OK, frogs, many anglers have tried them, and many anglers especially those with no patience probably didn’t catch fish with them either. I am sure they have not touched them since! I am talking about those big hollow soft rubber-bodied top waters. We now know (thanks to Bassmaster Elite Series angler Dean Rojas) as Kermit.
Every bass angler knows that bass are equal opportunity eaters. Anything that swims, crawls, slithers, hops, or flies is on the menu for an aggressive fish. Forage species other than shad and crayfish can be found with far more frequency along the shoreline than in open or deep water. Some of these species can include frogs, snakes, birds, dragonflies, mice, young muskrats, baby ducks, and more. Therefore, when you need a lure that will penetrate into the type of cover where big bass are waiting for these types of food sources without getting snagged and hung up on every cast. You need to choose the best bait for this, and that is a frog.
The distinctive feature of the frogs
There are two main reasons why these baits often make a quick trip back to the bottom of the tackle box. One, you are not getting too many bites, and two; you are missing too many fish, or a combination of both. Chances are you are just working that frog a little too fast. If you are fishing the right stuff (thick weed beds or lily pads) then you need to slow down your retrieve. As I have heard said many times, big bass are big lazy couch potatoes. They just sit around waiting for a nice easy meal to munch on.
Frogs have become increasingly sophisticated over the past few years, resulting in lures that function exceptionally well in getting big bass out of thick, heavy cover. The distinctive feature of the frog is that the hooks are facing upwards making it weedless. The bait has no protrusions or sharp angles to pick up the scum floating on top of the vegetation. They are also almost exclusively soft and most are hollow plastic. The idea behind the development of the frog is to enable anglers to put a lure into areas where an exposed hook will either hang up or pick up aquatic vegetation and drag it along, which will make a hungry bass shy away.
Location is the key to success
Location is the key to success when it comes to fishing a frog. Typical frog water would be a large grassy area, especially with moss or ‘scum’ growing on top. Other good water would be sparse grass, pads, and overhanging bushes and trees. There should be sufficient depth of water under the cover you are targeting. Keep in mind though, that if a bass can propel itself, then you have enough water. I have found my best areas have easy access to deep water so fish will feel confident enough to get under the protective covering.
Locate good looking frog water
When you have located some good-looking frog water and you have the appropriate rod, reel and frog combo, then its time to start having some fun! Using the frog is easy. Cast it out on the grass and hop it back to the boat. When casting the frog, sometimes the best effect is to cause the frog to slap down hard on the mat, like a frog jumping off the bank. If you notice bass, spooking with your cast you might find it better to cast on the bank and ease the frog onto the mat. This technique is especially effective when the bass are right up on the bank and the slap may spook them.
What I like to do is pop, or twitch the bait once or twice, then stop for a few seconds and repeat the same method until my bait comes to a pocket, weed edge, lily pad or something else different in the mat. I will then let it sit, and sit, and then sit some more! I will often let that frog sit there for as long as 10 to 20 seconds or more. Trust me, if you know the fish are in there it is well worth the wait!
The important part
Now here is the important part, if there has not been a blow up by now, I will just barely twitch it without moving the bait much at all. This will make the legs quiver a little, and most often, this is where I will get a big strike. Try to visualize this, that when retrieving a frog over a mat of vegetation, if there is a fish in the area, he has to have time to hear the bait and see the bait, then swim over to the source of the commotion, then decide whether to hit it. Big fish can be very fussy that way.
OK, now you have just had a huge boil, set the hook, and the lure just floats back up. What happened? Well it could be a couple of things. You could be using the wrong equipment, or not setting the hook correctly. As soon as you get the strike, drop your rod tip immediately, but do not set the hook. If he has it, he will not feel you and spit out the bait. Set as soon as you feel him, or see any line movement. It is critical to have some slack in the line before you snap your wrist on the hook set. If you try to set on taught line, you will only pull the bait out of the fish’s mouth.
Hooking and landing the big bass
Hooking and landing the big bass that often inhabit this water can be challenging. Typically, experienced frog anglers will use heavy line and stout rods to get these fish. Monofilament lines in the 20-40 pound class are common, and braided superlines in the 50-80 pound class have gained immense popularity in the past few years. Super braids have the ability to cut through the grass more easily than monofilaments and they give you a great advantage in hook setting power, especially on a long cast. I prefer to use a flipping stick, spooled with 50 to 80 pound braid. You should use whatever is comfortable for you. Just make sure you have a rod that packs quite a punch. You will need the heavy equipment to horse fish out of cover and most importantly, to properly set that hook.