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Spro BBZ-1

Author: Rob Belloni

Overview/History:  The BBZ-1 was released to the public in 2006.  BBZ stands for Big Bass Zone, a reference to Bill Siemantel's book with the same name.  The BBZ-1 comes in three colors: flat rainbow, rainbow trout, and silver fish.  There is one size (8") and three sink rates: fast sink, slow sink, and floating.  The baits retail for a click under $40 and come stock with 1/0 Gamakatsu 2x trebles (black) and Spro's Power Split Rings.

Pros: The BBZ-1 has a mechanical look to it out of the water, so when I got the lure what I really wanted to see was how it looked in the water.  My first impression -- I was impressed.  The BBZ-1 tracks perfectly straight in the water as fast as you can reel it.  When you consider how many baits there are on the market that do not swim straight, that by itself is an accomplishment.

Not only does the BBZ-1 swim true, it also swims with a realistic action at all speeds.  You can twitch the lure, rip it, or kill it and let it glide off -- in every case the BBZ-1 maintains its balance.  Surprisingly, the lure does not foul on itself very often either.  Most lip-less baits will grab the hooks if you throw too much slack in the line, but even when I tried to make the BBZ-1 foul itself, it did not.

The matte finish and large gaps between the body sections looked awkward out of the water, but in the water neither of these characteristics bothered me.  It takes some guts for a manufacturer to incorporate features in to a lure that look bad on the shelf, but good in the water.  That Spro made this leap is worth noting, and applauding.  From an appearance standpoint I also liked the fact that the BBZ-1 fins and tail are color matched to the body.  I hate when soft plastic components do not match with hardbait bodies, and was glad to see Spro get this right.

Durability wise, the BBZ-1 ranks an 8.5 out of 10 in my book.  I put 5 hours in on the fast-sink model, fishing it hard, and came away with just a few tick marks and paint scratches around the back edges of the joints.  The lure does beat on itself in the joints, but even if you do lose some of the top layer paint -- the primer coat is silver/gray so the lure still looks reasonably fish-like.

Another thing I liked about the BBZ-1 was the fact that the sink rates of the lure actually matched up with my expectations.  I was expecting the fast-sink to be more of a slow-sink.  I was also anticipating that the fast sink would have diminished swimming action because of the additional weight needed to pull the lure down.  Neither of these fears were realized when I put the fast-sink model in the water.  The lure sank out on a fast clip and swam with fluid action back to the boat.  I dig that.

The stock hardware on the BBZ-1 is adequate, if not excellent.  The hooks are sharp, and the split rings are strong.  I would consider changing the hooks for stripers, or if you are slightly paranoid about big bass bending them out.  Although the 2x rating on the Gamakatsu sounds comforting, I have bent out this exact model of hook before on largemouth bass.  Regardless, it is nice that for $40 you get a lure that is ready to go out of the box.

Which brings me to the topic of price.  $40 is a remarkable retail price point for what you get in the BBZ-1.  Granted, this is a made in China product (I believe OEM'd by River2Sea) but you can't deny the fact that it is durable, realistic, and uses high quality components.  Before the BBZ-1, virtually all of the big trout-imitating hardbaits were made by small manufacturers in the U.S.A.  That a company like Spro was willing to go to China and do the volume says something about the swimbait market as a whole.  That the end product turned out to be decent was surprising to me, and may say something about where swimbait manufacturing is going in the future.

Oh yea, you may be wondering if the BBZ-1 catches fish.  From what I gather, it sure sounds like it does.  The lure hasn't lit the world on fire, but I do hear the occasional BBZ-1 report, and it seems as though the BBZ-1 is here to stay.

Cons:  The number one complaint in the first few months after the BBZ-1 was released was that the fins fell off.  Ah, the perils of manufacturing overseas.  There were emails and posts on Internet forums explaining how to get fin kits and do fin repair.  It was something of a debacle, and put a bad taste in a lot of first time BBZ-1 users mouths.  My understanding is that this problem is fixed, and on my own baits I have not had this problem.  I did observe some slight peeling up on the tail, but a dot of super glue gel fixed the problem.  In any case, keep an eye on your fins and consider purchasing a fin replacement kit along with your BBZ-1.

I feel like Spro did a decent job on the stock colors, but it would have been nice to see some additional options.  How about a dark rainbow with heavy black spots and blue haze parr marks, or a baby bass pattern with pale yellow fins?  Or perhaps a hitch edition with a forked tail?  Additions like this could have improved the BBZ-1 offering.

One aspect of the BBZ-1 that I debate over is the internal rattle.  I can see situations where this very loud rattle can be a plus.  I can see other situations where it could be too obnoxious, too loud, and actually a deterrent to the fish.  This becomes nit-picky, but a silent version would be nice.  CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK is not always a good thing.

My first 4 bites on the BBZ-1 all bounced off the lure.  These were 3-6lb bass, which is on the small end of what this lure is designed for, but nonetheless I didn't like missing them.  I'm not sure what the dynamic is that would cause fish not to stick, but I suspect the wide body of the lure coupled with the stubby fins and the fast speeds I was fishing all combined to cause the fish not to stick.  The jury is still out for me on hookup ratio with the BBZ-1, but my caution would be that if you expect to put a lot of small ones in the boat on this thing for tournaments, don't get your expectations too high.  For 7lb+ fish, hooking up should not be a problem.

Overall the BBZ-1 does some interesting things and provides a nice option for a fisherman looking to get in to the big hardbaits at a reasonable price.  The lure is ready to go out of the box, moves well in the water, covers all depth ranges, and looks like a trout.  For $40 it's hard not to put one in your box.

Average Rating out of 9 voters
j fish( La Habra, CA) Mar 21, 2010
Production bait...a bad thing?
In my opinion Spro has done a great job for a production bait. I picked up two and they swam identical and straight out of the box. Great swimming action, good directional change response and a nice trout looking profile in the water. I can hardly believe that there is no bill when you consider that this bait (floater) wakes pretty hard and pushes a fair amount of water on medium slow retrieve. The stock hooks were nice and sharp as well. The real test: I was eager just to get my Floating Spro wet attached to a G. Loomis BBR865 GL2 Rod and Shimano Calcutta 400 spooled w/25lb. Big Game. I went to my city park lake and on my 10th or so cast under bluebird skies.. whooshhh...8lb. pre-spawn female. I don\'t believe in magic baits but its proof positive to me that this bait is legit. It may not be the baits guys stare at for hours dreaming about but Mr. Bass seems to like em\'. Good value.
Chris( Fort Collins, CO) Nov 16, 2008
I like it, but...
...I'm having trouble catching bass on them. I did get my first BBZ-1 bass on a slow-sink in 40F water last fall (about 3 hours before our first snow), but since then I've had strikes and no hook-ups. I also fish one very weedy lake where the open mouth BBZ-1 doesn't come through the weedbeds very easily. That's with largemouth bass.

Northern pike are another story! With one exception, every northern that has come to visit the BBZ-1 (normally the floater) has come to see me on shore. They love the lure, and I love the surface strikes.

I have a small school of BBZ-1s and they are in my tackle kit to stay. Because they track so well at speed I want to troll one for lakers next spring, and I'm going to make a few trips to my local bass spots with nothing but BBZs to see if I can't improve the hook-up ratio.
Alex Riady( Harrisburg, PA) Aug 08, 2008
Best swimbait ever!^_^
This swimbait looks more lifelike than any other swimabits on the market!^_^
Al Nguyen( South Tejas, TX) Jan 01, 2008
Right out of the box, first spot & fourth cast wam 10br! Finished the first day with 5 for 35lbs and only one fish came unbuttoned. Second time out I was amazed at the amount of bites from 5 to 7 pound fish this bait got. The BBZ 1 is durable, & hunts like a seasoned vet. In my book it's a stud and the first bait I'm reaching for!

-South Tejas Kid-
cak( montgomery, TX) May 17, 2007
i just bought one of the these baits and i am very supprised about it. i use the floating version down in east texas and have been supprised about how many strikes it draws. ive even used the bait in small golf course ponds and have a number of dtrikes. the only thing that i have a complaint with this bait is its hook placements ive had only a number of hookups and i think that being a bait designed by bill simanten, that the hook placement is really poor, another thing that i dont like about the hooks is that they are not very strong i would recomend putting either 1/0 or 2/0 owner st-41's i have found that those hooks are the best and have replace all of the hooks on my swimbaits with them. the price is just right and its probally the most durable out of my swimbaits. if you want a swimbait that is just a good bait i would highly recomend this one.
Jay( Las Vegfas, NV) Dec 31, 2006
BBZ1 Floater
Once you get used to the action of this bait it is deadly. It can be slow rolled on top barely moving, dead sticked, twitched, reeled fast for aggressive fish, and it casts pretty good since it has a nice weight to it. I would not use any line under 20 lbs. On my first outing with this bait I landed a 10 and then a 17 pound striped bass, on top of the water in the middle of the day. It makes a good noise in the water because of the 3 sections and the little knocker located in the middle section. It just makes a steady tick tocking sound when reeled in at medium speed. This bait held up pretty well to the abuse it took.

