How to Make Old Lures New Again

A professional guide shares methods and materials to restore beat-up lures

May 29, 2017
red drum on a surface lure, southwest florida
By the end of a season, this walking lure may have taken a beating; giving it new hooks and a new look will keep it in the game next year. Doug Olander / Sport Fishing

For serious anglers who love the excitement of explosive top-water strikes, it doesn’t take long to accumulate a vast collection of old, beat-up lures with rusty and dull hooks.

In my case, as a professional fishing guide working the inshore and nearshore waters of Florida’s east central coast, it’s extremely important for me to have top-quality lures with sharp hooks rigged and ready for my clients on every trip. Missing one good strike or losing the big one next to the boat because of weak hooks can make me go from hero to zero in a second. As a guide, my reputation rides on keeping top-quality equipment in the hands of my anglers.

Old fishing lures
Some of the author’s end-of-the-season lures, definitely ready for a renaissance. Capt. Tom Van Horn

My system is straightforward: Each season I go through my stash of old lures with rusty and dull hooks, clean them up, and rig them with brand-new hooks. Last year, while working the ICAST tackle trade show show in Orlando, I found some new products that have taken my annual top-water lure refurbishment project to the next level. With a minimal expense, I not only can replace my hooks with new ones, but also wrap my lures like I would a boat or car.


Remove Hooks and Split Rings

Dull, rusty hooks and split rings won’t do any angler much good. Capt. Tom Van Horn

Clean Dirty Plugs

Fishing-lure-cleaning supplies
The author has found several commercial cleaners that work well for restoring lures. Capt. Tom Van Horn

High-quality wooden plugs with epoxy paint will only need to be cleaned well before new hooks are installed. I’ve found that Reel Magic, 4 Reel Cleaner and Line and Lure conditioner all do a good job.

Put Skinz on Your Lures

Beat-up lures will benefit from being fitted with Jig Skinz
Well-worn lures like these are candidates for newJigSkinz. Capt. Tom Van Horn

You’ve seen anglers wrap their boats and their trucks; you can similarly shrink-wrap your lures with a product called JigSkinz.

Fishing lure covered with JigSkinz
Just measure and cut the JigSkinz to fit the lure and dip it in near-boiling water, it’s as simple as that and your lure is as good as — and arguably better than — new. Capt. Tom Van Horn
Lures refurbished with JigSkinz
Some of the author’s renovated lures, each sporting a new look thanks to JigSkinz. Capt. Tom Van Horn

That’s all there is to it, but it’s surprising that many anglers never get around to this. Take some time when it’s cold and windy to make your old lures new again.

100 lures ready to fish
100 of the author’s refurbished lures, ready to hit the water. Capt. Tom Van Horn
Read Secrets of the Pros to Catch More Fish on Jerkbait Lures Jason Arnold /
Learn All the Stuff You Don’t Know (But Should) About Split Rings Bill Doster / Sport Fishing

About the Author

Capt. Tom Van Horn is a professional fishing guide, journalist and conservationist, who fishes primarily east central Florida’s Indian River lagoon system. For more information visit his web site, Mosquito Coast Charters.

Capt. Tom Van Horn
Capt. Tom Van Horn .

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