Hi Riverfisher, let's handle the questions one at a time
Wood: for topwater lures like spooks or poppers you will do better with a lighter wook like cedar. For lures you want to get down some hard maple or birch is a good choice. * you will still need to make adjustments with weighting.
Paint: You can start out with a good oil sealant and then prime them with a good oil based primer. Finally go with oil based paint like Krylon or Rustolium. then top coat with either epoxi or 2 part urothane.
This is very very basic there are tons of info available in the archives that will be of big help to you just do a search in this section of the forum.
Good luck and if you have any questions feel free to email me at: email@example.com