Frog fishing is nothing new to the world of bass angling. Bass are known to eat many critters from fish and insects to amphibians and mice. Due to the ambush nature of bass, frog imitators can trigger awesome explosive strikes. When they hit a frog, they are not trying to play with it, they try to smash it!
First a bit about the frog. They breed in late spring to early summer. This tends to be the time when most bass are entering the post spawn period. When water temperatures reach the low 60's the frog fishing starts to get good. These amphibians breed in water that is slow moving to absolutely still. They are most active during warm weather and go dormant when it gets cold. After bass spawn, they need some chow. Show them a frog and hold on to your hat. Three frogs represent our study: the common green frog, it's sub-species the bronze frog and the leopard frog. They all behave the same, but their difference in coloring will help with lure choice. Each species can vary from brown to green to adapt their camouflage to their home. Frogs, and other amphibians, are extremely important members of the ecosystem. They prey on insects, slugs, snails, spiders and even other frogs and they prevent an over population. They provide an important food source to turtles, birds, fish and some land animals as well. To us they offer a great bass fishing lure and you don't even need to go catch them. There are great artificial frogs that save you from the nasty business of catching and impaling them on hooks. The fake ones are much more weedless too.
When to use the frog
Frog activity begins to increase with breeding and feeding. As the water warms into the 60's and summer approaches frog fishing comes into its own. Usually from midday to dusk and through a portion of the night is prime time. The sun warms them up and gets the bugs moving, which is their lure. The song of croaking and peeping frogs at night should tell you to go top water frogging. Night fishing with frogs along weed mats and lily pads can be heart stopping. All those soothing night sounds interrupted by a violent explosion is quite a rush! Any low light condition helps fishing, but frog fishing can be different.
Where to use the frog
If bass choose to stay shallow, they will seek shade like lily pads, thick grass and docks during midday. The frog activity is increased with intense sun so head to thick cover or at the edge of it to land those bucket mouths with a frog. Frog fishing with an artificial will get you into some awful places. Skip it right up under overhanging trees and docks. Pitch it into thick tangled weed mats and moss. Any vegetation near undercut banks, or breaks in grass cover along the shore are great targets. There really is nothing complicated about frog fishing and it's a blast. Look for frogs, try to match their color, and add your own hopper to the mix.
You can cover lots of water effectively with three baits. First, use a kicking soft plastic frog like the Stanley Ribbit to cover the outside edge of lily pads, water lilies, grass mats and pond scum. Cast past your target and work it to the edge with a steady quick retrieve. Don't let the bass get too good of a look at it. Add a pop to the retrieve every few feet also. Here's a picture of the frog to use...
Check out the Ribbit at work!
That frog will produce explosive strikes day or night. You are after the most aggressive bass that are patrolling the more open areas where you are frog fishing.
The second bait is the SPRO Bronze-Eye Frog. This will get the hit from more passive bass that are waiting in ambush. This frog stays in the strike zone longer and also produces crushing strikes. Cast this right up on shore and work it past pockets in bull rushes (reeds) and past lily pads with a good canopy for shade. Work it right down the edges of docks and skip it up under too. It is best not to throw it right on the spot you think the bass is hiding. If you can get parallel to a line of weeds or reeds and docks, cast down the edge and slowly work it back with long pauses and pops. This will aggravate the heck out of the bass. The pop after a long pause will usually bring a violent strike and you may even fall out of the boat. What a rush! Remember to give just a second or two to let Mr. Bucketmouth eat it.
The third bait is not a frog at all. This is your "shotgun rod". The purpose is to have a bulky soft plastic to throw in if the bass misses. This change up bait will DEFINITELY put more missed fish on the hook. Use a Zoom Brush Hog, Reaction Innovation Sweet Beaver or another creature bait on a heavy 3/0 wide gap hook. Have a heavy bullet weight pinned in place on heavy braided line. Either let the missed frog sit in place, or retrieve it. Pitch your creature right on top of the bass that just hit the frog. He should take it instantly because he is already worked up about the frog.
This is just what Pros like
and Takahiro Omori do when fishing shallow, and it works. Takahiro Omori used this 3 step technique when I rode with him as a Marshal at
He won that day and it was a real education to watch a pro pick apart hundreds of yards of shoreline!
Frog fishing will get you into extreme tests of your gear. Most of the time line invisibility is not even a factor. It is all about strength. A bait caster is a must have rod. At least 7 feet in heavy action with a quick tip. Braided line from 20 to 65 pounds is standard. Use a high gear ratio reel, 7:1 or faster to get that bass out fast! When the bass hits, wait just a moment until you feel his weight then set the hook, HARD! Lift up to keep him from heading to the bottom, and this will minimize weeds that come along for the ride. Tangled weeds can double the weight you have to pull in, and increase the chance of the bass getting off. You need to pull bass out of weed mats like you are pulling stumps! Don't be gentle and don't waste time.
A great frog fishing line up comes SPRO fishing gear. They have the Dean Rojas “Bronze-Eye Frog” at GanderMountain in several different colors.They have long tassel tails that can be trimmed to change the way it swims. The shorter the tail, the more it “walks the frog”. The longer the tail, the more the front will plow under and chug on the surface. Gamakatsu 4/0 wide gap hooks straddle the sides of the bait and give a good top jaw hook up. The body of the Bronze-Eye collapses to reveal the hooks for a good set, but prevents weeds from catching on the retrieve. It swims well in open water with an enticing side to side “walk the dog” motion, and can be hopped from pad to pad just like the real thing.
Another great top water is the Rapala Skitter Pop. Several different species are represented by the colorings but this is far less weedless. This belongs in openings in weeds and grass, or along the deep weed edge to call up bass from below.
The Rapala Skitter Prop is another great frog lure and should be fished in the open or in small pockets. You will definitely be in trouble in heavy weeds with either! The vibration from the propeller will get attention especially when the wind reaches the shallows.
The old stand by Arbogast Jitter-Bug when down sized can be deadly. Cast it near the edge of the weeds or grass and let it sit a second or two. Give it a pop, and let it sit again. You should only need to pop a few times to get some action. If not, move on or throw a weedless back in a bit further.
With a bit of knowledge about frogs and a few of these lures, you'll have hours of great fishing. They are so much fun though, you might fish a spot too long. Generally if you don't get hit or see signs of moving bass in the first two casts, you should move on or change the speed of your retrieve. In the hot summer shallows, faster is better and you get harder hits when you give it to them fast. Bass don't need much encouragement to take frogs. That's part of the reason frog fishing is so much fun. You owe it to yourself to give it a try!