An Expert Guide to Frog Fishing for Bass
Fishing expert Dane Rosenbaum tells you everything you need to know about frog fishing for bass, from where to do it to what gear you need.
Howdy! My name is Dane, and I’m a Conventional Fishing expert here on Curated. Growing up, my parents always had me outdoors, whether it was fishing, hunting, or adventuring! Naturally, I gravitated towards fishing as Texas is one of the best bass fishing spots in the states! Due to this, I’ve gotten the chance to experiment with almost every type of bass fishing bait and lure imaginable throughout my years of fishing. If I had to pick a top three, one bait that would certainly make the cut is the frog. Some of my biggest largemouth bass have been caught on a frog, and it’s one of my favorite ways to fish!
What is Frog Fishing?
A “frog” is a type of topwater bait primarily used when fishing for largemouth bass. You can tie on a topwater frog and throw it anytime, anywhere and have a good chance at catching a bass! That’s why frog fishing is one of my all-time favorite ways to target bass. Few things beat the feeling of watching a bass violently eat your frog off the top of the water! Frog fishing is a fantastic way to catch big bass above lily pads, grass mats, heavy cover, emergent vegetation, boat docks, and everything in between!
Get the Right Rod, Reel, and Line
The first, and arguably most important, step to frog fishing is using the right gear. While you still may have some success frog fishing without the “right” gear, you’ll probably find yourself not having the best hook-up ratio or potentially not reaching the full fish-catching potential of the frog lure.
So, that begs the question, what is the “right” gear? Well, you’ll find varying answers to that question. The truth is that the right gear is whatever gear you have the most confidence in and whatever you feel most comfortable with! With that being said, I do have a few pointers to get you started in the right direction. My goal in this is to help you maximize the number of frog bites you get & maximize your hook-up ratio.
Let’s start with rods. It’s a pretty unanimous decision that you’re going to want a heavy power rod. The reason for this is because you’ll generally be fishing a frog around grass, pads, and other cover (more on this later). Due to this, you need a rod with enough backbone to be able to wrestle those fish out of the cover. A lot of times, bass will come up, eat the frog, then swim directly back down. Most lighter-powered rods won’t be able to handle the strength of both the fish & the grass that is now attached to it. Nor will they be able to handle the strain of literally pulling the fish out from below the grass & pads.
When it comes to the action of the rod, I generally tend to say fast action is probably best just because of its versatility. But I don’t think you can go wrong with extra fast action either!
Most rods are made slightly differently, so this is where comfort in your hands is important. Just make sure that the rod tip is fairly fast and you should be good to do.
As for the length of the rod, it’s a completely personal preference. If you’re fishing ponds or plan to fish frogs in tight spaces, a 7’ rod might be great for you. If you’re fishing frogs in more open water situations or if you want to maximize casting distance, perhaps you should go with a 7’3” - 7’6” rod! Only you know what rod length is right for you based on your frog fishing situations. If you’re looking for a do-it-all length, I’d definitely have to say 7’3” is perfect. You’d be able to fish ponds, lakes, tight cover, and still cast it pretty far.
The next vital piece of frog fishing gear is the right reel. This is one of those subjects that you’ll probably hear a million different opinions on. The only thing I have to say is that you’re going to want your reel to be a faster gear ratio. A reel between 7.1:1-8.3:1 would work great, and this once again falls into the category of personal preference.
Lastly, let’s talk line. Here’s the deal: you need your line to float on the top of the water. You can’t have a sinking line while fishing a topwater. There are many reasons for this, but it is especially pertinent when it comes to frog fishing. If your line sinks, not only will it potentially be visible to the fish or kill the action of the bait, but it will also get caught in the grass, vegetation, and pads that you’re fishing your frog on the top of. Braided line happens to be the one line that floats, so that’s gonna be your go-to line for frog fishing.
As for the line lb test, anything between 50lb up to 65lb, if you’re really fishing in the junk, should be great. Just make sure you tie a good knot!
Another great thing about braided line when fishing with topwater lures is that it doesn’t have any stretch, which means that the action of your hands/rod will directly impact the action of the frog on the top of the water. Because of this, you’ll be able to use whatever retrieval method you desire to fish your frog, whether that be walking the frog, popping the frog, or just straight retrieving it!
My current frogging setup is a St Croix Mojo Bass 7’4” Heavy Power, Fast Action rod paired with a Shimano Curado DC series reel in a 7.4:1 gear ratio. I have my reel spooled with 65lb braid. I’m not sponsored by any brands, but St Croix and Shimano are two of my favorite brands in the industry and it’s really hard to shy away from anything they make. This is just what I have found works best for me. As always, get what feels comfortable in your hands and what fits your budget!
