Anatomy Of A Bucktail
Craig Sandell © 2010
Over the course of a Muskie season, our lures take one heck of a beating. They
are stepped upon, they have heavy objects set upon them; not to mention being abused by
our Muskie friend. Probably, among the most used lure in a tackle box is the bucktail. In
this article we will go through the steps required to disassemble, re-hook, re-shaft and
re-assemble a bucktail. Remember that not all bucktails are exactly the same, so you can
use this article as a general guideline. For this article we will use a Skimmer Bucktail,
however, the use of a Skimmer should not be construed as an endorsement for the lure or as
a testimonial to its effectiveness.
|Here Are The Tools
That You Will Need:
Since you will be using some heavy
gauge wire, you will need to have a healthy tool for cutting wire to
length and trimming the ends from wire wraps.
The compound bolt cutter shown here
will meet all of your needs for this job.
You will need a round nose pliers.
Don't confuse them with needle nose pliers. These pliers have circular
points and are used to make eyelets in the shaft wire for the rear
treble hook and the front eyelet for your leader connection.
You will need channel lock
pliers to wrap
the tag end of the shaft wire around the shaft.
Vice grip pliers are essential to the
You will need them to hold the shaft wire
stationary while you wrap the tag end of
the wire around the shaft to close the
Split ring pliers should be in every
You will use them here to install a split ring
on the rear hook of the bucktail
And The First Incision
In order to be sure that you do not loose
any parts, you should prepare a clean work place. You may want to place a
white hand towel upon the work surface so that you have a good contrasting
background as you lay out the individual pieces of the bucktail as you
Inspect the bucktail upon which you will be
performing surgery. Decide what you are going to replace and make sure that
you have all of the new parts available. The last thing you want to do is
leave this type of job uncompleted. You can see from our bucktail that it is
going to need a new shaft, although you would be replacing the shaft even if
you only needed to replace a body hook. We will also replace the body hook and
the tail hook.
The First Incision
While holding on to the bucktail, use your
cutters to cut off the eye loop at the head of the bucktail. Once this is
done, be very careful because all of the parts of the bucktail are now free to
fall off of the shaft. Now, one piece at a time, remove each piece of the
bucktail body and place each on the clean work space in the order in which you
removed each piece. Our disassembled bucktail is shown here. The only part
that should be left attached to the old shaft is the rear hook. Since we are
going to replace this hook, you can throw hook and shaft away.
Preparation for Re-assembly
Before I begin to re-assemble our bucktail,
we need to take a closer look at our parts:
|Note here that the
Skimmer has a body hook that has an angled hook shaft eye. You can't buy
hooks that have an angled hook shaft eye, but you can easily bend the
hook shaft using the vice grip pliers or a bench vice while exercising
caution not to hurt yourself with the hook.
|If you question the
strength of split rings, you can get some of the "heavy
duty" splits rings to put your fears to rest.
|You will notice that the
hooks are not dressed. This bucktail dresses a lure body sleeve. If
you are so inclined, now is the time to add additional dressing or
replace the dressed sleeve with another of your choosing.
|The Skimmer also has an
"in-line" weight to give some casting distance to the lure
and to keep it running true in the water.
Since we are
talking about body parts, here are some things to consider:
recommending that you use the Owner Stinger 3/0 treble hooks...they
require no sharpening and have good penetrating characteristics.
If you are
using regular hooks, sharpen the
hooks now (You won't have to fight the bucktail hair).
Install a split
ring on the rear hook now.
Putting It All
Using your cutters, cut a length of
shaft wire about 12 inches in length. (Next
time you may want to use a shorter length but for now error on the side
of too much rather than too little.) Typically, bucktail
shaft wire for Musky lures is .051 gauge. Taking your round nose pliers,
make a loop in one end of the wire as shown here.
Before you close the loop, slide the
hook, with the attached split ring, onto the wire and into the loop that
you made. You can wait and attach the hook/split ring later if you wish,
however, if you are not going to use a split ring, you MUST
install your hook now.
You can now close the loop using your
vice grips clamped onto the loop to stabilize the wire while you use the
channel locks to make a complete loop of the tag end around the shaft.
Remember to trim the tag end using your cutters.
Now it is just a simple matter to
slide the bucktail components onto the shaft, taking care to make sure
that they are assembled in order. See the assembled bucktail below.
only one more step to take. We must make another loop at the head of the
lure. There are some things to consider first.
Ready To Close
Now that the bucktail is back together, it
is time to make the final loop in the shaft. Before you do this, however,
We have seen that this Bucktail has some
weight added to it. This extra weight makes the lure more "cast
friendly" as well as making it run deeper in the water than if it had no
extra weight. You may have a bucktail in your tackle box that just doesn't
work right. Sometimes adding a little weight can enhance the action of a
bucktail. There may also be times when you want your bucktail to run deeper
and adding a little weight can accomplish that goal. For these reasons, leave
some extra shaft when you close the front loop. This will allow you the option
of moving the lure body components up so you can add some weight to the back
of the lure. A "dog eared" sinker that is cut down for the proper
weight will usually do the trick.
Make your front loop the same way you made
your back loop. Then close the loop with a turn or two using your channel
locks while you hold the shaft stationary using your vice grips. You are now
ready for action. It is a good idea to check your lure out for performance
before you hit the water.