Over the past 2-3 years I've been painting and finishing my own baits. After spending lots of time reading articles and watching YouTube video, epoxy seemed to be the most widely used and recommended finish. Initially I had mixed results with epoxy. There are many, many ways to mess up an epoxy finish...too thick, too thin, sticky finishes, rough finish, bubbles...and on and on and on! And its slow...mixing, brushing, turning, drying, and requires extra supplies, brushes, cups, cleaners and thinners. So I set off on a search for the perfect finish. Here are my observations and experiences so far.
In the shop results:
A popular lure blank reseller recommended using MCU as a finish coat, so I tried MCU. Whew! that stuff stinks. No not the overall finish, the fumes...use an OSHA approved respirator or you'll soon be seeing green snakes on the ceiling and walking walls. I got some pretty nice finishes...mixed in with way too many wrinkled finishes. So I did some research and tried everything to eliminate wrinkled finishes...all to no avail. When MCU goes on right it produces a nice shine, but too many of my finished patterns were ruined when dipped in MCU. So its not for me.
I found an post on another forum recommending a popular concrete sealer, Eagle Supreme. It stinks too, the fumes are pretty hard to deal with but not as bad as MCU. Its fast, just dip the lure once and hang it to dry. Dries in about 8 hours with a semi gloss shine...not bad. But the wrinkled finish problems got worse. Even the best results had tiny crazing areas scattered randomly over the finish. Makes me nuts to see all that hard work messed up... even in the smallest way. Eagle Supreme was not my solution.
Enter AC1315. A highly recommended product on one of the better lure building forums. The odor is tolerable. Its easy to use just dip and hang. It dries pretty quickly and is really thin...a lot like Eagle in that respect. Multiple dips are possible, unlike MCU. It has a gloss look to it but not the high gloss shine of epoxy. About 20% of my work had wrinkled finishes. Not bad, but still room for a better solution.
On the lake results:
I use the lures I paint on every trip to the lake. What can I say, I love to throw hard baits...and yes I know...soft plastic catches more fish...yadda, yadda, yadda. Anyway, after one season the MCU finished lures began to peel. Kinda like me after a bad sunburn! Its particularly true on the bills of diving baits. Hook rash took its toll after only a few trips. Not sure what to make of it, but it doesen't matter as the MCU experiment ended in the shop.
After only a few trips to the lake the Eagle Supreme finished baits started to blister where the lure body came into contact with my Falcon lure box lids. None of the other finishes did this. Straight away hook rash was pretty bad on the Eagle finished lures. Eagle Supreme??.... can't recommend it.
AC1315 finished lures are into their third season. The finish has begun to chip off in some places and hook rash has gotten into the paint, but not nearly as bad as with MCU or Eagle. In a weird way the hook rash isn't a terrible thing... where the hooks have worn into the paint I use a red marker and Sally Hansens Hard as nails to make the lure belly look slightly bloody. I think the wounded look draws more strikes! So AC1315 isn't a bad solution for finish coats.
Epoxy finished lures are holding up the best. Almost no chipping or cracking, no hook rash into the paint, no yellowing. The high gloss shine does show scratches, but not too badly. Some of the thinner epoxy finishes necessary on floating traps and baits like that are showing hook rash into the paint, however, red markers and Sally's best make that a minor issue, for me anyway.
So there you have it. My observations and experiences with three finish coats. Today, I'm firmly in the epoxy finish coat group. Its tough and looks great. It takes time to get all the application details right, but for me its the deluxe model finish coat. Just a note....I bought a box of EnviroTex Lite high gloss finish, but I haven't tried it yet. Always looking for a better mouse trap!
Keep thinking good thoughts and fish every chance you get.