Fishing with Brett Mitchell
Santee-Cooper Guide and Instructor
Specializing in Trophy Size
Largemouth Bass - Blue Catfish - Striped Bass (In season)



    Frog fishing is by far my most favorite technique in the world to catch ole big lips.  I can't think of any type of fishing that is more exciting.  Watching a bucketmouth smack down a little green offering--well, it has a special place.  If you ever get a taste of it,, its hard to put down!!
     It's also very specialized.  I see more mistakes by anglers with froggin' than anything else.  I hear the common stuff all the time-  "they miss it 3/4 of the time",, "He came off again!",, "I can't get the fish out (grass)"  etc.    Most mistakes I see start way before the fishing ever begins.   At a recent tourney weigh-in,  I had a fellow angler pull me to the side.  We had fished together before and during that day I had expressed my fondness for the  Bronzeye Frog.   Turns out my friend had found himself a good frog bite up river but had really had a bad day.  He went on with his list of things that went wrong and how he had enough bites to have won the event two times over.   "I had two break me off,, and I don't know how many came off 1/2 way to the boat" he said.   Even though I felt I already knew his problem, curiousity was killing me.  During the conversation I asked him to show me the frog he was fishing.  He didn't know it at the time but I really didn't care what kind of frog or what color it was-- I really wanted to see his tackle.

    My friend, who I thought knew the finer points of "runnin' a ribbit" shows me the bait,, all the while I'm checking out the rod, reel, line, etc.   I won't say exactly what I saw,, but lets just say it explained his frustration.  It prompts me to get across some key points and techinques one must have or master when jumpin pads with "Kermie".

    YOUR TACKLE -  IF you are going to frog fish-- you have to frog fish.  Froggin' is not something you can crossover tackle with.   Would you try to get in a stock car race with a "smart car"?   Would you drive a tank to the prom?  Not proper equipment for the task is it?    Now if you wanted to take cheap trips to the grocery store the smart car would be great-- and if you were in Bagdad the tank would be your tool of choice..  The point is that your favorite 6'6" medium rod rigged with 12lb mono that you just cut the jerkbait off of isn't gonna cut it.   Froggin' is brute force fishing and if you are not prepared for that be prepared for a bad day.     Your frog rod, well, should be your frog rod.  It can double for a few other things but it is still your frog rod.  Your jig rod is not your frog rod,, though you can jig fish with your frog rod occationally.  BUT NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND.   Recomendation--  Get a rod custom made for frog fishing. I have grown to apreciate what a good custom builder can do, especially for a technique specific rod.  ALX Rods has built mine, and I'm nothing but impressed.    If your not sure you want something that serious or you dont have the cash to lay out on a custom stick then there are a few things to look for.

Key factors for the rod-

a.  6'10" is as short as this rod should be.  If you are a big enough guy to chuck a 1oz bait all day on bigger-- then get bigger.  The length is both for distance and power.  make the biggest choice you can for your size and stamina.

b.  MH- H action ,, but light--  Action for power on the hookset and dragging the fish out of the slop,, light to save your arms. An ounce or so doesn't sound like a lot , but after an hour or two the difference is easy to feel. Another $20 bucks is cheap for a lighter rod when your arms feel like they have been swinging a bowling ball around your head all day.

c. Balance-- a good balanced rod,, one that is not tip or butt heavy will make walking or popping the frog so much easier.   Walkin the dog as its called is a little tough to master but a good balanced rod can help you find the rythym you need to get it down.

    Pairing it up with a reel-   Reels come in so many shapes, sizes , speeds, etc-- how do you know whats right for you?  Lets take a look at what froggin' demands of a reel then we can know what we want.   First and formost-- it must be TOUGH!  9 out of 10 times frog fishing involves ultra heavy cover.  It should not even be in your thoughts to let the fish run.  If you are not wenching the fish in the boat, you're not pulling hard enough!.  Heavy line, locked down drags, brutal hooksets, and dragging in 10lbs of slop with your prize is the norm.  Everything within the components of your set up has to be able to stand whatever you dish out.   Secondly-- you must be able to  throw it a country mile!  a good reel will have multiple adjustments to fine tune how far you can cast without a backlash (forget spinning or spincasting gear,, its not even worth talking about).   With multiple precision bearings and good lube job you should literially  be more worried about throwing too far  than not far enough.   Frog fish are terrible about "tracking"  or following the bait.  The farther you can cast, the farther the fish can follow with the opportunity to strike without seeing you.   Third-- Gear ratio.   I really don't consider this as critical as the other points, but I do prefer a SLOWER reel to the high speed versions for Froggin'.   When I am fishing a buzz frog I can still run the bait eficiently,, and when I have a hollow frog in play speed doesn't matter.  I am more interested in the power to crank a fish out of heavy cover than saving a few cranks of the handle.

