There are few things that bass love more than a big mouthful of fresh frog. The main reason bass hang out near lily pads is because they usually have a large frog population living in them. Bass will cruise the shallows at night in the hopes of a quick Kermit Crunch.
And Then There Were Frogs…
Frogs appeared on Planet Earth around 265 million years ago, during the Permian period of the Paleozoic Era. Since then they have been fruitful and multiplied, now making up 85% of all living amphibian species. They live everywhere there is fresh water, except for the polar regions. Strangely, there are no known marine species of frogs. This is probably because frogs apparently evolved from early freshwater fish. The body plan for all species of frogs is the same. The only differences are in color and size. They have a squat body, long back legs with webbed feet, protruding eyes, and a cleft tongue. Other than birds, frogs are some of the most strikingly-colored animals on the planet.
All Frogs Are Not Created Equal…
There are many different frog species in the U.S. that bass and other fish may encounter, but as far as bass are concerned, only a few are of interest. Bass like a big mouthful, so their favorite frog is obviously the North American Bullfrog. The bullfrog is one of the larger species of frog, found pretty much everywhere in the United States, but especially in the southern states. You can hear their amorous roars every night in late Spring and Summer as they attempt to propagate.
There is really only one other U.S. species of frog big enough to be of any interest to a decent-sized bass, and that is the Leopard Frog. The Leopard Frog is actually any one of 14 different species, but mostly the Northern, and Southern Leopard Frogs. Others, like the Pickerel Frog are really too small to be of interest to bass, but can attract other fish like large bluegills, pickerel, and such. All Leopard Frogs are similar in appearance and behavior, with the main difference being size, and where they are found. Leopard Frogs are very striking in appearance with emerald green shades accented by black spots. These are probably the most imitated color patterns for frog lures.
Then Came…The Spro Frog…
There are countless lures designed to imitate frogs, from plastic and wood crank-baits, to top-water poppers. But one really stands out. Before the year 2000, it wasn’t really possible to make a soft-bodied frog imitation, because it would have to float. Soft-bodied lures don’t float, unless air is blown into them. Around the millennium, a company in Kennesaw, Georgia, Sports Professionals, Inc began to make fishing lures designed by some of the top anglers in the country. In 2004, they produced the soft-bodied, floating Spro Frog (Spro is short for Sports Professionals…). It immediately began winning tournaments, and now, it is one of the hottest frog lures available. This is my rendition of the infamous Spro Frog:
One of the first thing noticeable about this piscatorial amphibious assault weapon is that the hooks are flush against the body. This is great for making it virtually weedless, but there does not seem to be enough hook gap exposed to stab a bass. This is one of the beautiful things about this lure. It is not only soft-bodied, but hollow as well. When a bass chomps on it, the body collapses, exposing two very sharp and efficient hook points. The back legs are attached inside the body, and are unlikely to pull out. If they do get damaged, they can be easily repaired with some gorilla glue, and a rubber skirt.
In the water, even to the human eye, the lure is almost indistinguishable from a real frog. It sets in the surface film with its eyes exposed, just like the real thing. When retrieved, it moves through the water like a real frog. The back legs kick and swim enticingly, and the head moves from side to side in a natural swimming motion. It is little wonder that it is becoming a must-have lure for serious bass anglers.
As good as it is, this design is not perfect. The hollow body can fill up with water if damaged, affecting the lure’s action. There is an easy fix available, should this occur. Simply remove the body from the double hook. Take a floating Sluggo, and cut a piece off matching the frog’s body size. Thread this piece of Sluggo on the hook, and work the frog body back over it. Now, it will never sink, even if it does fill with water.
The Spro Frog can be cast directly into deep cover, lily pads, around hydrilla, and timber. One of the most effective techniques is to cast the frog over structure and reel it in, pausing as it ‘climbs’ over the top. When you resume the retrieve, the frog ‘plops’ into the water like a real frog. This drives bass insane.
The frog needs to be ‘worked’ such as a pause and retrieve, or changing directions when reeling in. You need to try to mimic the actions of a live frog…in other words: Be the Frog. Another good technique is ‘hopping’. This is accomplished by quick twitches of the rod tip. This makes the frog plane up, due to it’s design, and it will ‘hop’ on the surface.
The Spro Frog, and it’s cousins from other manufacturers, is so weedless than it can be cast directly on to the shoreline, and ‘hopped’ into the water. This can be a deadly technique, especially in the evenings.
Frogs can be a very useful addition to your bass arsenal. You should always have a few handy.