Top water bass fishing is a favorite technique among a lot of anglers. There are many different lures that you can use to fish top water. One type of lures are spooks, and they “walk” along the water surface to attract fish.
In this article, we’ll cover some general information about spooks and discuss our list of best spooks for bass fishing.
Different spooks have varying advantages, so try to remember some of the below tips when investing in a new lure.
What Is a Spook?
Spook is a general name for topwater walking baits, somewhat like Kleenex for tissues or Band-Aids for bandages. It comes from Heddon’s Spook line, which pioneered walk-the-dog lures. Heddon’s Spooks remain the best in the business, and their long-lasting popularity proves their value.
Spooks have a long, narrow, cigar-like shape and act as topwater baits. They move in a zigzag manner on the water surface while the angler jerks their rod, creating the sound and look of a struggling baitfish in the water.
These lures are some of the oldest bass lures in use, as they have remained popular for over 90 years. It was initially named Zaragossa by a worker who observed how the wooden prototype bait “wiggled its butt like the prostitutes on Zaragoza Street”. The Heddon workers stuck with the misspelled title until they started making plastic prototypes.
Once they developed a plastic version, workers called it the Spook because it resembled a ghost in the water, especially when they shined a light through its translucent body. It became known as the Zara Spook, which people have since shortened to Spook to refer to other brands and models.
Modern Spooks come in various sizes with added features like knockers, feathers, and rattlers. Despite the additions, they all act as walking baits. Some of the options include:
- Zara Spook
- One-Knocker Spook
- Rattlin Spook
- Chug’N Spook
- Chug’N Spook Jr
- Wounded Zara Spook
- Super Spook
- Super Spook Jr
- Zara Puppy
The Zara Spook is the simplest model with no bells and whistles. The One-Knocker Spook is the same as the Zara with a metal ball in a chamber in the bait’s body. The Rattlin Spook makes a rattling sound while in motion using tungsten BBs.
The Chug’N Spook has a cupped mouth in front that lets it act as a walk-the-dog lure or chugger, and the Jr is just a smaller version of it. The Wounded Zara Spook acts as a walk-the-dog and prop bait.
The Super Spook is the most extended option with flashy and detailed prints, a rattle, three treble hooks, and a feathered rear hook, and the Jr is a smaller version with two treble hooks. The Zara Puppy is the tiniest Spook, making it usable on a spinning rod.
The type you choose depends on your experience, comfort level, goals, and equipment.
When to Fish with a Spook
The best times to use a spook when fishing for bass are between late pre-spawn and late fall. In late pre-spawn, the fish move away from the last break of their spawning region, and they move to their winter home in late fall.
You can use a spook in clear water with a gentle breeze, and it works both night and day. Topwater baits work at all times, so try not to restrict yourself to early morning and late evening hours. The harsh afternoon sun may inspire the bass to chase the lure.
Why a Spook Over Another Lure Type
Spooks typically target bass, redfish, trout, and pike. If you plan on catching any of these fish, you will want a spook in your lure collection.
They have a more extended range compared to other baits, with some spooks attracting fish from 20-30 feet away. Bass fish love the side-to-side movement and will swim quickly to strike the lure.
Some people avoid spooks because you need to do the work with them. However, you can use them in multiple ways. You could wiggle it side-to-side or up-and-down while varying the amount of slack in your line.
How to Fish with a Spook Using the Walk-the-Dog Technique
Spooks require active participation through the walk-the-dog technique. This simple method requires you to snap your fishing rod tip up and down, which causes the bait to traverse along the surface in a zigzag pattern.
After casting the line, and before the bail closes or your bait caster handle turns, raise the rod a bit to create some slack. Then, drop it back to its original position and snap it even higher than before. This snapping motion causes the bait to dart side-to-side.
You can drop the rod tip and take up some slack with your reel, repeating the motion to cause your bait to move in the opposite direction. If you take in too much line, your Spook may not dart. Keep repeating the process of dropping the rod, picking up the slack, and snapping the tip up to walk the dog.
Variations of this technique will have you snap the rod down or to the side. This method might be more accessible to beginner anglers learning to walk the dog.
You can also experiment with the amount of fishing line you move. Allowing for more slack moves the bait further while short snaps keep it in one spot. Jerking the rod in long, soft movements helps you cover open water.
Some fish respond better to one snap with a pause in between, whereas others will respond more to repeated wiggles. You can experiment with both methods to see what the bass fish in your area prefer.
Pairing Spooks with Other Gear
You can optimize your fishing experience by purchasing suitable gear for your topwater lures.
Since Spooks require heavier lines, you may prefer using a lightweight bait caster rod. The spinning version may weigh you down while fishing.
You will find the most success with a rod between 6’ and 7” long. Shorter rods provide more control over the motion, so go with the smallest one your height will allow.
A Medium to Medium-Heavy (M to MH) power with a Moderate to Moderate Fast (MH/F) action will also work. The necessary metrics depend on your Spook’s size.
When topwater fishing, you will benefit most from a bait caster reel with a high-speed gear ratio. Somewhere around 7:1 or higher.
Most spooks work best with 12-15 pound line to work correctly on the surface. A monofilament composition works better than braid and fluorocarbon because of its added stretch and floating capabilities.
