Frog baits, which call up some of the most explosive action in bass fishing, come in a range of sizes and styles. Learn to choose the best frog for the day.
Sudden, violent surface strikes are the trademark of frog lure fishing and a major appeal of this style of fishing. As importantly, though, frogs are exceptionally productive and prompt outstanding bass action in broad range of situations from mid-summer all the way until the end of autumn.
Ongoing advancement of frog lures in recent years has added even more applications for tying on a frog. Looking at the BOOYAH Pad Crasher series, as an example, what began with a single, hollow-bodied frog now includes six different frog lures, each of which is available in broad range of colors.
Primary styles include the original Pad Crasher, the Poppin’ Pad Crasher, which has a cupped face that pops and spits, and the Toad Runner, which has spinning plastic tail that churns the water like a buzzbait. All three primary styles also come in a smaller Jr version.
With options come questions, though, so we spoke with veteran Alabama guide and bass pro Jimmy Mason about the situations when he turns to frogs and how he determines which frog to tie on when he wants to call up explosive surface action.
Before breaking down situations, it is important to note that not everything fits neatly into a box. While much about the cover, conditions, forage and other factors can help you select the best frog bait to begin with, at times you need to experiment, and it’s important let the bass dictate their preferences.
“The Pad Crasher has a walking action while the Poppin’ Pad Crasher has a popping action, and some days the bass just prefer one or the other, with no obvious reason,” Mason said. “Just like I’ll often have a Super Spook Jr and a Boss Pop tied on to see what the bass want, when I’m frog fishing, I’ll often have a Pad Crasher and a Poppin’ Pad Crasher on, and I’ll use both.”
When the fish are aggressive and reacting to fast-moving offerings, Mason often will turn to a Toad Runner and keep it on the go. That allows him to cover more water and capitalize on the fish being more aggressive and feeding in reaction mode.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, if Mason is fishing an original Pad Crasher or Poppin’ Pad Crasher and fish are short striking or simply seem tentative, he’ll often try the Jr version of the same bait before making a wholesale change in strategies – and sometimes this simple shift to a smaller frog is the key prompting excellent action.
Most frog fishing takes place in cover of some kind, whether that’s matted milfoil, water willow along an edge, lily pads (hence then name, Pad Crasher!), stump fields, wood cover, docks or something else, Often the cover will dictate the best style of frog lure to use.
For example, when Mason is fishing legitimate mats, late in the summer or during fall on Guntersville or Pickwick, his first choice is normally the original Pad Crasher. It makes the deepest impression in the vegetation as it crosses the mat and is therefore the most likely to be noticed and to prompt a reaction. It also can be cast farther than the Pad Crasher Jr., allowing him to search more effectively.
At the other end of the cover spectrum, if Mason is fishing over fully submerged grass atop a point, hump or roadbed – a spot he would normally fish with a traditional topwater lure – but strands of dead eelgrass are floating in that area and making open hooks difficult to fish, he’ll instead use a Poppin’ Pad Crasher, which offers a similar profile and sound, but that does not get bogged down with the eelgrass.
A Poppin’ Pad Crasher or Toad Runner offer an extra dose of sound and action to call fish and prompt strike and can be extra good for working edges of the vegetation and other sparse cover.
A couple of weather conditions can significantly impact frog selection.
Wind creating chop on the water can make a regular Pad Crasher’s walk a bit too subtle and harder for the fish to find. That is when the extra splash of a Poppin’ Pad Crasher becomes extra important. Extra chop also calls for harder snaps of the rod to create chugs and louder pops instead of the spitting action that comes from quicker, lighter twitches.
When bluebird skies or calm conditions make the fish a little fussier, the smaller profile of a Pad Crasher Jr hopping or walking across the surface can be too much to refuse even for tentative bass.
It’s important to note that frog baits don’t necessarily represent frogs to bass. They can and sometimes do suggest frogs, but they also create movement and sound that bass respond to and can be used to imitate various kinds of forage fish that are cruising close to the surface.
When Mason is trying to identify the most productive grass mats, he listens for the “Rice Krispies,” which is the sound of bluegills nabbing insects beneath the grass. When “Snap, Crackle & Pop” are doing their thing, a Pad Crasher suggests a bluegill feeding at the surface. That’s when colors like Aqua Frog and Ole Smokey are extra effective.
Disco Ball, a new Pad Crasher color that is silvery and as glittery as the name would suggest, is Mason’s choice when the bass are using mats or other frog cover but are relating significantly to shad.
BOOYAH Frog Baits
Pad Crasher – The original BOOYAH frog bait. Long casting, easy to walk and featuring hook that ensures fish get hooked and stay hooked.