How to fix plastic baits

How To Fix Soft Plastic Baits | Save Your Money

Pete Bowman demonstrates two highly effective methods for how to fix soft plastic baits—saving you money and maximizing your fishing productivity. Pete also provides some handy tips for getting creative and repurposing baits that might otherwise be destined for the trash can.

“Hey, Pete, what is your favourite fishing bait?”

I bet I’ve been asked that exact question a thousand times. My answer is usually another question like, “What species?” or “What location?” Unfortunately, it’s much too broad of a question. 

Now, if you were to ask, “Hey, Pete, what’s your favourite artificial bait material?” I would probably say soft plastic. Simply put, I love fishing with plastic baits.

You’ll Always See Plastic Baits On My Boat

I still remember the first time I ever used a plastic worm. It was at Beaver Lake, just north of the town of Napanee, where I spent a lot of my youth. I had a couple of Crème Scoundrel pre-rigged six-inch worms in a #36 purple shade. Honestly, it looked like crap to me, and I would have bet that no fish would come near it.

I took a little rowboat out from our campsite with that pre-rigged snelled worm on a short, stiff, spin-cast rod with heavy monofilament line spooled up. With the worm rigged somewhat weedless, I was into my first-ever soft plastic Largemouth Bass in no time. It must’ve been close to three pounds, too. 

“What the…?” was all I could say.

Minutes later, I was into another. I caught both by squirming that worm on, in and among some big lily pads in a tiny back bay.

Not only did that day change my fishing life, but it also changed all my young buddies that were with me. I swear, they thought I was BS’ing them to the highest degree—I could see it on their faces. But eventually, I convinced them that my story was true and that plastic baits indeed worked.

Fast forward to today, and you will almost always see plastic baits on my boat.

Of course, with the word “soft” included in a fishing lure or bait’s description, there are some obvious concerns. These baits can be fragile or delicate or weak. Indeed, soft plastic baits tend to rip, tear, and break. Inevitably, it will happen to you. So here are a couple of methods for how to fix your soft plastic baits.

The Fusion Method

One way I fix soft plastic baits is with a product called Mend-It. At first, it looks like glue, but in actuality, it’s a fusing agent that forces a chemical reaction in the soft plastic material. In simple terms, it melts the material creating a permanent bond.

“Why not use a super glue?” you may ask. 

I will use super glues only as a last resort as they are hard to work with and, if put in the wrong spots, can stick unwanted items together—like your fingers, for instance. Try fishing with your thumb and index finger stuck together. 

Super glues are great to have on a boat, but for specific purposes.

Mend-It will not glue your fingers together, and it is relatively easy to clean up if a drop or two waywardly falls.

Check out the accompanying video to see how I apply this “magic serum.” 

The Torch Lighter Method

The second method I use ti fix soft plastic baits is with the use of a torch lighter. I have one at home on my workbench that I paid over forty bucks for (designed for soldering). I know, crazy. But all I use it for is to fix plastics (and maybe hit the tip of a garage cigar). I chose this expensive lighter after being advised by Mike Nabulsi of Bass Magnet and Waterwolf Lures, an Ontario based plastic bait manufacturer. He used to rely on Mend-It but now torches his repairs. Trust me, this guy knows plastic baits. The reason this lighter works so well is the tiny sharp-tipped flame it produces. With that, I can hit small cuts and tears quickly and accurately.

Of course, you do not need a forty dollar lighter. Zip into any Dollarama, and you can get a “cheapy” for around three bucks at the front counter.

I always carry a small torch lighter or a bottle of Mend-It in the boat for quick repairs. Also, a thin pair of work gloves will often prevent some burned skin as torch lighters shoot out an intense flame. Be careful!

When and Where to Fix Plastic Baits

If I’m fishing and a single colour or bait style is working, and I only have a pack or so of them, I’ll do on-boat repairs to get extra mileage out of a particular lure. I mend by either of the above methods, let the bait sit and fuse for a minute or two and then continue fishing. This has saved my day many times and has caught me an extra tank or two in the process.

If I have a good supply of a certain bait that is working, I’ll simply pile the carnage of broken plastic baits on the deck of the boat, and then once home, I’ll transfer them into the garage for my Dr. Bowman plastic bait fixing session. Liquid or torch? The answer can only be determined upon a full bait examination—a physical, if you will!

In Conclusion

Hopefully, this article and video will ultimately help you during those frustrating times when the fishing is good, but the bait material kinda sucks!

5 Replies to “How To Fix Soft Plastic Baits | Save Your Money”

  1. Soft Plastic Baits have been around for quite a while. They found their origins in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, with small worms and grubs being moulded from hard rubber. The stiff rubber used, as well as the basic shapes produced, did not allow the flexible action and effectiveness of modern soft plastics to be observed. In 1967, Tom Mann introduced the Jelly Worm, the first of the modern era soft plastic baits. They came in colors name after fruit, like Grape and Strawberry, with matching “fruity” scent added. They are still being made today. In 1972, lure manufacturer Mister Twister patented the Curly Tail concept, utilizing the flexibility of silicone-based plastic to create a rubber lure with a more lifelike action and vastly improved fish-catching effectiveness.

