By no means am I an expert, but I have read allot of information prior to undertaking this venture/new hobbie.
After everything is sanded to where I like it, I use Mixwax sanding sealer to fill the poors. I have read allot of guys use 60% boiled linseed oil/40% mineral spitits. They dunk the plug for about a minute and then let dry for 5 - 7 days. I am not that patient.
Then I sand lightly with 180 grit and use a spray on Primer from Rustoleum.
Paint with Rustolum spray can gloss enamel, then coat with clear spray on enamel. Some guys paint on 30 minute two ton epoxy for their final protective coat (Note you need a drying motor to do this). I guess I will continue to use the method I am using now until it fails, then reconsider.
Can't wait to get an airbrush. Then the painting will be much easier and better.
Joe, what kind of wood are you using? If you're using something like cedar, pine, or basswood, your plug will be much higher in the water column. Trying finding something that is harder and denser, like a maple or walnut. They might be a bit harder to carve, but they should give you the extra weight that you need to get the plug down. You could also drill some holes and add some weight, but that might kill some of the action.