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RyanDR

Best wood for neutral buoyancy

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Just starting out making wooden lures. Carved up a few cranks and jerkbaits. I was able to get my smaller crank baits that were 1.5-2.5 inches to be neutrally  buoyant with 2 belly holes filled with lead from my lee pot. I carved these out of basswood I got at a craft store. But I had trouble making my bigger and longer jerkbaits neutral or even sink at all. I tried carved out of both balsa and basswood and I ran out of space to drill bell holes for weight. These jerk baits were 3-5.5 inches. 

 

So what would be a wood to use to make what I'm after? I'm rough shaping with my band saw and hand carving/sanding, no lathe for me. I'm fishing for bass and big panfish. So don't have to worry about muskie or pike ripping it up. 

 

Thanks,

 

Ryan

 

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Man, that is a different ball of wax!  Trial and error without a basic knowledge of density is going to suck. 

 

The density of water is about 1 g/cm^3 (gram per cubic meter) 

 

So theoretically, if you can make the overall density of your bait about the same as water, it should be neutrally buoyant. 

 

Another thing I’m guessing you’re doing is trying to make the lure neutrally buoyant before the hardware is added. If the trebles are too heavy, your initial calculations will be off and the bait which made will no longer be neutrally buoyant and would probably be a sinking bait. 

 

If I were you, I’d study lures that are already neutrally buoyant like a rapala husky jerk (balsa one might be a better test subject). They suspend out of the box. Take it apart and see how rapala did it. Subtract the weight of the lead to ballast/balance it and the weight of the stocks trebles to get the weight of the balsa jerk bare. At this size you now have an idea how much weight you’ll need for a similar sized jerk bait you carve. 

 

For fun, I’d try to see how I could calculate the density of my bait. Such physics and math would help pass the winter over a little faster. 

 

Good luck!

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I made a small jerkbait out of cedar that I got close to suspending. I kept adding Suspenstrips until I had enough weight.

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The denser the wood the less buoyant it will be, but also the harder to work with. I made a TV stand out of maple, and while it came out awesome, its not like working with pine. I would recommend white oak, its readily available and while not cheap, you won't need much for lure making, if you want to brake bits, ash is dense, and if you are a baller rosewood (natural unpainted with laquer finish of course) will go nicely with the knurled steering wheel on the Rolls..

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1 hour ago, reason said:

I made a TV stand out of maple, and while it came out awesome, its not like working with pine.

 

I commend you.  I made an aquarium stand and light hood out of maple years ago.  Very tough wood to work with.

 

For making lures, I would use basswood.  :P

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Wood is free . Broken baseball bats , discarded furniture .... I   have some osage orange , locust and paw paw that i cut several years ago . I have oak from dresser drawers and cedar scraps . I bet trying to carve a plug from the osage would be a chore . I do plan on doing it with a rotary tool .

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The vast majority of wooden plugs were made from Basswood or Cedar. You don't want a high number specific gravity wood for lures because the lure will have little movement under water. The method used to create a suspending underwater lure is adding weights so the lure suspends in the proper position desired.

Tom

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This is how you determine what weight for neutral buoyancy. 

 

Seal the bait so that it is waterproof.  Get a postal scale and weigh the components.  Next fill a cup of water that's the same temperature you want to fish.  Put the cup of water on the scale and submerge the bait  completely.  The difference is the amount of weight it will take to achieve neutral buoyancy.  Subtract the weight of the components and what you expect from the paint and clear coat.  Afterwards you have your belly weight to achieve neutral buoyancy. 

 

Allen 

Archimedes principle. 

 

Allen 

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Basswood is a good choice but if you start out with a wood that has neutral density in water, you will end up with a lure that sinks after you add all the hardware.  To get a suspending lure, make up the body to the point where it is final sanded and sealed to be waterproof. Install the lip and the trebles then tape on enough ballast or hang it on the front treble until the bait very slowly rises in water that is the temp of the water you will be fishing.  Install that amount of ballast in the bait, paint and topcoat the bait.  The added weight of the finish should get you close to suspending.  But suspending is dependent on water temperature.  In warmer water it will sink and in colder water it will rise so in spite of all the finagling you have done you will still have to adjust the weight with adhesive Suspend Strips or dots to make it truly suspend in the water you fish on a specific day/temperature.  It is usually better to shoot for a bait that slowly rises in “average temp” water because you can add temporary weight to make it suspend in any temperature but you can’t subtract weight from a bait to keep it from sinking in warmer water than it was designed for, unless you change to lighter wire trebles.

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Neutral buoyancy is very had to do.  The wood will dry out in your tacklebox and soak up water while you are fishing.

 

My procedure for existing lures (usually plastic):

If I am doing an existing bait, I put bigger (and thinner) hooks on it first. 

 

Put the painted bait with hooks and hardware into a glass bowl of water so you can see it.  Hang pieces of solder on the hooks until the lure just sinks. Trim with a nippers.  If both hooks are on the bait. you can adjust the solder to make the bait float level.  Weigh the solder.  You can wrap the solder on the bigger hooks without reducing the hooking efficiency.

 

If you are careful, the bait will just hang in the water for 10-15 seconds.  It looks very lifelike to me.   However, the weighted hooks slow the bait action.

 

If you are making your own wood bait, remember, when you drill the hole for the weight, you reduce the wood volume and make it the bait less buoyant.  Let the air out of the hole before you do the balancing.

 

The drilled hole must be toward the bottom of the bait or it will tip over.

 

You have lots of options:

You can rough guess a balance point or make two holes. Melt the weighed solder into the holes in rough proportion to the weights on the hooks.

You can use a small drill to drill out solder to trim the weight or melt more solder (tricky once the bait is wet)

Put a small piece of wire crosswise in the hole (or reverse taper the hole) to help grab the solder.

 

If you go to a woodworking store, they can steer you to dense woods.  I know one professional musky lure maker uses "jelutong" (spelling?).

 

It is a good project for Wintertime.  Fishermen are crazy.

 

Best of luck!

 

 

 

 

 

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