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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Before I croak and take all my knowledge and experience with me, I feel compelled to pass along almost all I know about one of my favorite lures - the Zara Spook. This lure is deadly on big bass, speckled trout, redfish, stripers, etc., which is why I like it.
I avoided using this lure for far too long because I thought it looked stupid - like a piece of broom handle, rounded on each end, with a pair of treble hooks hanging from it. No diving lip, no propellers, no skirt, no spinners, no legs… just blah! But it has MAGIC! And the magic comes from the angler in the retrieve, and that retrieve is called “Walk-the-Dog”. More on that later.
There is a certain amount of “magic” that can be added to the Spook by doing a little customizing. I prefer the old style Spook - not the Super Spook, Spook Jr., or the one with the rattle in it. The old style Spook comes with the old style hook hangers that have 2 screws in them. I read somewhere that strike-to-hookup percentages can be increased by 30% by hanging the hooks from split rings, giving the hooks more freedom of movement. I don’t know where or how they came up with the 30% number, but I am convinced that little trick does help, so I do it.
Another trick that I’m convinced is very important is to sharpen the hooks while you have them off the lure adding split rings. The best way to sharpen treble hooks is on a bench stone. Lay the hook on the stone with the eye of the hook touching the stone, and pull the hook, points first, into the stone. Do this 3 or 4 times, decreasing pressure each time. You now have sharpened ½ of two hooks. Rotate the hook clockwise and repeat. Rotate once more, repeat once more, and you now have the sharpest treble hook on the planet. Anything that even looks at the lure gets hooked!
The biggest spotted bass of my life (6lbs 2oz.) ate a Spook and was giving me hell in some fast current until he jumped and got his tail hooked. One set of trebles in his mouth, and the other set in his tail. He was hog-tied! I reeled in a ball of bass, and you can bet I was careful with the unhooking.
The retrieve: This is where the real magic comes in. The Walk-the-Dog retrieve causes the lure to jump side-to-side and is best done with a little slack in the line. After a long cast, I prefer to begin the retrieve by holding my rod across my body with the rod tip low to the water. To begin the retrieve, pretend you’re standing with your back to a wall and tap the imaginary wall with your rod tip. Twitch and reel, twitch and reel, and you should see the Spook start dancing from side to side. Once you’re confident with the technique, vary the cadence until you find what the fish want that day. Some fish prefer a fast, almost skittering retrieve, others a stop-and-go, and still others a slow, tantalizing retrieve. Most of my fish are caught on a boring, steady retrieve of medium speed.
I remember one day on my favorite lake, marking some large fish on my depth finder in 30 feet of water near the mouth of a creek. I thought they had to be stripers, and told my partner I was going to see if I could make one come up and hit the Spook. I made a long cast and began with a vigorous, splashing retrieve to get their attention, then slowed down to keep the lure in what I thought was the strike zone. Half way back to the boat, I noticed a bulge in the water behind the Spook. I slowed the retrieve to mimic a baitfish in its final throes of death. All Hell exploded on the Spook, scaring my partner and me half to death, but I managed to hook up, and landed a 7 ½ pound largemouth - from thirty feet deep!
I add a small split ring to the line-tie on the front of the lure for two reasons; (1) I think it allows me to impart more action to the lure, and (2) the constant twitching of the retrieve causes knot fatigue and your line will break at the knot if neglected. The split ring takes the brunt of the punishment.
Another thing - I prefer a bait caster over a spinning reel because the retrieve, done properly, will be done with a little slack as you twitch, and eventually a loop will form on a spinning reel, causing unwanted nastiness on your next cast.
When casting to a good-looking spot, don’t forget to make multiple casts to it. I think the Spook is a major irritant to fish, causing them to want to kill it, and the more casts, the more irritation. Also, when fishing where there is current, try to cast up current and retrieve down current. I’m convinced your odds go way up doing this.
When the bomb goes off (uh, that would be the strike) do your damndest not to set the hook until you feel the strike. (Good luck with that.) I’m convinced that some fish try to stun the Spook by slapping it with their tail on the initial strike, and if you can refrain from jerking, followed by some tantalizing twitches, the fish will usually come back and bust the living daylights out of it. My catch percentage went way up when I finally waited for the tug on the line.
One final trick; if bass fishing, have another rod close by with a plastic worm tied on. Bass will sometimes follow a Spook, but not commit, and a plastic worm tossed behind the Spook will get lots of bites, although usually from smaller fish.
 

