Froggin' for Bass
By Jason Short
Using hollow body frogs is one of my favorite ways to catch lots of bass during the dog days of summer. Though it may seem like a pretty one-dimensional lure there are actually many different ways to use frogs. I will highlight what rods, reels, line, lures, and techniques are needed to use a frog successfully.
The most common way to fish a frog is by slowly twitching it over and through thick, heavy vegetation. This can be lily pads, hydrilla, duckweed, or any other type of vegetation. The bass are not just randomly scattered throughout the weeds, however. They like to be around any type of change, not just out in the middle of the weeds. The kind of changes you are looking for can be almost anything, such as where two types of weeds intersect, a tree or other type of cover that is within the weeds, the weeds making a point or indent, the edge of the weeds, a hole in the weeds, or anything else that is different from the surrounding area. Also, the fish move around within the weeds during the day. For example, in the morning they might be out on the edge actively feeding, but might move deeper into the weeds (more shade) as the sun comes up. One time when I was fishing Clearfork Reservoir in Ohio I got on the lake around 7:00 AM. Within the first fifteen minutes I had caught a two-pounder out on the edge of the weeds. As the sun came up they moved farther back into the weeds (even though it was shallower than the edge) to where two types of weeds mixed. I caught the rest of my fish right on the line where the weed types changed.
Now that you know where the fish are, we will talk about catching them. Just cast your frog around the changes and work it slowly back to the boat. In heavy weeds I like to use a twitch-twitch-pause-twitch cadence to begin with, then just change up until I start getting hits. Most of the time they want a slow moving frog, but other times they may want it chugged quickly and steadily. Just experiment until the bass tell you what they want.
If you are fishing more open water a great way to catch them is by walking your frog. I use this tactic around any shallow cover, places where many people use a spinnerbait or shallow crankbait. You have to have the right tackle for this presentation to work properly, but we will talk about that later. I like to cast or skip the frog back into places where nobody else can get their lure into. Instead of fishing around the edges of that tree hanging into the water, fire your frog right back into the heart of it. If you do it right your frog will come back out 99% of the time. Once I get my lure back there I just walk it back out. My most common way to fish it is with a walk-walk-walk-pause cadence. However, once again you must change your retrieve until you start getting strikes. If you use the right frog you can walk it almost in place, which annoys the bass into striking. To walk your frog leave a little bit of slack in your line and just twitch the slack, it may take a little bit of practice but you will be walking your frog in no time.
There are hundreds of different frogs on the market, how do you know which one to buy? First think about which technique you want it for. My favorite frogs for fishing the thick vegetation are the Spro Poppin Frog, and the Spro Bronzeye Frog. There are many other frogs that work for this type of fishing, any frog that will come through the vegetation well will work. The reason I like the Poppin Frog is it makes more commotion on top of those thick mats, making it easier for the bass to find. In sparser weeds I like the Bronzeye because it looks and sounds more natural.
The best frogs for walking are those with narrow bodies and flat sides. My favorites are the Spro Poppin Frog and the Deps Slither K. These two frogs are very easy to walk because of their narrow bodies and flat sides. It takes a little practice but after a while you can walk these two frogs while only moving them forward an inch. The Slither K is designed to be walked, and it has a feather tail so it has more action. If you use the lures I suggested you will have a much easier and enjoyable time learning to frog fish.
Using the right tackle is the most important part of frog fishing. If you have the wrong tackle you will miss a lot more strikes, and the ones you do hook have a good chance of getting off.
Rods and Reels: If you don't use the right rod and reel you will find it almost impossible to land the fish when fishing heavy cover. A great frog rod is the Powell 735 Frog Rod. It is a seven foot three inch Medium Heavy Extra Fast action rod. It has plenty of backbone to get the fish in the boat, but isn't so big that it's tiring to fish with all day. It's a stiff rod to work the frog and hook and land the fish. There are many different reels that will work for frog fishing. The most important thing is the reel must have a 7.1:1 gear ratio or more. You need the fast reel to hook the fish and get it out of the cover before it gets wrapped around and stuck. Just get a high quality reel that will last you a long time and you'll be set.
Line: YOU MUST USE BRAIDED LINE. That is the most important part of your tackle. Braid has no stretch and is very strong. I usese fifty or sixty-five pound Sunline FX2 to get those fish out of the cover. Braid cuts though the vegetation instead of getting hung up and wrapped around in there. Braid is the one thing that you absolutely must have to successfully fish frogs.