How to make your own sinkers and jig-heads
The only limitation to the shapes you can cast is the availability of suitable moulds. There are so many possibilities that it is unrealistic to purchase large numbers of different shape moulds. There are several ways around this. In a single pouring session, you can easily create many dozens sinkers or jigs. Enough of a supply to keep you going with a particular shape for years to come. Each one will be identical in size, weight and shape which is great provided you don’t need any other sort of sinker or jig. One idea is to borrow a mould from someone you know – many fishing clubs have sinker and jig moulds. In an evening you could create heaps of a particular shape and return it the following day.
Still another economical option is to make your own moulds from Plaster of Paris. Begin by fashioning the shape you require from Plasticine or a product called “Kneed It” I think it is, from a hardware store. This shape is called the model. You can also use a favourite sinker, for which you don’t have a mould, as a model. The next step is to make a cast from the model. This is used to make a matrix. WARNING: it is very important that your plaster mould is bone dry before pouring lead into it or it could explode!
Another method is to make a mould from scrap metal. For example, you can make a more than acceptable long cylindrical shaped sinker by cutting a length of steam pipe down the centre to create two halves. These are held together with a G clamp and stood on end to prevent lead from running out when you make the pour. A bent wire pushed down the pipe is held in place by the lead. You can make barrel sinkers with a similar method by casting a wire into the sinker. After removing the casting from the mould the wire can easily be twisted and pulled out of the lead with a pair of pliers.
A couple of old tablespoons stapled to a length of wooden board make an ideal mould for quickly producing spoon-shaped sinkers which plane quickly to the surface making them ideal for shore fishing over a foul bottom. You can either drill the holes for your line later, or a quicker method is to hit a nail through and pull it out with pliers. I have found it is easier to make holes in finished lead sinkers by winding a nail through the sinker in the jaws of a bench-top vice.
With a bit of imagination, I’m sure you can think of many other ways of making useful fishing sinkers and jigs with home-made moulds.
Lead-heads were a very popular saltwater lure in years past. They were dressed in feathers or bucktail and the head often painted and finished with a painted eye.
Lead-heads can be both trolled and cast. In fact, their compact shape means they cast very well.
Perhaps their major drawback is that they are straight runners with little action through the water. It is possible to give them a swimming action however if a design is used that includes a short flat bib moulded into the head.
Being straight runners, however, makes the lead-head ideal for trolling for tuna because you can get plenty behind your boat at once with little danger of them crossing and causing annoying timewasting tangle-ups!
Lead-heads also sink down quickly to where the fish are in deeper water. This makes them a good choice when casting from a boat or from rocks where foul ground and kelp make gear loses inevitable. Try a two ounce (50g) model if casting to smaller species like kahawai. A 40g model would be a bit better if you are making them to troll for albacore tuna.
Making sinkers and lead jig-heads is quite addictive once you get started. It also saves a lot of money over time.