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Some absolute great tips! I remember finding a yellow bone colored zara in my Dad's tackle box as a little boy, tying it on and I was forever hooked. Your comment; "I avoided using this lure for far too long because I thought it looked stupid - like a piece of broom handle, rounded on each end, with a pair of treble hooks hanging from it." reminded me of the year we had a run of 10 lb. plus blues in the bay. They were biting my zaras in half so I cut, shaped and painted some hickory shovel handles, added screw eyes and trebles and it was on. After catching a few, you could rub your hand down the lure and feel the broken off bluefish teeth imbedded in the wood. Walking the dog is one of the most exciting ways to catch everything from bass to giant A.J.s.
 

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eating tasty
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Great write up. Makes me want to try the neglected one I've got laying in my box again. You're an excellent writer, I feel like someone with no clue or prior knowledge of fishing would understand that.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
This report was prompted by the awesome luck I had a couple of weeks ago when I caught a nine pound bass and a seven pound bass from a pond - in the middle of a sunny day! See my report in the freshwater section.
 

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Jaded Old Phart
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Nice write up. May I add to it: Stop the line before it hits the water, makes the nose point towards you and lessens the chance of all the hooks getting caught up in the line/leader. And use a short stiff leader.
I'm leery of the split ring to tie the line to after having line slip into the split part. Course, the leader wasn't thick either. :rolleyes:
Use a loop knot now.
Love the topwater explosions, never gets old and it gets the heart pounding. That count as cardio vascular exercise?
 

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Jiggin Finatic
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The Zara original and the Zara II with rattles has caught me more big Trout than all other lures combined for me. Some even over 10 pounds while growing up on Merritt Island. I am 1 year shy now of 50 years of walking the dog, and it is indeed heart stopping when all of a sudden the bottom falls out. You are correct on the wait until the line pulls tight also. For trout and reds the sinking bait followup after a big strike usually kills the fish too.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Nice write up. May I add to it: Stop the line before it hits the water, makes the nose point towards you and lessens the chance of all the hooks getting caught up in the line/leader. And use a short stiff leader.
I'm leery of the split ring to tie the line to after having line slip into the split part. Course, the leader wasn't thick either. :rolleyes:
Use a loop knot now.
Love the topwater explosions, never gets old and it gets the heart pounding. That count as cardio vascular exercise?
You make a good point about stopping the lure, or "feathering" before it hits the water. I actually do this without thinking. (Note: I said I would pass along ALMOST all I know.) Some oldtime topwater fishermen recommend letting the lure settle until all the splash rings dissipate. Not me, especially when targeting stripers. I believe the initial splash gets their attention, and I want to give them something to home in on.

About the line tie... I use an improved Berkeley Knot that tends to hold my split rings together. If tying directly to the lure with the Berkeley Knot, I think more action can be achieved by clinching the knot low on the line tie. I tend to get more splash from the lure in choppy water. Just be prudent about re-tying every so often or you'll pay the price for knot fatigue.

The loop knot works well, but again, re-tie often.
 

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Some even over 10 pounds while growing up on Merritt Island.
My Dad worked at the Space Center and we lived on Merritt Island when I was a wee lad. My earliest memories are walking the shores of the Banana river sight fishing for blowfish with a cane pole, a safety pin for a hook and a piece of bacon for bait. Every time I smell raw bacon it brings back memories...
 

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Jiggin Finatic
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My Dad worked at the Space Center and we lived on Merritt Island when I was a wee lad. My earliest memories are walking the shores of the Banana river sight fishing for blowfish with a cane pole, a safety pin for a hook and a piece of bacon for bait. Every time I smell raw bacon it brings back memories...
That place was an awesome place to grow up. I've caught whopper trout in all three branches there. The Banana, Indian, and Sykes Creek. My best though was an 8.58 pound trout on an ultralight with a 1000 sized reel and a full sized Zara with silver glitter. I had it weighed at Roy's Bait House on 520 and Banana River Bridge. The Zara is deadly on big fish!
 

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Most folks do not realize that the Zara Spook originated in Pensacola. It was designed by a man who lived on Zaragoza Street, hence the name, and soon after, the Heddon Lure Company bought the rights to it and the rest is history.
 
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