I have been a "Frogman" ever since I had my first explosion on a frog more than forty years ago, and I still cannot help getting overly excited sometimes when the strike happens. Frogs are probably THE most exciting bait you can throw when Bass fishing, if your heart is weak you may want to stay away from topwater grass fishing. LOL! Everyone has heard that Frogs are big fish baits and it is true, I firmly believe that a Frog is the best way for us to catch a big bass in the summer months. I can attest that I have caught over 200 Bass over five lbs. including many over 7lbs. a few over eight and one over 10, (that fish was in 2 ft. of water on a 100 degree day in August on a frog type bait), including rats, big tubes and various plastic baits designed to be fished over grass.
You have to pick your spot to pick your bait, in other words you have to fish different cover with different types of grass baits, A true plastic frog bait is the best over thick grass and lilypads that cover most of the water in the area. I will use a large tube or even a fluke when the grass or lily pads have a lot of holes or are more sparse.
As with any other pattern you have to pick your spots. A grass bed that covers large expanses will have certain areas that are more likely to hold Bass. I like to look for the subtle places in a grass bed, such as little indention’s, places that are a little thinner or thicker, edges and of course the number one thing is depth changes. Like other methods of finding bass a depth change will usually produce quicker than any other place. I always look at the surrounding area and see if I can spot anything that will give me a clue as to some change in the depth. Sometimes it will be a stretch that has less grass, or maybe a bankline that appears to drop quickly coming into the water. I suppose I do not even need to mention an obvious creek or deep water sloughs running through a grass bed is ideal structure. The grass does not have to be topped out for a frog to be effective.
Cadence is an often talked about question in any top water fishing. I can only tell you that I will always start off fast and slow down if it is necessary, as you know they have to tell you on a given day how fast or slow they want it. I have days that I can barely move it at all if I want to get bit, I will wiggle it in place as best I can and then let it sit a while, this seems to be important after fronts. On other days I will try to walk it like a spook. You just have to play with it and see what they want today.
If I am fishing over a thick mat I do not worry about color much, but I usually stick with a dark color. In thinner grass I go with water color, although in grassbeds the water is usually pretty clear as the grass filters out most of the dirt. If I do encounter off color water I will go with white or chartreuse.
Of course you have all heard about hook sets and the many methods of doing this. Most say wait till you feel the bass on your lure before you set the hook. What if he decides to move toward you after he hits? What if he just sits and mouths it after he hits. I have my own method and it works for me. I always hold my rod tip up very high when working a frog to keep from yanking too soon after a hit. If you have ever Frog fished you know what I mean, it is hard to keep from yanking. If I cannot see my frog after an explosion, I simply drop my rod tip, point at the explosion, reel in slack and cross his eyes. This will take a couple of seconds, there is no rush in this method just take your time. He will either be there or not, nothing you can do about the later. Getting the hook in a five lb. bass at the end of a 20 yard or longer cast can be a challenge. The first thing always is to sharpen your hooks, as I have never seen a frog with hooks I was satisfied that the hooks were sharp enough. Here is another way I differ form the norm, "I always use a trailer hook" on a conventional frog. Even the ones with a double hook I will use a trailer hook in real thick grass, and especially if I suspect really big Bass are in the area. I will even put a trailer on BOTH hooks. use a surgical tube and you can keep the trailer out of the grass pretty well. Actually my favorite frog is the Strike King grass frog. It has one hook and lends itself better to using a trailer hook. It comes in a popper and a slider model. They do not float as well as some others but over thick grass it does not matter.
You do not have to have a great big grass bed to use a frog either. I catch plenty of bass off of isolated grass and even around heavy cover such as logs and brush. Sometimes especially in late summer I will skim a frog where others have thrown buzzbaits all summer to give them a different look. Frogs are not always a hot weather bait either, as I have on a few occasions caught bass off of beds with a frog. They will hit a frog as early as mid March in the South, when the water reaches about 60 degrees; although there are usually better alternatives at that time of the year, never discount it as a possibility.
Tubes and flukes are another way of getting bass out of the grass. I usually use a tube if I am fishing pretty heavy lily pads and cannot get a frog bite, as you can work the tube down in the holes better and sometimes it will work better. If the pads are pretty sparse a fluke can be the ticket.
Equipment: You may get some argument here but I use the stiffest rod I can find. Some want a little tip action so they can cast farther. I do not want to make real long casts cause I don’t want to have to try to pull a 6 lb. bass through 30 yards of grass. Some want the tip to help delay the hook set, as you would with a normal top water bait, but I say use my method and you will not need to do that. My primary frog outfit consists of a castaway "EAST TEXAS GRASS RAKE" with a Shimano Calcutta 400 reel with a 5.1 gear ratio and 85 lb. Power pro line.
When you hook a bass in thick grass sometimes you do not even get to fight it because it gets engulfed with weeds; when that happens, and it happens a lot, you may have to just go in and get it. Remember to keep your hooks sharp and always use heavy line, the more stretch your line has the harder it is to get a good hook set.
Have fun with it and remember that a lot of dog days frogs will "MAKE YOUR DAY"
Earnie Cella (papa)
UB senior editor