    The connection-- LINE-   I see more rookie mistakes here than anywhere else.   We as fisherman train ourselves to be "Natural".  We worry about fish seeing something that doesn't look right.   Well,, the fish,, "his brain is the size of a pea"!   Forget about using the smallest line you can-- USE THE BIGGEST YOU CAN STAND.   You will likely be fishing in some of the naraliest conditions your lake has to offer and the key here is getting the fished hooked, out of that stuff, and in your hand.   If you hate braided line, I hate it for you because monofiliament, co- polomar, Florocarbon or whatever other clear stuff is out there just won't get it done.  Yes, you might catch a few, but sooner than later you will get your heart broke.   Braid with a minimum test of 40 lb is the starting point and I have used 80 lb.  It just depends on how far I will be needing to cast and the thickness of the cover.  I usually opt in the middle-- using 50lb for all around frog fishing and 65lb if the stuff is really tough.   The idea here is getting good hook sets- frog hooks are big, it takes all you can muster to bury them good.  Dont be afraid to set it twice if you're not confident in your first set.  Braid has zero stretch and transmits anything you do on one end to the other.  When a fish inhales a frog his first instinct is to run back in the slop.  Any give your line has allows him to get back down, get slack and get off.   You want a braid that is tough (goes without saying really), limp,doesn't catch itself on the cast and has a wear resistance that will offer you the confidence that you never worry about the line breaking.   If you ever break the line-- first check you guides for damage-- if thats not the issue and an outside influence didn't cause it,  the test is not large enough or its bad line.  Either way-- CHANGE IT.

    The knot and the Hook--   For me knots are really a matter of confidence and preference.  Ask 5 differnent guys what knot they like and you are likely to get 5 different proclaimations of the best knot in the world.  I use the improved clinch but think the palomar is just as good.  Use the one you have confidence in and can tie the best.  The hook-- if you are fishing a buzz frog you have a few choices.  Size, weighted or not, keeper or not, etc.   The easiest mistake is to get a hook that is too small.   Once again we train ourselves to use the least intrusive option for most fishing situations and that doesn't apply here.    5/0 and up is the right equipment. The actual size will depend on your choice of frog.  Some compainies make some really big frogs and need hooks that aproach 10/0!   Remember,, big is good in frogland.   With all the possiblies I suggest you get a few differerent kinds and try them for yourself.  Gamakatsu makes the EWG( extra wide gap) in mulitple forms that all have atvantages.  One  thing about the hook that must be a constant regardless of which one you choose-- they all must sport the heavy wire offered by "Superline" hooks.   With all the power you have interated into your rod, reel and line, lighter wire hooks just don't fit the bill.  My hooks of choice are the Superline Spring-lock and the EWG double-- also used in the hollow frog versions.   Hollow frogs have hooks already intergrated into the bait and offer little if any options in hook choice.  In my opinion, no options are needed.  A lot of time, effort and engineering went into the design of the hooks in these baits and they do a fine job of balancing weedlessness and Hook up ratio.

    The FROG!!-- The star of the show!   There are so many different styles, sizes, and colors it would be impossible to cover them all in any depth.  First you have to choose between a soft plastic buzz frog and a slower but just as deadly hollow floating frog.  I make this choice usually considering these and a few other subtle things.  Do I need to cover alot of water or are the fish centralized?   How thick is the cover?  Will I be fishing in the holes in the cover or over the top of the thickest part?  Do the fish want to chase (track) or ambush?   All in all, the fish themselves will dictate which is the right choice.   If I am locating fish I will almost always opt for the buzz frog.  It covers alot of water fast and even if it is not getting bites it will make the fish show themselves when they react to it.  I like the buzz frog when the cover has holes and edges to it,, dragging the bait though the holes and off the edges where the strike generally occurs.  Size, color and the such is just something that changes with the conditions and I suggest sticking to the basics-- white, black, and some of the greens and naturals.  Lighter days = lighter and more natural colors,, darker days goes the oposite way.  
 On the other side of the tackle box are the hollow frogs.  Talk about a bait that says "na-na-- you can't eat me".  Though I clasify both varieties as frogs, they are really two totally different  baits that utilize two totally different techniques.  The only things that make them similar are there names, where they are fished and you'll generally be fishing for the same fish with both.  I like the hollow frog when the fish are grouped, staying put and won't venture far from the there home.  When the fish are in a ambush mood and are just waiting for an easy meal to present it's self the hollow variety fits.  It's  a great teaser for a big fish planted under a thick weedbed.   I throw these baits in some of the thickest of cover where the buzz frog often gets missed strikes.   I'm not shy to tell you I have fished with most all of the ones currently made and truely believe SPRO has the best lineup on the market.  They may have not invented the floating frog,, but they sure perfected it. Offering multipule sizes, styles, and colors, if they will eat a frog they will eat a Bronzeye.   Starting with the Bronzeye Jr., The main stay Bronzeye 65, The Bronzeye Popper and The new "King Daddy" you have a size and color that fits the situation.

    So we have covered the rod, the reel,  the line, hooks and knots and the baits themselves.   I know,, you want the rest of  the story.   Well, truth is there is no big secret.  It's like all the other techniques out there that you didn't have enough confidence in to stick with long enough for it to bear fruit.    The basics on WHERE is heavy cover, grass, wood, etc but I have caught fish on frogs in open water.  The HOW is simple,, there is no wrong way.   Pulling, tuggin', walkin' poppin' the frog all work. You just have to experiment until the fish tell you the best method of the day.  WHEN?  here is where I can help you some!   Most fisherman consider Topwater to be a morning / evening presentation.    NOT SO with the frog.  Even though the frog is a surface lure, you almost have to think of if as a weedless cover lure and forget that it's on top.   My favorite time/kind of day to have this bait tied on is when the sun is high, its hot and still-- especally so when the cover is thick,, just the opposite of topwater thinking.  This is not to say that a typical cloudy topwater day isn't as good or better, just that standard rules for topwater baits don't apply.

If you made it this far, you have all the basic knowledge you need to fish a frog right!  The rest is experience, persistance and yes, Frog Fishing 102!  So get out there get the right stuff, get some blow ups and have some fun-- LETS GO FISHING!!!

Brett Mitchell
Your Guide to Santee-Cooper and Lake Murray!

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