NICE STUFF

Columnist Charlie Walsh (Connecticut Post) Features Phase II Lures

Fincher lures solid, reliable

Maybe it's the solid feel in the hand or the slight imperfections in the surface, but there is something about a Dick Fincher wooden lure that somehow makes you believe it is guaranteed to catch fish.

Be it the 3-inch "Bucky" swimmer, a 6-inch "Surf Dawg Dipping/Darting Swimmer" or the giant 13.5-inch, triple-jointed CedarEel needlefish, the first thing you want to do when you hold a Fincher lure is find the nearest saltwater to see how it casts.

Fincher, who was part of the corporate world for 30 years, moving to Westport from the Midwest in 1969, is a longtime fisherman who keeps his boat in Norwalk. He started making his wooden lures about seven years ago when a friend offered him the wood from a cedar tree that had fallen in his yard.

"I didn't know much about making lures back then," he says, "but I knew I liked to work with wood and I knew cedar was a wonderful wood to work with. It's easy to shape, takes paint well and needs no treatment to go in the water."

At first, Fincher produced just a few darter-style lures, selling them to local tackle shops and to a few professional guides he knew. The guides critiqued the lures for him and he would make adjustments based on their recommendations.

Gradually, responding to customer demands, he expanded his line to include 13 styles of lures in all sizes and colors. He named his company Phase II Lures (www.phaseiilures.com).

Standing at a bench in his garage, Fincher starts with a rectangular block of raw cedar roughly chopped to the shape of the lure it will eventually become. Working only with a simple bench knife, he carves away strip after strip of cedar until the block is close to the desired shape. After that, he uses a disc sander to smooth the lure into its final shape. When he says handmade, he means it.

Using a small drill press, he bores a channel through the lure from each end, then uses a hand auger to connect the holes. Weights are carefully placed into the wood so the lure is perfectly balanced for the job it is intended to do. The lures are wired through with 18-gauge wire and the hand-tied 6/0 or 4/0 bucktail hooks attached with split rings. Like all the materials Fincher uses, the hooks, wire and split rings are all top quality.

Fincher makes his lures in batches of two dozen. Each lure is painted using a brush (no spraying) in colors that he has found to be very attractive to fish. Each lure gets multiple coats of polyurethane as well as hand-painted eyes.

We tested several of Fincher's lures, including the "Poppy" lure in natural wood color. It had a lively action in the water, creating a commotion as it was reeled in.

Fincher's lure are available at several area tackle shops, including Westport Outfitters in Westport. cwalsh@ctpost.com

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