The formation (bending) of the wire is a very important, and seldom understood, factor in a successful wire bait. It will determine how steady the bait will be, how quickly the line will snap, how easily the bait can be modified, and how likely the bait is to tangle with its components. A good wire bait will have bends that prevent rotation, prevent tangles, deter line breaks, and insure a straight and steady retrieve.
The eye is the point where the angler ties the fishing line to the lure. Single-arm eyes are typically found in the “wrapped-eye”, “open-eye”, and “safety-lock” varieties. Each of these designs has a unique purpose, and all can be used with in-line spinners, in-line buzzbaits, and chainbaits. The wrapped-eye (figure 1: center) is the most common and can be found in virtually every wire bait that requires a line tie. It is extremely easy to make, and is the most cost-effective eye to mass-produce. The open-eye (figure 1: right) is actually comprised of two separate strands of wire: the eye shaft and the spring. The eye shaft is bent parallel to the main shaft and a small spring is pushed up over the wire. This design is typically used on lures where the hook will be frequently changed. To change the hook, simply slide down the spring and slip on a new one. The safety-snap eye also allows the angler to change out hooks and dressings, but without the extra hassle of the spring. In this design, an eye is bent into a single wire shaft, and the remaining wire is “clipped” back onto the body of the shaft. This design is considerably easier to use than the open-eye version, but is not as strong.
There are at least four basic types of double-arm eyes: R bend, U bend, twisted eye, and safety-pin coil. Each design has a unique purpose that should be considered when designing and building a wire bait.
1) Twisted Eye: The twisted eye (a.k.a. “closed eye”) is the strongest and most popular bend for traditional spinnerbaits. It is made by bending the wire against itself and twisting the loop that is formed. A line tied to this type of eye will not loose knot strength and will not damage the wire when a fish is hooked and fighting. This eye will also do well with swivel-snaps or split-rings because it will keep them from running out of the eye and up the arm of the bait. Unfortunately, these benefits come at a cost: the twisted eye will make it very difficult for a spinnerbait to run upright and straight and will often cause the angler’s line to tangle with the lure. This happens because the knot connecting the line to the eye is forced to remain stationary when the lure flips through the air or over cover. This acrobatic feat causes the line to wrap around the lure. When this happens, the line has a tendency to stick in the “V” below the eye, resulting in poor line strength or a snapped line. Please see the following diagram for a visual representation of line binding:
2) R Bend: The R bend (named because it looks like the letter “R”), is designed to prevent the line from binding and insure that the lure runs straight during a retrieve. In this design, the wire does not cross so there is no point for the line to bind if it flips over (see the following diagram). Unfortunately, this also allows the knot (or a snap/split-ring) to slide out of the eye and down one of the lure’s arms, thus throwing the lure off balance and weakening its fighting strength.
3) U Bend: The U bend has the same benefits as the R bend, but knots are less likely to run because there is no straight path down either of the lure’s arms. The drawback is that the extra bend in the eye exists between the knot and the hook, meaning that the fighting strength of the lure is slightly diminished. Ideal fighting strength exists when there is a straight line between the rod tip, the knot, and the hook.
4) Safety-Pin Coil: The safety-pin coil is similar to the twisted eye and shares the same benefits and pitfalls. It should be noted, however, that the safety-pin design does not do as much damage to tangled line as the twisted eye because its closing point in rounded rather than a “V” shape.
How to Make Each Eye
To make these bends, start at one end of the wire and work your way toward the other end, performing small bends as needed. Round-nosed pliers should be used for every bend to avoid damaging the wire. Specific instructions are as follows: