Spoons cover a lot of water. They typically cast far and accurately, and one of the most underappreciated elements of fishing success is the amount of time that your hook is in the water.
Spoons occupy the right water. Fished properly, they run neither too deep nor too shallow. In Saskatchewan, where pike often move into bays in the summer to soak up 20 hours of sunlight a day, if you are clipping the tops of submerged weed beds with your lure, you are in the strike zone. It's easy to regulate the depth of a spoon's dive by speeding or slowing its retrieve, and Borowski was doing a masterly job of varying the running depth by changing up his reeling intensity, pausing his retrieve, and twitching his rod tip to impart more action to his lure.
Spoons are forgiving. You don't have to know how to twitch them just so or how to calculate their dive rate. You just reel, and the spoon supplies the erratic action, even on the end of a heavy steel leader. This is the magic of the classic spoon's bent-metal design—it flutters to one side, then stabilizes briefly before flitting in the other direction, the front part tracking with the line but the aft end woggling around the way a wounded minnow might founder. For predatory fish like northern pike, that action is the appeal; the color of the spoon serves only to catch their attention.
Spoons are versatile. You can cast them into shallow rocks and speed-retrieve them so they don't get snagged. You can cast into deep bays, wait for them to sink to the bottom, and then pop the rod tip to give them a jigging action. You can troll them. Or you can tip their hooks with cut bait or even a jig skirt or rubber worm to coax light bites.
Spoons are easy on fish. For Babcock, an advocate of catch-and-release, spoons increase fish survival rates.
"Crankbaits have two sets of trebles—sometimes three—and those big pike roll and fight so much that normally all the hooks end up in the fish. That's a lot of holes, plus all those hooks get hung up in my net. A single barbless treble is all you really need."
Spoons are hardy. Big pike can tear apart a balsa wood hard bait and denude the rubber skirt of a spinnerbait. But spoons tend to hold up well to the shredding violence that big pike dish out. Babcock swears that a spoon that's scarred and scratched and runs just a little bit out of whack is a better fish-catcher than one fresh from the blister pack.