Not much can match the pulse-pounding thrill of a giant bass breaking the surface and engulfing a topwater frog.
Hooking up is definitely a thrill, but it takes time, patience and the right equipment to make it happen.
If you’re looking to step up your frog game, try these tips from Bassmaster Elite Series pro Keith Combs to get fish to really commit to your lure:
1. Choose the right color
This part of the equation isn’t all that complicated, Combs said.
“I wouldn’t get carried away with buying every color on the market, but I would look at something dark and something light. If I’m going to go out and fish a frog tournament — even if I’ve been catching them on black all week — I’m going to have a white one tied on,” he said. “If I start missing fish on the black one, I’ll switch to the white one and usually that will correct it.
“I don’t care who tells you this: You can’t go out on a cloudy day and say they’re going to bite this color or that color. You can’t look at the water color and say they’re going to bite this or that. Just let them tell you. If they’re eating your bait good, you know you’ve got it right. But it’s a day-to-day, hour-to-hour thing, so give yourself options on color.”
2. Proper action is crucial
Just twitching the rod might get you some blow-ups, but really getting the frog to “walk” is a big key in connecting with more fish. Working the lure with a slack line is vital, Combs said.
“Somebody who’s just learning how to frog — they know you need to twitch the rod. But what you really want to do is twitch it on a slack line to get that frog to walk back and forth,” he said. “If it’s just surging through the water, kind of humping through the water, then a lot of fish are going to blow up behind it.
“You want your frog to make three of four short choppy steps side-to-side, then pause ... Three or four short choppy steps, then pause. You want to have your rod tip down, and pump it on a slack line.”
3. Beef up your tackle
“I believe you need a 7-foot to a 7-5 heavy action rod with a lot of backbone and a little bit of tip,” Combs said. “A fast tip is good, but you need a lot of backbone — so maybe the last foot of the rod has some action to it, but other than that, you’re fishing with a pool cue.”
A frog is almost like the 4-wheel drive of topwaters, and that’s how Combs fishes it.
“A frog is a perfect lure to throw anywhere, where you cannot reach with any other lure — that’s the perfect situation to throw a frog. It will come through the cover. If a fish eats your bait on the back side of a laydown, you can bring him over it. So use it like that — but you’re going to need a stiff rod.
“And even though you’re working the bait fairly slow, it is nice to have a high-gear-ratio reel because a lot of time if you’re in open water and you set the hook, that fish may come right at you. You need a fast reel, like a 7.4 to pick up the slack — and I wouldn’t recommend fishing less than 50- to 60-pound braided line.”
Don’t wait to “feel” the bite
Combs said you’re better off trusting your eyes and your experience when deciding on whether or not to set the hook on a blowup.
“You’re walking it on a fairly slack line, so I wouldn’t recommend you try to ‘feel’ the bite,” he said. “Just pay very close attention — the more you frog, the more you’ll know. When a fish blows up, 95 percent of the time you’ll be able to tell if he took it or not just based on the way he hit it.
“Watch your bait. You may have one blow up behind it. Well, you don’t want to swing (set the hook) because you might wait and twitch it two more times and he may eat it.”