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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Kenneth L. Kieser: The Amazing Zara Spook

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  • I learned top water fishing on a Zara Spook in the late 1960s, and still use the original version today with good results. Today, this favorite fall top water lures come in many forms. They all walk-the-dog and share the same basic shape, so which should you choose? Jason Christie, the No. 1 bass angler in the world, says that a Spook can come into play virtually any time during fall’s cooling period when bass gorge on bait fish before winter. Christie considers a Spook an all-day lure, and says it often performs best in the middle of the day. “I think people sometimes make a mistake by fishing a Spook early in the morning and then putting it down,” Christie said. “Sometimes the fish won’t hit it as well early this time of year. Toward the middle of the day when things warm up a little, bass really get on that Spook bite.” Christie acknowledges that there are subtle differences in the various Spook models that work best in different conditions. Here’s what he says about each style and model: Zara Spook: The original Zara Spook and my personal favorite is 4 ½ inches long, weighs ¾ ounce and has been drawing fish to the surface since 1939. Every variation has its own appeal, but sometimes it’s tough to top the original. In Spook parlance, it’s often referred to as the “Sweet Size.” Chug’n Spook: When you need a chugging splash to imitate bass running baitfish and a steady walking motion to make fish follow and attack, a Chug’n Spook. This unique lure features a big tungsten ball in a rattle chamber, serving as a noise maker that draws reaction strikes. “I like the Chug’n Spook when it’s really windy, creating a chop, and I need that extra splashing to draw the fish,” Christie said. Super Spook: A Super Spook is half an inch bigger than a Zara and armed with an extra, third treble hook. For Christie, a Super Spook earns a place on the starting team when the shad are extra large or when he knows he’s fishing around heavyweight bass. The Super Spook Jr., meanwhile, measures 3 ½ inches and commonly comes into play when the forage is smaller or the fish are a bit fussy. Feather Dressed Super Spook Jr.: The Super Spook Jr. comes in a Feather Dressed version too, with a feather on the back treble. For years, pros in the know did their best to keep quiet about tying feathers onto trebles, a modification that can be real difference maker in clear water settings and when the fish are relating heavily to shad. However, when enough pros catch enough fish by doing the same thing, the secret doesn’t remain a secret. As word spread, demand grew until Heddon added the Feather Dressed Super Spook Jr. One Knocker Spook: Rhythmic and loud, a One Knocker Spook stands out because of a single tungsten ball that travels inside a chamber and makes a distinctive knocking sound with every side-to-side step. Neither silent nor rattling, the One Knocker Spook really shines when the top water bite is strong, and a lot of fishermen are walking Spooks. “There’s just something about that One Knocker sound,” he said. “I feel confident throwing it in clear water with dead calm conditions over four feet, but I also know I can throw it over 20 feet of water and call fish up to it.” Rattlin’ Spook: Like the One Knocker Spook, the Rattlin’ Spook is all about sound. A rattle chamber filled with tungsten BBs makes this Spook talk loud as it walks, drawing fish from distances and enticing strikes from fish that won’t attack a silent walker. It’s also effective in murkier water when the fish need more help locating the lure. Profile and weight are the same as an original Zara Spook. Wounded Zara Spook: A Wounded Zara Spook has the same body as the original Zara Spook, but with front and back propellers that create a unique disturbance. The wounded version’s side-to-side motion is less pronounced than that of most Spooks, but it still walks notably, and it sports the same classic profile. The addition of props fore and aft allow the angler to create a big commotion without the bait moving too far away from the fish or promising cover. Key times for fishing the Wounded Spook are early pre-spawn, when bass are targeting bedding bluegills or any time they are holding tight to specific cover or structure. Zara Puppy: If you ever step into a smallmouth stream or fish small ponds with light tackle, you need a few Puppies in your box. A Zara Puppy walks just like the big dog, but it is only three inches long and is narrower, so it offers smaller profile and a more subtle appearance. Stream specialists tend to favor clear puppies for extra clear water. Weighing in at only ¼ ounce, a Puppy works best with a spinning rod and 6 or 8-pound test. Zara Spooks have long been one of the best top water lures, especially in the fall when bass are just waiting for an easy meal. -Kenneth L. Kieser is a local outdoor enthusiast.
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