Need Sustainable Material for Soft Plastic Fishing Lure

Hello, my name is Leon. I’m a science student and avid fisherman. I discussed with Tim, an industrial designer about creating a new soft bait fishing lure. I told Tim that the lures made today are not durable, not lifelike and are harming the environment.

We decided to search for a new kind of material with certain properties:

  • Flexible, so that the lure can oscillate freely. (as flexible as cloth)
  • Durable, to prevent sharped tooth fish from biting the lure in half.
  • Sustainable, to avoid dumping non-biodegradable toxins in the water.

If possible, can you provide us with any materials with these properties?
If not, are there any sites or references we can look up to narrow down our search?

Any help is appreciated.
Leon and Tim

From your specification I would suggest silicone rubber. Although fish bite toughness I am not sure. Some sample pieces you could find in a kitchen supply store and cut up and test.

Welcome to the boards Leon.

What material, may I ask, is your industrial designer suggesting?

Low hardness Hytrel RS?

This material is what I’m looking for. I like how it is more environmentally friendly and can be processed by injection molding.
Hytrel seems to have a range of hardnesses from 30D to 82D. I’ll have to research on what that means.

How did you find this material? Google Search?

Thank you Lmo. Good people here. I’ll ask Tim again and get back to you.

Silicone rubber like the Livestrong bracelets? If so, is there something more flexible than that? Maybe I can make the lure hollow…
what do you think?

Hytrel is a common plastic material that is very durable. It is typically used in sports industry for things like snowboard bindings and ski boots, and also in automotive industry. The 30D is very flexible like rubber while 82D is very stiff. You can get a Hytrel swatchbook in different hardnesses to get a feel for what you want. However, the geometry will still have great effect on the result. Meaning you could get the desired results by selecting a harder material but changing geometry of the bait. I actually designed a product a few years ago with similar trade offs, and we ended up selecting Hytrel for our needs. Some areas had to be strong, others soft etc. Let me know if Tim can’t solve your problems, perhaps I could help you in exchange for $.

Not to say that it doesn’t exist, but I have never found a TPE that can top silicone’s flexibility and durability.

I am currently working on a project that needs a flexible material for a valve. I have burned through about a dozen TPEs. None of which come close to the performance of silicone. Unfortunately, silicone is definitely a specialty material that needs to be processed in a segregated place. If you run silicone and plastic molding tools in the “room”, you will get bad plastic parts.

Also, if you are doing a 2-shot, the silicone will typically only adhere to PC. I don’t know if that is relevant but it is a limiting factor of silicone.

I don’t know if that is a typo, but a 30 Shore A is much softer than a 30 Shore D. Silicones can get down to a 10 Shore A.

Hytrel is a great plastic, have used it extensively in snowboard bindings. Super performance at low temps.

The TPE material family is made from adding oils to plastics to come up with something in between, I have seem some disastrous formulations of TPE in China factories, looked great and felt great at first, one year later, literally crumbling apart.

With actual Hytrel I had the bad experience in Italy of possibly overheating the material in the injection phase and at -20 C when the product was tested, 100% of the toothed ratchet straps on bindings breaking. In production, no such problem. (lots of transitions and radii added )

Like iab says, nothing beats the range and feel of silicone, and it seems to be a more monolithic chemical formulation to get plasticity. ( assumed)

I work with TPE a lot for the hydration market. I would say that most synthetic TPE or TPU pretty much all of them give off some small amount of toxicants. So with your requirement of it being sustainable I was thinking of Natural Rubber (latex). It comes in a large arrive of different products and might fit your needs. I think it can be cast which is similar to how they make soft lures currently. With a layering pour system similar to how you make TPR parts for gloves and backpacks. Also silicone is a good choice but very expensive it might price you out of that market with the quantity you want to use. Also if you would like to save a lot on molded cost with silicone you can do a compression mold instead of a injection style. Also much easier to find a silicone compression molder instead of an injection molder. Good luck I am also an avid fisherman.

It’s nice to know someone here fishes. I’ve also been thinking about latex. There are just so many different types. Is there a website or source I can find different hardness/elasticity?
Have you ever used latex for fishing lures?

Thank you Nxakt for the advice. A fishing lure rarely lasts one year. At most, a lure would last a couple months. Losing lures comes with fishing. It seems that you know a lot about TPE. Do you think it’s possible to have a soft lure that withstand ‘fish attacks’? The softer/more flexible the better.