After all my years and time on the water, seeing a bass strike a topwater lure can still cause my body to jump and freeze upon the moment of impact! I just love this visual style of fishing and often find it productive. As weed beds mature with the onset and progression of Summer, one of the best lures to catch bass from the shallow thick weeds is a topwater lure — the hollow-bodied, floating frog. I can rarely be seen without one when fishing weedy lakes.
Many varieties of frogs exist from a broad range of tackle manufacturers (Live Target, Snag-pruf, Spro, Strike King, and more). They all have a weedless design allowing them to be walked and popped over the top of weed beds that have grown to the lake’s surface. Bass will attack the frog along the edges of this cover, and also directly in the middle of it. They will crash right through a solid mat of weeds to get that frog!
Many species of plants will grow to the surface and create mats including milfoil, coontail, lilies, and eelgrass. Bass love this type of cover because it offers them 1) heavy shade, 2) security, 3) ambush points, and 4) plentiful amounts of food. But the heavy cover of weeds prevents many lures from being effectively presented to the fish. Floating frogs are perfect however, because they slide right over the floating weeds without snagging.
To draw the most strikes with a frog, I most often use a stop-and-go type retrieve. Whether the frog is designed with a popping mouth, or a point, I try to walk it back and forth 10 inches at a time and then pause it. Strikes typically occur as the frog rests in between movements. Sometimes an aggressive, fast retrieve works but is more the exception. In really heavy weed mats, I try to keep my frog movements simple so a bass can get an accurate strike on the frog. Super eractic, wild retrieves often result in a bass missing the frog upon attack.
How the hook is set is important with hollow-bodied frogs. Bass will often miss the frog on the first attempt, so don’t set the hook too soon! That’s because the bass will often come back for a second attempt. If the frog is ripped out of there, that can often spook a bass and then you’ll have no second chance. So the best hook set is to wait until you know for certain that the bass has taken the frog under. This is usually a second or two after the bass makes its splash on the frog. And then use a forceful hookset to ensure the heavy hooks bury up.
Correctly choosing the right rod/reel/line makes a huge difference in success with frogs. The heavy weed cover that the frogs are fished around, require an angler to outfit themselves with a heavy setup. Using too light of an outfit results in too many bass becoming unhooked or too many bass breaking the line. A heavy outfit enables a fisherman to do a couple of different things: 1) drive the thick-shanked frog hooks in deep with a hookset, and 2) man-handle a hooked bass through the heavy weeds.
A typical frog rod is a 7 ½ foot baitcaster in either a medium-heavy or heavy power. The added length helps steer the frog through the cover, and the strong backbone drives hooks and man-handles the bass. I’ll match the rod to a baitcasting reel having a gear ratio of 7:1 or faster. That way I can crank my wasted casts in faster, and also quickly pick up slack line when a bass grabs the frog and races towards the boat. Spool the reel with braided line of at least 25-pound test. The no-stretch qualities of braid help to hammer the thick hooks in solidly. And if a hooked bass does bury into the weeds, the strong test line will not break.
Hollow-bodied frogs are one of the few lures successful at catching bass from surface vegetation. And it is a super, exciting way to catch bass period! Follow the basics outlined here, and you will learn the value in keeping a frog ready anytime you are on a lake with weeds matted on the surface.
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