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Lip Service – Fishing Lure Makers Guide To Choosing The Right Material For Bibs and Lips



A common decision when making fishing lures is what material to use for the diving lips/bibs. Ive seen all kinds of materials used from all sorts of sources, but there are probably four common ones:

Perspex is a clear plastic that can be bought cheaply in sheet form of various thicknesses at most hardware stores

Polycarbonate (Lexan) is another clear plastic that can be purchased in sheets of various thickness, although most hardware stored in my area dont carry it, so youll need to find a source.

Aluminium sheet, again available through hardware stores in various thicknesses

Stainless steel sheet. The best source of SS sheet for lure making is probably marine engineers (you may get scraps and offcuts for free, or at least cheap.

But what are the advantages and disadvantages of each and when would you choose one over another? To some degree it comes down to personal preference, but here are a few thoughts that might help you decide:

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Perspex. I use Perspex on the majority of my small to medium lures, simply because its cheap, easy to work, readily available and Ive never had a problem with it. Because Perspex is transparent, a fish approaching the lure from below doesnt see the bib, so it doesnt add to the overall profile of the lure. This is advantageous when you are making fishing lures to imitate small baitfish.

Lure makers who intend to put the towpoint actually in a Perspex bib (as opposed to in the nose of the lure itself) might want to increase the thickness of the material selected to reduce the chances of the bib cracking during battle. Personally, for bibs that contain the towpoint I prefer Lexan.

Ive read claims that perspex can crack in cold water, but I’ve never had a Perspex bib on a custom fishing lure fail and I’m not personally aware of lure maker who has. Ive fished some pretty cold waters in alpine areas, too. You can try putting some of your Perspex bib material into the freezer compartment for n hour or so, then try tapping it lightly with a hammer to see how much force it takes to crack it. That being said, if you regularly fish in freezing or near freezing conditions, why not choose Lexan instead? That way you wont have doubts about whether your home made lure will cope with the stress of a fight with a large predator!

Perspex certainly runs a poor second Lexan if you make wooden lures that are intended to be tossed hard against structure such as rock and bridge pylons. Unfortunately it simply wont take the knocks that polycarbonate will.

Lexan. I’ve seen some pro fishing lure makers advertise that their lures have “bulletproof” bibs (Lexan is the material used in bullet proof glass). Seriously though, who cares? I’d buy a lure that will catch fish before I’d buy one that can take a bullet!

Jokes aside, Lexan is great for lure makers! In most ways, Lexan is very similar to Perspex, but it does have two major advantages:

1.It doesnt have the problem of becoming brittle in the cold that Perspex (allegedly) does.

2.Its much, much tougher and less brittle than Perspex. Weve all heard the story of the police turning up at the scene of a burglary to find the offender unconscious on the sidewalk next to a brick? Surveillance cameras showed he had hurled a brick at a Lexan window, only to have it bounce back and hit him in the head!

Until relatively recently, Lexan was hard to get in sheet form and in small quantities, but these days thats not such a problem. Google around, I find 1.2 to 2mm thick sheet the best for making fishing lures.

Aluminum. The obvious time to use aluminum for fishing lure bibs is when they are going to be thrown into some really tough country or at a tough adversary, particularly if the towpoint is attached directly to the bib.

Aluminum has the advantage of adding weight at the front of the lure, which ensures the lure stays upright and the bib is under water when the retrieve commences. This weight forward arrangement also results in fishing lures that swim with a slightly head down attitude, which allows them to bump over logs and snags better without the hooks hitting the snags.

Being opaque, it also has the effect of increasing the overall profile of the lure when viewed from below. This can be a disadvantage when you need a small profile lure, but can also be an advantage, allowing the angler to get away with a smaller lure that creates less drag on the rod but has the appearance to the fish of being larger.

Aluminum can be bent into the required shape, giving the lure maker additional flexibility with bib design.

Stainless steel

As a lure making material, stainless steel has many of the advantages (and disadvantages) as aluminum. Additional advantages she using stainless steel are that it can give your lures some extra flash, particularly useful for saltwater applications, and that it is very strong and durable under tough fishing conditions.

On the flip side, stainless steel can be very hard to shape and work and can be expensive to buy. Be sure to look for 316 (marine grade) stainless steel, or corrosion will be a problem.

So that’s it in a nutshell. I don’t believe that any one material is better than the other. For my money, it’s simply horses for courses.

Dr Greg Vinall, Professional Aquatic Scientist and Fanatical Lure MakerGreg teaches teaches wooden lure making through his website Lure Making visit him on Facebook

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Lip Service – Fishing Lure Makers Guide To Choosing The Right Material For Bibs and Lips


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