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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Crankbait Modification - Part 2 - Painting

People paint crankbaits using many different methods, tricks, and paints.  I might not paint them the proper way according to some people, but it works for me.  And, besides, I'm still learning!  One day I decided to give it a try because I already have an airbrush, I have too many crankbaits not in use because I don't like th colors, and I am out of jig making materials right now.  (The company I order jig supplies from is relocating and out of commission until October 12.)  So, I will try to walk you through the steps I take when painting my crankbaits.
First, it is important to make sure the lure is smooth.  If it's not, sand it until it is.  Many wooden lures get chunks out of them through frequent use and these chunks can be filled in with wood putty.  The most common flaw I find in plastic lures is grooves where the front hooks rub into the body during use. This can be fixed with any epoxy, but I prefer Devcon 2-ton.  Also, be sure to tape off the lip and any other parts you don't want to get paint on.  It's fine to paint over the hook hangers.
Second, you want to lay down a base coat to work from.  For all practical purposes, this should be done with white.  It allows you to see what you're spraying better and it also makes the colors brighter.  The airbrush I use is a Badger Professional 150.  Before you spray be sure to read the directions of both the paint and the airbrush.  Different paint requires different reducers to spray properly.  If this isn't done correctly, you will get splatters or an uneven design.  Some paint can be reduced with distilled water, while others require paint thinner.  I even have one that reduces best with Windex!  I learned that from a seasoned painter at Hobby Town.
Once the basecoat is painted and had plenty of time to dry, you can start with your pattern.  This is when you can use templates to make scale patterns, gills, or anything else you can think of.  I normally use a scale pattern and if gills are required, I will freehand them.  I made this simple tool out of some scrap wood and drywall mesh tape.  It works great for scales. 

Just hold it up to the lure and spray evenly as far down as you want the scales to show.  Be sure not to move the template or the paint will smear.  If that happens, it is best to start over with a new base coat.  I always go back over a portion of the back (or top) of the lure with the same color I used for the scales, but without the template.  This blends the colors and scales and it looks much better.
After you have all the colors you want on the bait, you can start painting the eyes and any other details.  I use a nail to paint the black dots on the side of the lure and two different size nails for the eyes. I use the bigger nail for the main color of the eye such as red or yellow and I use a smaller nail to put a black dot in the middle.

The final step is to seal the lure and make it durable.  I use Devcon 2-ton epoxy for this.  It's very simple to use, dries quickly, and offers great protection.  Mix it up and use a cheap brush to paint it on.  I've also used a popsicle stick to put it on, but the brush is much easier.  Glitter can be added to the epoxy while you mix it if desired.  Once the epoxy is covering the entire lure body, hang it to dry.  This is where the Devcon pays off, because it dries quickly enough that it doesn't run or leave globs on the lure.  Slower drying epoxies require a drying machine to ensure it doesn't run.  Some people use old rottisseries for drying the lures.  As it spins, the epoxy doesn't have time to run.
Here are the recent lures I painted.  Clockwise from left, Norman DD22 in Citrus Shad, Bomber Fat Free Fingerling in Sexy Shad, and Bandit 100 in Citrus Shad.

Well, that's the way I paint crankbaits.  I'm sure many of you can do a much better job, but I hope this can help some other beginners to not make as many mistakes as I have.  If you have any tips or tricks, please feel free to leave them in the comment sections for everyone to see.  Good luck out there and be safe!

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