Blue Water
Blue Water

Skirting a lure

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Glen Booth

The shredded rubber, vinyl and other material that makes up most of our trolling lure skirts is pretty flimsy and apt to get damaged, torn or simply chopped clean off by our finny friends. Happily though, replacing them is not that difficult.

Much of our lure trolling techniques are based on Hawaiian developments and in the early days they made use of red inner tube rubber, oilcloth, shower curtain material and then cloth backed vinyl (the latter available these days with a sexy metal flake through it) to skirt their lures.

Skirting a lure is a pretty simple process and it enables the angler to mix and match the colours to replicate the predominant bait species in a given area. Mind you, some highly successful colour combinations are pretty wild and look nothing like any fish species known to man. Re-skirting can even be done in the field if necessary, but most prefer to do it on the rigging bench at home.

It’s amazing how changing just one or both skirts can breathe life into an old or out-of-favour lure. All of a sudden, you become excited about its prospects once more. Having confidence in a lure is a major part of its success — they don’t catch anything rotting away in the tackle drawer or in the pocket of a lure roll.

There are two ways to fit skirts — gluing or tying — with the latter being the more traditional method. Gluing is a more recent development, and both camps have their supporters and detractors.

We will need

  • A lure head
  • Two lure skirts of a size to match the lure head’s tapered collars
  • Waxed rigging thread
  • Scissors
  • Razor blade
  • Tarzan’s Grip glue (or other super glue)

Tying skirts

In this instance we’re rigging a Marlin Magic Ruckus, a champion blue marlin lure for use on 37kg (80lb) tackle and up. The blue/purple/silver skirt combination depicted here bears a pretty close resemblance to a striped tuna or flying fish, which of course blues love.

First cut the top off the skirt, starting well up above the narrow neck. We’ll need to give ourselves some room to play with here, as the head section of the skirt will be doubled over later when it is tied on.

Turn the cut end of the skirt back in on itself. Some skirts will be a super tight fit on the lure head collars, while others are quite loose, but it often means some sort of lubricant such as silicone spray will be needed to get everything moving. An alternative that’s always to hand is good old saliva, but dipping the head in a cup of just boiled water helps soften the vinyl immeasurably. There’s nothing more frustrating than tearing a perfectly good skirt by trying to force the issue.

Roll the skirt onto the first collar, ensuring that any back shading, stripes and the like incorporated into its design line up with the top of the lure head.

Keep working it forward until it sits flush with the back of the lure head.

When the skirt is correctly positioned, fold it forward.

Taking a 90cm length of waxed thread, start by leaving a tail, then binding tightly round the collar three times.

Form a loop with the tail, and then bind over it three more times.

Place the tag end in the loop and pull through. You can trim tags off short, but by leaving them about 2.5cm (1in) long, it is easier to unpick in the event of the skirt needing to be changed.

Run the razor blade round the collar to remove the excess vinyl and to maintain the skirt’s streamlined profile once folded back.

Repeat the entire process with the second skirt and trim off the excess.

Roll the skirts down and it’s ready to be rigged with a couple of hooks. There’s something very inspiring seeing a freshly skirted lure for the first time — ‘Yeah, this’ll work!’

Glueing skirts

In this instance we’re skirting a Billmark Apollo with 24cm (9 ½in) skirts. When the skirts are trimmed and fitted, it has an overall size of about 27cm (10.5in) and the brown and green over green and yellow colours makes it a pretty good representation of a big yellowtail.

In the event of a lure skirt being damaged or maybe the colour combinations aren’t doing it for you, we want to be able to change it without too much trouble, and Tarzan’s Grip gives a secure bond without compromising strength. It won’t wash off, but it can be peeled away easily enough.

As we aren’t folding the skirt over to tie it in position, we don’t need to cut as high up on the head.As we aren’t folding the skirt over to tie it in position, we don’t need to cut as high up on the head.

Immerse the head of the skirt in hot water to soften it, give it a light spray with silicone, or try some saliva. Push up to the second collar. Fold the skirt forward and run a small bead of glue around the collar.

Before folding the top skirt down, ease the under skirt onto its collar, fold forward, apply glue, then fold both skirts down.

Allow glue to dry and it’s now ready to fish.

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