Bass are blowing up on this life-like soft plastic topwater bait
A top notch soft plastic, hollow-body plastic frog twitched and walked across the surface of a bass angler’s favorite fishin’ hole usually winds up deep in the throat of a good-sized bass.
There are no two ways about it. When Prototype Lures LLC’s Smasher Frogs get eaten, they often wind up far back in the mouth of self-respecting, hungry “hawgs”. Derward Mauldin, creator of the Smasher Frog, is proud he has brought an angler-friendly soft plastic to bass anglers from his home state of Arkansas across the south, where the plastic frogs are romping across the thick mats and the bass are chomping.
Mauldin’s first claim to fame as an artificial lure designer was the Prototype Lures LLC Guerilla Buzz, which was introduced in 2016. The buzz bait found its way into many tackle boxes over the past four years.
The West Helena, Arkansas, bass angler said he designed and oversaw construction of the plastic frog for the same reason he made the buzz bait. He loves fishing with topwater lures, a passion ignited when he was young and fished with his father and brother.
“I have been a topwater man my whole life,” Mauldin said. “There’s nothing more exciting than a fish blowing up on topwater.”
Magic number: 55
When water temperatures get to 55 degrees and up, that’s his time to start casting the Guerilla Buzz and Smasher Frog. He’ll rely on them from that magical mark in late winter and early spring.
“I’m an Arkansas man that loves Louisiana-type fishing, so I try to fish a lot of grass and a lot of mats,” he said.
He welcomed input from pro bass anglers about three years ago when he began designing the frog. His goal was to make a properly weighted hollow-body soft plastic frog with a 5/0 double hook custom-built to fit the body for a more consistent hookset.
“I wanted a frog that was easier to work,” he said. “I wanted a frog to come through the grass … not roll over on its side, not get hung up, not roll on its back. I wanted to make a frog to where it is more affordable for everyday fishermen to tournament fishermen. I wanted it to be more affordable for a college kid or a high school kid, so they could afford a good, quality bait.”
The Smasher Frog hit the shelves, catalogs and online stores last spring. Tackle Warehouse took them on in April 2021. It became extremely popular in Virginia, where thick grass mats are targeted in slow pools of the Shenandoah River and Rural Retreat Lake. The ½-ounce Smasher Frog is 2 ½ inches long and weighs ½-ounce. Its has twin tails rubber strands, each 4 ½ inches long. Mauldin purposefully made the tails long so they can be cut to fit a bass angler’s preference. The weight’s placement and the special hook make the biggest difference, he said.
It’s an easy walker
“By far it’s the easiest walking frog on the market because of the way it’s weighted,” he said.
Mauldin weighted it so the body is half-submerged in the water. He pointed out some other plastic frogs float on top, which results in many of those models bouncing out of the bass’ mouth on a strike. Also, he said, its position in the water moves more water.
The two-pronged hook doesn’t have to be bent upward or out to improve the hookset as many bass anglers do to hooks on other plastic frogs. That technique does make for a better hookset, the artificial lure designer admitted, but also increases the likelihood of snagging the plastic frog more frequently.
“We use a 5/0 hook we designed for that because we couldn’t get a manufactured hook” to do the job, Mauldin said.
“It’s designed where the hook comes over his back, not out to the sides, so when a bass mashes down on it the hooks are exposing themselves,” he said. “We designed it so it collapses on the sides, too.”
Mauldin believes the colors are first-rate.
“We have a range of proven fish-catching colors,” he said. “Fishermen can confidently select a color for every situation. They are good, life-like colors.”
There are 10 colors available now and five more on the way for 2022. Some of the current favorites are Giller, Sun Perch, Pinkie, Flyswatter and Crawl Frog.
The family grows
Smasher Frog will have a brother soon. Finishing touches were being made in December 2021 to the Smasher Popper, Prototype Lures LLC’s newest lure. It should fit nicely in the plans of bass anglers who want to target bass with a popping frog.
The Smasher Popper features an “air evac escape” system bassers won’t find anywhere else on any other plastic frog on the market. Air escapes faster than when a bass clamps down on it because of a pattern of air holes on the popping frog’s back.
“Even with a Smasher Frog there’s only one place on the frog when the bass hits and squeezes for the air to escape,” Mauldin said, noting that model’s vent is at the bottom and rear of the bait.
For more information on the Prototype Lures LLC Smasher Frog and other Prototype Lures products, go to prototypeluresllc.com.