piece of foam underneath. This 5-10 degree angle allows air bubbles to float away from the master to the surface when pouring silicone into the frame.

Next, coat the interior of the frame in a thin layer of petroleum jelly. Avoid getting jelly on the outer frame edges. The jelly acts as release agent so excess silicone peels off easily after curing.

Holding the Master in Place

With the frame prepped, situate your master model in the center using small strips of modeling clay. The clay adhesive should hold the master tightly in position about 1/4 inch from the frame bottom and sides.

Checking angles on all sides, adjust the master so its face points directly upward. This ensures proper mold symmetry.

To prevent silicone seepage underneath, run a bead of clay around the base of the master where it contacts the frame. Try to eliminate any visible gaps.

Mixing and Pouring the Silicone Rubber

With the master secured, it’s time to mix and pour silicone into the frame. Carefully follow manufacturer instructions since mix ratios vary. Mix thoroughly for 2-3 minutes to fully incorporate.

Pour silicone gradually so it flows smoothly over the master model without introducing bubbles. Tilt and turn the frame to coat all surfaces. Aim to pour about 1/2 inch over the highest point of the master, leaving some excess.

As silicone flows over the master, use a toothpick to burst any bubbles that form. Stop pouring before silicone reaches the frame rim.

At this point, the mold can be left undisturbed overnight, typically 8-12 hours, for the silicone to fully cure.

Removing Excess Silicone and Releasing the Mold

Once fully set, any excess silicone will easily peel away from the outer frame. Next, slowly work the silicone mold containing the embedded master free from the frame sides.

Use a hobby knife to carefully cut and pry if needed to remove molded corners intact.

With the mold removed, carefully pry or cut the master model free. This exposes the completed interior mold cavity ready for casting soft plastic baits.

If mold sticks to the master, consider applying a thin release agent like PVA to improve results next time.

Preparing Soft Plastic for Pouring Lure Bodies

With a finished mold, it’s time to melt plastic and pour your first lure body. For small lure batches, the easiest approach is buying bags of soft plastic worms to melt down as needed.

Cut worms into 1-inch chunks and add to a small metal pouring pot. Apply medium heat, stirring slowly with a popsicle stick until plastic liquefies. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before pouring.

Pre-colored plastic like red, black, blue, etc. eliminates need to add powder pigments later. Just know colors will lighten slightly upon melting.

Pouring Soft Plastic into the Mold

With plastic melted, reheating briefly if needed, pour slowly into the mold cavity to prevent air pockets. Slightly overfill the mold to account for plastic shrinkage as it cools.

Allow the plastic to cool completely before attempting to remove the new lure body. Waiting 10-15 minutes ensures proper hardness.

Removing and Trimming Poured Lure Bodies

Once cooled fully, new lure bodies should release cleanly from the silicone mold. If any sticking occurs, try spraying the interior mold lightly with release agent prior to pouring next time.

Using sharp scissors, carefully trim away any flashing – excess plastic along seam lines caused by small leaks between mold halves. Keep bodies attached to sprue so they remain positioned upright.

Adding Hardware and Finishing Touches

At this stage, lure bodies can be fished as-is by tying directly to the sprue. But most anglers will want to upgrade with hooks, rings, weedguards, etc.

Carefully insert hook hangers in the right position and drop in high-quality hooks sized appropriately for the lure. Super glue holds parts firmly in place.

Eyes, spray paint coats, or powder pigments can further customize appearances. Apply epoxy for a glassy protective finish and 3D holographic eyes.

Maintaining Proper Mold Care

With proper care, silicone lure molds can last years producing many catches. Never leave unfinished lures sitting in molds since plasticizer oils will degrade silicone over time.

For storage, keep molds away from heat, humidity, and sunlight. Lightly coat interiors with vegetable oil to prevent sticking.

Troubleshooting Common Lure Molding Problems

Any do-it-yourself endeavor has a learning curve, but you can avoid common beginner mistakes. Here are solutions to a few typical molding issues:

  • Bubbles in cured silicone – Ensure proper frame angle and burst bubbles when pouring
  • Mold sticks to master – Increase mold release agent on master surface
  • Flash residue on bodies – Tighten mold frame fit and pour at correct temperature
  • Lures stick in mold – Spray mold interior lightly with release agent like PAM
  • Plastic not flowing smoothly – Ensure plastic is fully melted and hot enough before pouring

With practice and fine-tuning techniques, you’ll be crafting flawless soft plastic lures to catch bucketmouths in no time. Just remember – the more effort put into the mold making process, the higher quality your end result will be.

Conclusion

Creating your own fishing lure molds opens up a world of possibilities when it comes to pouring customized soft plastics. While it requires an initial investment in materials and practice, the ability to replicate proven lure designs and experiment with new shapes is invaluable to diehard anglers.

Whether crafting faithful reproductions of beloved classics or inventing the next tournament-winning shape, the satisfaction of catching fish on homemade lures is tough to beat. Use this guide to pick up the essential techniques and equip yourself with another powerful weapon in your tackle arsenal.