September 6, 2019
By Mason Prince
Are you on the hunt for soft plastics but your bait shop just doesn’t have that specific color or shape that you’re looking for? No worries, my friends, because MLF pro Terry Scroggins has been making and coloring his own baits for years. The Florida pro was nice enough to let us in on his not-so-secret process for molding and coloring your own baits.
Fitting the Mold
Scroggins says the first step in getting started is acquiring the right bait molds. His molds of choice are for 5.5-, 7- and 9-inch kicker-tail finesse-style worm baits. He’s also collected molds for crawfish, beaver-style, small swimbaits and drop-shot baits. He’s been at this bai-pouring game for several years, so he has quite the collection back home in his garage in Florida.
“I’ve probably got 150 different molds,” Scroggins said. “Some of them I ordered and some of them I had made for me. I’ve designed some molds and have sent them off to get made. It’s addictive, so I just keep doing it.”
Picking the Perfect Plastic
The next step is to find the right plastic to use. If you’re looking to make a unique color of your own, Scroggins recommends finding a reliable source to buy some non-colored plastic to start with.
“I buy raw plastic from a worm manufacturing plant,” Scroggins explained. “They will usually sell it to you for a good price. When you get it, it should look just like milk. It shouldn’t have any color and it will look white when it’s cool.”
Melting and Coloring
Now it’s time to melt down the plastic. Scroggins says to find a suitable microwave—one you don’t heat the food you eat in—and a heat-proof container to hold the plastic. Heat and stir the plastic until it is completely melted and in between 325 and 350 degrees.
Then comes the tricky part.
“When it gets that hot, it turns clear, and that’s when you want to add your color,” Scroggins said. “Be careful when adding the color though, because you can always add more later but you can’t take any away. The colors are going to be tricky, but you can find some forums online to figure out how to make certain colors.”
Scroggins says to have fun with your colors. If you’re making your own baits, you might as well experiment with something you’ve never seen before.
“I look to make colors that I know other people don’t have,” Scroggins advised. “If other people haven’t made them then I know the fish haven’t ever seen that color, which makes it more likely for them to bite my bait that I made.”
…And Now We Wait
Now that the plastic is in the mold, it’s time for the easiest (yet hardest) part: waiting. It should only take about a minute for the baits to set up and cool down enough for you to handle them, according to Scroggins. He prefers to take the baits out of the mold and immediately get them into some cold water to insure that they set their shape up better. Once you take your baits out of the water, lay them flat or hang them to dry and cure for no less than 24 hours.
That waiting period is one of the most important steps in this entire process, according to Scroggins.
“The biggest mistake that I’ve seen is that people get in a hurry to use the baits they made themselves the same day they poured them,” Scroggins warned. “You have to give the baits time to set up and get hard before you take them out on the water. Patience is your friend in this case.”
After 24 hours you’re ready to hit the water with your brand-new baits and you might just become addicted to a new-found hobby.
Disclaimer: Major League Fishing encourages all DIYers to pursue bait-making with caution. Heating up plastic should be done in well-ventilated areas with the appropriate safety gear.