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Hard Bait Care

By Marc Wisniewski

Whether you are using plastic or wood crankbaits, lipless crankbaits, or minnow shaped jerkbaits, a snag, a vicious strike, or landing a big fish can throw a lure “out of tune”. What I mean buy “out of tune” is that suddenly a lure will not run straight. It may run slightly right or left, or if its really off it will literally blow out of the water during the retrieve. But don’t fret. This is easily fixed.

Every hard bait lure has a steel or brass line tie point molded into the bait. In the heat of battle, that line tie can get bent causing the bait to run incorrectly. To correct that you need a long nose pliers and a keen eye. When the lure is coming at you and it runs to one direction, you will need to carefully grab the line tie with the pliers and gently bend it the opposite direction the lure is running. Notice I say gently! When you grab the line tie, just nudge it the direction needed. If you are thinking, “did that even move?”, that’s probably enough. Too much will make it run the other direction.

If you are giving your bait a front-end alignment, it’s probably a great time to check over the rest of the working parts. Check the split rings and make sure they aren’t bent or starting to open. A distressed ring could open on your next big hook up.

Hooks are another very important element to check. They shouldn’t be bent or dull. If a hook is bent slightly, it can often be bent back into shape with a pliers. If it is bent too much it may need to be replaced. Todays high-carbon hooks are strong and incredibly sharp, but they don’t take repeated bending like the old wire hooks do. If the hook point is dull, it can be touched up. With a small file or honing stone, run down each side of the point and it will be needle sharp again. The old rule of thumb is if the hook point will scratch your fingernail with light pressure, it is probably sharp enough to hook a fish.

In the event that hooks or rings need to be replaced, be sure to match the sizes of the originals provided on the bait. Most of these baits are designed to run properly with specific size hooks and hardware weight. If that changes too much, it could cause the lure to run incorrectly.

Five-minute epoxy is a hard bait fisherman’s best friend. Holes, loose hook connectors, paint gouges, and loose lips can all be repaired back in the shop with a little epoxy.

Occasionally, a toothy critter or impact with a dock or stump can cause a “leaker”. When water gets inside a lure it totally upsets the action and no tuning can get it back in order. There is a remedy. Heat up a pin and make a hole opposite the damage hole and blow into the bait. You will see the water dribble out of the leak. Whether it’s a hole or loose hook hanger, keep forcing air into the lure till the water stops. Then patch both openings with epoxy and it will be good as new!

Hard baits will get the best action if you use a small snap to connect the bait to the line. It also makes it easy to change lures without retying. Tying direct to certain lures will restrict the action. If the lure you are using does not have a split ring at the line tie, use a small snap like a #2 Duo-lock.

Be good to your hard baits and they will be good to you.