Any good fisherman knows that to catch fish you’ve got to have the right equipment.
Good bait and even better lures are necessary to coax the big fish into biting, hopefully adding a bit of truth to the fish story at the end of the day. But finding that perfect lure can be tricky. Luckily, Batavia resident Jim Noll knows a good turn when he sees it.
“I’ve got at least 35 years in woodworking of all sorts, carpentry, carving,” said Noll. “About three years ago, I got this idea to use scraps of wood to make lures instead of throwing it away. I did all kinds of research about different lures, how they’re made, and the actions of them and whatever. I’m retired, it’s not a big business, but a hobby. I’ve broken $1,000 over the years selling them.”
Lures By Jim, a backyard wood shop hobby, has made a splash with a number of fishermen who are picky about what they cast about when in search of a trophy fish. Noll said that after seeing the suggestion to use scraps to make lures, his lifelong love of fishing kind of kicked in and the rest was easy.
Noll said he sometimes spends up to seven or eight hours a day in his backyard wood shop, sorting through wood scraps in search of the perfect lure. Then, after a few minutes on the lathe, what used to be kindling begins to take on a new shape.
"I get a block of wood and shape it on a lathe," said Noll. "Then I airbrush paint them and add the hardware. They are more durable than plastic lures. I've had repeat customers, there's a local bass club that comes up every year and buys new ones. One local customer is Allan Moellman, the elementary school principal, who buys lures every spring for his trip to Canada."
That, said Moellman, is due to their quality and effectiveness.
"They're as good as anything you can get in a store," said Moellman. "I've caught fish in Canada off his lures. The neat thing about his stuff is it's all hardwood. He'll also make whatever you want."
Moellman said that he once took a lure to Noll for duplication after an old-timer lamented his favorite lure going out of production.
"There was this guy in his late 80s and he started to reminisce about when he and his buddies went fishing in Canada," said Moellman. "He said he had this one lure he used to use that they didn't even make anymore. He gave it to me to try and see if it still worked. I went to Jim and had him make four of them, and I gave that guy back his originals and two new ones. I took the other two to Canada, and on my second cast of the trip, I caught a fish with it. They really work well."
Noll said that the two advantages to buying wooden lures are mainly due to rugged quality and the unique factor. So far, a lot of his work has come from internet inquiries to duplicate a family heirloom lure that is no longer available.
"A good lure catches fish," said Noll. "I do a lot of research, the size and weight, and I try them out. My sister has a pond, and anytime I venture out into another type of lure, I go and try them on her pond to see the action. Of course, there are fish in it. I've cast a lure four times and caught three fish before. I try a lot of them out, field test them."
Noll said that he can begin production on several lures a day, but after the initial shaping and air brushing, the process slows down when a series of lacquer dips over four days seals and preserves the hand-made lure. Then, once it is completely sealed and dried, the hardware is added and the lure is ready for sale.
"You have to have some knowledge about turning wood on a lathe," said Noll. "Then you have to practice with your airbrush. You have to know where to put your hooks and hardware, so it doesn't get tangled and moves right in the water. You have to practice. Some of my first lures looked OK, but I wasn't happy with them. You learn as you practice. To me, it's not hard, but interesting. This is just woodworking, and I like all kinds."
For more information, go online to www.luresbyjim.com or call (513) 732-6851.