by: Shaye Baker
Reeling a toad is a great way to get bit during the spring, summer and fall. As long as the water temperatures are somewhere in the upper 50s or beyond, bass will eat a topwater. And a versatile buzz toad is the perfect lure to draw a bass’s eyes up and peak its interest in a variety of different situations.
Not all toads are created equally however, and there’s more than one way to rig them. So today, we’re going to sort through some of the ins and outs of how to rig and fish a toad. And talk a little about a few of the more popular versions of this bait genre and what sets them apart form one another.
Different toad styles - It’s important for starters to make sure we’re on the same page when talking about what a toad is. These are soft-plastic lures meant to be rigged weedless on a hook. They all have two legs designed to kick as the bait is reeled along the surface. The term toad can be confused with the term frog at times, which is a hollow body bait with two legs made of rubber strands. Frogs are made to walk or pop along the surface, where toads are designed to be reeled continuously and kick. There are even a few hybrid baits that combine some features of a toad with a frog. But for this piece we will keep the conversation to just toads, of which there are two main types based on the design of their legs. Some leg designs create a faster kick and shaper sound, where some kick slower and create a deeper chug or gurgle. The Stanley Ribbit is a great classic illustration of a slower kicking, gurgling toad, whereas the NetBait BF Toad is a good example of a toad with a shaper sound. These gurgling toads are better in cooler water because they can be reeled slower, and the faster moving toads that make a sharper sound work better when the water heats up.
How to rig a toad - You can use a wide variety of hooks to rig a toad. Worm hooks, straight shank hooks, even double hooks and weighted hooks will work. But the best hook for most of these baits is an Extra Wide Gap (EWG) hook. Most toads are relatively thick compared to other soft plastics. An EWG hook has a wider gap than a traditional worm hook or straight shank hook, which compensates for the added thickness of these baits and gives the plastic somewhere to go when setting the hook. To rig a toad, first tie your hook onto your line. Then take the hook in one hand and the toad in the other and carefully insert the hook point into the center of the nose of the toad. Run the first half inch or so of the hook point through the nose of the bait and the turn the hook so that the point pops out of the underside of the toad. Now you’ll want to slide this section of the toad up onto the sharp bend in the hook, near the eye. The toad should cover the eye of the hook with the spot where you ran the hook point out of the toad sitting on the angled bend of the hook shaft. Lastly, you’ll want to make this rig weedless. Take the midsection of the toad in one hand and the hook in the other and then put a slight bend in the back of the toad by pushing it up towards the eye of the hook. Insert the hook point into the belly of the frog and through the bait until the point pops out the back of the lure completely. If you did this correctly, you should be able to straighten the bait out and skin hook the tip of the point into the back of the bait to make it weedless. Some wider toads can be rigged with double hooks. Then there are weighted hooks as well that will help you throw your toads further. And there are even more options out there that use screwlocks to attach the head of a toad to a hook. You an even rig a toad on the back of a buzzbait if you’d like. But for starters, and the majority of the time even for advanced angling, a simple EWG hook is sufficient for most toad applications.
How to fish a toad - Toads make great baits for bass fishing because they can be used in a wide variety of situations. From clear water, highland reservoirs when targeting bass around bluegill beds, to shallow, stained river fisheries with lily pads and other vegetation, a toad is a great tool for every angler’s arsenal. And this bait is as easy to use as it is versatile. Simply cast it out and reel it in. You’ll typically want to reel it as slow as possible while still keeping it on top in cooler water and then you can speed it up as the water temps rise. Again, certain toads are easier to fish slower where some are designed to fish faster, so make sure you select the toad that best fits the particular situation. Since a toad is designed to be reeled continuously, it is a great tool for covering water. And toads come through heavy cover really well since they are rigged weedless. So this is one of the best baits in particular that you can use to fish long stretches of shoreline vegetation. Toads also skip really well, especially on the back of a buzzbait. So this is a great presentation to use when fishing around docks, pontoons, bushes and other overhanging cover. When rigging a frog on the back of a buzzbait however, the hook point is exposed and the bait is no longer weedless, so there are more limitations to the type of cover you can fish a buzzbait/toad combo around.
In conclusion - Depending on the type of toad you go with and how you rig it, there’s a whole lot you can do with this bait demographic. From fishing particular toad designs slower to buzzing others along at a quicker pace, to rigging one weedless or on the back of a buzzbait, the options abound. Just be sure that the toad you choose is the right toad for the job and that the method of rigging is best suited to the cover you’re fishing around, and you should be able to find success fishing a toad in no time.