Let me tell you how I tricked this fish using thousands of dollars of high-tech gear and hundreds of hours of computer time. This story started at the beginning of the year when I said that in 2021 I was only going to fish with lures that I made myself, nothing store bought. You see, that was really stupid because I had only been designing lures for about a week and I thought “I got this, no problem!” But really, I had problems.
You see, here’s the rub. When you only fish with lures you design it turns out you have to design a lot of lures. Like I said, it was a stupid decision. I got to work but then my ADD kicks in and I’m designing my replacement for the corky and I’m trying to make a giant Rat-L-Trap, and I’m trying to make a giant wakebait and I’m all over the place. Then, I have people calling me asking to design lures for the and asking me to 3D print molds so I do that and I was a hot mess, but I was in luck.
Texas got hit with some cold weather that probably knocked a good three to four weeks of fishing. Then it started raining and it didn’t stop for what seemed like a month so I didn’t feel too bad that I was losing a ton of fishing time. I did get some gar fishing in with my son which was great since I had never really done that before. But in the back of my head, I knew I needed to make this one specific lure for when I got to really go fishing again.
Last year, I came across this lure that absolutely slayed for me! It was the down south lire burner shad, specifically in chicken of the seas. I love this lure, it crushed it for me in spring and early summer which is right now when I’m finally getting the chance to go fishing again. So what makes this lure so special? I think it really comes down to the size. It’s listed at 2.75 inches but if you go from tip to the very end of the tail it’s a little over 3 inches. The profile really fits the bait that’s running around our marsh system this time of year. We have little shrimp and minnows, little mullets, this bait is having babies all over the place. So it mimics the shrimp, it mimics the little minnows so it’s a great lure.
So my overriding design factors is overall length of the bait. I want to keep it in that 2.75 to 3 inch range so I could have flipped this lure on to its back and glued it down to a board then do an open pour silicone, but that’s boring. That’s also kind of cheating and I respect these lire makers because they make great lures, I’m not going to just copy it. If I wanted to copy it, I would just go down to academy and pick up a bag for $4.99. I am only going to fish with lures that I make myself.
So the body is pretty straightforward, standard swim bait body. However, I did want to make one slight modification which is using these Z-Man trout eye heads and they blow up this little body. I wanted to use they have these giant prongs in them to hold the lure, so I wanted to make it a little fatter and make it a little taller in the body to fit the jig heads. I also wanted to do something a little different than a paddle tail. I’ve been experimenting around with different swim bait paddle tail and tail combos and I wanted to do something a little different. One morning, I’m having coffee and just messing around on Fusion 360 when something comes together and I thought it was pretty cool. I was calling it a guitar tail, the axe tail, until I posted it in a soft plastic bait making group and someone told me it was a fiddle fin.
So I prototype a quick one cavity mold shoot and take it out to the pond, throw it out and reel it in. I got some really good action and like what I see. The body is rock solid and the tail is going nuts, sweet full send multi-cavity mold incoming.
Now at this point, I’m only going fishing in the morning. It’s late afternoon and I go my mold so I don’t have a lot of time to shoot a lot of different colors. I decided to go with a green tone with a lot of glitter in there and a chartreuse tail. At the last second, I decided to try a new penny color. I really should have done a new penny color with the chartreuse tail. So at this point, the tide is lining up with my perfect time to fish. I love fishing in the evening time in the summer, you can get in the water at about 4-5 P.M and watch the sun go down. The tide is flowing from about 5-9 P.M which is the perfect time for me.
If you’ve watched any of my videos up to this point, you’ve seen me fish this spot before. I have a link at the end to give you a full breakdown but it’s one of my favorite spots. I don’t like to get up early. So I show up, park the car and hop in the water. Just about 20 minutes in to fishing I got a bite, but he got off. Now if you fish around the Texas gulf coast, you know exactly what that was- a state record flounder. Maybe not, but I’m pretty sure it was a flounder. It had a short bite, followed me and spit the hook which is a classic flounder move. But either way, I got a bite.
But this isn’t a bad lure so I start heading further and further towards the bay and walked for probably a good our cast fishing. No movement, but there’s bait all over the place. Mullet’s are flying out of the water and they weren’t just flying they were really on the move. I even saw a turtle which was awesome. Then out of nowhere, I got my first fish on the fiddle fin. It was a little guy, about 20 inches on the nose but I wasn’t keeping him anyways. After countless hours in front of my computer and tons of 3D printing, I finally got a Red on a bait that I designed and I cannot tell you how excited this makes me feel. It’s the coolest feeling in the world to catch a fish on bait you designed yourself.
It’s one thing if you take another mold, shoot a lure, and catch a fish on it- that’s awesome. But to catch one that came completely out of your own head, that you made yourself- there’s no better feeling. I now know how those fly town guys feel, it’s a great feeling.
