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Lure Review

An Affordable Alternative For Those Not Quite "Sold" On the Price of The Swimbait Craze: The Spro BBZ-1

Date: 2/14/07
Tackle type: Lures
Manufacturer: Spro
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 8.33


Introduction: At ICAST 2006, we got our first glimpse at a rather promising looking new swimbait by Spro. Designed by trophy bass fisherman Bill Siemental this new swimbait, with a retail price of $40, showed the potential to take the big baits for big fish craze mainstream. We managed to get our hands on some of the first run versions of this new bait and have been fishing it over the course of several months to see just how well they hold up. Can a mass produced, $40 bait really hold a candle to some of the crazy, hand made and hand painted baits selling for $100 and more out here on the west coast? Let's find out as we bring to you now, our review on the BBZ-1 swimbait by Spro.


Introducing the Spro BBZ-1 Swimbait


Spro BBZ-1 Specifications

Type Swimbait
Depth Any
Class Available in Floating, Slow Sink & Fast Sink
Size 8" / 4.5 ounces
Colors/Patterns Trout, Matte Trout, Kokanee
MSRP $40

Impressions: The Spro BBZ-1 features a hard plastic body with a soft plastic tail and soft plastic appendages. It's available in three basic colors and comes equipped with heavy duty Gamakatsu treble hooks. It is a rather impressive little bait for its price point. We were particularly enamored with the matte trout finish when we saw it at ICAST, so this was the first color we ordered as soon as the baits became available.


The Spro BBZ-1 (front) is very similar to the Rago Baby Tool (back)


Of course, before we get much further, we need to address the obvious and that is this bait's uncanny resemblance to the previously reviewed Rago Baby Tool. There's little doubt in our minds that BBZ-1 exhibits similar features as the Rago Baby Tool, and given the burgeoning interest in this segment of the bait market coupled with the reputation of someone like Jerry Rago, the proliferation of imitations was just a matter of time. After all, how many crankbaits and jerkbaits do you have that look similar to one another?


While the baits do look alike, there are some very real differences as well. Case in point, the joints on our Rago Baby Tool (back) are much tighter than those on our Spro BBZ-1 (front)

That having been said, there are some differences. First off is the use of soft plastic on the BBZ-1 for the bait's appendages versus the hard resin fins on the Baby Tool. Second is the execution of the bait's joints which are relatively closed in and somewhat concealed on the Baby Tool versus the more open and very obvious joints on the BBZ-1. Third, the finish on the BBZ-1's soft tail more closely matches the main body than does the same section on the Baby Tool. Lastly, the Rago Baby Tool is a relatively silent lure where as the BBZ-1 features a bearing in the rear section of the bait that gives off a rather audible knocking sound as it swims in the water. These are some of the more obvious differences between the two baits and while the physical similarities are there, how exactly, does the Spro BBZ-1 perform in the water?

Another look at the joints of these two similar baits


The Field Tests: The proof with any bait, is in its effectiveness. To evaluate our BBZ-1 out in the field, I relied on two rigs: my custom built G.Loomis BB964 GL2 paired with a Shimano Calcutta 201DC and my Megabass F7-74XH DG Destruction paired with another Shimano Calcutta 201DC.


Complete test rigs for Spro BBZ-1 Field Tests

Rig One Rig Two
Rod Custom G.Loomis BB964 GL2 F7-74XH DG Destruction
Reel Shimano Calcutta 201DC Shimano Calcutta 201DC
Line 50lb Suffix Performance Braid 20lb Sunline Shooter FC


The Spro BBZ-1 sports a fairly realistic appearance

The matte trout finish on the BBZ-1 was our favorite and it really comes alive when wet


The Fall: Upon entry in the water, our slow sink BBZ-1's sank steadily at a rate just a hair faster than one foot per every two seconds. Our Rago Baby Tool, as a point of reference, sank at a similar rate through the first four or five feet, but then slowed considerably to a rate of almost a foot for every three to four seconds the closer it reached the ten foot depth of our test tank. On the descent, the BBZ-1 takes a slight, head down angle and, thanks to its wide joints, has the tendency to curl into a "c" that, when coupled with the head down descent angle, causes the bait to swim in a slow, spiraling pattern as it sinks down into the water column.


The soft tail section of the Spro BBZ-1 matches up very well in finish to the rest of the lure's body

The BBZ-1 also has soft fins to make it easier for a bass to engulf

Steady Retrieve: Snap your rod tip and start your retrieve and the BBZ--1 snakes back to you in a tight s-pattern. As you speed your retrieve, the head section grows more still and the majority of the bait's swimming action, at high speeds, comes from the tail section. We did notice, unlike our Rago Baby Tool, that the Spro BBZ-1 does have a small degree of top to bottom waddling as it comes through the water. Perhaps the soft plastic fins on the BBZ-1 do not provide the same lateral support as the hard, resin fins on the Baby Tool? It's hard to say for certain.


The BBZ-1 has a fairly realistic swimming action

On a steady retrieve, you can really hear the bearing located in the BBZ--1's tail section thumping along as the bait swims back to you. Maybe it's from all those years tossing crankbaits with bearings and rattles, but this rather benign feature was confidence inspiring and a fun characteristic of the Spro swimbait and if a bait is fun and confidence inspiring, then it's going to see a lot of action from this editor in particular.

This shot shows how well the matte trout finish lights up in the water


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