Best Spooks for Bass
We have found five of the best Spooks for bass available today. You can use the walk-the-dog technique on all of them.
Heddon Zara Spook Topwater Fishing Lure
The tried-and-true original Zara Spook comes out on top as the overall best Spook.
- Several sizing options: Zarp Spook (¾ ounce), Zara Puppy (¼ ounce), and Wounded Zara Spook (¾ ounce)
- It comes in tons of colors, including Black Shiner, Baby Bass, Black Shore Minnow, Black Shiner/Glitter, Bone, Clear, Bullfrog, Flash Bass, Fluorescent Green Crawdad, Flitter Shad, G-Finish Blue Shad, Nickel Plate, G-Finish Shad, G-Finish Redhead, Natural Perch, Natural Leopard Frog, and Redhead
- Lightweight and compact, with lengths ranging from 3 inches to 4.5
- Attracts the attention of bass on the water surface
- Calls fish from large distances
- It has a double hook to secure the catch
- Creates an impressive fish show when they strike the lure
- It does an excellent job of catching small bass
- Durable design at an affordable price
- Fishes well on banks and cliffs because of its floating action
- Heddon provides incredible customer service
- The Wounded Zara Spook doubles as prop bait
- The glitter tends to come off quickly, sometimes while still in the package
- The hooks on the Zara Puppy are too small and weak for large bass, so you will need to upgrade to treble hooks
- The original design does not rattle
- It tends to pick up debris on its path
- May attract birds that confuse it for a real fish
- They occasionally send the wrong product
This product builds on the original Zara Spook design with an added tungsten rattle.
- It produces a loud thumping sound that is unique to other topwater baits
- It features one tungsten rattle in a sound-intensifying chamber, called a knocker
- The knocker makes a loud thump with every twitch, attracting fish from long distances
- The knocker does not impair movement as it lies in the lure’s body
- It has a stout hardware system for durability
- There are many color options available, including Bone, Black Shiner, Bone Head, Bone/Silver, Bone/Orange Mouth, Chartreuse/Silver Insert, Foxy Momma, Chrome/Pink, Ghost, G-Finish Foxy Shad, Okie Shad, Gold/Pink, Pearl Melon, Progill, Pearl Shad, Redhead, Spasm, Speckled Trout, River Shad, and Z-Shad
- The lure works in freshwater and saltwater on bass, redfish, trout, and musky
- 4.5 inches long and weighs ¾ ounces
- Readily attracts fish
- Well-designed hooks and patterns
- Excellent customer service with fast delivery
- Loud and distinct rattle sound
- Catches fish of all sizes
- May melt in sweltering conditions
- Lacks coating on the paint finish, and it tends to come off reasonably quickly upon use
Whether you want to walk-the-dog or chug, the Heddon Chug’N Spook can accommodate your fishing style.
- Generates a ton of water disturbance with its chugging and spitting action
- It features a One-Knocker rattle
- It lets you readily walk-the-dog despite its unusual cupped face
- Works in freshwater and saltwater
- Available in the classic Redhead Flash coloring
- 1-ounce weight with a 4-⅞” length
- The cupped mouth creates more splashing
- Catches fish of all sizes, including amberjacks, king mackerels, redfish, trout, snook, and bass
- The attached eyelet is too tiny for many clips, so you will need a rod dedicated to the Chug’N Spook
- You may need to connect it via tie direct
- You may need to fit a split ring on it to attach it to your fishing rod
- Not all colors will work, so you may need to try a few out before catching a fish
If the regular Chug’N Spook is too big for your tastes, Heddon offers a Chug’N Spook junior for smaller fish.
- It weighs only ½ ounce and is 3.5 inches long
- Creates a tremendous surface commotion
- Features a cupped mouth for chugging, catching, and spitting water
- The cupped mouth does not impair the walk-the-dog technique
- Works in freshwater and saltwater
- Available in the Foxy Shad coloring
- High-quality and durable design
- Has an excellent float and retrieve action
- It looks exactly like a baitfish when used correctly
- Excellent customer service and ships quickly
- It employs two #4 hooks
- You will want to wait for a sale before purchasing for the maximum value
- May not effectively catch large bass
- Not all fish prefer the same colors, so you may need to undergo trial and error before catching a fish
The Heddon Pop’N Image is a newer Snook, and it lets you pop and walk the dog.
- Allows the angular to take two actions: walking the dog and popping
- It has an extremely castable design
- Its realistic finish better emulates the scales and eyes of natural baitfish
- You can cast and retrieve erratically to attract fish from far away
- It works best with a double-loop knot and an 8-10 pound test line
- It comes in various colors, including Baby Bass, Bullfrog, Bay Anchovy, Tennessee Shad, Gizzard Shad, and Threadfin Shad
- You can choose between two sizes: Pop’N Image (⅝ ounces) and Pop’N Image Jr (5/16 ounces)
- Both sizes are 3 inches long
- The shad colors excel at catching bass
- It has a working rattle and high-quality hooks
- Heddon provides excellent customer service and fast shipping
- Creates a loud popping noise to attract the fish
- The hook sometimes gets caught in the line
- The size may be too large for some ponds
- Struggles to catch large fish
- The rings sometimes need replacement