Fishing the Lonestar’s Jeremy Francis is a big fan of fishing a hollow body frog whenever he gets the chance. And though a frog is typically thought of as a cover fishing lure, here recently, Francis has really been enjoying fishing one out in open water.
“One of the most recent times out, I came across kind of a windblown point,” said Francis. “And that windblown point was more of an open water area but the fish were actually killing a topwater frog that day.”
Francis was fishing with a popping frog, and admitted that a popper might have worked as well that day. But the area did have some cover in it, so the frog gave him the option to fish both the cover and open water, something a popper with dangling treble hooks wouldn’t allow him to do.
“With a frog, I could start it in cover and bring it out into open water. And it was getting destroyed, one of the most awesome frog bites I’ve ever been on. And it was not necessarily around vegetation or the normal places you’d throw a frog.”
“Normally though if I’m fishing open water, it’s open water but with vegetation nearby. Whether that be on the surface nearby, or underwater nearby.”
Fishing a frog over submerged vegetation is one of Francis’s favorite open water techniques. In these situations where the grass is a a foot or two under the water, most subsurface baits would have to be reeled really quickly. The frog gives Francis a slower option and a stout hook to haul the bass out of the grass if they try to go down and bury up.
“If they’re eating on small baitfish, especially shad, they’ll still come out of that grass and eat that frog almost every time.”
In addition to open water near vegetation, Francis likes to fish a frog near, between and under docks.
“Dock edges are another great place. And even for guys who can’t skip well, a frog does skip pretty decently under docks. If it’s a calm slick day, I probably will go with a popper with long pauses in between. But if there’s any ripple that breaks up the water’s surface, that’s when I still reach for the frog in open water.”
When considering the hookup ratio, there are some advantages and disadvantages to going with a frog in open water versus a treble hooked popper or walking bait.
“I always feel like the treble hook baits are great because of the exposed hooks, but they’re also little hooks. So, especially if you’re trying to target big fish, sometimes those treble hooks can come out rather easily.”
Because of the smaller trebles, Francis says you have to fight a fish a lot more carefully on a popper. Where a frog on the other hand has two big, bold hooks that are less likely to bend or tear out of a fish. So he’s able to horse the bass in a lot quicker. This leads to a better landing percentage with frog according to Francis, provide he’s able to hook them good on the initial hookset.
Francis also noted that most people consider popping frogs and walking frogs as two different bait categories: one lure type having a pointed nose and the other a cupped mouth. But for him, they are one in the same, because he uses tow “popping” frogs that also walk well.
“The frogs I use are popping frogs but they’re designed to be some of the best walking frogs I’ve ever thrown. I picked up the Blitz Lures Popper Phrog in a MONSTERBASS box about two years ago and it has since become my favorite frog that I always have tied on.”
The Popper Phrog has a cupped mouth but also a keeled belly, which allows Francis to both pop and walk the same lure. He also frequently uses the Strike King Popping Perch for the same reason, because it is a well-rounded frog that he can both pop along and walk in place.
“Both of those are very soft, they have very good hookup ratios and you can either walk or pop them. So they’re kind of like do it all frogs in a sense.”
Francis acknowledges that some anglers like to downsize their gear when moving from a frog fished in heavy cover to a frog fished in open water. But he keeps his gear the same, in part because he may want to throw his frog into cover sporadically while also fishing in primarily open water.
“I keep it all the exact same. I throw a 7’ 4” extra heavy rod with 50- pound braid and a Lew’s Super Duty reel.”
Francis almost always goes with a white frog, only swapping it up to a black or bluegill color if the sun is high and bright. He pointed out that a hollow body frog’s white belly resembles a lot of different things to a bass looking up from below.
“Fish can just see white really well and it looks like a lot of things. It looks like the belly of a frog, it looks like shad or baitfish. The only thing it may not look like is a bluegill. But even in some cases, depending on which species of sunfish you’re targeting, they’re also lighter on bottom.”
If you’re a fan of frog fishing but hesitant to fish one when super thick cover isn’t present, maybe it’s time to give one a shot in open water as well. Cover in the general vicinity is still key to Francis, but fishing a frog in open water gives him a bait with a great landing ratio that also mimics a lot of different prey to a bass.
He recommends you keep it simple, going with the same gear you’d normally frog fish with and a white frog in almost all situations. Hopefully these tips will help you haul a few frog fish out of open water on your next trip.