Author: Rob Belloni
The BBZ-1 Shad debuted in early summer 2008. This 4" Shad imitator comes in six colors and three sink rates. The sink rates are described as floating, slow sink (3 inches per second) and fast sink (1 foot per second). Three of the colors are shad pattern (duh) with a blugill, blue herring, and perch thrown in for good measure. Retail price is in the neighborhood of $20. The stock hook is a number 2 Gamakatsu 2x strong in black finish.
When I think about the BBZ lineup, the word that comes to mind is functionality. Fresh out of the package, these lures are ready to rock. No tuning, no modification, just tie it on and fish. I have a big pile of BBZ-1 shads and they all swim just right out of the box. Being picky I might change out the black hook for a more subtle bronze Gamakatsu round bend, but with just one hook for the bass to tug on (and potentially bend out) I'll leave the 2x on if I feel like my next cast could result in a big bite.
The BBZ-1 Shad color lineup is well thought out. So many companies these days are basing their color line up on someone else's lineup - which makes it refreshing to see at least a few original thoughts here. Yes, sexy lavender shad is a testament that someone read the marketing study that tells you the word "sex" sells product, but at least the lavender overtone on the bait sets it apart from the standard sexy shad patterns.
Where I get more interested is with colors like killer gill, a matte finish bluegill pattern with rust/copper overtones. Complementing the killer gill is dirty shad, a very yellow pattern that stands out as something unique in a world of sameness. Kudos to Spro for letting some ingenuity in here. I've often felt that yellow is an underutilized lure color. Think 082 Keeper Reaper and tell me that dirty shad doesn't look like a good color.
If you're a regular review reader you know I'm a fan of "secondary action" - that little extra movement independent from the primary action. The BBZ-1 Shad offers this with the single thread that runs out of the back of the lure behind the dorsal fin to imitate the threadfin shad. The threadfin shad has its name for a reason! The thread is present on the shad patterns and viewable in the last photo above.
My favorite detail item on the BBZ-1 shad is the color blending in the tail. Minor detail I know, but I've fished enough hybrid lures over the years to tell you without a doubt that if there is an unnatural vertical color change in a lure, fish are much less likely to bite it. I've proven this with the Castaic Softbait trout and the Rago Live Trout Hardbait repeatedly by fishing the baits at night and nailing fish on them, then trying them during the day with no luck at all.
In fish, colors change hues and tones from top to bottom. They almost never change from head to tail. This is especially true of fresh water fishes. Yes I've caught male sheepshead in the ocean before, but we're fishing for bass here and we aren't using wrasses for bait. Spro got the transition from hard plastic to soft plastic just right on this lure.
When selecting your rod and reel setup for the BBZ-1 shad, think in terms of medium to heavy action crankbait gear. 10 to 20lb is all within the realm of possibilities. If I was picking one test, I would go 14lb. There should be no need to replace the split ring or use a snap. On most lipless hard baits a snap actually impedes the action. Just tie direct and go for it.
With every review I write I take time to fish with the lures and also to listen carefully for feedback. Although the fishing world is pretty tight lipped these days, a strong trailing indicator of lure success is eBay. Jump on there right now and you'll likely find custom painted BBZ-1 shad with large numbers of bidders and some pretty outrageous price tags. This tells me the lure is working. For me, not so much, but for other people somewhere, things are happening.
If I could politely offer one con, it would be that while the lure is shaped like a shad and painted like a shad, the motion is not much like a shad. I'm not saying the action is a bad action; it has a fishy look to it. But if you toss this thing in to busting fish that are on 4 inch threadfin shad, the lure just does not look like the real thing.
All things considered this is a solid product from Spro and clearly people are using it and paying big bucks for custom painted models. Of the lipless shad swimbaits avaialbe, the Spro and the Uncle Josh are my favorites so far.