Take care everybody- tight lines.
Hey guys! Today we're taking a request from a viewer named Ryan, thanks for the idea! I had a lot of fun building this Panfish lure and this mold. If you are on my mailing list you would have already received the STL files for this mold so you can print it yourself. If you're not on my mailing list, there's a link below how to join. Ryan asked for a Panfish lure mold and sent me some photos and overall dimensions. I decided it would be a good chance to show you guys how to do multi-cavity molds in a 3D printer.
Most of the time I make molds or single cavities just because it's a whole lot easier. Also, you don't have a lot of size on a 3D printer to do multi-cavities, like a large five inch swimbait for example, but a Panfish lure is tiny it's an inch and three quarters in overall length. Let's go into Fusion 360. As you can see, the main body has this rib section and an easy way to do that is with a Taurus and then you take that Taurus and you make a pattern along the path.
So I make my initial Taurus and I get it to the right size then I draw a path which is the overall length of the body which in this case is three quarters of an inch. I just make a pattern along that path and make sure that all the Taurus’ connect and that's pretty much my body. You can see that I end up with a hole in the middle and I just make a circle and extrude that circle through the main body. I join the bodies together and that fills that in and also leaves me a little bit of extra body in the front that I can make my sprue for.
The back legs are pretty simple, I draw a single arc here and use the pipe command to extrude it out and add a sphere on the end. I’m just eyeballing sizes at this point but you want the sphere bigger than the legs then it's a simple matter of drawing another line and mirroring that leg to the other side so they're perfectly even. Then we're pretty much done with the master.
Now let's talk about building the molds. The first thing I did was try to build one giant mold with all the cavities on one side. This seemed like a great idea until I popped it into my slicer and noticed it was going to take an incredibly long time to print. I decided to print it anyways but the problem with long prints when it comes to molds is not necessarily the length of time it takes but the amount of resin it takes and the amount of times you have to refill. So I started printing this thing during the day and refilled the resin a few times. I gave it one final fill before I went to bed which I thought was enough and it turned out it wasn’t enough at all so I ended up with this wonderful mold here that is missing basically the top quarter of it all. So, that mold was a complete failure. I could have printed it again and gotten better results if I would have sat there and babysat it, but I decided I didn't really want to wait 19 hours and a redesign was in order.
I just pop into Fusion 360 and pull the timeline slider back to where I had my original masters but I hadn't constructed the mold yet. I simply repositioned the masters to be side by side and slightly offset, rebuild my mold box and put my sprue hole in there. This mold only took nine hours to print and it came out pretty perfect, I have a little bit of pull away on the bottom here but it's still going to shoot.
Speaking of shooting, let's see how the Panfish lure molds came out. I decided to shoot some chartreuse and some red and I also did a little bit of a laminate here on a few on the legs. They came out absolutely perfect, I can't wait to go fishing with these lures. Right now, it's raining so I’m going to have to save that for another video but I hope this gives you some good ideas on how to do multi-cavity molds with a 3D printer. It's pretty straightforward but you want to keep your lure size down. If you're interested in a full detailed rundown on mold making, lure design and Fusion 360, I have a playlist that will fill you in for when I go fishing with this lure.
Alright guys, get that lure out of your head and onto your line.
Hey welcome to Gulfstream Outdoors where I help you get the lure out of your head and onto your line. In part three of this series we're going to actually shoot some molds I 3D printed and we're going to see how they turn out. Let’s go!
Processing the Molds
So to post process these molds after you've done printing them, we're going to do a two-part wash in acetone. The first wash is what I call the “dirty wash”- I don't change the acetone that much it's just really to knock off a bulk of the uncured resin off the mold. Once I get done with that I rub it down pretty good, maybe dunk it again and then I move it over to my wash-and-cure station. Here and I dunk it one more time in cleaner acetone and give it a spin, about 30 seconds. With the resin I use you can't really have it soaking in acetone or IPA or anything for too long or it starts to break down so I give it a quick spin for 30 seconds dry it off and look over it real quick to make sure I have all the resin off. Then, I pop it back and I cure it for 25 minutes. So for some resins that's an insanely long time, but for psoriatech scope that I use that is the recommended cure time. Interesting fact, when you don't switch modes on the washing cure you get a wild ride. Elephant’s foot is caused by overexposure of the resin and we do that when we print it flat against the build plate. Those first layers are overexposed and it spreads out the resin or actually the exposure of the resin and it gives you a lip (or they call it elephant's foot). It's really easy to take care of, I just knock it down with some sandpaper give it a few strokes there and we're all good and we're nice and flat.
