Fishing with frogs is one of the most productive techniques for catching monster bass when the conditions aren’t there for finesse fishing, or other open water methods. There comes a time in late spring or early summer when the spawn is over, the weather gets warmer and the top water action begins to pick up. Typically, I find that it is most fruitful when the dragonflies are skimming the top of the water and the big bass begin to look up at the world. The weed mats tend to begin to cover surface areas and you can hear the tell-tale slurping sounds of the beast below. This is the time to pitch frogs and enjoy some serious top water action!
Often times I am told by peers that they just don’t like using frogs because they aren’t very successful at it. My answer to that is practice, practice, practice! You also need to match the right lure for the right environment. Some days, the bite is hot and you will succeed. Other times the fish are tight to the bottom and nothing will make them rise. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get them to take a frog. It just means you need to get the right frog on the right rig and get it down to the target zone.
Hollow Body Frogs
When most people think of frog lures, they instantly think of the hollow body, weedless frogs. For this reason, I will start with them. My favorite is the Strike King KVD Sexy Frog. They are tough. They have some weight to them, and let’s face it, they are appropriately named as they are one good looking frog! They have a very flat profile, yet sport an upraised chin. This allows the bait to have more contact time with the water, yet has the proper design for ‘walking’ or ‘popping’ that imitates a fleeing frog. Their large, raised eyes stay above water and mimic leopard and green frogs to perfection. Strike King also has a proper hook bend on these lures that keeps them weedless, but helps with hook sets. A few other great options for hollow body frogs are Knoppers Live Target, and the Jackal IOBee. The IOBee has a curved belly feature that helps the lure rise out of the water with a good twitch of the rod. Keep in mind that many tackle dealers also sell hollow body rats, possum and other critters that can work just as well.
Fishing these hollow body frogs at first, seems to be easy, but again, folks tell me that they don’t have much luck with them. Let me tell you why! It is all about the hook to miss ratio. Most of you simply yank the lure out of the fish’s mouth before it is fully engulfed. Instead of giving in to your automatic reaction to set the hook when you see the lure go down, wait until you feel the weight of the fish. You see, most often, a bass will charge a frog and head-butt it. Sometimes the frog will come clear out of the water. The bass then turn on it, mouth it, and as they dive and turn away, will then inhale it. That is the proper time for the hook set. Again, resist the urge to lift the rod and I guarantee you that you will increase your hook to miss ratio!
The best retrieve for these lures is… what works for you! Most often I let the cast lay until the water has calmed and your ‘doppler ripple’ is gone. This could be as long as 30 seconds or more. When a hollow body frog hits the water near bass, it may initially spook them. With that said, bass are predatory and they will ultimately turn on it and investigate what just landed in their dining room. I get a ton of hook ups when the frog is dormant, or on the first twitch thereafter.
The retrieve that most use is something akin to ‘twitch, twitch, twitch, pause’. On those lazy days of summer, this often works for me. If I do note that there are bass swirling near the bait, I may make a more erratic ‘walking’ retrieve to simulate a frog that is breaking for cover, in fear of its life. There are other times, as in open water applications, where I have a solid, steady retrieve, leaving a wake. Much like you would fish a rubber swimming frog. If fish are especially turned on, they will chase and devour during this retrieve. Again, the bottom line is, use alternate retrieves to find out what is working on your body of water, at the time you are fishing. When you find one that works, stick with it.
Soft Plastic Frog Baits
If you are going to keep frogs in your tackle box, you have to keep a good supply of soft plastic frogs. They too have their place and time and can out fish other soft plastics in the right conditions. Some models of these types of lures are the Stanley Ribbit Frog, Zoom Horny Toad, Yum Money Frog, and my favorite, the Outdoor Advantage Boss Frog. These frogs are very versatile and can be fished in the toughest conditions. They can be rigged to swim as a top water, or dropped and flipped with weighted hooks and jig combinations!
Often times I fish the Boss Frog on an unweighted 3/0, 4/0, or 5/0 twist lock, open gap hook and literally ‘race’ them across the top of the water, pads and grass to entice fast strikes. With their heavy weight, solid body and a slotted back to hide the big hooks, these lures can cast a mile and take a beating. The paddle feet make such a commotion that it is hard for any fish to turn away. Other times, I will use a weighted twist lock hook and drop the frogs in holes between lily pads or between thick mats of filament algae, duck weed, and other ‘muck’ that begins to mat on top of the water. Just ensure that you are allowed to use leaded products in your state. If not, there are lead free alternatives available.
I’ve also had a lot of success fishing the Boss Frog in the same manner as most would fish stick baits. I let the lure settle to the bottom, use a sweeping ‘raise the flag’ motion with the rod, reel in the slack, and let it settle to the bottom again. Most often, the strike comes as the frog is fluttering back to the bottom. The great part about solid plastic swimming frogs is that you don’t typically have to wait to set the hook. The bass will more often than not, slam the frogs when they are underwater. You would use a hook set much like you would if you were fishing any other soft plastic finesse type of bait like a stick or creature.
Rod & Reel
Let’s face it. If you are going to be fishing frogs, chances are that you are fishing in some heavy cover environments. You will want to have at least a 7 to 7 1/2 foot, medium to medium-heavy rod. You will need something with a backbone to set a hook and drag a beast through pads, muck and mire. At seven foot, the same rod will give you plenty of casting power to cover a lot of water with a relatively light lure. I use 30 pound braided test. I don’t worry much about leaders. The water is typically far from clear and if the bass are busting frogs, they aren’t taking the time to discriminate anyways! The other beauty about braid is that it cuts clean through lily pad stems and other light vegetation. With that said, be careful, because it can just as easily cut into your hands!
In conclusion, you really want to try frogging this season. It is just too much fun! Use a hollow body frog when the frogs are hanging in cover and call them out. If the fish are chasing bait, use the soft plastics and make them chase! For more information about Outdoor Advantage Lures, visit their site at http://outdooradvantagelures.com/
Tight Lines & Tread Lightly!