Make Your Own Soft Lures

by Jim Rizzuto

Soft trolling lures in several styles and materials have become a standard for offshore trolling from Australia to the Azores. In fact, until a few years ago, the largest blue marlin ever caught in Australian waters was taken on a soft, rubber lure made from the same material used for foregrips on trolling rods. Known as EVA for "expanded vinyl acetate," this material is readily available at tackle shops and from mail-order catalogs hawking rod-building supplies. If you have an electric drill, a 1/4-inch bolt and a piece of sandpaper, you can shape your own EVA lure heads in seconds.

For the lures in our illustrations, we began with a three-inch length of EVA with a 1/4-inch inner diameter purchased from a mail order catalog. Our local tackle shops sold only foregrips with larger holes and we didn't want to fool around with inserts to make them smaller. Also, the EVA in our pictures is an attractive shade of blue. In special closeouts, we have found EVA that is red, gray, white, even mottled with several colors. You are unlikely to be so lucky. Most of the EVA is as black as Henry Ford's Model-T. Black is great for offshore fishing, so don't be afraid to use it. If you want other colors and can't find them, spray paint your black lures any color or color combination you wish.

We threaded a four-inch bolt down the center of the head to act as a mandrel. We used a bolt with a tapered screw head because the taper helpscenter the hole. Place a washer on the other end and tighten a nut down the threads until the EVA section is held securely.

Chuck the end of the bolt in an electric drill. Fold a piece of rough sandpaper (80 grit is good) to use as a shaping tool.

Spin the drill and shape the "lure head." The sandpaper will cut the shape quickly, so be prepared to ruin one or two until you get the hang of it.

You probably also want to experiment with a little taper on the nose, but keep the face cut square. The lure floats, and unlike materials that sink, no bevel is needed to keep the lure running at the surface.

With the sandpaper, shape the last 3/4 inch to create a tail piece. Removing a quarter-inch of material takes only a few seconds. This tail piece is the part to which you will glue or tie your skirt. For the lures illustrated, I used vinyl skirting from auto upholstery bonded with super glue and overwrapped with reflective mylar tape.

Reduce the size of the inner hole to accommodate the size leader you prefer. That is most easily done with a short section of surgical tubing selected to match the inner diameter of the EVA and secured with glue.

The lure is finished, unless you wish to spray paint it and attach eyes. We added stick-on eyes to one of these, but remember that attaching hard items like glass eyes will diminish the lure's "soft" appeal to a hard-striking fish.

Do you like to make your own lures and other tackle? Jim Rizzuto's Fishing Hawaii Style series is packed with tips on how to add excitement to your sport by fishing with tackle you created yourself. Whether you fish Hawaii, or fish Hawaii Style anywhere else in the world, the three volumes in the Fishing Hawaii Style series will help you catch more fish and have more fun in the process.

Order the Fishing Hawaii Style books directly from the author and Jim will autograph your books to you or to any name you prefer (they make great gifts for fishing friends).

Send your orders to Jim Rizzuto, Box 635, Kamuela, HI, 96743-0635.