The problem that I — and so many other anglers — have run into with frog lures is they are extremely difficult to hook fish with right out of the box. While many bass lures, such as the Terminator Walking Frog Jr., are excellent at drawing strikes from bass, the lure usually comes out of the fish’s mouth the moment you try to set the hook.
One of the things I’ve always disliked about the frog baits was how the hooks sit against the plastic body. It’s always bothered me that the bass has to hit it just right to push down on the plastic body and expose the hooks. I’ve thought about adjusting the hooks so that they point out a bit more, but I always figured that the lure companies made the frogs that way for a reason.
It turns out, my initial suspicion was correct, and many of the most acclaimed froggers, such as professional anglers Dean Rojas, a favorite of mine, and Ish Monroe, do exactly what I always figured to be the solution to this hook-up dilemma. Rojas, who is probably the most famous frogger of all time, says he never fishes a frog lure straight out of the box without adjustments.
The key is to take a set of pliers — needle-nosed work fine, if you have them in your tackle box — and bend the hooks so that they point up and out away from the frog body. There should be about a centimeter of space between the frog’s plastic body and the hook where the bass’ mouth can come into contact with the super-sharp frog hooks. Rather than pointing inward, the hooks should more or less run parallel with each other.
Another trick that many of the top frog anglers use is to cut the frogs’ “legs,” which are usually thin, rubber strings that run about 6 inches long. The longer legs look great in the water, but there are a few reasons to shorten them. For one, the drag from the longer legs messes with the walking action of the frog. The main one, however, is that bass often will attack the legs and completely miss the hooks coming over the rear end of the frog. Cutting the legs down to about 2 inches makes a hook strike more likely and will give it better balance.
Some anglers also like to take a black Sharpie and draw spots on the frog’s white belly to give it a more natural look. Another trick with a Sharpie is to hold the legs together and draw black bands across the middle of the legs. If you’re crashing lily pads, you may want to put a little more weight on the frog or even a rattle so that bass will be able to detect the frog through the thick pads. The more inset, weedless hooks are designed to crash thick pads like this, but when fishing in most situations, having that extra bit of space between the body and the hook won’t affect its weedlessness very much.
Both of these are great for fishing pockets in the grass mats, but you can also chug them along the bank where a lot of bigger bass sit and wait. Before I learned these tips, I got a great explosion from a bass on a Terminator Jr. while fishing in a grassy area in the shallows right along the bank at the Cedar Crest pond — about the same spot where I caught a nice 3-pounder using a Ned Rig earlier this summer — but of course, the hook didn’t set. I prefer using either bullfrog or green leopard colors. I tried the hot shad (pictured) and didn’t have much success despite being in a great area with big bass flopping up all around me, but the other two were great at attracting big bass blowups even in slow conditions.
For those who are serious about frog fishing, you’ll want to get a quicker baitcasting reel with a gear ratio of 7:1 or higher on a 7-foot heavy, fast-action rod.