DIY Marlin Lure

By Paul WalkerNZ Fishing World
DIY Marlin Lure

The price of some marlin lures could put you off chasing the impressive species. Some swear by the fact that home made lures can stand up against the big boys. Paul Walker shows you how to make your own.

As we personally evolve as fishermen, from sprats at the local wharf as kids to chasing snapper, kahawai, John dory and other table fish on boats. The thrill of nailing a big specimen really gets the competitive juices flowing. Kingfish is usually the next step and most fisho's, having felt the power of a good kingie and having been regularly beaten up by these reef brawlers, are quite happy to leave it at that.

However there are a few, having honed their fighting skills on kingfish, that look for that final challenge – gamefish, namely marlin. Game fishing is not for the faint hearted or the uncommitted and even by sharing all the expenses amongst the crew you will still need deep pockets, but game fishing really hooks you and once you have had a taste it is hard to break free

To add a bit of interest and to help in some small way with expenses, making your own marlin lures can be very rewarding. Being Kiwis and having that can-do attitude helps and if you have an inquiring mind and are good with your hands then that's even better.

I started making lures over thirty years ago so I have done a lot of the spade work for you. Some of the information was gleaned from American game fishing magazines many years ago but a lot of it is a result of my own trial and error. So this is how I make them:

What you will need

Firstly you will need a mould. This may not be as hard to find as you think as supermarkets, chemists and health food shops have a huge range of plastic pill containers. Look for long, tubular and slightly tapered units that will make lure extraction easy after pouring and check out friends, family and workmates to see if anyone is using the one you are after. Half a dozen should be plenty.

Next you will need or need to have access to a small lathe. A small wood lathe will be fine, that’s all I use. Mine has an electric drill as a power plant and I have done hundreds of lures with it.
For the internal core of the lure you can use a PVC rod or cut your own shapes from a polyurethane sheet in 10 or 12 millimetre, depending on your mould. You will also need prism tape in strip form.

Most tackle shops will have this in a range of colours. You need teddy bear eyes from the Spotlight stores. Get the flat backed ones in 15 to 20mm – they're as cheap as chips and make the lures look great!

Brass rod is available from most hobby shops, just make sure your leader will fit through it. Take a piece with you to check. You’ll do about ten lures per each metre of rod. Here's what else you need:
- A range of sand papers from 80 grit to 400 grit and 800 to 1200 in wet and dry
- A tube or two of super glue and a small amount of two pot glue like araldite.
- A small measuring jug in millimetres.
- And last but not least polyester resin and catalyst hardener. I found nuplex 6pp308901 to be very clear and easy to work with. It's available from Nuplex Industries and they have trade shops in Penrose, North Shore and Henderson in Auckland. Just remember this stuff is poisonous and flammable so follow the instructions to the letter and store it in a very safe place.

The Method

Now you're ready to get cooking! I'm sure you’ll have mates lining up to take some of your new heads off your hands so it's easier to do a small production run of four or six.

Here's what you do:

First take the PVC rod or strips of sheet and cut them to length 20mm shorter than the mould. A fine blade drop saw is good for this. Next, a hole has to be drilled dead centre through the rod. An engineer's lathe is best for this as it gets it perfect although you may use a drill press. The hole needs to be a fraction bigger than the brass tube.

Cut the brass tube into lengths of about 30mm longer than the mould. Close off one end of the tube with a nip of the pliers. Then mix up a small amount of two pot glue and roll the tube in it about 10mm back from the open end. Rotate the tube through the PVC rod or sheet and extend the brass tube about 5mm out of the rod for a flat faced lure, or 10mm for an angled face. Once all have been glued, let them dry overnight.

Once the glue has dried, cut the prism tape to the length of the core PVC rod in the colour of your choice. This is easy; you just have to roll the prism tape around it and then put a little piece on the nose, job done. The oblong strip is a bit more fiddly as you have to cut the prism tape to the same shape. It takes a bit longer but it's not too hard

Once the prism tape is on, take the teddy bear eyes and, one at a time, place a small drop of super glue on the back side of each eye in the centre and stick it on the core about 10mm in from the back end. Hold it tight for about 60 seconds as it takes a little while for the glue to lock onto the prism tape.

You will also need two small boards of about 200x100mm and 15mm thick. Take three gib clout nails and drive one through the board in the middle then drive the other two through about forty mils in from each end of the board. About 10-15mm of the nails should be protruding through the board. Repeat with the second board.

Take your plastic mould and drill a hole smaller than the nail diameter dead centre in the bottom of the mould. With the boards lying flat, push all the moulds onto the upstanding nails. Force a small piece of rolled blu-tack up the brass tubes on the cores. Then, placing the core into the mould locate the nail and drive the brass tube over it. The core should stand upright and the blu-tack will seal off the tube. You are now ready to pour.


Before pouring you should fill one of your moulds with water and then pour it into the measuring jug. You will then know how much resin each mould holds. Multiply this by the number of moulds (less a bit for the cores) and you won't waste too much resin.

The Pour

Pouring the moulds is quite easy; just follow the resin mixing instructions to the letter. You will need a small plastic pipet to add the catalyst. Nuplex have these. Once the catalyst is added to the resin in your measuring jug, stir it in slowly until the resin changes colour then let it stand until most of the bubbles have gone before pouring into your moulds.

I only made lure heads over the summer months and always poured early in the morning when it was cool and as the day heated up the resin set hard the next day. I remove the heads from the mould by rolling the mould between your hands a few times. Then place the new heads back on the nails and sit them in the sun for another day to really bake the resin.

Taking Shape

Now comes the fun bit! Fit the lure head into the lathe after cutting off the protruding brass rod at the rear of the lure. At the point where the core ends at the rear of the head, use a small file to mark a notch on the side of the lure head. Fire up the lathe at a fast speed and score the resin from the notch back with the file.

Take a coarse sandpaper strip of about 100x20mm and use this to cut a deeper notch of about 5mm at the rear for the skirt to fit into. This is also the time you can create a bit of shape into the head if you want by using finer and finer sandpaper. Use the wet and dry sandpaper with water to get it really smooth. Then finally polish it with Brasso. If you can still see small cuts after polishing then start again with the wet and dry paper until you get it perfect.

Before you fit your skirts take a piece of wire that will just fit through the brass tube and drive out the blu-tack. Sometimes this can be a bit stubborn.

Here's a little trick for cutting the skirts. Fit a short length of 30mm dowel up into the skirt until it fits tight. You should be using 300mm skirts. Make sure the skirt is square to the dowel all the way around then, with a box or craft knife with a brand new blade, cut around the top of the dowel and the cut should be perfect. Slide one skirt inside the other and fit them to the lure head then stand the lure on its nose and peel both skirts down together exposing some of the resin head.

Squirt a small amount of super glue between skirt and lure head then push the outer skirt down a little more and place a little super glue between the two skirts. Flip the skirts back to their proper position and job done!!

There is no better fishing satisfaction than watching a marlin swim through a pack of big name lures and nail yours, believe me! I have felt that satisfaction many times, it's great. So get making and good luck.

Catch the latest news

Packed full of the latest fishing news and tips on the best spots. Fresh to your inbox every week.

Sign up with email