You need not be a skilled techni-cian to turn out an effective plug, and a complete workshop with an array of tools is unnecessary. The kitchen table with a piece of hard-board laid over for protection, and an assortment of tools from the typical household kit, are all that is needed. Essentials include a small handdrill with suitable bits, a Sur-form, small plane or rasp, sandpaper, pliers and tinsnips.
Scraps of metal and wood take on a new usefulness when you start to muster the makings of improvized plugs. Here are step-by-step instructions for a whole range you can make yourself
The glossy, highly coloured plugs in the tackle shop may look enticing, but those made by an enterprising angler can be equally pleasing—if not in their professional finish, at least in achieving results just as good in actual use.
Hacksaw and some glue. Paints of various colours can be applied with a fine brush or from spray cans, and some Sellotape for masking completes the basic kit. Refinements you might incoporate include a vice—and, of course, a second pair of hands occasionally.
As for materials, various lengths of close-grained wooden dowelling, odd pieces of thin sheet metal and odds and ends of plastic are a start—but as one becomes involved in plug making it is soon obvious that all waste odds and ends might have a use. Treble hooks, Alasticum wire, swivels, and a few small screws complete the list.
Plug DIY theory
The theory of home-made plug construction is simple. The tail end is always shaped to a point to streamline its passage through the water. The head end can be blunt but shaped into various angles, the degree of the angle setting the depth at which the plug will work during retrieval. Alternatively, the head may be rounded off and a diving vane of metal fitted into the wood: again, the angle of the vane will dictate the shallowness or steepness of the plug’s angle of dive.
Start plugmaking by constructing something big: small, delicate plugs can be attempted after a litle practice. Dowelling the size of a broomhandle or a little smaller is ideal. Begin by sloping the end of the length to form the tail—an easier job with the dowel intact rather than on a small plug piece. Once rounded and smoothed, measure off a 4in length and cut the pluglength from the dowel, cutting at an angle of 45° and so forming the diving angle of the head.
Hole-in-one is best
A hole must be drilled from the centre of the head backwards and at an angle, so that a treble can be mounted roughly where the ventral fin would be in a natural fish. Obviously, the hole must be straight and is best made in one drilling. This is tricky, and if the drill is not long enough it will have to be drilled from either end, meeting (with luck) in the middle to make a straight bore. In this case, it is a good idea to pass a piece of hot wire through the holes in order to burn off any fibres that may cause a blockage.,
Next, take a 6in length of 14lb b.s. Cabled Alasticum, pass it through the drilled passage, and twist a treble hook onto the bottom end. Don’t be frightened to use big hooks-sizes 6 to 4 are ideal and help to ensure firm hooking on the strike. Above the eye of the treble, coat the twist join well with Araldite, and pull it back up into the body of the plug. Not only will this strengthen the join, it will also keep water from entering the hole and causing rust. A swivel can now be threaded to the other end of the wire at the head, the cable twisted tight, and glued.
Deep diving plugs are produced with a ‘V cut into the head instead of the 45° angle cut that was used in the previous design. A strip of alloy or copper must be cut just wide enough to fit into one segment of the ‘V, but it may be as long as you require, bearing in mind that the bigger the area of vane presented to the water, the deeper the plug will dive. A ridge of Araldite on the lip of the vane plus two small screws or tacks will secure it firmly and the plug is complete except for painting.
Jointed plugs, with two bodies joined in the middle, are prepared by shaping an extra-long body, sawing it into two pieces, and drilling through the centre of each part so that they can be re-joined with Alasticum and a small swivel in the centre. The head at the front part of the body is then formed in the manner described above.
Many plugs at the tackle shop have eyed hooks screwed into the body to keep hooks and joined bodies together. These can be imitated, provided the thread of each eye is well coated with Araldite before it is screwed home—though this alone is no guarantee that it will not unship when a good fish is played. There is a big drawback to eyed hooks, however: unless each hook is precisely mounted at the point of balance in relation to the diving face of the Plug, the body will twist during retrieve, and instead of diving and swooping as the bait is worked, it will merely pull straight across the surface of the water.
Painting the plug
Painting a home-made plug need not worry you, because fish do not seem to mind whether it has a Gainsborough finish or two-colour, up-anddown brushwork. First and foremost it is the action that counts. Red, gold, yellow, white and green are the most popular colours, and it is the work of seconds to mask one half with Sellotape and brush a thick coating on the uncovered section. Let the one half dry and then repeat the process with the unpainted half. Spots, eyes, and streaks can all be added freehand when the basic col-ours are dry. For a scaly finish, try spraying through a sheet of perforated zinc with an aerosol spray paint, varying the distance at which the sheet is held from the plug to increase or reduce the size of the scales. Apply two good coats of clear rod varnish over the whole body, check to see that the swivel has not stuck, and your plug is finished. Though 4in is average for pike plugs, bigger lures can be made.