Do you like fishing the StrikeKing XD series of crankbaits? Me too. They get deep quick and stay there…the lures action is great and they do catch bass. Just one problem, the fit and finish sometimes just isn’t there...it’s not bad just not good. I fished an XD3 in a blue pearl pattern regularly over the last four months and was disappointed with the results…not the case with other XD3’s in different patterns. So it was selected for a little tweaking and some new paint.
The process starts by stripping the bait down to bare plastic. Its messy and time consuming but necessary in order for the lure weight to be near factory specs. First the “too small” eyes were removed using an Xacto knife. The eyes easily pop off…not the case with some other lure brands. Next a little 400 grit sandpaper and a lot of elbow grease got the finish off leaving just the paint. Using throttle body cleaner the paint wipes off and you have a plastic blank ready to be base coated.
For this repaint I used an Iwata airbrush. It’s a great precision tool …not that I can use it to its full potential. It’s well balanced, has a micro air control valve, and will atomize anything up to 90 weight oil…just kidding, don’t try that. But really…. it’s an awesome airbrush.
So getting started the diving bill is taped off using regular painters tape. If there’s too much adhesive on the tape just stick it to your jeans or shirt to get some adhesive off, and then tape the bill. I normally cut the tape to several different sizes and angles in order to cover the diving bill as close to the lure body as possible. For this project Opaque White was used to basecoat the blank. White or Black base allows for quick and even top coat coverage. Each base color has a different effect on the top coat color so experiment before deciding on White or Black.
In this instance the topcoat colors were sprayed over the lure in layers, back, side and belly…not necessarily in that order. The distance from the airbrush tip to the lure body determines how wide the painted area will be. Keep the airbrush farther away from the blank for a wider coverage and closer for smaller areas. After each coat allow the paint a short time to air dry then flash dry it using a hair dryer.
Wrap the lure in mesh and secure it tightly with alligator clips. If it’s too loose paint will bleed under the mesh and ruin the scale effect you’re trying to create. Also, try to keep the mesh straight so the scale pattern doesn’t run off at odd angles. Spraying paint over mesh can be tricky…if the paint is allowed to dry too much before the mesh is removed it pulls the paint off and the base coat shows or it makes a raised edge that looks bad. Using a paint retarder helps keep the paint from drying out too fast. Spray, then allow a little time for the paint to air dry, then remove the mesh, then flash dry.
Next a little darkening around the eyes and along the back to create a scale base.
In this picture you can see the head and nose scale after spraying colors thru mesh. The next step was holographic glitter mixed with high gloss clear sprayed over the entire lure.
In these pictures 5.5mm (silver-gold-black) eyes have been installed and kill dots added. Getting the kill dots aligned was done by folding a transparency over the back of the lure and marking the eye on either side of the transparency. By keeping the transparency aligned with the eyes it’s easy to mark the kill dots and cut them out using an Xacto knife. Keep the eye markings on the transparency aligned with the eyes the lure and spray one side (dot) at a time.
Faint belly scale was added by using fine bridal mesh stretched in a knitting hoop. Hold the mesh over the belly and lightly mist with iridescent paint over a base color. In this case scale White scale with a Turquoise color shift.
In this picture you see the painted lure ready for the 2-part epoxy clear coat to be applied.
In these pictures the epoxy finish has dried and Mustad #4 black nickel hooks with #5 stainless split rings have been installed.
Hope this helps folks decide to give airbrushing lures a try