Worm Making Supplies
By Frank Manuele (a.k.a. "SenkoSam")
If you're serious about pouring your own plastics, then you need the right materials for the best results. Following is a guide to help you decide which is right for your projects.
Other than reusing old lures to make new lures, plastisol is the basic liquid used by all soft plastic lure producers. Plastisol looks like milk, feels like oil and turns crystal clear when heated to around 300 degree F.
Good quality plastisol has these characteristics:
- Easy to mix/reblend in its storage container
- Consistent in hardness
- Stable at high temperatures which promotes color stability without heat stabilizer
- Does not smoke or smell* when heated
- Holds up to reheating of surplus plastic, without searing.
The finished lure will be more resilient than many manufactured plastics because they add softner, resulting in lures that tear easier. Another reason softener is added, is that some lure designs require a much softer texture for maximum action and a soft bite-a-bility, resulting in the fish holding on to a lure much longer. Senkos, soft finesse worms and thick grubs are prime examples of a required, added softness.
For a majority of soft lure designs, the plastic right from the jug is soft enough and resilient at the same time. For saltwater applications, hardener may desired.
There are not that many wholesalers in the U.S. that deal in small volume to the home pourer and those that have quality plastisol, are few. Those that have poor quality plastisol and other additives, are not worth doing business with. Their prices aren't much cheaper, considering the negatives of doing business with them.
Two brand names that I recommend are from Lurecraft and M-F manufacturing.
White dye is necessary for bright opaque, florescent colors such as bubblegum or florescent lime, orange or chartreuse. Florescent colors are brighter in deeper water, without hue change. Most dyes will produce translucent colored plastic when held up to the sky or against a light, sandy bottom. Dyes can be mixed for desired colors. Tackleunderground has many contributed recipes for special effects.
Again, quality varies as does price, variety and color accuracy. Lurecraft has variety, but opinions vary concerning color accuracy. Purple is blue-grape, motor oil is blackish brown, bubblegum is salmon, etc. Del-Mart has started providing dye and so far, I'm pleased with price and quality.
Glitter can be used in place of dye and still provide very good coloration to clear or smoke-colored plastic, just by reflected glitter color.
Craft glitter is usually not suitable for use in heated plastic. Flake-folding is to be expected, but to a minor degree. Flake meltdown and color bleeding or streaking is undesirable. Polyacetate flakes are not metal coated, stay bright and hold their shape and color past 300 degrees**.
Del-Mart has begun to provide glitter, but at this time, they can't beat the variety and price that I offer on my site. Buy good glitter from anyone you wish, but keep in mind color accuracy, heat stability, price per oz. (that does not include the container's weight of 1.1 oz.) and shape. Hexagonal shaped glitter is preferred by many to square cut, though some colors only come square.
One part molds are adequate for many lure designs, but totally inadequate for others. The more detailed and complex the design, the less adequate a one-part mold will be.
Pre-made silicone molds can be found at Lurecraft, but all produce one flat side (poured plastic surface). Del-Mart offers laser cut aluminum molds in one or two parts. The results are professional and may justify the large cost over $10 silicone molds. Plaster molds are the cheapest alternative that you make yourself easily, and cost no more than a nickel to make. If you create your own designs, you can make your own molds from silicone, resin, fiberglass and a few other materials, but at a greater cost and smell . (If interested in making your own, see my tutorial on plaster mold making.)
Other sources of some supplies, though at a higher unit price, are Bass Pro, Jann's Netcraft, Barlows and M-F.
Worm oil is used to grease up a plastic lure, keep it from drying out, maintaining its softness, adding scent (if desired), used as a worm release agent for heavily textured designs, and to provide a super shiny surface.
Mineral oil, baby oil, Baitmate®, Original FishFormula®, Kick-N-Bass®, Mega Strike®, garlic PAM® spray and a bunch of others, do the above. Worms cannot be stored in water or left un-oiled for long without a texture, hardness or color change. It seems to me that fish prefer soft and slimy.
Heating and pouring
Microwaves sell for about $30, Pyrex® cups for under $8. Small metal pans for stovetop heating are also cheap and fairly easy to clean. A Lee Production Pot for soft plastics is around $55 but has it's limitations as far as ease of use and cleaning. Lures requiring no additives (salt, large flake glitter), do fine and the internal thermostat will keep the plastic at a stable temperature. The pour spout clogs easy and the less left plastic left in the pot, the more waste when trying to scrape it out. Pyrex rules!
Salt and bubbles
Plastic lures that have don't have salt added, float. A Texas-rigged worm will stand straight up off bottom; a small circle hook in a baits nose, will have a very slow fall; a Carolina-rigged plastic will stay off the bottom much better than a weighted worm.
Microbubbles can be added to float a lure, with the hook embedded. Salt is added for increased weight and maybe taste.
Salted plastic may require no forward weight and allow a baitcaster to cast them a long distance. However the horizonal fall is the primary attribute of a salted, unweighted bait.
Fine salt is necessary for hand pouring, whereas manufacturers use an automated process that swirls crystal salt into a heat injected mold. I turn table salt into a fine flour, which stays suspended throughout the molten plastisol. A $15 electric spice or coffee grinder does the trick.
Bubbles add super floatation, but not as much as Cyberflex or 3X plastic (which is not available to the home pourer.)
* Ventilation is a must for melting large amounts of plastic over a long period of time. Small amounts are not a problem and the wife will not threaten your well-being if you make a few worms. But keep in mind that accumulated vapors may cause respiratory symptoms, and long term effects have not been proven. A small fan vented to the outside, near the heat source, can alleviate fume build up. If you develop a cough, ventilation is not adequate. All plastic smokes, but some smoke much easier than others.
** Do not use metalized glitter in the microwave. It can catch fire and ruin the plastic.