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LOAD A FIN

The 7-inch Red Fin is a deadly and economical striped bass lure made even better with a few simple steps.
By Toby Lapinski
Tags: surf

Fishermen are always looking for ways to gain the advantage over their fellow anglers, and surf fishermen are no exception to this rule. Back in the early 1980s some ingenious fisherman realized that if you added a little weight to the standard 7-inch Red Fin, then you could make an excellent striper plug even better. It would cast further, swim deeper and hold better in a big surf than its un-weighted brother.

While the standard practice is to add 10cc of liquid to the Red Fin, this is not a hard-and-fast rule and I strongly urge you to experiment with different volumes of liquid as well as either lead or stainless steel BBs. What might be the preferred weighting for one location may be too little or too much weight for another.

What follows is the refined process for making one of my go-to striped bass lures.

Supply List:
7-inch Red Fin
Mineral Oil
Steel or Lead BBs
5-minute Epoxy
Syringe (turkey injectors work well)
Digital Scale
Drill bit to match size of syringe
Plastic Paint Brush (1 per lure)
Razor Blade

Step 1: Remove the hooks from a stock, 7-inch Red Fin and make a mark about ½ an inch behind the eyes on the top of the plug. Drill into the body of the plug making sure not to pop out the bottom of the lure body.

Step 2: Load up to 10cc of your chosen fluid into a syringe. I suggest using mineral oil over water as it will not freeze or evaporate like water will, but many anglers get away loading with regular tap water. When this process was first started back in the 80s it was commonplace to use mercury. While a mercury-loaded plug is said to far outperform other lures, the health hazards that accompany the use of this toxic substance are simply not worth the effort.

Step 3: Shoot the pre-measured volume of liquid into the body cavity of the lure body. Make sure to depress the plunger slowly so the fluid doesn’t instead shoot back out the hole and make a mess.

**Editor’s Note #1: A load of BBs may be used in place of liquid if you prefer. This will produce a rattlin’ loaded Red Fin.
**Editor’s Note #2: A combination of BBs and liquid may be used to achieve the desired weight of the plug. Make note of the volume of liquid and number of BBs used on each plugs as different pitches can be reached with different combinations of each.

Step 4: Cap off the loading hole by dipping the handle of a plastic paint brush in 5-minute epoxy. Insert the plastic stick into the hole, shave the excess off with a razor and coat liberally with epoxy. If you are adding after-market eyes, now is the time to stick them on and coat with a little epoxy as well.

*** Editor’s Note #3: While many anglers use a heated nail to make the hole and then to close it back up after loading, I find that this seal is more likely to fail and therefore prefer the method described.

Step 5: Let the epoxy dry, weigh the final product and note the weight on the lip. I weigh mine without hooks as I not only load them differently I also use different hook configurations for different swimming actions and therefore want to know the weight of the naked plug body. If you use the same hook configuration on all of your Red Fins then you can weigh them with hooks attached.

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