All crankbaits, no matter what material they are made out of have one thing in common, they are built to mimic forage. The majority are made to resemble shad, blueback herring, or crawfish. The bulk of these lures are made by an injection molding process while a number of custom built crankbaits are made from some type of wood. Popular choices include cedar, poplar, cherry, sugar pine, and balsa. Similar to the injection mold crankbaits, custom built wooden crankbaits come in either flat and round sided.
While the bulk of anglers use injection molded crankbaits, a growing number of anglers are switching over to custom built wooden crankbaits. The reason why? Professional anglers winning bass tournaments while using wooden baits and the fact, custom built wooden crankbaits more closely mimic how forage moves; this equals more bites and more fish caught.
There are a number of manufactures making custom built wooden crankbaits. The most popular type of wood used to make custom built wooden crankbaits is balsa. One company that makes hand crafted, hand painted, custom built balsa crankbaits is Buckeye Lake Bait Company (www.e-specialtybaits.com) in Thornville, Ohio. The owner, Richard A. Manley has been building custom balsa wood crankbaits for over 20 years with a 10 year apprenticeship with Ron E. Bee, who is renowned for his craftsmanship. “Anglers who decided on using custom built balsa wood crankbaits are wanting the “mimicking” action only balsa wood crankbaits can deliver,” Manley went on, “While plastic crankbaits have more of a side to side movement, my balsa wood crankbaits tails move back and forth resembling live forage.” Every Buckeye Lake Bait Company crankbait is built to a specific density for more natural buoyancy, has a continuous wire harness to add strength and durability, a unique bill design of either Lexan or Micarta/Epoxy Reson fiberboard, available in highly reflective foil or natural baitfish imitations, painted with Lacquer-Dupont Chromabase/Spectramaster and Lure-Lac, and finished with specifically formulated UV resistant clear epoxy resin that will not yellow over time.
Popular models of the Buckeye Lake Bait Company flat sided crankbaits include the Baby Pig and LUV Plug. “The Baby Pig and LUV Plug have been known as the go-to bait for professional tournament anglers and weekend warriors,” reveal Manley. Buckeye Lake Bait Company offers a wide selection of hand painted, custom color patterns to choose from including the uniquely designed, flat sided foil finish. Some of the more popular color patterns are copper foil green back, pearl green back, plemmons, foil blue back, chartreuse ghost, dolphin, and baby bass. When asked about the foil finish, Manley explained, “The foil finish on our flat sided crankbaits produces a natural look that shad emit.”
Each package of Buckeye Lake Bait Company’s flat sided, balsa wood custom crankbait comes with a snap lock or a split ring can be added on. This is important explained Manley, “Never tie directly to the lure, it will hinder the action of the lure,” Manley continued, “always use a snap lock or split ring.” Buckeye Lake Bait Company lures come in different styles ranging from ¼-ounce to ½-ounce in weight and 2 to 2½-inches in length. Models range from floating, slow rise, sinking, and float/wake. Running depth range from 0 to 10-feet deep depending on the model and line size used.
These crankbaits have a distinctive action and movement when retrieve mimics live baitfish and other forage. For competitive anglers looking for an edge, these wooden balsa built baits catch fish. Hand built, hand painted, custom built crankbaits are not for every angler; unless, they want to catch fish.
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