October 19, 2017
Make these weedless topwaters work for you.
Plastic "legs" on a frog bait may be trimmed short (left) to improve walking action or offset (right) for a different swagger.
A big, protein-rich mouthful — that's what frogs mean to bass. Anglers mimic this top-tier forage with topwater frogs that tempt fish hiding under mats or lurking in open water. Here's a rundown of tips for maximizing your frog success.
Noise Makers: Bassmaster Elite Series pro Ish Monroe designed his Snagproof Ish's Phat Frog with a glass rattle chamber, but for additional audio attraction, he offers this tip: “I'll get that rattle inside the bait between my fingers and then take my pliers and crush the rattle to make more noise. You can hear it go from one rattle (sound) to several different rattles with all that broken glass and the bead.”
Anglers may also enhance their frog's sound by temporarily removing the legs and shoving rattle chambers or loose BBs into the body and then replacing the legs. Another option, add a jig rattle to each shank of the double frog hook. (Make sure the additions hang below the shanks so they do not impede hookups.)
Accessorizing with spinner blades mounted to the hook shanks adds thump and flash, both of which can turn lookers into biters on tough days.
Legwork: Monroe likes a full set of legs for frogging weed mats because this creates more profile for bass to grab. Obscured vision often finds bass missing the frog's body, but if they get a grip on leg strands, they can suck in the bait.
However, if your frog's legs drag too much in open water, this may impede the walking motion. Trimming some length liberates the movement.
Taking this a step farther, trimming one side a half inch shorter makes the bait swing more widely to the longer side. On the subsequent swing, that fuller side holds the frog to a shorter swing. Like any bait, success often comes from showing the fish something different.
Weight a Minute:Similarly, adding lead BBs will make a frog heavier for a twofold benefit. First, increasing weight increases casting distance—a benefit in high visibility and/or pressured areas.
Also, the more a frog weighs, the more it displaces vegetation and the deeper it sinks. This allows bass to better track the bait across thick canopies and, by sitting lower in the vegetation, the frog is more easily reached.
Colors: Manufacturers offer a wide range of frog color patterns from authentic to oddball. Sometimes, you want to match local forage; other times, it's more about making fish react.
Interestingly, one of the most popular frog colors is white. Not many albino amphibians out there, but in thick weeds or dim light, anglers can visually track their white frog better. Sometimes bass quietly suck down a frog, so when the white disappears, it's time to cross someone's eyes.
Make Your Mark: Regardless of topside coloration, most frogs have solid color bellies. Truth be told, that plain Jane surface is what they see most—especially in heavy vegetation—but creative use of permanent markers can dress up the look. Spots, stripes, red blood trails; options are limited only by creativity.
Hook Strategies: With all these considerations, it would be a shame to lose a fish simply because you didn't get a hook in his mouth. For maximum hook exposure, topwater frogs are designed to collapse when bitten. On the bite, no matter how dramatic, resisting the urge to immediately jerk is the best way to make sure the fish comes tight on one or both of those twin hooks.
Also, savvy froggers can optimize their hooking percentages by simply bending their hooks slightly upward and a little outward. Be careful not to extend the hooks too far laterally, as the basic frog design uses the body as a weed guard. Hooks spread like outriggers will grab weeds on every cast.
Shape Up: Walking or popping frog? The former's narrow nose comes through cover best and, as Monroe notes, this is the one you want for taunting displays of subtle side-to-side twitches with little forward motion.
On the other hand, when you want it loud and splashy, the popper's concave face chugs, spits and generates a mean bubble trail. Consider that walking frogs need relatively calm conditions for open water use, while poppers don't mind a little chop on the surface. FS
First published Florida Sportsman May 2016