Let’s Look Back Part 33

The Zara Spook has been one of my favorite surface baits for a long, long time. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

The Zara Spook has been one of my favorite surface baits for a long, long time. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

One of my best friends in the high country of Arizona is as big a bass fishing nut as I am.

There are differences, of course, and one of them is that like most of the other bass men I meet these days he’s a heck of a lot younger. I was reminded of that a couple of years ago when this good friend came to me with a request.

“Stan,” he said, “I’ve read some of the stuff you’ve written about fishing a Zara Spook. I’ve just never gotten around to throwing those things. Any chance I could get you to show me how you use one?”

I could, as the name of my column here at the Bass Fishing Archives indicates, look back over a whole lot years of personally getting these wondrous old baits to do their thing. Along with a handful of other old lures that came along decades ago, they’ve provided me with more than their share of spine tingling memories.

I told my friend I’d be happy to show him what I do with a Spook. But there are some other things I shared with him that you might find of interest yourself if you’re another who is brand new to productive Spook fishing.

There’s a teensy little lake that’s a private part of the organized community where my friend and I both live in Pinetop. Trout plants have been made there and it also holds a population of bass and catfish. I’ve not fished it that much but I’ve usually managed to hook a fish or two when I have.

I told my friend I’d rig up with a Spook and suggested we walk on down to this nearby private lake where I could actually show as well as tell. “Great,” he said, “let’s do it.”

It didn’t take long for me to realize I wasn’t quite as prepared to adequately demonstrate how the Spook has to be handled as I thought.

Our permanent home is located down in the Arizona desert just a short distance southeast of Phoenix. We have a small condo in Pinetop and stay there only in the summer months. Why? Because when it’s a butt-scorching 110 degrees down in the Arizona desert the temperature will often still be in the mid to high 80s in Pinetop.

A Spook is one of the lures I like to make do its thing along the outer edge of cover like this. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

A Spook is one of the lures I like to make do its thing along the outer edge of cover like this. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I usually pack the G.Loomis rod I prefer for Spook fishing along with the half dozen or so other rods I always carry when we make our annual trip to the Arizona high country. However, when I started looking for my Spook rod to rig things up I found that this time I’d not brought it along. I did have one I thought would get me by but I knew going in it wouldn’t perform the way I really wanted.

If I’ve learned nothing else over the countless years pitching plugs in the lakes and rivers both in and out of this country it’s just how important it is to have the right tools to work with. I’ve found that to be especially true, for example, when it comes to selecting rods that enable a bassin’ man to get the kind of action with a Spook the fish will find of interest.

I’m fully aware that what I’m about to say regarding the best rod for fishing the Spook isn’t going to be accepted by everybody. Some will have different ideas. I have no argument with that. I’m talking here about “my” favorite. I’ve spent countless hours experimenting with a variety of rod lengths and rod actions in making the determinations I have.

Frankly, I could care less if you have your own preferences but I sure as the devil know what I’m going to tell and endeavor to show when someone like my Pinetop friend asks for my thoughts in this regard.

Let’s look even a little farther back in time and examine some of the events that have left me with the thoughts I have about the best Spook fishing rods. Gary Loomis is the founder of the rod company that bears his name but he no longer is associated in any way with the current G.Loomis Rod operation. Gary sold his company and his company’s name to the Shimano Company some years ago.

If you ever have opportunity to visit with Gary I think he’ll tell you he and I often shared a good many thoughts especially during the time he was developing his rod company. I was an outdoor writer for The Daily News in Longview, Washington until I left that area in 1991. It was only a 20 minute or so drive from Longview to Gary’s rod building operation in the Woodland, Washington area.

My close association with Gary was especially welcome when I needed the details on some aspect of rod building for the fishing columns or magazine features I was doing. As far as I’m concerned, Gary was and still is a genius when it comes to rod building. I’d also rank him right up there at the top of the best steelhead anglers I’ve ever had a chance to share a bank or boat with.

Gary knew I was every bit as deeply hooked on bass fishing as he was with steelhead. That eventually resulted in Gary building and marketing a rod for a time called a “The Dog Walker”. That rod was one built to my recommendations for a rod especially designed for fishing the Zara Spook.

I’ll have some additional details regarding the Zara Spook and these rods that Gary built for me way back in the early days of my bass fishing experience. Both hold such a special spot in my bass fishing memory book. You’ll find out what some of those memories are right here starting right here March 1.