How to Build a Fish Decoy

How to Build a Fish Decoy
Fish decoys are used to lure certain types of fish, for example Northern Pike, into close range where they can be speared. Fish decoys were used by American Indians and are still made today by individuals and factories. They are usually small, resembling bait fish, but there are no specific rules on what one should look like or what color it should be or even what materials to use. However, the decoy should appear to "swim" or have the ability to mimic a real bait fish when lowered into the water. To get started, decide what kind of fish you would like the decoy to resemble. A good idea is to find out what type of bait fish is popular where you plan on using your decoy.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

How to Build a Fish Decoy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Band saw or jig saw
  • Fish decoy pattern
  • Moisture resistant wood, such as cedar, that is approximate size of desired decoy
  • Acrylic paint
  • Thin piece of metal such as aluminum can
  • 1/8 oz lead fishing weights
  • Hot glue gun
  • Eye hook
  • Drill
  • Sandpaper
 
Step 1
Locate a pattern for a fish decoy. If no pattern is available, draw one that resembles the size and shape of the bait fish. Cut out pattern or transfer to a piece of cardboard and place over wood.
Step 2
Saw the wood to the desired shape with a band saw or jigsaw, closely following the pattern drawn on the wood. Use sandpaper to sand down any rough edges that remain after sawing the wood.
Step 3
Cut slots for fins in top and bottom of decoy and in tail area with band saw and slide in fins that were cut from thin metal. Apply hot glue with hot glue gun around edges of fins to hold them securely in place. Screw eye hook into top of decoy so you can attach the line and dangle the decoy in the water.
Step 4
Drill holes in side of decoy and insert 1/8 oz. lead weights. These are for balance. The number of weights you need will depend on the size of your decoy. After inserting the weights, tie a line through the eye hook and hold the decoy in the position you will be using it. It should be balanced and hang naturally.
Step 5
Cover holes that you made for lead weights with the hot glue and use acrylic paint to paint on features such as fins, eyes and scales.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Know the length of your decoy. You can use this information to estimate the length of any fish it attracts before you spear the fish. This is important in areas where there may be a legal size limit on certain game fish. Many fisherman consider decoy carving an art; don't be disappointed if your first try is less than perfect.
 
Know the length of your decoy. You can use this information to estimate the length of any fish it attracts before you spear the fish. This is important in areas where there may be a legal size limit on certain game fish.
 
Many fisherman consider decoy carving an art; don't be disappointed if your first try is less than perfect.
 
Some states have laws concerning the use of fish decoys. Contact your state fish and game department for more information.

Article Written By Jim Gober

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.

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