Me and My Zara Spook

By: Bob Puente

I first saw the Zara Spook used while fishing a Red Man tournament on the St. Lawrence River in 1989. I had been paired up with Bob Dobart of Baltimore Md. We pulled up on a weed bed in about 8 feet of water. Within 20 minutes Bob had 5 two-three pound bass in the livewell. In that time, I had caught 1 two pound bass on a grub and two shorts on a Rapala. I did attempt to emulate Bob with a spook of my own but I was unable to get the "Walk the Dog" motion that was driving the fish nuts. After that day, I vowed to learn to use that lure. I got some tips from Mr. Dobart and read every article I could lay my hands on. The rest of what I learned came from trial and error. Hors were spent in the backyard pool, local ponds, and lakes.

There are several tips I would like to pass along to help those who are trying to learn to use the Zara Spook.

  1. The Rod - 5 1/2 foot medium casting rod. It should have good backbone and a fast tip.
  2. The Reel - low ratio (no more than 5.1:1) bait casting reel.
  3. The Line - A limp 14-20 lb test clear line. The heavy line is needed to help fish out of the weeds and also floats better on the surface while working a topwater bait.

Now comes the fun part. When tying on a spook you should use either a loop knot or a snap. I prefer the loop knot. This allows the lure to swing freely. When first learning to use the lure, keep your casts short (30-40 ft). Cast the spook out and let the rings disappear. Now if there is one thing to remember it is that the the spook must be worked on a slack line. Point the rod tip at the water, raise the tip about 12 inches then snap it down with your wrist. The lure should swing to one side. Raise the rod tip and snap it again. This will cause the lure to go to the other side. The more slack in the line, the further the lure will move to the side. It is not necessary to move the rod tip from side to side, just snap it straight down.

Now comes the hard part, learning how to turn the reel handle slow enough to keep the slack in the line, yet fast enough to keep the lure moving. The only tip I have for this is practice, practice, practice. After a while it will become second nature.

Now when, where and how? When: I find the Zara will draw strikes any time of year the water temps are 55 and up. As far as time of day, I have my best success in low light conditions. If it's overcast, strike can come all day long. This isn't a rule however. I have caught fish under bluebird skies in the middle of the day. Where: Anywhere. I've caught fish in 6 inches of water and out of 30 feet depths. If I'm fishing a spinner bait or Rapala around docks and I get a missed strike, I'll go back with the spook. How: In stained water, I'll work the bait with a stop and go rhythm. In clear water, I'll keep the bait moving. I will vary the speed and let the fish tell me what they want.

The last two tip that I have are ones you've heard a thousand times. First, you can't sharpen the hooks enough. The strikes you'll get will be vicious. I've hooked fish in just about every part of their body. Second, don't set the hook until you feel the fish. Too often you set the hook at the sight or sound only to have the lure come flying back at you. If you can, resist setting the hook until you feel the fish on. Should he miss, the chances are good you'll get a second strike as soon as you start working the bait again.

While I don't claim to be an expert with the Zara Spook, I have had some great days on the water and even managed to win a few club tournaments. Every time I use the lure, I learn something new. I hope this information helps! I wish you the best of luck in your next fishing outing.


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