The first time I went fishing with Mark Dunham a distinct memory formed. Mark loved nothing more than strapping on his favourite hand made timber lure, usually the one most scared with teeth marks. Each time a new lure went on, he’d tell a tale of the last fish he pulled off the current snag using that lure and the size of the fish. It was clear that nothing beat the feeling of catching a fish on a lure you made yourself.

Mark has been fishing lures since he was a small boy and has made lots of lures that adorn most pieces of furniture throughout his home. He was inspired by none other than Peter Newell and his lures have a distinct style and are characteristically North Queensland.

I’d mentioned to Mark that I would like to have a go at carving some lures and he didn’t say too much at the time, but when we next went fishing, he gave me some lure blanks to finish shaping. So I finished them off staying as true to the original shape as I could. And surprisingly it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, although getting perfect symmetry can be challenging at times.

Recently it’s been raining quite a bit in Cairns and I was growing more and more antsy, I couldn’t really go fishing and nothing else was keeping me interested. So I made a budget of $100 odd and set off to Bunnings to see what I could afford. I spent about $105 on a drill, a jigsaw, drill bits, good jigsaw blades, and a fixed blade Stanley knife with good blades. On the way home I stopped by Wren Timber to get some wood and Jayson was helpful selecting me 3 pieces that fit the bill.

I ended up with a piece of silky oak, western red cedar and some white beech. I haven’t used the white beech yet, but it looks pretty dense. The silky oak was a mission to carve down to shape but the finish is well worth the effort for nudes. But the red cedar is a dream to work with, easy to carve, but sometimes a little to easy and you need to watch it working when cutting with the grain as sometimes entire chunks go missing (grrrrzz…)

So here are my shapes. I’ve based these very roughly off other lures I like with a few changes and a couple are just made up shapes. They don’t really have names yet, but I’m thinking of some for them. Should end up something wacky like ‘Master Killer’, ‘Devil Game’, ‘Fish Hell’, ‘Life Ripper’ corny Japanese names like that.

Ok, these are Marks blanks I finished. Nice wood, very easy to work, yet solid.

Mark Dunham Lure Blanks
Unfinished MD Lures

The first blank I ever carved what this guy, the ‘Life Ripper’ (I am making these names up as I go here…) I really like this shape and hope it swims ok, it was made with Mangrove Jack in mind. I am stoked with how this turned out for my first ever try. No drawing lines, or shaping lines, just a jigsaw and Stanley knife.

Life Ripper, BTW Lures
Life Ripper unfinished timber lure blank

The second one I carved stuffed up and I took a big chunk out of it and ruined the shape. I was trying to get it to similar dimentions as the ‘Life Ripper’ above, only slimmer. But things went south fast and now I have an unfinished blank that will become a prop bait, or fizzer. This one can be dubbed ‘Fish Hell’

Fish Hell, BTW Lures

Third Lure carved was in Silky Oak and was a mission compared to the first two. It will remain nude and has no name yet besides ‘Master Killer’.

Master Killer, BTW Lures
Master Killer Wood Lures

Next is the ‘Devil Game’, I have always really liked this shape and I’m very happy with the result. Will end up with a curved bib and will be a fairly shallow runner targeted at the mighty Barramundi.

Devil Game, BTW Lures
Devil Game unfinished lure blank

Here is a group shot to compare the sizes and shapes:

BTW + MD Lure Blanks

Next time I will use a thinner jigsaw blade for the bib slots and remember to actually cut the bib slot, unlike on the 2nd one I did :/

Will be interesting to see them all painted and haunting the fish of Cairns 😀 Can’t wait!

Also big cheers to Mark for the blanks and getting me started!!