Froggin’ For Bass 101

This explosive bass-fishing technique offers big-time excitement, and October is prime time to take advantage of it.

Walker Smith | September 26, 2019

There are few things more exhilarating than a topwater bite when you’re bass fishing. I’d like to think that any red-blooded angler would agree with that statement. The anticipation, the wake of a big bass rushing toward your bait, and the feeling of laying the wood to ‘em on the hookset is intoxicating. I simply can’t get enough of it. 

Now, I know it’s October. I’m going to be climbing a tree and (hopefully) shooting bucks just like you this month. But do me a favor: Before you switch gears and head to the deer woods this fall, tie on a few topwater frogs and spend a couple of days throwing ‘em. You could run across the best bite of the year, and heck, who doesn’t like climbing a deer stand with bass thumb? 

If you’re unfamiliar with the essentials of effective topwater frog fishing, I’m here to help. I’ll keep it simple, and if you follow these guidelines, I can almost guarantee some big topwater blow-ups this month—and beyond. 

Why Use A Topwater Frog?

This is probably the most basic question regarding the technique, and it’s important to understand why these surface baits are so darn advantageous to anglers. So let’s dive into the wonderful world of frogs. 

Now this is some prime froggin’ water—two excellent types of cover mixing together that is difficult to fish effectively with most types of lures.

When you look at a topwater frog, you’ll immediately notice the absence of treble hooks. Although treble hooks can help the bass latch on a bit easier, they also cause a multitude of hang-ups when you’re fishing around shallow cover. Whether you’re fishing wood or vegetation, treble hooks can certainly be a hindrance. 

No treble hooks means one thing when it comes to frogs: They’re your four-wheel drive bass bait and are nearly impossible to get snagged when you’re fishing even the heaviest cover. With their two forward-pointing hook points closely guarded by a collapsible body, frogs are an ideal bait for fishing the thickest, nastiest and fishiest-looking stuff on any lake or pond. 

The belly of a topwater frog is smooth and often keel-shaped, allowing for an enticing side-to-side walking action that helps them stay in small, concentrated strike zones for an extended period of time. This allows the angler to essentially agitate lethargic bass into biting. Even if a big bass is tucked up under a gnarly laydown, the longer your frog stays above its head, the higher chance it has of being absolutely destroyed by an ill-tempered bass. 

So essentially, a frog can be fished anywhere, and they irritate the you-know-what out of big, old and smart bass. 

Anywhere you’d normally pitch a jig or a Texas rig, a frog will have a real possibility of catching trophy bass.  

What Are Frogs Supposed To Imitate?

I guess the Captain Obvious answer here would be… “frogs.” 

But don’t sell these special baits short. Sure, bass eat live frogs. But these baits can emulate an array of big-bass forage such as bluegill, crappie, shad and even small birds. 

A topwater frog is a great bait to skip far up under boat docks. Walker Smith said he prefers a popping frog when fishing docks and other scattered or more spare cover.

When you read the words “bluegill” and “crappie,” I don’t want you to imagine a hand-sized giant that you’d catch from a pond. I’m talking about juvenile specimens, roughly 2 to 4 inches in length. These panfish represent a protein-rich meal for bass, and because they’re young, the bass know they’re not very good at escaping. 

I say it often, but I’ll say it again: Big bass don’t get big by being dumb. They know what’s going to fill their bellies quickly, and they also know what’s easiest to catch. A topwater frog imitates a substantial meal to a bass, and because you fish them slowly, a big, lazy bass doesn’t have to expend a bunch of energy to attack it. 

Two Primary Frog Types To Consider

There are two types of frogs that are most popular among anglers. When you take a trip to your local tackle shop, you’ll see pointed-nose frogs, and you’ll see popping frogs. Both are excellent choices, but they each have a very specific application. If you can choose the best one for a particular fishing situation, you’ll have a serious leg up on the bass. 

Pointed-nose frogs are ideal when you’re fishing calm waters and targeting especially thick cover. Their narrow nose makes it very easy to make short, abrupt, side-to-side twitches, which lengthens their time in even the smallest strike zone. Additionally, the nose shape also acts as somewhat of a plow and allows the bait to come through thick vegetation and wood without any fouling. 

