Making your own fishing tackle can be a rewarding hobby, while at the same time allowing the crappie angler to tailor his baits to what the fish want or to better catch fish.
The first step involves a lead jighead or body and obtaining a good, reliable mold and lead pot for melting lead. Custom molds can be made by purchasing blank molds and having them tooled at a machine shop. Existing patterns can be altered to accept wire hangers for blades, lips or other accessories.
A good lead melting pot will ensure even lead heating and pouring and can be obtained for less than $100. Also, purchase pure lead from a plumbing-supply store rather than use scrap lead, such as old tire weights, which contain a lot of alloys and don’t pour well. It’s best to pre-melt lead into smaller, easier to handle bricks. By-products will separate during the pre-melting and can be skimmed off before placing in your lead pot.
If tying material to leadhead jigs is your preference over simply plugging in plastics, tying jigs is not as tedious as tying trout flies. It does require a tying vise that will accommodate crappie hooks and a spring-wire bobbin for holding the thread used to wrap the material to secure it to the jighead.
Painting jig bodies can be an expensive business. Airbrush painting with high-cost paints is probably more elaborate than you’ll need for making crappie jigs. Many anglers settle on hand-dipping jigheads in an exterior enamel paint or powder coat.
At this point, eyes can be painted on, or stick-on eyes with their own adhesive backing can be applied. Eyes are a big selling point in commercially manufactured baits, and some fishermen swear that fish will strike a lure with eyes before a plain head.
For hair or marabou jigs, dipping the final clear coat after the dressing is tied on will help cover any imperfections in the wrapping. This additional coat, once dry, also helps hold the hair in place.