Do 3D-Printed Lures Work? And Are They Cost-Effective?

For a large amount of fishing, lure choice will be the most important decision you make out on the water. They are the tip of the spear, the card up your sleeve, the trusted general upon whom you can rely to deliver the flanking stroke of death. Some folks have begun to 3D print their own lures. We’re going to talk about why you might want to 3D print your own design, whether it works, and if it’s cost-effective.


Many anglers are content to rely on their local massive outdoor sports retailer to stock their tackle. And in many cases, the classic spinners, spoons, jigs, and plugs will get the job done. These certainly make up a good variety and, depending on size, can suit many different types of fishing.

But when you take a look into the manufacturing process, you can begin to understand how single-track this gear is.

All the major manufacturers produce millions of lures every year. To do this, the process has to be industrialized. Many of the more basic ones are simply stamped out of a brass plate and curved, dimpled, textured, branded, or whatever else with a set of industrial presses.

Even plug makers like Rapala do most of the heavy lifting with mechanized processes. To get their shape, they mill down wood and then, using a specialized lathe, cut out lure after lure.

After that, hooks need to be attached, they need to be coated, painted, decorated, added to, etc. Much of this process is done by hand.

Any angler who’s been at the sport for any significant period of time has felt the desire to branch out, try new things, and at the end of the day, see if there isn’t a way to land even more fish. But because of the reliance on both a large amount of custom factory machines along with some significant labor hours, you can’t just order a custom lure. But you can make one.

Fly fishers take great pride in collecting all sorts of unique feathers and tying their own flies. But  aside from that, it’s more difficult to recreate a lure. In the past couple years, however, 3D printing your own lures has been gaining  steam.

Back in the early to mid 2010s when folks were 3D printing everything from human organs to prom dresses, a couple anglers took a shot at it. And the crazy thing was that it worked.

Well, sometimes it worked. It’s no longer a question of whether the technology is viable (and hasn’t been for some time). Short of making sure your hardware and hooks are secure on the lure, the right lure will hook the fish.

But then, that’s the hard part—finding or designing the right lure. And with the freedom opened up by 3D printing, there’s no shortage of anglers trying it out.

One of the best sites to check out for 3D printable lures is Thingiverse. The site operates as a platform for users to upload, share, and explore 3D digital designs, often with the intent of printing them. Searching ‘fishing lure’ turns up no fewer than 184 results. One of the most successful is a jointed design created by user jakejake. Youtuber TallFishermanJ tested it out and was pulling bass after bass out of his local body of water with it.

For those looking to level up and design their own lure, well, that’s going to take some more work. You’ll need to 1) have some great ideas for a lure and 2) know how to use 3D design software. That’s a subject for a later post. If computers aren’t your thing, you could always hire a designer to get a blueprint.

And then, you’re going to need to 3D print it. Today, most printers charge between $25-$50/hour, and most lures will take over an hour to print, if not several.

So for a final takeaway, 3D-printed lures are 100% viable and, with the right design, can seriously up your game out on your local lake, pond, river, creek, or stretch of ocean. But when it comes to cost, you won’t be getting any deals. It’s definitely something to consider, but it’s not feasible on every budget.

Featured image courtesy jakejake315 via YouTube.