Homemade Crappie Jigs
My crappie fishing mentor, Jay also talked to me about making his own jigs. It made good sense to me since I have more time than money. Making jigs takes a lot of time, but costs very little money. My brother also has become interested in making jigs so we gathered up some molds and began making jigs.
I had a stash of old wheel weights. I have used a few of them over the years but saved them for making weights and jigs someday. I recently used a few to make some duck decoy weights for ZZ's training.
I use an old cast iron skillet to melt the weights over the burner that goes to my smoker. I had to raise the burner up closer to the grill, but it works just fine. By the way, those small tins from the dollar store do not work as molds. The lead sticks to them and has to be melted back out of them with a torch. Ask me how I know!
I wanted to clean up a five gallon bucket of weights and make ingots for easy use later. I spent a day sorting weights, melting them and pouring ingots. The lead is not pure, but we have found it pours well in the jig molds if the mold is kept at a reasonable temperature.
I used a map gas torch to assist with melting the weights. It melts more quickly when there is some molten lead in the bottom of the pan.
Here I used some Borax to flux the melt. The borax was only a large spoonful when added to the melt. After it is stirred in, it swells to a huge mass. It does remove a lot of useless metals, but also removes any tin which is not necessarily helpful. I only used this on a couple melts. The end result did not seem to be worth the effort.
Here I am using sawdust from my table saw. It is mostly balsa wood dust. It is supposed to assist in keeping the tin dissolved in the melt by burning and providing a carbon monoxide layer over the melt. Not sure how helpful it really is, but I tried it on several melts. I could not tell much difference in the melts that I used no flux and only skimmed the surface crud off.
I used some angle iron and made an ingot mold.
The ingots on the left were fluxed with sawdust and the ones on the right were fluxed with Borax.
I ordered materials and a melting pot from https://www.barlowstackle.com/ . I got a simple 4 lb. Lee melting pot and a couple ladles. The hooks I used are #2 Mustad Jig Hook Style 32889BR. I bought three sizes of jig molds... RHB-8-332, RHB-8-32, and RHB-8-16.
Then we started making jigs. The wheel weights that just stick on wheels are purer lead than the ones with clips. That lead did seem to pour better. This is the first melt in the Lee pot.
It took a few tries to get the jig heads to fully form. This was before leaning about the right temperature for the mold and later learning to soot the mold.
When we found out about candle soot in the mold we started putting soot on all the molds. It really helped. Especially for the smaller jigs.
My brother Frank ordered the mold STR-8-A and some size 7 swivels to make the 3/4 oz. sinkers for pushing. I need to take a few pictures of the weights and add them here.
Frank also ordered some powder paint so we can try our hand a painting the jig heads. At first we just dipped the jig heads directly into the cup of powder paint.
Then I gathered up some materials to make some fluid beds. 2" PVC pipe and fittings, some air tubing, some tubing nipples, a valve set and a small aquarium pump are the parts needed. I used a portion of paper sack as the air filter. They work well.
Here Frank is using the heat gun to heat a jig head before dipping it into the fluid bed. We found the fluid bed better than a direct dip in the can of powder paint.
Frank used this bowl to cook his jigs after painting. I did something similar to most of mine. But the last batch I made, I did not bake them. They seem to hold up just fine since we reheat them once we dip them in the powder to gloss them over.
I also ordered each of the four colors of powder paint that is sold at Harbor Freight. They come in one pound containers which is less than one two ounce bottle from Barlows Tackle. At a pound of paint each, they will out last my need for them.
This is the final result.
Now we have jigs!