By Mike Carey
Well, OK, maybe I’m being too harsh. I’m – frugal. Especially when it comes to things I can do myself for a fraction of the cost of buying it. When it comes to fishing I like to save money on items I can make in order to spend the money on things I can’t. With that in mind, I present to you several fishing items that I make rather than buy.
Bottom fish Lures
Anyone that bottom fishes knows how expensive it can be as you lose your jigs to a rocky bottom. And if you’re not losing jigs, you’re not fishing as effectively as you could be. Early on I invested in a lead melting pot to make my own jigs. It’s an easy process, made easier by a product you can buy on E-Bay, “Amazing Mold Putty”. This is a two part putty that you can use to create your own jig molds. I like to use a chunk of balsa wood to create the jig, which I then use the two putty mold to create the mold. You’ll be able to easily make a couple dozen lures or more before the mold is destroyed from the hot lead. The putty runs $17 and you can make 2-3 jig molds from it. Add a swiwash hook and two eyelets and you have a jig that any bottom fish will jump on, painted or not. Lead is currently 50 cents a pound at recycle shops, making your cost per jig around 25-50 cents per jig.
Early in my downrigger fishing days I lost more than my share of downrigger balls. Hang ups, frayed lines, wire in the trolling motor – I did it all. He cost of downrigger balls was killing me. I had been making my own bottom fishing jigs so I thought, “why not make downrigger balls”? Rather than buy a mold and be stuck making just one size, I looked at other mold ideas and came upon tin cans. They work great! Each ounce is about one pound of lead. The loops can be made from heavy gage wire. The process is straight forward, just bend the wire loop and insert into the can, melt lead (it will take multiple times) and pour. The can remains and will last a long time before it rusts away and even then what is left is a solid chunk of lead. I have had no issues with the can spinning and can make a 15 pound “can” for around $7.50 at today’s lead prices. One word of caution – lead is poisonous. You should handle with care, wearing gloves and a mask, and do your melting outside so you have maximum ventilation. If you have children, be sure to have the lead stored safely so they cannot get into it.
Fish Bleeding Clamp
This next money saver I have to give credit to my friend Mark Nordahl. Mark is actually my inspiration for finding things to make out of household items. Mark is a master at tinkering and has shown me lots of innovations over the years. The Fish Bleeding Clamp is a simple but ingenious way to easily bleed your fish while keeping your boat clean. It consists of a cable clamp (found at Home Depot or Lowes), a four foot length of weed wacker line, and a few crimps. The clamp goes through the fish’s mouth, out the gills, and can then be secured to a cleat as you bleed the fish over the side of the boat. You can get a large clamp for bigger fish like salmon, and a small clamp for kokanee. I have one of each in my boat and use it every time I catch a fish to keep.
Cheaper Downrigger Clips
Did you know you can often find bulk downrigger clips that have no cable attached to them for a quarter of the price of the finished product? It’s easy to finish the job yourself and save a lot of money in the process. Again using the weed wacker line simply cut a three piece length and use crimps to connect one end to the downrigger clip and one end to a Longline Snap. A Longline Snap is the piece that connects to your downrigger cable. You can search the internet and find these for under a $1 a snap. Seattle Marine and Fishing Supply has them, as does Sportmans Warehouse. They call them trotline clips and would pair up with kokanee setups.
This is a design that is about as simple as you can get and is great for keeping your broken down rods easily organized and secure. It consists of a 6 inch piece of 4mm elastic cord and a backpack cord lock. The cord locks can be found on E-Bay for under 10 cents a cord lock. Simple thread the elastic though the cord lock and tie a knot on either end. You can easily make enough for all your rods, and your friends rods, for the cost of a couple store bought ones.
All around us are simple household products that can make our angling lives more efficient and less costly. I encourage you to let your imagination run free as you find your own solutions and save money in the process.