S pring rains impart life-sustaining moisture to the soil and storm runoff enriches our watersheds with nutrients. The dampness encourages amphibians to reproduce once the weather warms towards the end of March and into April.
About a month later, tadpoles complete their transition into frogs and the juveniles are abundant along stock tank and reservoir shorelines. It doesn’t take long for the resident bass to become keenly aware of the new groceries. Now is the time to get “froggy” with it.
If you want to catch bass this month, tie on a frog bait. Mimicking an abundant food source is a centuries-old fishing tactic. Fly fishermen refer to it as “matching the hatch.” In this case, you are matching the frog hatch instead of an insect hatch. Serious anglers should stock their tackle boxes with a good selection of faux amphibians.
Soft plastic frog baits can be broken into two basic types, hollow-body lures and “buzzing frogs.” Both are worked across the surface, and both draw explosive strikes.
There are a number of great hollow-body frogs on the market. The Booyah Pad Crusher, KVD Sexy Frog, and SPRO Bronze Eye are just a few that come to mind. As the name implies, the inside of these lures are hollow, just like basketball or football. The outer skin is molded into the silhouette of a frog and rubber legs trail behind the lure, rhythmically pulsing with each twitch of the rod. Hollow-body frog lures are equipped with twin hooks, with the hook points riding tight to the frog’s side. This keeps the hook points shielded from aquatic vegetation.
Their weedless nature makes hollow body frogs the ideal choice for fishing in heavy cover, such as lily pads, cattails, and matted grass. Points and edges of vegetation, as well as openings, or holes, should always be thoroughly probed.
Buzzing frogs are the genetic offspring of a soft plastic jig and a buzzbait—OK, I made that up. Buzzing frogs feature a soft plastic body and twin paddletail legs that kick up a commotion when the lure is retrieved across the water’s surface. Stanley Ribbit and Gambler Game Toad are both popular brands.
Unlike hollow body frogs, which come with a factory-installed hook, buzzing frogs need to be rigged with a hook. Anglers have the choice of rigging their soft plastic frog on a single or double hook. Opinions differ as to which is more effective.
Most major hook manufacturers feature at least one double hook that is specifically designed for buzzing frogs. Weighted and unweighted models are available, allowing you some versatility.
The lure body is threaded onto the hook shank and hook points are pushed through the paddletails. When properly rigged, the hook points ride directly on top of the back of the lure, making it virtually weedless. Fans of double hooks believe that the twin points increase the chance of a hookup during a violent, head shaking strike.
Double hooks are not without naysayers. Proponents of single hooks believe that less is more when it comes to barbs. Simplicity is at the core of their argument. A single, 4/0 wide gap hook with an offset shank is the hook of choice.
Buzzing frogs are intended to be retrieved at a medium to fast pace. The paddletail legs get much more attention when reeled in at a fast clip.
It should be noted that buzzing frogs, like paddle tail jigs in saltwater, aren’t effective in extremely cold water. When water temperatures drop, fish become very inactive. This includes baitfish. An artificial lure that wiggles and jiggles in cold water will be quickly judged to be an imposter. When the frogs become dormant during the winter, it’s time to put your frog lures away for several months.
I like to twitch hollow body frogs across the surface, trying a variety of retrieve speeds until I find a pattern the fish like.
On calm days, I start with a slow retrieve and adjust, if necessary. I opt for a speedier retrieve if there is chop on the water. Regardless of retrieve speed, I like to add several pauses during each retrieve. I am often greeted with a washtub boil the instant I start retrieving after allowing the lure to rest for a prolonged period.
Hollow body and buzzing frogs come in a myriad of different sizes and colors. Opinions vary on which is best and make for good campfire conversation after a good day on the lake.
I generally start by casting four-inch baits as they silhouette well against the sky. However, largemouth bass can be picky if they are selectively feeding on specific-sized frogs.
Pack an assortment of lures and don’t hesitate to change sizes if you aren’t getting any strikes. Consider downsizing your lure in case the fish are hitting, but missing your offering.
The hardest thing to master when fishing frog lures is keeping the adrenaline in check when a bass with a mouth the size of a front-end loader comes out of the water with your fake frog in its mouth. But, that’s the subject of a whole separate column.
Email Greg Berlocher at
Email Greg Berlocher at [email protected]