By Nick Simonson
For avid lure makers, there’s nothing more valuable than a few quick shortcuts at the bench to crank out high-quality, customizable homemade baits. With salmon season firing up, the addition of banded mylar strips to a tackle-crafter’s material list is a must have this time of year. These stretches of mylar which appear to have almost made their entire way through a miniature paper shredder, only to be saved at the last second, are amazing and quick ways to crank out skirts for Howie flies, Hoochie rig accents and other salmon and trout trolling set-ups. They can also be used as skirts for pike and muskie spinners.
Available in a multitude of lengths and colors from online tackle merchants like Purple Taco Fly Supply and Lure Parts Online, banded mylar is cheap, flashy and easily moved behind the thumping blades of a spinner in place of bucktail or marabou, and provides a pulsating action when towed behind a flasher for salmonids ahead of spawning season. Tying a skirt is easy, as the process comes down to three basic steps – tape, wrap and secure. What follows is a quick tutorial on getting the most out of banded mylar and a fast way to fill out a salmon box or dressing and updating those late-summer in-line spinners in need of refurbishment.
Banded Mylar Skirt
Base: Plastic Bullet Head
Tape: Scotch Tape
Material: Banded Mylar of Desired Length
Thread: 3/0 Red
Sealant: Hard as Nails
Cut the desired length of banded mylar and select a plastic bullet head that the material will be attached to and then threaded on to the line or spinner shaft; the longer the stretch of material, the bulkier the skirt will be (1). Take a length of Scotch tape that is just a bit longer than the width of the banded mylar and apply it to the material on a surface that will allow for easy removal, covering the banded part of the mylar with the tape, but not the strands (2). Trim the tape down so it is about as wide as the base of the bullet head.
Start one end of the tape on the bullet head and begin wrapping the banded mylar around the plastic so that the strands are pushed out by the rim above the base (3). If the strands just hang straight, adjust the tape so that they rest against the angle of the bullet head to get more of a bow to them as this will make for a fuller looking skirt, whether it is rigged up or down on a lure. Continue wrapping the banded mylar around the base of the bullet head, making sure that fibers don’t get caught in the tape or wrapped out of position (4). Once complete, secure the second end of the tape in place, trimming any excess tape to the end of the bullet (5).
To finish the skirt, make 25 to 30 tight wraps of thread around the base of the bullet head and tie off with a few half-hitch knots (6). Lacquer the thread wraps with sealant for posterity (7). The skirt is now ready for use on any trolling rig or spinner. Thread the skirt onto the rig with the bullet head pointing up, or stack one skirt with the bullet head pointing down and one pointing up for a bulkier offering that is still light and easily moved.
With a little practice, it takes about 5 minutes to crank out a skirt, and a trolling box can be filled for any adventure in about an hour. Stash a few for replacements on muskie and pike baits this fall, to be certain that those lures are in tip-top condition with the most vibrant offerings available.