How to build a 6 1/2" 2.5 ounce darter
This prticular darter is inspired by the Professor Jack Fretch.. it has been modified to suit my needs, and be more "fish friendly" as it only uses two hooks instead of 3.. for this build, i prefer white pine or AYC for fishing moderate to quiet flows.. Birch is the choice wood if you want to fish it in a heavy current..
Suppiles: I buy roll 316L Ss wire and my birch dowels from McMaster Carr... you can buy preformed ( which you will reform) wire from M&D's or new jersey tackle... you will also need large belly gromets,tail gromets, 3/0 VMC hooks a 1/0 SS swivel ( I use Kroc) and a 3 gram belly weight..in addition you will need #80 and #120 sand paper and 5 minute 2 part epoxy, as well as finishing supplies ( paint ,sealer and epoxy)
The demensions are as folows, head 7/8" - body 1 1/8" - tail 5/8"
To begin shape your blank into a 1 1/8" cylinder.. from there mark back 1 1/2" from the head, the nose of the plug is 7/8" turn the nose of the plug tapering the nose back to the 1 1/2" mark...now lay out the tail, make 2 marks at the tail 1/4" and 1 1/2" from the tail of the plug, using a skew define the taper from the end ot the plug to the 1/4" mark, you are shooting for a 7/8" diameter @ 1/4" and 5/8 @ the tail, refresh your marks as needed..once this taper is defined, taper the plug between the 1/4" mark and the 1 1/2' mark ( at the tail end of the plug).. sand with #80, followed with 3120 and lay out the rest of your plug.
Marks will be as follows from the nose, measure 1/4" this will be for the bottom lip cut... make another mark @ 1 3/4'. this will be tour belly hook from the nose you will make a 3rd mark @ 2 1/2" this will define the end of your dive plane slope.. if you are using AYC or pine, measure back 2 1/2" from the tail, thsi will house you 3 gram ( depending on wood density) belly weight..
you are readu for through drilling... I use a 5/32 drill bit on my lathe,it is the most accurate and fastest way I know to drill a plug...
one dthrough drilled, the plug is set ina jig and the belly holes are bored, first, using a 1/2" forshner bit, spot face ( counter sink) the hole for your gromet, follow through with a 3/8" forshner bit just past mid plug..
now you can index you plug on the cutting jig from the belly hole..
Set up the jig so the bottom lip is aligned to cut a 45 degree angle... the saw blade should split the trough hole, cut through to the 1/4" mark for the lower lip, now move the jig to the 12 degree slot, no adjustment of the fence should be needed...make your first cut , then move the jig to the 10 degree hole, once again make your cut.. if everything is done correctly, you last cut should bring you close to the 2 1/2" mark on the back.. the jig is them moved to the top lip posistion, which is once again a 45 degree cut, the fence must be adjusted, you want to line up the blade to leave a small upper lip, almost resembeling a beak...
The plug can now be removed from the jig,( but left on the fixture) and the saw kerf removed on a belt sander, gently fade the dive plane as you do this, this can be done by hand, it just is more time consuming..
Now seal with your favorite sealer ( I'm using a mixture of tung oil, urethain and oderless mineral spirits)... prime and pait.. finish with your favorite protective coating...
rigging...first you must form a length of wire ( 12" is about right) in the shape of a "P".. I do this around a 1/4" pin on a fixture on my bench , but a #2 phillips works fine.. form the loop arond the pin, crossing ovewr it, then holding the wire in the middle of the loop, bend the tag end back so you have a "P"..
when rigging the wire, slide it in ( be sure to catch the swivel) until the double wire begins to enter the plug, coat the double wire with 2 part epoxy and pull the wire snug int the plug.. wait until the epoxy cures to wrap your tail wrap.. thsi will keep the wire from diggin into your plug and twisting in the plug body..rig with a pair of 3/0 trebles or a 3/0 belly and siwash ( 5/0) tail hook..
this is a very versatil and productive plug.. enjoy