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My Take On The Value Of Custom Paint Jobs

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February 17, 2014

My Take On The Value Of Custom Paint Jobs

By Dave Wolak

If you were to search the Internet back in 2005 through roughly 2008, you would find 150 listings—give or take—for "custom painting" of hardbaits. Run that same search today and you'll get nearly 1,500 hits. Not only do you find loads of custom painters, but also mass cloning of old colors under new themes like "pro designed" or "super natural" from some of the big-box lure manufacturers. The questions of the hour are do you need to think about custom paint, and if you do, what should you be paying for it?

They’re not easy answers, as the worth of a custom paint job—one that’s tailored to your specific wants and needs—versus a production paint job is going to be based on personal preference, personal confidence, and personal results. I can recall a few times fishing a crankbait around schools of spawning yellow perch up north where a custom-painted bait made all the difference for me. And given that there are thousands of anglers like me that do feel the occasional need in niche situations for having an exact color and pattern, the custom paint market has proven profitable.

It's kind of a catch 22. If you buy a custom-made hardbait, you're looking at spending $15 to $20. Add a custom paint job, and the price rises far higher. Then we have the five-dollar baits you find on big-box store shelves, the bulk of which are manufactured with simper designs, inexpensive components, and mass production paint jobs. These baits will produce, no doubt. The thing is, with many of them, not only will you be changing hooks and split rings to assure better performance, but rapidly developing hook rash thanks to lower quality primer, paint, and clear coat. If you choose to spend the money to apply custom paint and components to these five-dollar baits, you're close to the $15 mark again. I’ve gone that route, and sometimes it makes the most sense. If a five-dollar bait is a killer on your lake, and you think it’ll be even better with more purple and a hint of black, have them painted. I have found more quality bait manufacturers with staff lure artists out there now than ever before, and little research can help you find the right mix of bulk production and custom look. My recommendation, however, would be to at least have a dozen baits painted at the same time, as the more you have done at once, the fewer times you’ll have to go back for more, and the better the odds of the painter cutting you a little bulk discount.

Comments (5)

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from Tom-Tom wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I can remember most of my "out-of-state" fishing trips by looking at the "hot" lures I bought upon arrival. Some of my lures are over 40-50 years old and they still catch fish today. There was a period when some swore by using magic markers on both crankbaits and spinnerbait blades. I am of the opinion still that having confidence in whatever bait you toss is the key. When a person uses custom painted lures, and still gets no action, do the old excuses still apply?

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from rjw wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I went a couple of seasons where I would paint my spinner baits. For me it did make a difference at times. Have never tied on a custom painted crank bait though, no reason they would not work "better" in certain situations.

Tom-Tom, yes the old excuses still apply, only difference is it costs more.

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from jcmesq wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

My experience is "action is everything", yet there are times when color and the type of paint job/design is key, too. It would be nice to have a couple custom lures for show and picky fishing conditions, yet we all know that the old, worn, banged-up lures in our tackle boxes got that way for a reason, and we cherish those memories. It's a combination of the two schools of thought, that equal the variety one needs in his or her arsenal, to fish effectively.
I just started fly fishing. There's an area of lures that could drive you crazy! I'm just going to take it one trip at a time, and buy flies/lures, as I need them, on or before a trip.

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from jw2003 wrote 8 weeks 2 days ago

Quality produces "Quality..

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from MAbassassin wrote 4 weeks 4 days ago

For early season clear water in MA, detailed paint can make all the difference. The fish up here tend to be pretty weary due to fishing pressure, and seem to respond very well to realistic paint jobs.

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from jcmesq wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

My experience is "action is everything", yet there are times when color and the type of paint job/design is key, too. It would be nice to have a couple custom lures for show and picky fishing conditions, yet we all know that the old, worn, banged-up lures in our tackle boxes got that way for a reason, and we cherish those memories. It's a combination of the two schools of thought, that equal the variety one needs in his or her arsenal, to fish effectively.
I just started fly fishing. There's an area of lures that could drive you crazy! I'm just going to take it one trip at a time, and buy flies/lures, as I need them, on or before a trip.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tom-Tom wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I can remember most of my "out-of-state" fishing trips by looking at the "hot" lures I bought upon arrival. Some of my lures are over 40-50 years old and they still catch fish today. There was a period when some swore by using magic markers on both crankbaits and spinnerbait blades. I am of the opinion still that having confidence in whatever bait you toss is the key. When a person uses custom painted lures, and still gets no action, do the old excuses still apply?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rjw wrote 8 weeks 5 days ago

I went a couple of seasons where I would paint my spinner baits. For me it did make a difference at times. Have never tied on a custom painted crank bait though, no reason they would not work "better" in certain situations.

Tom-Tom, yes the old excuses still apply, only difference is it costs more.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jw2003 wrote 8 weeks 2 days ago

Quality produces "Quality..

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MAbassassin wrote 4 weeks 4 days ago

For early season clear water in MA, detailed paint can make all the difference. The fish up here tend to be pretty weary due to fishing pressure, and seem to respond very well to realistic paint jobs.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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