Jigs, Molds, Sinkers and Bucktails

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Loosing my terminal tackle sometimes makes me start counting the dollars I spend on fishing, especially when I loose lots of it on one trip. Does that ever happen to you? You tie leaders and rigs, sinkers and jigs, all made up for a day's fishing, and find yourself running out before the day is half over. That's when I start adding up the money! It really takes away from the fishing trip! (after all, on a good day, I figure the fish are costing me about $30 a pound, but we won't go there, will we?)
To save money and keep me from counting pennies while I fish, I pour my own sinkers and jig heads, and usually wrap my own bucktails.


I remember growing up watching and learning from my father just how to pour lead with a sinker or jig mold. His method won't work for me today, and you'll see why as I explain it.

First he would locate an old cooking pot. It generally was the oldest of whatever pots my mother had under the sink, regardless of whether it was still being used for cooking. If the pot had a metal handle, two strips of wood would be fastened to the handle to prevent burning his hands. Lead melts at about 621 degrees F (327C), so it necessarily requires lots of heat. I wonder how many other fishermen out there have taken over the kitchen for a night with the largest top burner on high to melt lead!

In an extremely hot kitchen, with lead splashing everywhere, we poured sinkers or jigs until we couldn't stand the heat any longer. Often my mother would quietly clean up after us, not wanting any type of confrontation. Now you know why my wife will not permit me to pour sinkers in the kitchen!

Today, you can still pour your own sinkers.

Only, the process is a lot cleaner, and you are, thank goodness, not in your wife's kitchen! Electric melting pots with pouring spouts are sold by many of the catalog stores like Bass Pro Shops. Molds for sinkers and jigs can be found and ordered online at Cabela's. And Jann's Netcraft has an 800 number to order sinker molds, jig molds, and lure molds. Some people have made a business of pouring, painting and selling jigs and sinkers, even over the Internet. Some even glow in the dark! Many sell hand poured and tied bucktails over such mediums as Ebay. Just do a search in Ebay on bucktail jigs and see how many pop up. I've purchased some of these jigs and the quality is better than the high production machine made bucktails.

But there are some concerns around these lead sinkers and jigs that we need to be addressed. For the same reason that U.S. and other countries have banned lead shot for waterfowl hunting, there is a concern that lead sinkers and jigs pose a health hazard . Many organizations have proposed a ban on lead sinkers and jigs.

The solution, and metal of choice, is bismuth . This metal is only 7% lighter than lead, melts at a lower temperature (521F, 271C), and is environmentally safe. The lower melting point makes it a little easier to pour than lead. The only problem is the price and relative availability to the everyday fisherman. Bismuth is more expensive than lead, and not nearly as obtainable.

But while the lead lasts and before it is completely banned, you can save yourself some money on terminal tackle. And the molds can be used for bismuth when it becomes more available!
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