SA Bass

CLASSROOM

- >> Dewald Viljoen*

“Frog Fishing For Summer Bass” Most of my fishing friends know that I adore frog fishing. From hollow bodies floating frogs to soft bodied buzz frogs I love them all! Pop them, walk them, slide them or buzz them, frogs are great search tools and in my mind the ultimate big fish attractor! – Dewald Viljoen

Frogging can be broken down into two main categories namely hollow body and soft body frogs. Each have their own special needs and after a lot of experiment­ation I finally came up with an approach for each of them that suited my needs and with a little luck it will help your frog fishing too.

First, let’s look at hollow bodied frogs. These have been around for much longer than most people realize but only really came into its own when we started to use braided lines that really allowed us to start fishing these lures in areas where previously we would have been throwing away money! While all your equipment is important when frogging, when it comes to hollow bodies two things really stand out for me. Firstly is the rod. This is one area in your fishing that I feel you should opt for a specialist rod. Frogging rods walk a fine line between the finesse required for accurate casts and the brute power needed to handle heavy braid and to lift a big fish through thick vegetation. While most brands offer frogging rods in the 7’2” to 7’6” range, I prefer the slightly short 7’ offerings by Quantum. The second thing that is really important is the braid you use. With so many quality offerings available these days it is easy to get a little confused when selecting the right braid for frogging. To me the breaking strain is not as important as the diameter of the braid. Again it is a balancing act. You want a braid that is thin enough to cut through grass and lily stems but thick enough not to cut into your reel spool when under strain. For me, I found the magic diameter to be around 0.30 mm. In most brands that will be between 50# and 65#. It is also important to look for a braid that has a round weave rather than a flat weave, as round weaves have less of a tendency to cut in. As for reels, as long as it is strong enough to handle the strains of heavy line and heavy structure, you should be fine. Since frogging is a technique where the rod imparts most of the action to the lure, the reel speed is not of critical importance. Hollow body frogs are shallow water baits, so fishing them effectivel­y will usually require one to get in between the nasty stuff and we will often fish in areas where a push pole becomes a requiremen­t as no one has yet built a trolling motor that can double as a brush cutter! The trick is to be watchful for surface action between the weed beds and lily pads and then be able to cast accurately and quickly when you see any activity! Depending on the make and model of lure you are using, pop, walk or glide the lure around likely spots, paying particular attention to natural ambush points

like openings or channels in the vegetation. The main advantage of a hollow body frog over buzz frogs is that they float and you can park them on the edges of a likely spot and allow the fish to work themselves up into an aggressive state, often resulting in a violent strike on a stationary lure!

Buzz Frogs require a slightly different approach for me. Because for their lower weight and higher wind resistance they often cast like they have a parachute attached to them! They don’t go very far and they often don’t go in a straight line! A few years ago I over came the distance problem by starting to use a spinning rod to throw buzz frogs. A spinning reel is much more forgiving when it comes to lighter (or just plain odd casting) lures. The free running line will add a few meters to your cast and will also allow you to skip the frog around, tangle free! The other advantage is that you can get away with a thinner diameter braid, which will also add meters to your casting distance, and before I get complaints and lectures about the power of spinning tackle versus casting tackle, take a walk around your local tackle shop and you will notice that spinning tackle dominates the off shore market and the monster carp market, which means strength and power are not issues that the bass angler should be concerned about! The rod I use for instance is an 8 foot Shimano offering, designed to pull 60# King Salmon from fast flowing rivers. It weighs and handles no different from my bass rods and can easily dead lift a 4kg bass from the weeds! I have it paired up with a 3000 sized, front dragged Quantum Smoke and 30# braid. I fish my buzz frogs of a heavy wire 5/0 EWG hook. While accuracy is an issue with both the lure and the spinning outfit, you can actually achieve quite an impressive level of accuracy and consistenc­y with a little practice, and add to this the fact that a bass will often chase down and destroy a buzz frog from quite a distance, then a buzz frog makes sense as a search tool to put you on aggressive­ly feeding fish, quickly! I like to work an area by fan casting a buzz frog, again concentrat­ing on likely ambush spots. By slowing down over, or dropping the frog into pockets you can often trigger strikes from following fish. One of my favourite tricks with a buzz frog is to swim it halfway onto a lilypad, leaving the legs to dangle in the water for a quick “rest” then pulling the frog over the pad and back on its way. You will very often get hit as soon as the frog re-enters the water!

With summer rapidly coming into full swing, frogs are a great way to search the shallows at dawn and dusk. We have even found that nature is a great help especially at dusk when frog choirs are often singing along specific stretches of shoreline. These are usually prime spots as the bass in these areas seem to be predispose­d to eating frogs as part of their diet anyway!

Until next time, enjoy the bounties of summer fishing and stay safe! *Dewald Viljoen is a custom lure maker and the owner of Hot Reels Service Centre.

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