Where & When to Fish a Frog
Truthfully, you can fish a frog anywhere and at any time you’d like, but I believe there are a few situations in particular where it really shines. I’ve found that I get the most topwater bites early in the morning and late at night. This is due to the fact that bass have very sensitive eyes and don’t usually like to look upwards when the sun is high in the sky. The only time I’ll fish a frog in the middle of the day is if it’s somewhat cloudy or overcast.
I also tend to stick to fishing a frog around what I like to call “junk” and “slop.” To me, this can mean areas of water with a lot of grass and/or lily pads. The frog is a perfect bait to throw over the top of those and catch big fish lurking in the open pockets of the pads & grass. I also like to fish a frog around flooded timber and vegetation.
Choosing the Right Type of Frog
The most basic type of frog that you’ll see used most often is called a hollow body frog. As the name suggests, it has a hollow body that allows it to float on top of the water. From there, you can either choose to buy a hollow-bodied frog with a walking mouth or a popping mouth. The popping mouth creates a wake in front of the bait, as the open-mouth drags water while retrieving it. I find myself fishing more with popping mouths because the lakes I fish are generally windy, and the popping mouth creates more noise and draws attention.
The other type of frog is a soft-bodied frog, also called “toads.” These typically are frog-shaped soft plastic frogs for which you can buy frog hooks separately to use on them. They simply provide a whole different action than hollow bodied frogs, and could perhaps be used when vegetation is more scattered. Most soft body frogs are fished using a steady retrieve. They have tails on them that flop around in the water and create a lot of noise and action.
My personal go-to frogs can be found here and here. These are 2 hollow-bodied frogs - one with a walking mouth and the other with a popping mouth.
Choosing the Right Color
When it comes to bass fishing, if there’s one phrase I’ve found myself saying more often than not, it would be, “keep it simple!” It’s so easy to get caught up in the thousands of tiny differences in baits and colors, but I’ve found that keeping it simple is the way to go.
In frog fishing, you can keep it simple by focusing on three main colors: black, white, & green/yellow. Use black when the water is muddy and stained or when you have overcast skies, use white when the water is clear or if you’re fishing during the shad spawn, and use green/yellow for the times in between! When choosing your frog colors, be sure to keep in mind that the fish only see the belly of the frog!
How to Fish a Frog
There are a couple of different ways to fish a frog. My personal favorite is a little trick I call, “Walk it like I talk it.” Walking a frog is essentially moving your rod tip in a way (while simultaneously reeling) that causes the frog to “walk” back and forth. This action can be very irresistible for bass!
Another way to fish a frog is to “pop” it. While this can be done with a regular hollow-bodied frog, this retrieval method truly shines with a popping frog. The popping frogs have an open mouth which creates more noise as well as a “wake” on top of the water. You simply twitch your rod tip while reeling at various speeds, and that allows the frog to “pop” and hop! While retrieving, though, be sure to allow the frog to sit on top of the water every once in a while to allow it to sit in the strike zone!
Tips if You’re Struggling!
If you find yourself not getting as many frog bites as you’d like, or if you’re finding that you have a bad hook-up ratio, here are a few quick tips that have helped me out tremendously! 1. Trim the skirt if you don’t want to keep missing fish! Get out a pair of scissors and cut a little bit of length off the end of the skirt (the thin rubber “tail” that trails behind a hollow-bodied frog). This should help your hook-up ratio! Oftentimes, the skirts on the frogs are a little bit long which can have an adverse effect on the number of hook-ups you get. What happens is the bass will grab the skirt rather than the body of the frog where the hooks are, causing you to lose the fish and not get a hook set on it. If you trim your skirts, the chances of this happening are fewer! 2. Patience! When you see or hear that fish come up and grab your frog, don’t immediately set the hook. Give it a second or two to make sure the fish has a good grab of the frog, and then set the hook. You don’t want to yank the frog right out of their mouth! 3. Try a different retrieval method! If you’re slow-retrieving it constantly, try letting it sit on the water for a few seconds after every “pop.” Or, try walking it or popping it! 4. Pitch the frog into a specific area! Maybe you think there’s a fish in a certain spot, or maybe you’re fishing around tight cover. If you want to make a more accurate cast, pitching the frog is an excellent way to get the frog into the exact spot that you want it! 5. Confidence is key! Try different things until something works!
My hope is that I’ve helped you become more knowledgeable on frog fishing after reading this article. Still need some help on finding the perfect gear for your situation? Reach out to a Fishing expert here on Curated! We absolutely love sharing our passion for fishing with everyone, and nothing is more satisfying than being able to play a part in your journey to catch big fish. Tight lines!