Popping frogs, on the other hand, seem to perform best when you’re fishing in a slight breeze around sparser cover. These frogs have a concave mouth that catches and spits water when twitched, so they put out a little more commotion than their pointed-nose counterparts. I prefer to fish scattered vegetation, boat docks and stumps with this type of popping frog. They don’t “walk” as easily as pointed-nose frogs, but with a little practice it’s certainly possible. 

Frog Colors To Consider

There are two primary types of topwater frogs—pointed-nose frogs and popping frogs. The author says both are excellent, but they have specific applications where they work best.

It’s interesting to hear anglers talk about their different takes on color selection in regards to frog fishing. Some guys get crazy in-depth with things, while others stick with a few basic colors. If you’ve read my articles for any length of time, you can probably guess which camp I’m in. I definitely keep things as simple as I can. 

I used to spend a bunch of money on colors I didn’t really need. But several years ago I started studying my entire topwater frog collection, and I noticed something—most of their bellies are nearly the same color. The bass don’t see the top of your frog where all the pretty colors and designs are. I think whatever is on top of the frog catches more fishermen than bass. So I’m always much more concerned with how the bottom of a frog looks when I’m making a purchase.

White: This month, as shad start their annual migration into the backs of creeks and short pockets, you can bet they are a major menu item for bass. White frogs can be an excellent shad imitator. Whenever you catch your next bass, pay close attention to their throats before releasing it. You’ll often see shad tails sticking out, and if that’s the case, there’s not much of a need to deviate from white. 

Black: I’ve had some really good luck fishing a black-colored frog on bright, sunny days. I’m not exactly sure why this is—and maybe you’ve had an entirely different experience. But maybe it’s because with the increased visibility on these pretty days, black looks a little more natural and spooks the bass less. 

Brown: I saved the best for last. I probably throw a brown frog 90% of the time. Whether I’m fishing an early summer mayfly hatch, a grass mat in October, or a boat dock in the heat of the summer, a brown frog has caught a bunch of really big bass for me. Perhaps it’s purely a confidence thing, but I think it’s because a brown frog looks eerily similar to a juicy bluegill. If this article makes you want to try frog fishing, please buy a brown frog or two. Trust me on this one!

Equipment Is Paramount

If you’re going to fish a frog, you certainly don’t want to skimp on line. Use 65-lb. braid.

I’m not trying to sell you anything. But you really do need some more specialized equipment with this technique of fishing a frog for bass. If not, things will turn PG-13 pretty darn fast. You will get your heart broken. I’ll run through what I consider the essentials of frog fishing. 

Line: Use braided line. Always. No matter what. 

You have to drive those hooks quickly, and you’re often pulling bass out of super thick cover, so the complete lack of stretch in braided line is a huge deal. This is not the time to be stubborn or skimp on line. 

Use 65-lb. braided line or 50-lb. at the very least. This sounds overkill, but heck, 65-lb. braided line has roughly the same diameter of 20- or 25-lb. monofilament. 

Reel: You need a high-speed casting reel to maximize your success. A high-speed reel will eat up slack line quickly and allow you to take control of the fight. Tighten your drag all the way. Click your thumb bar and manually release line during the fight if need be. This is heavy-duty combat. Come prepared. 

If you don’t have a topwater frog tied on at least one rod this month, we need to talk. Frogs are dynamite in grassbeds that are mucking up, and they’re also great for tempting bass out of many other types of structure.

Rod: I will sometimes use a 7-foot, medium-heavy rod when I’m frogging open water or very sparse vegetation, but mostly I prefer a heavy-action rod with a moderate-fast action. This allows the tip to load before the hookset and makes it easier to impart action into the frog. 

Hookset: When I get a bite, I will generally reel until I feel the fish. When I feel that fish on the other end of my line, I will set the hook as hard as I possibly can. Not kind of hard. Not a little hard. I’m talking grunting-and-trying-to-break-my-rod hard. I’m not kidding. The top of a bass’ mouth is tough to penetrate with a frog hook, so get mad at ‘em and crack ‘em. 

I know we’re all getting the deer hunting bug right now, but again, you won’t regret a few days of frog fishing this month. It’s poised to be a solid frogging season, and there will hardly be anyone on the water. Target shallow, shoreline cover in the backs of flat creeks and shallow pockets, and stay on your toes. When you get that first bite, you won’t be thinking about deer anymore!

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