DIY – Painting Lures

It would have been a few years ago now when Chris, Greg and I had some discussions around painting our own lures.  Why?  Well between the three of us we buy a fair amount of tackle and over time favourite “Go-to” colours and patterns in lures develop leaving a whole stash unused, sometimes unopened from their original packaging.  Another reason is that you can quite often find people or stores selling the not-so-popular colours relatively cheap.  After a bit of research on the trusty internet I began experimenting with stripping and painting lures.  After a lot of trial, error and success stripping the existing paint off, I later discovered that unpainted lures were also available for purchase from companies over the internet.

Painted Tiemco Stick Minnow - Tried and Tested

Unused lures My experience painting old or unused lures can be broken down into two parts, preparation and painting.

Preparation:     The preparation is the hardest and most time consuming and I experienced quite a long trial and error process doing this.  Initially I thought it would be as simple as sanding the paint off the existing lures before painting them in your own custom colours, but after a few attempts doing this I realised that the texture which was moulded into the lure like scale patterns and lines was being lost from the sanding which I think can be important in the lures appearance.  I figure if we can see the moulding detail with our eyes then the fish can too.  This led me to start experimenting with a multitude of different products to try and remove the paint without affecting the moulding details but knowing full well that many chemicals which can soften or strip paint will eat or severely affect the plastic lure.  At the end of the day (or more like months) I came accross a few products which worked well but more importantly came to the conclusion that different chemicals affect different lures.  With this in mind I only strip paint off the lures which I am confident will not be affected by the chemicals being used. Another method I would like to try is lightly sandblasting the paint off the lures.  Unfortunately I don’t have access to a sandblast cabinet at the moment but I think this would be successful and have minimal affect on the plastic or moulding detail.

Painting:          Again, trial and error played a significant role in how to and how not to paint lures.  After moving from brush to pressure pack, I realised that an investment in a good airbrush was required.  Painting the lures, for me, is the easiest part of the process and preparation of the lure is most important.  If all the paint has not been removed and cleaned up, like any painting process the imperfections will show through in the final product.  If you take your time to let each coat cure before adding a final clear coat, you will be surprised at the result.

Unpainted lures  After some research I discovered that there are quite a few unpainted lures available for purchase from online stores.  If you are looking to do this, keep in the back of your mind, ‘you get what you pay for’.  I have purchased quite a few unpainted lures and have found that the really cheap lures don’t usually swim straight and despite getting a few coats of paint can fill up with water.

If you have the time and patience, this is not only a good way to save a bit of cash but allows you to change some of your unused lures into your favourite or custom colours.

13 responses to “DIY – Painting Lures

  1. Hi Jason,
    I have only been painting lures for myself when time permits. It’s a pretty good feeling when you do catch fish on them as well. If you have the time, give it a go. You can easily start out using pressure pack spray paint as the base coat and permanent markers work wonders for the fine detailed markings you may wish to make on the lure.

  2. I am really keen to do this so I am doing a airbrush course.Having trouble sourcing un-painted hard body’s.Are there sites you can suggest to purchase good quality un-painted lures?Thanking you in advance.Best regards Wayne

  3. Hi mate .. thanks for the forum and blogsite .. love reading it .. I have my own airbrush and would like to give this a go .. what chemicals / product did you find good for removing old paintscheme from the lure

    • Hi Steve,

      It is a game of trial and error which cost me a few lures. I have tried a range of different products, from specific model paint removers through to household and industrial degreasers. At the end of the day though I found that soaking the lures in household degreasers for short periods of time worked the best, softening the paint enough to scrub it off with a dish scourer without damaging the plastic. The alternative is to sand back the lure with wet-and-dry sand paper but you will lose to detail moulded into the lure. Good luck, hope this helps.


  4. Hey mate, when you say “short periods of time”
    How long are we talking exactly? I’ve been doing it for 10-20 minutes but “apparently” a short period of time is days.

    • Hi Adam,
      It all depends on the plastic and the chemical. The shortest period of time I experienced in soaking lures was probably about 20-30 minutes with the more concentrated chemicals and up to 4-5 hours on some of the ‘weaker’ solutions. I did try soaking some overnight and it ended up softening and damaging the lure body itself. Hope this helps.



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