Shooting the Molds
So today we're going to shoot a few different molds, going to heat up plastisol. We have my multi-cavity worm mold we have this weird, I don't know, headless salamander I guess I would call it. We have the mold I made in part two of this video a little Ned kind of ball tail. The reason I’m shooting multiple molds is they all have kind of different venting characteristics. The last Ned mold I have only has a back vent, the other Ned ball mold I have has the side vents that we did in the video. The headless salamander mold has side vents in part, but not all throughout, the body. The earthworm mold has only very large back hole vents, you'll see what trouble that causes. As always when you're shooting plastisol, proper ventilation and a mask is critical. So you'll see here how I use the M5 bolts and the M5 rivet nuts to get this thing all squared up in place and cinch down. Now you'll see on a few of these molds I don't actually put M5 bolts throughout the whole mold because I’m going to use my bench vises to clamp them down into place. I find it's just a little bit easier to deal with you have less screws and bolts to remove at the end and it holds pretty tight and it's secured in place very, very nicely. I’m actually going to do a two part injection, I’m going to first inject them all with chartreuse then I’m going to go back and clip some tails off and we're going to come back and shoot this kind of purplish galaxy kind of color. This will show that we can actually get two parts of the plastisol to fuse together in these molds and there's nothing weird.
Let's check out the results! These are very interesting to me because I’ve never actually done these types of molds with different venting back-to-back. The molds that had the side venting that I put on in part two, they certainly worked. There's no air bubbles to really speak of, it seemed to vent quite well and I actually got a decent amount of flashing right there, no major air bubbles or anything. But I get a lot of flashing and that's, I think, the vents are too big. The interesting thing here is if you look at this Ned ball mold that I did without any venting other than a single vent in the back, it has a little bit of flashing as well but obviously not as much flashing as the other ones. Then you look at the earthworm mold and it has an oversized vent in the back and it has no flashing and no real air bubbles, although I do have one where I did the laminate that got an air bubble stuck in it in one part but even all the other worms around it came out fine.
Resin vs. Aluminum
This leads me to an interesting theory, I think that the resin molds are nowhere near as precise as aluminum molds. Any aluminum CNC machine, you're going to get a production quality aluminum mold from it. It’s going to have tolerances at least in the thousands of an inch that's .0001 inches which ends up being like .002 millimeters. My 3D resin printer is pretty darn good by default, it does .05 millimeters and I can get it down to .01 millimeters but I can't get it down to .002 millimeters so I think any venting that I have that I can actually render the detail on is going to be too big and cause flashing now and on top of that. 3D resin printers are not very precise, the edges are not perfectly flat like you'll get with a CNC aluminum mold. They have variations, the resin I’m using has a three percent plus or minus shrinkage. Once you cure it so all that adds up to what appears to be a flat surface but it actually is a relatively uneven surface. I think that plays to our advantage here and those uneven surfaces actually are uneven enough to allow the air to escape so you don't need like this super complex venting system that you would need with an aluminum mold because it's just not as precise that makes our design a lot easier. I got air pockets but I got the air pockets in places that I couldn't really add venting anyways, they were up on the top part of the mold not on the side of the mold where my vents were. I think that might be due to not applying enough pressure on the chute, not shooting cold enough or hot enough. If you have any suggestions on what you want me to try to fix, please leave a comment below and I’ll give it a try in another video. Really there's no better way to produce a prototype mold or a mold that you're going to shoot for yourself than 3D resin printing compared to CNC aluminum.
Printers and Prices
I have two printers, the Elegoo Saturn and the Epax E10 both mid-sized resin printers. The Saturn will run you about $500 before taxes the Epax E10 will run you about high $600 before taxes. I also have the Creality ld002h that runs about $250. Any of those printers will produce molds for you so you're getting into a machine for between $250 and $700 and you'll have some resin costs. Let's just call it right around another $100 for resin and other stuff, then you add a little free software fusion 360 blender and you can be producing molds. The molds are going to cost you each in materials about two to five dollars depending on how they are. I can confidently say for under a thousand bucks you can produce probably hundreds of molds and that's incredible compared to even a desktop CNC machine which is going to run you a few thousand dollars. You got probably $10-$20 in materials and frankly I think it's a lot more complicated because now I need to learn, in addition to CAD I have, to learn CAM to run my CNC machine. At the end of the day aluminum is far superior to resin, it gives you far better results. Less flashing and less hassle but adding a resin 3D printer to your design step makes sure that you have a viable lure that swims exactly how you want it to before you send it off to a CNC machine.
Hey guys I hope you learned a ton from this series. Hit that subscribe button, I have a ton more lure videos coming up some really exciting projects that I’m happy to see. I’m super close to a thousand subscribers and as soon as I get to a thousand I’m going to be doing a really, really cool giveaway that I think you will all enjoy. Take care- tight lines. Get the lure out of your head and onto your line.