How To Make Homemade Fishing Lures

The best way to hone a skill is to be able to practice it before you need to call upon it in a critical situation. Take emergency fishing lures, for example. There are many websites showing you how to jury-rig gear from a variety of pieces of everyday drawer clutter and trash. Have you really ever tried to make these and other items? Practicing during an idle moment in camp, or sitting warm and cozy at home waiting for spring to – spring, is a good time to work on these skills.

Fishing lures – and line – made from natural materials is perhaps the last-ditch effort in makeshift tackle. You can fashion line by braiding together strands of fibers processed from the stems of stinging nettles. “Hooks” can be carved from bone, twigs and thorns, or made from bent paper clips and safety pins. As a self-reliant skill, making these emergency lures could be a life saver.

There’s also a level of lure fabrication that takes everyday items, most of which are quite similar in appearance to commercial parts and pieces used to fill our tackle boxes. In fact, with a common ballpoint pSURV - MAKESHIFT LURES (2)en, a soda can and a few other items, even the least crafty person (with a multi-purpose tool) can put together a glittering, fish-attracting lure.

Most survival presentations talk about using a paper clip or safety pin to form a wire hook. This is, indeed, a pretty straight-forward “re-purposing” task. Making the eyelet without a needle-nose pliers will be a challenge, hence the value of a Leatherman or similar multi-tool. While you may not have a choice amid your inventory, know that paper clip wire is easier to manipulate and easier to sharpen into a hook. A safety pin is made of higher quality metal, that already has a very sharp point, but is much more brittle than a paper clip and thus harder to bend and easier to break off while bending.

A bit more complex – but perhaps more rewarding, are lures created from bits and pieces to resemble and perform like a spinner, crankbait, jig or other weapons in a typical angler’s arsenal.

Here are a few basic material sources and the lures one can create from them:

Para-cord “Fly” – Simply cutting a section of parachute chord, slipping it over the shank of a hook and fluffing out the fibers creates a useable “fly” for all types of surface fishing. Using a flame, you can shrink one end securely around the shank near the eyelet and by cutting the outer layer of cord weave shorter than the inner core, you can fluff out the fibers on each segment creating a fluffy-skirted “fly”.

Ballpoint Pen
– This is the hardware store of makeshift parts. The cone tip makes a great head for a spinner; the grip sleeve around the working end of the pen works as the body of several different styles of lures, as does the longer, plastic body shell of the pen. You might even be able to use the metal pocket clip or the inner spring to fashion a usable hook. The plastic ink tube can be cut into bead-like segments for action or as spacers for other components.

Soda Can – The lightweight, shiny aluminum soda can in an excellent source of easily-workable, shiny metal that can be fashioned into a variety of flasher, spinner shapes. Easily cut with a small scissor (on your Swiss Army knife or multi-tool) or more raggedly with a regular knife blade, one can could be the source of many lure creations. And, of course, it’s bright surface might serve well as an emergency signal flasher, too.

Misc. parts – most difficult pieces to re-creatSPRTSMNSGDE16-MAKESHIFT LURE MATERIALSe are the connecting rings and other tiny parts that are enjoined in most fishing lures. Oftentimes you have spare hooks but no lure body to attach it to. These skills therefore, might come in handy when you still have parts and pieces from other lures that you can scavenge for use on a makeshift lure. Combing all these pieces along an altered paper clip may keep you fishing a bit longer – and in an emergency, provide you with a meal that is much more fulfilling than the bait you’ve been eyeing as your stomach growls.

It’s not going to be much of a stretch to envision how you can use material to make a fishing lure. A great time to try this is either while relaxing around the camp table or in the late days of winter where you can assemble a small batch of makeshift lures and then set aside a day on the water testing them out. Better to learn now than be forced to deal with that option when a real emergency strikes. Besides, catching a keeper on a lure you made from your ballpoint pen or a Pepsi can carries with it its own special bragging rights.

Be sure to visit Sportsman’s Guide for our great selection of emergency and survival gear.

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3 Responses to “How To Make Homemade Fishing Lures”

  1. Jeanne Godar

    Clever and good to know.

  2. Diana

    Nice idea about ballpoint pens.
    I know people use the aluminum from soda cans for all sorts of crafty little homemade projects – but I don’t know how people cut soda cans, exactly, in a way that manages to avoid creating razor-sharp edges, on the thin aluminum material…?


      You are absolutely right. While a section of aluminum can makes a good emergency “blade”, cutting it for use as a lure requires caution. One advantage of carrying a utility tool or Swiss Army Knife with a scissors is that it will cut the thin aluminum. You can also sometimes literally tear a piece off the soda can – for a rough-shaped piece, but there are no style points when it comes to self reliance!