The making of Esox Musky Pike swimbait

Esox V2 is my latest Pike- Musky-swimbait coming from my small lureshop located in Rotterdam - The Netherlands. Every single one is methodically made by hand from start to finish using a multi-step process with the highest attention to construction, detailing and finish and takes several hours to build. In this article I will try to explain the steps taken while 'making Esox'.

Molding the blanks.
I mold my solid blanks from a 2-component Urethane. The biggest advantage of this material is that it is solid, waterproof, and very very strong which eliminates a lot of problems wich are bound to happen with wooden body's.

I like to work wood, and it is a great material for prototypes, studies and one-piece lures like crankbaits, topwaters and jerkbaits but for swimbaits it actually is a poor material. This is due to the many 'entrances into the body (joints)' and the mere fact that water will eventually find a way into the body causing the wood to swell and shrink and while doing so resulting in cracks and well.. a ruined finish or even ruined action.

The urethane resin I use is solid, rockhard, very dense and has a nice weight to it, much like hardwood. I don't like the feel of 'plastic' lures myself, but this really is something different.

Resin will however sink like a bolt when thrown in water, so the resin is mixed with 'microballoons'. Microballoons are microscopical glass bubbles containing air. This is what makes the urethane buoyant, and gives the swimbait its ability to 'swim'. The mixing ratio MB/urethane can be varied and determines the amount of buoyancy.

With molding, bubbles in your casting, caused by trapped air in the resin are a big problem.
For this reason I vacuum degass the silicone I use for making the molds and pressurize the molds when making the casts.

The molds filled with the mixed resin are placed in a pressure pot and pressurized to 60 Psi. The pressure will force small trapped air bubbles to 'squeeze' beyond visibility and stay that way when the resin cures. This will ensure an -almost- bubble-free and dense buoyant body.

After aprox. one hour the molds can be demolded.

After the blanks are de-molded they are stored for a week or two at room temperature to fully cure and to degass.

Inspecting the blanks for trapped air with a strong lamp.
To be sure there are no air-pockets inside, the blanks are inspected by holding them against a strong lamp.

Roughcutting / Removing Flash, sprouts and seamlines.

The moldsprouts and flashing are removed with a knife and/or dremel and the cast is then rough sanded by hand.

Fitting Hardware / installing ballast
I use all solid steel hardware on my lures. Ballast weights are molded into the body and placed in key areas to achieve the right balance and action of the swimbait.

Cleaning / Degreasing the blanks

It is hard to keep paint on smooth surfaces! Moreover the mold-release agent used to aid in the casting process will prevent paint to stick to the body, so all blanks have to be cleaned and degreased properly prior to further processing.

Filling holes and imperfections with 2 component putty.

Fine Sanding


Filling pinholes / flaws, Sand and Prime again

Airbrushing the body.
I use airbrush guns by Iwata and paints by AutoAir and Aero Color. I especially like metallic, pearlized and iridiscent colors beacause of its luster. Sometimes I use special effect colors like color-shifting paints where the color of the paint changes depending of the angle of light.

You have to take your time to achieve a good paintjob! Working in thin layers and using a blowdryer in between layers helps to achieve a solid buildup and maximum bond. And if you are not happy with the result...start over!

Painting / Fitting the eyes

I use mainly glass 'flint' eyes. These grade 1 glass eyes come from the United States and are mainly used by taxidermist. I like their realistic look, shine and depth and the fact that they can be painted as you like.

Sign and number
Each lure is signed, dated and assigned a number.

Topcoating is a very time consuming job. I like the thick glossy look and feel of epoxy and especially with big teethed predators like musky and pike, you need a tough topcoat to protect your precious paintjob. The epoxy has to be mixed on a 1:1 ratio and then brushed on using a small brush taking care no epoxy gets into the joints. When the body is completely brushed, a propane torch is used to 'pop' tiny bubbles formed in the epoxy. The lure is then placed into a rotator wich will slowly rotate the lure to prevent the epoxy to sag or drip for about 12 hours. In total three layers of epoxy are applied using this same method.

After the final topcoat with epoxy, the lure is hung to dry at room temperature for a couple of days to fully cure the epoxy.

Fitting Fiber Fins
When the epoxy topcoat has fully cured, a small circulair saw is used to cut slots in the tail to fit the fins in. The fibers I use for the fins are the same used as 'fibbets' in the fly-tying industry. These fibers are very thin, soft, pliable and are 'memory-free'. They are very strong and when handled with care will last. The fins are epoxied into the body for maximum strength, and sometimes colored. The orange color I use on esox is the natural color of the fibers. When handled with care the fibers will never need to be replaced. The only thing to take care of is to NOT store the swimbait with the fibers in a bend position when wet, simply let dry before extended storing. However the fibers dry very fast.

Testing the swimbait
All swimbaits are thoroughly tested in the water on overall action.

The lurestand I designed specifically for Esox is made out of meranti wood laquered with yacht laquer and molded semi-transparent fins as lureholders. This stand offers a great way to store your swimbat safely and put it on display when you are not fishing it.

Time to go fishing!

jp vermeijden
Click here for additional & order information about Esox V2 Musky/Pike swimbait

Lucky Lures shop

The shop

vacuum degassing equipment
Vacuum degassing equipment.

swimbait moldboxes microballoons
pressure casting pot pressure gauge

Moldboxes, microballoons, presure pot

inspecting esox swimbait blanks
Inspecting the blanks for trapped air with a strong lamp.

esox swimbait blanks
Blanks hanging

esox swimbait blanks
Airbrush equipment

esox swimbait blanks after paint
Finished painting

glass painted eyes esox microfiber tail fins
custom signing fitting glass eyes

Signing and fitting of the glass eyes and MicroFiber fins.

lucky lures esox lurestand

Finished Esox swimbaits on meranti stands

finished lucky lures esox 1 finished lucky lures esox 2