Touching Up The Wood
Craig Sandell 2016


The traditional Muskie angler loves his/her wooden lures. Many Muskie anglers will tell you that the wood provides the lure with the type of action that plastic or composite lures cannot match. I will not debate the issue here. In this article I will provide some suggestions for conditioning your wooden lures so that they remain effective.

It is not possible to discuss lures without mentioning brand names, however, the mention of a brand name should NOT be construed as an endorsement for the lure or as a testimonial as to its effectiveness.

Wooden lures can be found in the crank bait category, the jerk bait category and the surface bait category. These wooden lures are effective because of their action in the water as they are retrieved. It is this action that not only attracts Muskie but also shortens the life of the lure.

The Hawg Wobbler shown here is an excellent example of what happens to a lure over the course of a single season. The wear that is see here is caused by the hooks swinging freely with the action of the lure. Even if the hooks were blunted, the lure would still be marked from the hooks hitting the body of the lure. Yes, you can put an epoxy resin coating over the lure but this will add to the weight of the lure and impact upon the lure's performance in the water. Frankly, even an epoxy coating will not be completely resistant to the relentless action of the hooks as the lure is retrieved.

Notice also the wear on the lure body at the joint of the lure. This is the result of the jointed rear of the lure clacking against the front of the lure. This clacking is desirable when fishing the lure in poor light conditions and is very similar to the wear upon jointed crank baits as they are retrieved.

How do you solve the body wear problem? You could retire the lure and buy a new one but this lure works so well, which is why it is so beat up, and there is no guaranty that a new lure will have the same action. You could disassemble the lure, strip it down to bare wood, sand it smooth, primer coat it with Kills and apply a new finish coat. Unfortunately, this too may cause the lure to become a "different" lure when put back into service.

The most benign solution to exposed wood is the use of gun stock finish varnish. Truoil gun stock finish can be found at almost any sporting goods store and can be applied with relative ease. There are two tricks to this method of protecting the exposed wood.

You MUST let the lure dry out completely. This is essential. If the lure is not completely dry, you will only be sealing in moisture rather than keeping it out. If you live in a dry climate like that in Arizona or California, nature will do the work for you. If you are confined to a region where natural heat is at a premium in the winter, you will have to rely upon the "man made" kind of heat. Don't get impatient. Remove the hooks and hang your lure up where it will enjoy the heat of the home. If you have forced air heating, you can hang it in close proximity to the heating vent. The trick is to let it get good and dry and that may take a month or two of constant exposure to moderate persistent heat. DO NOT try to force dry the lure with a hair dryer...let it dry exposed to the ambient air.

Once the lure is dry, you are ready to apply the gun stock finish. This brings us to the second process trick. You must apply the finish in light and even coats. This is best accomplished using your index finger. Place a small amount of the liquid in the cap of the container. Dip the tip of your finger into the liquid in the cap and then apply a coat to the lure using your finger. DO NOT apply too much. A thin coating will do. Allow the coating to dry for a couple of days and then apply another coating. Do this as often as is required, usually 4 or 5 coats is enough.