Patrick Sebile on the Science of Lure Design
Turbulences, you know that is my key word, turbulences,” says Patrick Sebile, the master lure designer behind the innovative and multiple award winning line of Sebile Lures.
The term turbulence is derived from the Latin word turba, which refers to commotion, uproar or disturbance. To scientists, turbulence describes the complex, irregular and seemingly random motion of a fluid. The swirl of water around a kayak paddle or the vigorous eddies of a mountain stream are examples.
Sebile sums it up, “Turbulence is the key for most if not all lures on the market.  A designer needs to understand the shape, the balance and the turbulence it creates in the water.  Turbulence makes the bait swim, swim in a certain way, and swim under a certain speed.  That’s the whole thing.
Turbulence causes imbalances in water pressure around the body of an object moving through the water. A pressure imbalance will push the object off to one side. If a lure is designed properly turbulence will create pressure cycles that make the lure wiggle back and forth in a seductive, lifelike manner. If the lure is a poor design, turbulence will cause the lure to spiral or flutter out of control.

Sebile studies turbulence by putting lure shapes into a water flow tank. He injects dye into the flow to see the pattern of turbulence that forms around the lure. Observing little vortices or eddies forming around an elongated minnow shape led Sebile to invent his best selling and most famous lure, the Magic Swimmer. He built hinges into the lure right behind the location of the eddies. The result is a jointed swimbait that has an incredible fish catching wiggle without using a diving lip or paddle tail.

Turbulence can also affect the drag or friction on an object as it moves through the water. We find a classic example of this in nature with sharks. A shark’s sandpaper like skin is made from thousands of microscopic, teeth-like scales called denticles.  As a shark moves through the water, denticles cause a very thin layer of turbulence along the skin. The surrounding water flows over this thin turbulent layer greatly reducing drag on the shark.  This allows sharks to swim at faster speeds with less effort and energy than most other fish.

 The Navy uses this same concept to reduce the drag on submarines and ship hulls. Sebile too was inspired by the shark’s skin and wanted to apply the same low drag effect on some of his lures. Applying submarine hull technology to fishing lures was not cost effective so Sebile had to find a different way. His solution was the Power Keel, a fin-like ridge that runs along the belly of his Bonga Jerk and Stick Shadd. The Power Keel creates a layer of turbulence along the belly so the lure essentially rides on a cushion of tubulence. The result is a lure that, “slides and moves … better than any other bait of its kind” according to Sebile. The Bonga Jerk and Stick Shadd will dart and glide with just the slightest twitch but will also remain stable at higher speeds than most other lures.If you look closely at Sebile lures you will notice they have profiles, shapes, unique curves, ridges and other characteristics not found on any other lure. Rest assured these are no gimmicks. They are engineered features intended to control one thing, turbulence. You may not think about turbulence when you cast a lure, but you can be glad Patrick Sebile does. For more information on Sebile lures visit

~ Paul MacInnis

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