There’s no question that the Zara Spook is one of the all-time classic topwaters. Invented as a bass lure, it has since become popular as an offshore plug that does a great job of imitating a skipping ballyhoo or flyingfish when retrieved at breakneck speed.
It’s unbeatable to lure up line-stretchers like jack crevalle and bonito, and I’ve also caught blackfins and even a few sailfish on this lure. However, to get the most from what is essentially a freshwater plug, I’ve found a few modifications are in order. The same procedure can be used to doctor up other hollow plugs, as well.
The plug needs to be heavier to allow the longer casts often needed in open water, and it also needs to be tougher to deal with the slashing strikes of toothy fish like ‘cudas, kingfish and Spanish—all three species also readily attack the Spook.
Some anglers go to the trouble of filling the body with BBs or splitshot to add weight, but I’ve found that simply filling the lure with polyester resin, of the same sort that’s used to build fiberglass boats, makes the job faster and easier, and also makes the body completely tooth-proof.
You can get the resin at marine supply stores, typically in pint or quart cans. Get enough “catalyst” or hardener to trigger the mix; you have to add several drops to the resin to cause the chemical reaction that turns liquid into solid. Many times, the hardener comes in a small bottle packed right with the resin.
The trick, I’ve found, is not to mix the resin and hardener outside the lure. Instead, I put the resin into an “injector” of some sort (a catsup squirter works fine), put that in the plug, and then add the catalyst.
Start by lightly clamping the plug in a vise. That allows you to work on it with both hands. Now use a 5⁄16 drill bit to drill out one eye of the lure; this is your fill hole. Use a 1⁄8 drill bit to drill out the other eye—this is your vent hole.
Place the plug nose up and fill it to a little below eye level with the untreated resin. Place a wad of chewing gum or other blocker over the smaller vent hole at this point.
Now turn the plug slightly on its side and add the recommended amount of hardener through the larger eyehole. The more hardener you add, the faster the reaction, but the more heat you generate. Even a few drops will eventually cause the whole batch to harden, so the amount you add is not critical.
Seal the larger hole with more chewing gum. Now invert the plug, slowly turning it end for end, to allow air bubbles inside to travel end to end, carrying the hardener throughout the resin.
Hang the plug nose up from a wire hook. Let it set for a few hours. The lure will feel warm to the touch but if you haven’t added too much resin it won’t warp the body. (The cooler the air, the slower the reaction; you can use less hardener in the heat of summer.)
Once the plug cools, take out the chewing gum plugs and make sure the resin is hard inside and won’t leak out in your tacklebox. If it’s not completely solid, add a single drop of hardener through each eyehole and wait until that sets; you don’t want this stuff leaking out on a plastic tackle tray.
I like to move the line tie from under the chin of the lure to the tip of the nose—this angle works better at extreme retrieve speeds. And, of course, you’ll want to replace bronze freshwater hooks with corrosion-proof 3X strong saltwater trebles—5/0 for larger species, maybe 4/0 for small dolphin
Again, this same tactic works for pretty much any hollow, minnow-shaped plug that will skip at high speed. You gain tremendous casting distance, and you’ve got a super tough plug that will last through many seasons—so long as something big and silvery doesn’t take it away from you.FS
Florida Sportsman Classics- March 2006