In simplest terms, a spook is a popper without the cupped mouth. This single variation in the physical form of the lure makes all the difference in the action. When worked with intention, the spook displays a “walking” motion with its body by swooping side to side as the line snaps tight. A spook can be the perfect alternative when a popper seems to lack drawing power or individuality.
Where to use a spook..
Like a popper, there will be primary spots to target with a spook; such as fallen timber, stumps, outside patches of pads, and emerged grasses like reeds and bull-rush. Alternative structure to target includes: submerged grass patches and submerged sparse grass. Bass will often be in submerged grass ready to ambush baitfish or other forage, in this situation the spook causes either a reaction strike, or a territorial strike when causing erratic commotion on the water’s surface. So it is safe to say (at least from my experience) a spook is generally a shallow water bait, although there are instances where using a spook in deeper water can prove effective. For example, I have both experienced and witnessed success with using spooks in 15-20ft of water over shoal patches early morning with smallmouth.
A spook can deliver well in spring, summer, and fall. In these seasons, at times, you may witness a school of baitfish being chased around or ambushed by bass. When this happens, get in the action with a spook by following the school and try to imitate a baitfish that is injured. But what about a popper? By observing the size of the baitfish that are being schooled up by bass, you can determine whether a popper or spook would be more effective. Generally, spooks are bigger than poppers, so it would make sense to use a size of lure which reflects the baitfish because that’s what the bass are keen on. If the baitfish are small, using a small popper may be the way to go, whereas with big baitfish, a big spook will best mimic the what you want. It is important to “fit in” with the size of baitfish your after, but not the action and movements which they are all following. By making the popper or spook move differently than the school of baitfish, you are more likely to get the predators attention. In most cases, working the spook or popper as if it is an injured baitfish will draw attention. From my observations this baitfish activity usually happens on overcast, warm, or low pressure days. But a big reason to use a spook over a popper is when the water has a rippled, or choppy surface. The more erratic action and water displacement by a spook gives the advantage of getting attention.
Aside from feeding frenzies, a spook can do an excellent job at drawing out bass from their cover. If you are fishing a submerged grass line, grass flat, or a big patch of reeds, a spook is a great way to efficiently cover lots of water in a relatively short amount of time. although if you attempt this on super sunny, hot days, chances are those bas want to stay down in the bottom of the water column to stay cool. on the flipside, overcast, or not so hot days, the bass will likely be much more active towards the waters surface, and much more aggressive towards your spook.
Try different popping to pausing rates: pop it x amount of times, then let it sit for x seconds, repeat. In the warmest months I will have minimal pause between motions, and in the cooler months I will pause more often, with longer pauses.
What gear to use:
Rod: 6’8” to a 7’ Power: medium, Action: medium-fast – rod length depends on your height, comfortability, and desired casting range (use a longer rod for a greater casting range)
Reel: 7:1:1 to 7:5:1 gear ratio reel
Line: 30 lb braid to 12-15lb monofilament leader / or straight 12-15lb monofilament
Colors / Size
Very similar to a popper, the best thing to do is to match the color and size as close as you can to the forage that bass are currently feeding on. You get can a good idea by looking at a school of scattering baitfish. If you do not know the characteristics of the forage then stick with simple colors such as the transparent colors in clear water, dark colors in stained and muddy water, and a bigger size spook with windier, muddier conditions