Pouring a Legend
By Steve Chaconas
When looking into the tournament goodie bag 40 years ago, the pack of Zoom centipedes on the bottom of the bag didn’t interest me. No legs, no tail, no nothing. Just a French fry-shaped slab of plastic. Not catching my interest, how could it interest a fish. So, I stashed them in the bottom of the boat for a few years.
Preparing for another tournament, we found fish were biting Carolina rigged lizards. Lots of them. Not wanting to burn up the supply, the bag of centipedes volunteered to be a place keeper. Surprisingly, these do-nothing baits produced bigger fish. Excitement and anticipation followed and a trip to the local tackle shop came up empty. There was no internet, no Amazon, and no way there would be centipedes for the impending tournament.
Seeing a frowning face, my wife suggested making some. Impossible I said. Never having poured soft plastics or even knowing anything about it, I was at the mercy of my spouse. She gathered up some plaster of Paris and took the single remaining centipede and poured the molding solution over the bait and the next day, we had a single cavity mold. Using old soft plastics and the microwave, a centipede was born. However, after cooling, it was learned that plastic shrinks when cooled. Putting the baits back in the mold, more plastic was poured. Since coloring wasn’t an exact science, this homemade version was a laminate. A few days later the two-tone bait performed like magic. I loved it and so did the fish. So intrigued with this bait, it became my primary lure, not only for Carolina rigs, but for split shot and drop shot rigs. It was so effective that my guide clients wanted to take a few home to try in their home waters. But the single cavity mold couldn’t keep up with my demand…and the plaster of Paris mold was crumbling. I found a Lure Craft catalog. Lo and behold they had silicon molds with five cavities and soft plastic liquid, dyes, and glitter. Now I was ready to pour to my heart’s content. But I became more specific on colors. A short pour of green pumpkin with black flake topped with watermelon with red and sometimes orange flake. This bait gave me 25 years of service with happy guide clients.
Lure Craft created a bait pouring monster. I learned to use a simple injector along with aluminum molds for precision injecting. Stickworms and baby brush hogs filled out nearly all of my soft plastic needs. Recently small 3.8 Swimbaits found their way into my angling arsenal as swim jig trailers and as stand-alone swimbaits. A call to Lure Craft and chatting with Kim Straley, I decide to give swimbaits a try. When the molds arrived, all of my dyes and glitter were summoned to create something no one else had. A slight pour of clear plastic on the sides followed by an injection, mixing and matching dyes and glitter a dozen baits were created. They looked good to me, now it was time to find out what the fish thought.
Taking the finished product to the lake, I chose my first color. It was chartreuse with green and purple glitter in clear sides. The fish loved it. I decided to shoot some video to share my discovery on my YouTube channel, NationalBassGuide. After a few fish were caught on the homemade bait, I went to a second color, then a third and then a fourth, all worked to fool the fish. Lesson learned that color doesn’t matter all the time.
Hand poured baits are back in style as finesse fishing has taken hold. Regional garage businesses and anglers know what colors work on their bodies of water. Flat side stigma is no longer an issue, as laminating colors supersedes injected round baits. However, there were limitations to how much detail and appendages could be easily poured into open cavity molds. Mass produced, intricately detailed and durable aluminum injection molds became readily available and this allowed the recreation of any soft plastic lure, including the Senko. Patent security and exclusivity were not protected by many bait makers as they were cost prohibitive to defend. The result? Many bait molds are available.
Today, this hobby has been adopted by many anglers across the country. It doesn’t take a huge investment to get started. In business for over 48 years LureCraft has silicon molds of just about every soft plastic ever made and ones never seen before as well as fishing catching supplies to fill tackle boxes. And if there’s a bait they don’t have, they supply the silicon to easily create a unique recreation of your lucky old favorites. If you have the imagination and creativity, pouring soft plastic lures can be enjoyable and they work!
Potomac River Bassing in January
Target hard cover near drops as fish head into winter holes. Downsize to GAMMA 6-pound test Edge fluorocarbon either as a main line or leader with 10-pound test GAMMA Torque braid on reels with smooth drags.
Drop shot, shaky head, and split shot are best bets. Use Mustad 1/0 Mega Bite hooks along with 3/16-ounce Water Gremlin BullShot weights for drop shots and split shots. Time for 3” avocado stingray grubs on ¼ ounce ball head jigs made with Mustad Ultra Point hooks. Also break out hair jigs with matching chunks. Use slow horizontal presentations. Soak soft plastics and jigs in bait spray.
Time for ½ ounce Silver Buddy lures: silver when sunny, gold when cloudy, on 10-pound test GAMMA EDGE on casting reels on spinnerbait rods with tip flex for casting and hook-setting backbone. On all of these, keep an eye on the sharpness.
Flat-sided cranks on 10-pound test EDGE work along warmed surfaces. Shad patterns in clearer water or sunny days, craw otherwise. When water reaches 50, try suspending jerkbaits
Author Capt. Steve Chaconas is a Potomac bass fishing guide & freelance writer. Potomac River reports: nationalbass.com. YouTube channel NationalBassGuide.