Lure Making Tips

January 3, 2011 by  

By Nick Simonson

In the past few weeks, I’ve touched upon different jig patterns and fly patterns on tap for the new year in my articles and that, along with what looks to be a winter that will cause a cabin fever epidemic of historic proportions, has elicited some emails and Facebook messages asking me what the best way is to get into fly tying and lure making tips. There’s no better time than now to get into making your own flies, jigs and other lures so they’ll be ready in time for spring fishing and there are many excellent starter kits and tutorials available for the novice.

Lure Making TipsGet Set
Most of the necessary tools can be purchased in a starter kit which contains a simple vise, scissors, bobbin, whip finisher, hackle pliers and other basic implements. Most starter kits will contain a selection of hooks, threads, dubbings, hackles, marabou and other materials along with a pattern book showing how to tie a number of basic flies. Some kits are more in-depth than others, teaching techniques as well as patterns, but ultimately one can start tying up simple fish-catching flies right out of the box. A selection of kits is available from online retailers, including a number of basic and expanded offerings from both Cabela’s ( and Orvis (

In addition to the books included with these kits, there are a number of excellent online resources to help the beginning tier get acclimated to various techniques, materials and patterns. The best tutorial I have encountered, and the one I used a great deal in developing my own fly tying skills, is the Beginning Fly Tying series created by Al Campbell for the fly fishing megasite Fly Anglers Online (FAOL – After introducing the reader to the tools and basic fly tying techniques, Campbell walks the novice through patterns that are not only easy and cool-looking but are ones that also catch fish. Each lesson builds upon the last and teaches a specific technique or two applied directly to popular patterns. While originally released as a weekly installment series, the tutorial allows the beginner to go at his or her own pace. Before his untimely passing, Campbell followed his basic course up with an Intermediate and Advanced curriculum, both also available at FAOL along with forums and weekly patterns to continue exploring the world of fly fishing and fly tying.

Expand Abilities
While one doesn’t necessarily have to know how to tie flies to make other lures, it certainly helps. The techniques learned on nymphs, dry flies and particularly streamers, will transfer over quickly if you’re interested in tying crappie and walleye jigs, trout spinners, bucktails and other standard tackle items. While fly-tying is a widely covered topic with dozens of specialty sites, standard lure making doesn’t have as much of a front-facing presence on the Internet. With a little looking though, great resources can be discovered, including the forums of Tackle Underground ( where everything from spinnerbait and bass jig construction to crankbait shaping and soft-plastic pouring are discussed.

Again, if you’re looking to dive right into lure making, a vise and basic tools are a necessity for holding hooks in place for dressing and stabilizing wire frames for component assembly, and these tools are available without the fly-tying materials from most online tackle retailers. Beyond these necessities, new lure makers can also find kits designed around their specific interest. Cabelas, Jann’s Netcraft ( and Lure Parts Online ( sell kits for most lure types that can be bought in a tackle shop, including in-line spinners for trout, pike and muskies, spinnerbaits for bass, crawler harnesses for walleyes and jigs for everything from bluegill to walleyes to saltwater species. After a time, you’ll know the sizes and types of components necessary to make the lures you want for the species you pursue and you can place specific part orders to fit your needs.

For me, fly tying led to spinner making, and spinner making into jigs and crawler harnesses, so be forewarned that it is difficult to turn back when you start catching fish on the lures you make. The creation of a good-looking fly or jig keeps the fire for fishing burning well into the coldest nights of winter and the reward of landing a fish the next season on a hand-crafted lure is one of the best I’ve experienced, whether it’s a muskie on a homemade bucktail or a crappie on a flashabou jig. Give fly tying or lure making a try this winter and you will find next spring even more rewarding…in our outdoors.

For a comprehensive listing of various fly tying and lure making links to help you get started, log on to and check out the Links section and “Like” Our Outdoors by Nick Simonson on Facebook for weekly fly, jig and lure patterns throughout the coming months.


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