Design Considerations for Wire Baits

Wire baits are the easiest types of lures to “be creative” with, all it takes is a strand of wire, some pliers, a few components and a couple of minutes of spare time. Unfortunately, creativity can often be taken to the extreme, resulting in a lure that simply won’t catch fish. To avoid making this mistake with your own lures, you should follow some basic guidelines for wire bait creation. These tips will make your lures more effective and, ultimately, easier to sell to the public.

Bite Distance
A wire bait’s “bite” refers to the distance between the point of the hook and the next closest obstacle. If the distance is too short, the fish will not be able to get its mouth around the hook and thus cannot be hooked. It the distance is too long, the bait could intimidate fish or become back-heavy and prevent the blades from rotating correctly. Also, a long bite overexposes the hook making it more likely to get stuck on weeds and other underwater obstacles.

When designing your wire bait’s bite, you must consider the size of the fish and the underwater movement of the lure’s components. Smaller fish have smaller mouths, and thus can hit baits with a smaller bite distance; larger, more aggressive fish require a larger bite distance. The bite distance can change depending on the action of the lure underwater. If the closest component to the hook point is a swinging blade, chances are the blade will be in a trailing position when the fish attacks. This will open up additional room for the hook and the bite distance will be slightly larger than it would be if the blade were not moving. The following two diagrams illustrate the concept of bite. Note the spinnerbait bite distance is measured with the blade in the trailing position we just described.

Balance & Torque
A wire bait’s balance is another extremely important design consideration. By “balance”, we mean that all of the bait’s weight is evenly distributed so that it will run straight up during a rapid retrieve. Baits that are not balanced will tip forward, back, or to the side when retrieved, making them much less appealing to fish.

To achieve optimum balance, the lure’s wire pattern (length of wire and positioning of bends), hook, body, and blades must fit together perfectly. To understand this relationship, we must first understand the concept of torque. In a nutshell, torque is the measure of how much force it takes to rotate an object about its axis. With a wire bait, the force is generated by the rotating blade and the axis is an imaginary line running through the lure’s eye. When the blade spins, it tries to “pull” the arm in the direction that it is rotating. If the pull is strong enough, the lure will flip to its side. Here are a few techniques for insuring that the force will not be strong enough to flip the lure:

1) Minimize the distance between the top blade and the axis
2) Shortening the blade arm
3) Use smaller angles between the body and blade arms
4) Lengthen the body arm
5) Use smaller, lighter, skinnier blades
6) Use heavy bodies
7) Use longer or wider hooks
8) Use wide skirts
9) Add lead weight to the body arm
10) Bend the blade arm to bring the blade close to the axis
11) Match the head size to the appropriate blade size (see chart)
12) Reduce the number of blades on the blade arm

Avoid Ting
When one blade smacks into another blade on the same lure, it makes a sound like “ting!”. This sound is bad and will scare off fish who would otherwise have been interested in your lure. The term ting is named after this sound and refers to the action that produces the sound: one component hitting another component during normal use. Ting is bad, and you don’t want your wire baits to have it! To avoid ting, carefully position your components so that they cannot touch each other when the lure is being retrieved.

Avoid Tangle
Almost half of the commercial wire baits that we’ve ever purchased have this problem…they get tangled. Most often, the wire will be formed in such a way as to allow the hook point to slip through a random split ring…rendering the whole bait useless! When designing your lures, position your components so that they cannot tangle during a cast or bumpy retrieve. If you do this, it will save you and your customers some serious headaches down the line!