The Lure-Making Tips blog is for readers who already know the techniques and methods explained in the books Lure-Making 101/102 and Lure-Making 201/202. If you don’t have these books, be sure to get them.
More lessons from the long-view of history. Perhaps a good reminiscence for old-timers who were among the first generation of “Kona-Style” lure makers and users in the 1950s and 1960s. For newcomers who didn’t get started until later, perhaps this and other stories in the Lure-making Tips blog will nudge you to respect your elders. But there is nothing really heavy in this post. Just a few things worth pondering. I’m starting with a picture of some of my now-familiar work. I am using my work only because I know the details of when and how it was created, and I don’t need to speculate on important facts.
The three lures shown at left came out of the same mold over a period of about 45 years. The top one is the reason for showing the image. Note the color. Today’s lure makers know that pale blue color by the code name “Evil” and associate it with the Joe Yee Apollo (below right).
I made this Fat Boy lure (left, top) in 1970 or, perhaps, even earlier. The color was very popular back then, just as it is now. Before it became known as “Evil,” it was just plain evil to the fish.
On that same Evil blue lure, note the yellow and black eye. It was made by pouring two layers of resin, first black and then yellow, into a mold made with small curved pockets. Today, we use plastic painter’s palettes. Back then, we used a rubber mold that we created by embedding coat buttons in the uncured rubber. It seems that every generation “discovers” the process of pouring their own eyes and decides they invented it.
Now note the insert. This lure predates all of the fancy, flashy, mylar film tapes we now have today. On this lure, the shiny surface is aluminum tape press-fitted over a plastic “popsicle” insert. To add some texture, I stippled the tape with a rough-tooth file.
There’s that pale blue color again. The slight difference in the hue is probably because of variations in the color of the resin, itself.
The top lure has a shiny metal insert, which was polished like a mirror. The bottom has a textured metal insert. The middle lure uses some early fish-scale patterned mylar tape.
Note the tail pieces on the top and bottom. The two-notch dovetails were already the standard back then. They were molded into the lure rather than being carved on a lathe. Lathing was difficult to do because the leader tubes were off-center. The grooves were left unpolished — even left tacky. Better to hold the skirt.
Look at the tail stock for a big clue to the age of the top lure. Old-timers will recognize the clue immediately. They will understand the meaning of that strange orange residue on the rear piece. Back in the day, our top choice for underskirt material was red rubber from inner tubes, but we could also buy orange sheet material to cut into a hula skirt. The inner tube rubber lasted longer. The orange sheet rubber eventually got gooey and sticky.
Look at the eyes, too. Molded from leftover resin, most likely. As already noted, the practice goes back almost to the beginning.
One last look. In a previous post, I mentioned the practice of leaving the nose of the lure unpolished. Polishing was a pain so many folks convinced themselves that rough noses were better anyway. If the nose is left unpolished, you can tinker with it more easily to tune it up to run true. The center lure shows a red-painted nose — a common practice that made the front look more finished.
Do you see that the red nose is not really squared up? This lure would tend to pull to one side. The lure maker might have wanted that to happen to spread the lure out to one side of the wake. In any event, look at the big chip in the scoop. That eventually happened to all good lures in heavy use. In the final chapter of a lure’s life, the chipped ends were filed off to create new models with different actions. And thus some entirely new shapes were accidentally “discovered.”
For reasons that make no sense, these scoop-faced lures are occasionally referred to as “conventional” lures. With any development, the “convention” is established by the original product. In the case of Kona-style trolling lures, the convention is the Henry Chee straight runner with the center pull and the flat beveled face. If we were adhering to common practice, the “convention” would be the center-pull, tube lure made in a bar glass.