By: Shaye Baker
Hollow body frogs are some of the best big bite producers available to bass anglers. And they can be fished in and around some of the thickest cover imaginable. They are built for abuse, with durable rubber like bodies and strong double hooks.
Today, we’re going to look at some of the situations in which these baits work best and offer up a few tips on how to get the most out of your frogs. We’ll also help distinguish between the two primary types of hollow body frogs (popping and walking) and help you discern when to throw which. Let’s get to it.
Popping versus walking -
Before we even begin, let’s make sure we’re all talking about the same thing when we say frog. Some anglers tend to lump hollow body frogs and soft plastic toads into the same category, broadly referring to all of these baits as frogs. But toads and frogs represent two distinct bait categories in both how and when they’re fished.
For this piece, we’ll solely be talking about hollow body frogs, both the popping and walking styles. Walking frogs have a pointed nose and typically more of a keeled bottom, like the hull of a boat. Where popping frogs are typically a little flatter on the bottom and have a popper shaped mouth. One is meant more for walking, where the other is designed to be chugged like a popper.
Walking frogs -
Walking frogs work better when you need a little bit of a stealthier approach. Early in the spring is a good example of this, when bass are still a little lethargic due to the cool water and may be hesitant to eat a more aggressive bait. Because a walking frog can be twitched side-to-side almost in place with very little disturbance, it’s one of the first topwaters you can throw in the spring that the bass are willing to bite.
Walking frogs also work really well around the spawn. As spawners become protective of their beds, the bass will boil on a frog and show themselves, even if they don’t eat the bait. So you can use a frog as a search bait in this way to catch a few bass and locate others that are on bed, then throw a followup bait into the bed to catch the fish that revealed its location to you.
Walking frogs also come through thick vegetation better than popping frogs, or almost any other bait for that matter. This makes a walking frog one of the best lures to fish through thick stalky vegetation like water willow and reeds as well as over matted vegetation like hydrilla, milfoil and coontail.
Popping frogs -
Propping frogs work better as the bass become more aggressive late in the spawning process and in the early post-spawn period. And these baits really start to shine when targeting bass around bluegill and other baitfish that feed on insects along the surface. These two situations conveniently converge in the early summer when bass start to focus on bedding bluegill, and insects like mayflies and cicadas start to hatch out.
Perfectly mimicking a bluegill, bream or other small baitfish struggling to catch insects along the surface, a popping frog is deadly during the late spring to early fall period. These baits come in all sorts of colors, but typically a darker color like black or brown is a great all-around selection. These darker colors create a nice clean profile against a bright sunny sky and give the bass an easy target to explode on.
Hollow body frogs are some of the best baits for skipping around and under cover as well, with popping frogs typically being a little easier to skip compared to walking frogs. The reason being, most walking frogs have a v-hull to them, which makes it easier to walk them.
But trying to skip a bait with a sharper hull like this isn’t as easy as it is when using a bait with a flatter bottom, as the v-hull catches the surface and plows up water. Most popping frogs bellies are flatter, since those baits aren’t really designed to walk as much as they are made to pop in a straight line. So, popping frogs are typically easier to skip.
Little tips and tricks -
The two primary modifications that almost every frog fishing aficionado will recommend have to do with the legs and the hook. For the longest time, it was believed that trimming one leg shorter than the other would actually make a frog easier to walk. And while that was likely the case with some o the early frogs, these days almost all frogs are easy to walk straight out of the pack. But, it is still a good idea to trim the legs, so that a swiping bass has a smaller target to take a swing at and doesn’t just eat the long legs of your bait.
The second big tip is to bend the hooks up a bit. Though some frogs now are starting to come with hooks that have a slight upward bend to the points, most frog hook points are inline with the back of the frog. This makes the bait really weedless, but it also means the bass will need to smack down on the frog really well to compress the body enough for the hook to reach the fish.
Thus, it’s a good idea to trade a little of the weedlessness of the bait for a better hookup ratio. Taking a set of needle nose pliers, you can grab hold of each hook in the bend and open it up just a little so that the hook point is angled up slightly, and no longer inline with the back of the bait.
This will need to be done for each hook individually and is not necessary if the particular frog you purchased already has an upward angle to the hook point. Also, be sure not to open the hook up too much here, as it will damage the integrity of the hook and could lead to the loss of a fish from the hook bending open even more during a hookset or fight.
In conclusion -
Hollow body frogs are the all terrain vehicles of the bass fishing world. These baits can be thrown onto a solid mat and are still able to lure bass up through it and haul them out of it when they bite. Knowing when to throw which is important though.
If the fish are a little more aggressive, or especially if they're relating to surface feeding baitfish, go with the popping frog. If the fish are a little more finicky or if the cover is pretty thick, it’s best to go with the walking frog. And be sure to trick your bait out with little tweaks that will make it as effective as possible at hooking and hauling a bass in. With these two baits and a little bit of know how, you can have a whole lot of fun out on the water.