Cons: The HOOKS need to be replaced. The first fish I caught with this (10 lbs) bent one of the Gami hooks, I tried to rebend it back into shape and it broke off completely. The hooks are very sharp, but not strong enough to handle bigger fish.
After battling the second fish (17 lbs) the tail section is sort of coming off.
Big Johnson( Big pine, CA) Dec 18, 2006
Rago tool is better quality

The BBz1 seems alright at first but i bought ragos tool before the BBZ1 and quality and endurance over time the spro seems to fall apart. when my Rago babby tool got messed up i contacted rago got it fixed and kept fishing. i wasn't to keen how far apart the joint were when you take it out of the oversized package. Not many options in different color schems. just perfer rago over spro. Any ways in my opinion i think the spro was a rip off of the rago baby tool.
Lucas Boden( Elk Grove, CA) Oct 10, 2006
I am very very surprised by this bait. You can cover just about every action you want. If you get in tune with the bait and slow reel it just at the speed where it is not sinking, it will BARELY move its tail, just like a cruising trout. but if you want a real sharp action it will kick as hard as you want.

i was throwing it today and a thunder storm came up. out of nowhere there was 30+ mph winds and i was casting it right into the wind with no problems. it did not spin at all.

the silver color looks just like salmon or kokanee in some of the lakes in norcal

i was disappointed with the hooks. they are good hooks. they just look like they would be too small for the bait.

i glued the fins before i fished it and they have not fallen off. after two hard days of fishing it.

Nick M( Socal, CA) Oct 09, 2006
BBZ-1 slow sink (matte rainbow)
This thing is just begging to be eaten. You know how stocked trout look at you and open and close their mouths? well this bait pretty much has it all dialed in.

At first look it appeared to have the movement of a platinum, and I was disappointed. But I really started to pay attention to it, and it swims VERY different at different speeds.

At low speed it has a nice slow triple trout wag; at medium speed it has a border-lined platinum/ triple trout wag (moderately wide); and at high speed and waking it has a tight action movement just like a stocked trout doing short bursts.

I DID take all the fins off and re-glued them before I even threw the bait just to be safe. But from what I hear with the 2nd batch we will only need glue for repairs, just like with other baits.


The PRICE, Realism factor, excellent paint job, no need for a snap, the tail matches the bait, ROF system, the Rattle, it casts very well, the hardware used is quality and you don't have to change anything out, the hookup ratio is great and best of all the bait does NOT foul.

I even bounced it off a dock pretty hard with no fin loss or anything.

Also, SPRO's customer service is excellent and Bill is helpful in solving any problems.


The joints are very wide, but probably doesn't matter that much. The obvious wear and tear. It's going to wear just like a Slammer but much much less severe because of the plastic used, but you will notice it. The rear hook does rub on the tail and causes wear; smaller fish will make the tail section's paint bubble and will eventually peel. (I take a lighter to it and very carefully glide it over the paint so it will shrink up a little and stick back onto itself; it won't turn the tail black, but don't burn it).

I was hoping to see the pink lateral stripe a lot less visible than it is and with more silver on the sides. In other words I was hoping to see a more faded/scattered stripe instead of a more solid line. I guess it's just preference but it really lights up underwater; could be good or bad, but does it matter? I have no clue.

The last thing I'd like to see would be for SPRO to paint the joints (the tapered part) the same color as the bait with the scale pattern and the works. It would really hide the joints and finish and complete the bait.

Overall I think the bait is going to be a hit.

Now I need a Hard Raptor so I can let the fish decide which bait envokes more curiousity.

Anyone wanna trade a 10" triple trout for a Raptor? :D
Copyright © Robert Belloni 1997-2012. All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without express written consent.
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