Turn an old spoon into a fishing lure that’ll catch almost anything

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Give a man a spoon and you feed him for life.
angler holding up a mahi mahi caught on a spoon lure
This mahi mahi couldn't resist taking a shot at the author's homemade spoon. Check out the video to see it in action. Joe Cermele

This story was originally featured on Field & Stream.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to any angler that the shape of a spoon lure is modeled after the same kitchen utensil you use to shovel Frosted Flakes into your mouth on a daily basis. In fact, it’s likely that the first spoons ever used to catch fish—even before Lou Eppinger began mass-producing the Dardevle in the early 1900s—were kitchen spoons converted by crafty fishermen. There are hundreds of spoons available in tackle shops these days. The shapes, weights, thicknesses, patterns, and finishes you can find are practically endless. But here’s the thing: A plain old kitchen spoon retrofitted with a hook can catch just as many fish as the most modern spoon on the pegboard.

a custom handmade spoon lure
The coolest part about making a spoon is that no matter how much or how little you choose to decorate it, it’ll still catch fish. Joe Cermele

When I think of homemade lures that are easy to build, the broom handle bluefish popper comes to mind. Then there’s the wine cork bass bug. The difference between them and a homemade spoon is that the spoon is more versatile. Whether you target pike in Canada, Spanish mackerel in Miami, brown trout in Iceland, or yellowtails in New Zealand, a simple homemade spoon will make them bite. Best of all, making a spoon is arguably easier than building any other homemade lure, and even if you put minimal effort into the project, the end result will still catch fish. Although making a spoon is faster with tools like a grinding wheel and drill press, if you’ve got a hand drill, a fine-tooth jewel saw, and a file, you’re all set.

All you really have to do is cut off the spoon’s stem, file the connection point smooth, drill a hole in each end, add split rings and a hook, and start casting. Even a dull spoon will score some bites. The real fun, of course, is getting creative. You can paint a spoon any color you want and go crazy with experimental patterns. Bang away with a hammer to flatten the edges and change the action. Use a Dremel tool to etch in scales or gills. Slap on some holographic tape or glue on some rhinestones for extra flash. Dress the hook with bucktail, marabou, or tinsel to play with tail action and create more visual appeal. The possibilities are pretty much endless.

The added bonus of making spoons is that it’s relatively cheap and you can custom tailor the lures to your favorite fishery. Hooks and split rings don’t cost much. Plus, a single bucktail, jar of paint, and pack of stick-on eyes will provide enough material to make several spoons. If you don’t have some old silverware sitting around, head to the flea market or thrift shop. Targeting lake trout, bluefish, or pike? A common tablespoon is just the right size. Want to troll for king mackerel or striped bass? Hunt down some larger serving spoons. Are stream trout or pond crappies your game? Baby spoons retired from Gerber duty or those hokey souvenir teaspoons you can buy at many major tourist traps are perfect. And if you’re paying more than a dollar apiece for used spoons, you’re paying too much.