Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Secret to Froggin'

In this rat race we call life, there is no hesitation.  High-paced, instant gratification, fast delivery, instant answers via Siri or Google, there is no delay.  Well, the secret to fishing?  Patience, slow-it-down, hesitation.  Especially when it comes to frogging.  I constantly hear from fellow fisherman, "I hate frogging because I have a hard time with hookups!".  Yet they keep at it.  Why????  The huge topwater blowups.  They are the heroin of the recreational/tournament fishing industry.

I've read many-a-articles about frog fishing.  I, as do many anglers, love the topwater blowups.  I've spend hours refining my frog-game.  I'm about to share with you the deep-dark secrets of frog fishing.  For the real-world.  Without lure sponsors.  Without a fancy $70,000 bass boat.  Pay attention, because I'm revealing my secrets.

Disclaimer: I am not sponsored by any lure company.  My favorite frogs are Lunkerhunt and BoohYah.  Why?  A balance between production, cost, and hook-up ratio.  Let me explain.

In the Beginning

Largemouth Choked a
Lunkerhunt Frog
My froggin' days started like many of yours.  A spinning reel with 8lb. mono, and the cheapest frog I could find (brand to remain nameless).  My hookup ratio was a joke.  But something about this style of fishing hooked me (pun fully intended).  It was the picture-perfect topwater blowups.  I was determined to make them productive..

Enter the Lunkerhunt Lunker Frog.  It looked real, the price was higher but manageable, and I had upgraded to a baitcaster with 50lb. braid.  The recipe for success.  Half-a-summer is all it took to perfect my technique with this amazing hollow-body frog.

The beauty of the Lunkerhunt frog is realism and versatility.  Fresh out of the box, it is an ultra-realistic.  This is proven by the numerous topwater blowups caused by this amazing lure.  However, like many others, I had a hard time with hookups.

I read, as I do with any new techniques, many-a-articles on froggin'.  The suggestions were numerous.  Throw this colored frog during specific days of the year in specific water conditions.  Throw this-brand frog in these water conditions, etc.  A flurry of suggestions tainted by specific situations in specific states for specific anglers.  Through hours on the water, I scrapped that entirely and found my own methods.

Hesitate, then hesitate some more

A Respectable Wisconsin Largemouth
courtesy of the Lunkerhunt Frog
Anyone that have fished for bass topwater know the feeling.  That topwater blowup we become addicted to.  When it happens, time slows down, like in the movie The Matrix.  The water droplets slowly erupt from the calm surface.  The topwater lure disappears. The line tightens.  The rod bends.  Your face slowly explodes with surprise.  An eternity seems to pass in the blink of an eye.  This is the problem, people usually react too quickly in this scenario.  Hesitation is key in this situation, and I'm going to to tell you how to do it.

The best way to start, as recommended by most anglers, is to keep your rod tip up high while working your frog.  This requires you to put your rod tip down, wind the slack, and pull to set the hook.  It is a good start.  But the most effective way is discipline.  I use what I call the 1-2-3 method.  When I see that glorious topwater blowup, as the adrenaline surges through my veins, I count to three.  In this situation, it isn't a true three seconds.  It never is.  But it is a long enough hesitation to allow the fish to take the bait.  If you are still experiencing hookup issues, increase your count to 5, 7, or whatever it takes.  It will seem like an eternity and go against every instinct you have.  However, this discipline has exponentially increased my hookup percentage.  Having revealed my methods, now onto my favorite frogs.

The Brands

Another Lunkerhunt Choker
Some give the Lunkerhunt Frog a bad rep because the legs tend to get ripped off.  I call this versatility, not damage or a problem.  The damaged leg actually increases the motion in the water.  I've caught many-a-amazing fish on a Lunkerhunt Frog missing a leg at the knee or body.   This configuration actually allows you to slow roll the frog, giving it an attractive wobbling motion on the water surface.  This transforms the realistic frog into a realistic injured frog.  A deadly motion that has landed me too many fish to count.  I am able to make 2-3 Lunkerhunt frogs last an entire frog season.  During the summer I fish frogs almost exclusively.

Lunkerhunt offers various sizes and colors.  I use their Lunker Frog, which is the mid-sized one.  I plan to try the Combat Frog this next year (bigger lure = bigger fish hopefully).  I have had luck with various colors, but tend to stick with the natural colors (dark green/light green).

The Lunkerhunt Frog's ultra-realism is ultra-effective.  In my home reservoir (sparse on pike), it is an unbeatable topwater lure.  The same holds true for the Pike infested waters of the Mississippi backwaters I frequent.  When the pike are extra-active, I found myself with more damaged Lunkerhunts than usual.  I sought a good frog at a lower price point for waters with a high pike population.

Enter the Booyah Pad Crasher Popping Frog.  This beauty took me out of my frog comfort zone slightly since I had honed my Lunkerhunt technique, but proved productive.  The popper even allows it to work well in open water.  After landing countless Northern Pike with razor-sharp teeth the body has huge gashes in the side but still works.  I exclusively used the black color, because it silhouettes nice on sunny days.  I do plan to add some natural greens to my arsenal for next year.  ProTip:  Increase your hookup percentages with these by trimming ~1/2" off the legs.  This will cause the fish to strike closer to the hooks if they target the back of the legs.

My Froggin' Rig

As with anything, everyone has their own opinions on the right rod, reel, and line for froggin'.  Since there is no standard upon which rod action are measured, opinions further vary.  I am a believer in personal preference, whatever you are comfortable with.  I've seen people successfully frog fish (but struggle a bit more) with a spinning setup and 8lb. mono.  They increased productivity by switching to a 20-30lb braid.

Nice Wisconsin Largemouth and
extra vegetation via a
 Lunkerhunt Frog
I personally prefer a baitcaster for the more efficient "winching" the retrieval provides.  This last year I used both an Ardent Tournament 6.5:1 and an Ardent Pro 7.3:1.  Both worked very well for yanking them out of the weeds.  The Pro was nice because the higher gear ratio allowed me to get them to the kayak faster.  This can be nice when you have a poor hook set.  Next year I am upgrading my frog rig to an Ardent Magnum.  This reel has greater line capacity, which will allow for a bigger line diameter.  It also has an amazing drag system for battling large fish engulfed in pounds of muck.

Like with the reel, use whatever you are comfortable with to start.  Through trial-and-error, I prefer medium-heavy to heavy action rods.  This year I used a medium action rod.  It worked well, but didn't have as much backbone as I would have liked for keeping the hook set when the fish was wrapped in weeds.  This year I am going to use a McCain Kayak Series BIG Jig rod.  This rod is longer with a heavier backbone for punching.  Perfect for a reliable hook set when a fish buries itself in thick vegetation during your "hesitation" before the hook set.

Like I mentioned before, I have seen people haul in fish via frog on 8lb. mono.  Though more difficult, it is possible.  I have historically used 50lb. braid.  Next year, with the higher line capacity of the Ardent Magnum reel, I plan to upgrade to 65lb.  This will provide more strength for horsing the fish out of thick vegetation, and hopefully more resistance to pike damage.

I hope my real-world tips help you increase your productivity on the highly addictive frog fishing style!


2 comments:

  1. Once again, great info as well as giving me something else to try next season. I thought I was going overboard with 20lb braid for my fishing. I'm going to have to upgrade some equipment. I have time over this cold winter.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Brian! Glad it is helpful. Any questions, let me know. I recommend 30lb for spinning and 50+ for casting when frogging in the thick stuff.

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