    By the early to mid-1980’s, high sales volumes of Mister Twister lures prompted many new entrants into the market, with competition soon leading to a broad and diverse selection of soft plastic lures being made available in a range of shapes, colors and sizes. Additionally, Tom Moore created the Touchdown Lure in 1974 in the back room of his store in Indiana. The Touchdown 6″ Original was born with two hooks with naturally weedless weed guards and include a 12-inch leader with swivels and a sinker. Later a Pro version was created with two larger hooks and a 36-inch leader.

    After intense investigation, I have come up with a very interesting concept that is unknown to many anglers regarding the boiling of soft plastic baits. Yes, you heard right – Boiling your soft plastic baits.

    A fellow named Kicker asks the question on line, “I have been experimenting buying soft baits through Ali Express. I have found some really great lures. One thing I have noticed is some of the soft swim baits seem a touch less soft then I would like, so I started boiling them for about 45 seconds. What I have found is that the baits become much softer, and have a much better action after boiling them, even after they cool down. So my question is, what happens to the material after boiling them that makes them stay softer after cooling down?

    In response Hawg says, “I don’t know the real answer but boiling makes most things softer, like potatoes.

    Keeper chimes in, “I’m also not sure what exactly it does…somebody will come on here and drop some science on us…but I know it works. I just boiled some curl tail worms the other day, about half the pack was kinked. I dunked the tails in boiling water for about 30 seconds and laid em on a paper towel to dry. They are perfect now.

    Hold on. This is beginning to make a lot of sense considering I am a retired First Class Welder and know quite a bit about the annealing process of materials. In metallurgy and materials science, annealing is a heat treatment that alters the physical and sometimes chemical properties of a material to increase its ductility and reduce its hardness, making it more workable. It involves heating a material above its recrystallization temperature, maintaining a suitable temperature for an appropriate amount of time and then cooling.

    In annealing, atoms migrate in the crystal lattice and the number of dislocations decreases, leading to a change in ductility and hardness. As the material cools it recrystallizes. For many alloys, including carbon steel, the crystal grain size and phase composition, which ultimately determine the material properties, are dependent on the heating rate and cooling rate. Hot working or cold working after the annealing process alters the metal structure, so further heat treatments may be used to achieve the properties required. With knowledge of the composition and phase diagram, heat treatment can be used to adjust from harder and more brittle to softer and more ductile.

    In this instance, boiling (heating) of the soft plastic will have a similar effect, making older or dried out plastic baits softer. We all have some of those decrepit creatures somewhere in our tackle trove.

    To continue, a guy named I Love Bass Fishing states, “I have DeLong soft plastic worms that were boiled in the early 70’s and are still softer over 45 years later. They stay softer.

    Short Fish informs us, “I’ve boiled my zoom flukes before because the tails have been bent or warped out of the package. Boiling them restored them to the correct shape. What I did notice though was my baits were definitely softer (so more action) and almost somewhat sticky. So I have the same experience as you. The two ends of the forked tails often stick together and sometimes when I go to take one out of the package, it’s almost stuck to another bait and I have to take them apart. They haven’t been out of shape since though. All I know is that when a substance is heated, the molecules “vibrate” faster and then spread out, so the substance takes up more space (on a microscopic level, of course). Not sure if this has anything to do with baits becoming soft because once the bait cools down, the molecules should be bound tightly together again. No clue but it sure is an interesting topic. My response doesn’t really help with your question but hopefully someone will chime in with some knowledge soon. ( Note : He’s on to the Annealing processes here)

    Keeper reiterates, “8” Huddleston Deluxe, swims at a much lower speed after boiling the tail.

    A guy with the handle, Fishin the High pressure waters of So. Cali. explains, “I don’t actually boil my swim baits, ect. I’ll boil the water, then turn the heat off, once the water stops boiling, I’ll take a good portion of the tail and work it back and forth in the water for about 30 to 45 seconds, same goes for flukes and kiethechs. It really helps the action of the baits, and it warms your hand up real nice to on a cold day..ha ha.

    Keeper jumps in with, “Soft plastics are made of Plastisol, which is composed of P.V.C. and other polymers mixed with a plasticizer (which makes the product flexible and pliable). Although they are initially heated and poured into molds. Plastisol’s melting point is 320°-350°F. Boiling water is 212°F. So while boiling soft plastics will not remelt them, it likely affects the pliability and flexibility much as annealing metals alters the physical and sometimes chemical properties of a material to increase its ductility and reduce its hardness.

    Big ‘un states, “I bought 10 bags of Lucky Strike curl tail worms at Wal Mart on clearance at 50 cents per bag. These worms are stiff. I dropped in boiling water, laid them on a paper towel, and they became much softer. Once the water reaches boiling, it doesn’t take much time.

    There you have it folks. Annealing your Plastisol Annelids and other tasty tid-bits can save you a bundle of cash and make a great bait even better. As My late father-in-law would always tell my wife when she was a child, “Good, better, best, never let it rest, ’til your good is better and your better, best.”

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