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Thread: Alloys for fishing jigs

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Jul 2005
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    Northwest Indiana
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    Alloys for fishing jigs

    Interesting threads on a fishing lure site where folks are casting jigs. Wisdom shared tells others that pure soft lead is best for mold fill-out and frequent declarations that alloyed (they call it hard-lead) is more trouble than it is worth. A few well meaning posts from yours truly suggesting the jig casters eavesdrop on a bullet casting site to learn just how lead and lead alloys behave are usually met with silence or are denounced. Just the banter on fluxing is interesting. As the fishing community leans towards lead-free, we appear to be heading for trouble with our supply.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Aug 2008
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    CassCoMo
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    I belong to several fishing sites and have made "jigs" for a long time and encountered some of the same as your self. I always thought that any lead that was pourable was good enough for fishing, probably lose it pretty quick anyway, but not for these guys. I don't even bother to try to help them out anymore.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master sagacious's Avatar
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    Casting bullets, and pouring fishing lures are two disciplines that have molten lead in common, but differ significantly in many other ways.

    A lot of the guys pouring fishing jigs are pouring very small weight jigs. That makes a huge difference. A quarter-ounce jig can be poured with virtually any alloy-- straight clip-on ww's works fine. But get that jig down to around 1/16th oz (about 27grs), or less, and you encounter some problems that you never see when pouring a 38 or 44cal bullet. Added to that is the problem that fishing jigs require a hook (effectively, a heat-sink) be added to the cavity each pour. That means fewer pour cycles per hour, as the cavities need to have hooks/eyelets/etc replaced each pour. During that time, the mold is rapidly losing heat. Bear in mind that most fishing lure molds are crudely sand-cast items, and not precision-machined and fitted tools, and often lack adequate venting, gating, and a proper sprue design. If you factor in the general confusion over fluxing, mold temp and alloy temp maintenance, and novice inexperience, the results are predictably frustrating. The result is that most fishing mold manufacturers advise that lead pourers, especially novice lead pourers, use pure lead when gravity-casting.

    Consider that ww alloy drosses heavily, and then consider trying to sucessfully pour (for self or for sale) a 1/16oz jig on a red-laquered hook, where a mispour is a monetary loss and the hook is not recoverable. You'd likely switch to using pure lead for that application a-s-a-p.

    I can get great pours with ww alloy or range scrap down to about 1/8 oz. Below that, softer alloys result in fewer rejects. Note that a bullet reject just gets tossed back into the pot, but a spinnerbait reject needs the lead carefully melted off the wire form and hook (if possible)-- and many newbies just scrap the mis-pour as a total loss of time and money. I can keep the castings within 3/10ths of a grain with soft lead when pouring 40gr lead cores for swaging, but going to ww alloy increases the weight spread. I also find that 'removable' split shot molds, with their huge heat-sink and small, complicated multi-cavity design don't just produce a product that works better when cast from soft lead, but it's dramatically easier to cast perfect pours using soft lead.

    So, there are some aspects in common, but not all, and there's enough difference in design to affect the recommended techniques. You are right that lure-casters can benefit from borrowing some basic knowledge from bullet-casters, but exact techniques and materials will invariably differ.

    Hope this helps shed a light on it.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master uncleskippy's Avatar
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    I agree with sagacious. I have been pouring fishing jigs for over 15 years and pour jigs down to 1/64 oz. I just pour all my jigs with the softest lead possible. To keep all my lead mixes seperate, I have 4 pots, two for soft lead (1 for jigs, the other for swaging), one for WW and one for lino.
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  5. #5
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Butler, Pennsylvania
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    When I pour small jigs, I use soft lead- dental x-ray foil, stick on wheel weights, lead pipe, flashing, etc to get good fillout. For bigger jigs and sinkers I use up all the questionable(as in I don't know what other elements might be in it) lead I scrounge up.

  6. #6
    Boolit Man
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    Dec 2008
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    Southaven, MS
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    I save the pure lead for small jigs, 1/64th and 1/32nd. Along with removable split shoot and pinch-ons. Setting hooks in a hot mold isn't fun work, burnt finger tips. Then trying to get molds hot enough to take the pour fully.
    That new flexible cookware that's like rubber is better. I know of a guy that can roll up to 200 hooks in his molds, place in a container and pour all at once. Says he preheats the container before pouring lead. He says his is pure wheel weights. I bought enough from him to get them down to 5.00 per 100. Hooks were costing me 4.00 per 100.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
    sqlbullet's Avatar
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    Holladay, UT
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    We need to do the diligence to perfect the process of using zinc for this task. Less competition for our precious lead, plus a customer for all the zinc we come across naturally. Win-win

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