Summers Best Bass Lure? This Pro Likes Floating Frogs
Twenty years ago when other bass tournament anglers kept beating him regularly by fishing floating plastic frogs, Ish Monroe decided he'd better learn to use one, too, if he wanted to survive in the sport. Today, the Yamaha Pro is considered one of the best frog fishermen in America, and in the process he's changed many of the established "rules" about how and when to fish the popular hollowbodied lures.
"Floating frogs have become my favorite lures, and while I first learned to use them on the California Delta where heavy vegetation is common, I also began using them in tournament competition on different types of water all across the United States," explains Monroe, who in 2010 fished both the FLW® Tour and Bassmaster® Elite Series events, "and the first thing I realized is that these lures are a lot more versatile than we realized.
"For example, the normal way to fish matted surface vegetation, which these lures were originally designed for, is to work your frog over the top of it using a pretty fast retrieve. Another technique is chugging the lure along an outside edge of that same vegetation.
"What I like to do, especially on smaller, isolated grassbeds, is cast completely across the grassbed, then walk my frog into the vegetation. I believe this type of presentation gives bass a totally different impression, as if the frog is looking for a place to rest, and they hit it just before it gets to the grass."
The Yamaha Pro has also realized these lures work just as well on lakes without vegetation. He regularly throws them around boat docks, under overhanging trees, and around rocks and stumps. During the recent Forrest Wood Cup® championship on Lake Lanier, he fished boat docks with good success.
"One of the reasons these lures are so much fun for anglers of all skill levels to use is because they're weedless and you can fish them in so many different places," Monroe points out. "You can literally fish them where no other topwater lure can be used." He uses a side to side walking retrieve the majority of the time because the slow, steady presentation seems to attract larger bass. Since these lures cause a lot of commotion, Monroe particularly recommends this type of retrieve in open water.
"To walk a frog, you twitch your rod down just slightly," he explains, "but because these lures are hollow and so light, you also have to give the frog slack line to allow it to swing to the opposite side. Twitch your rod down, then immediately raise it so there's no line resistance for the lure to move in the opposite direction.
"It isn't a difficult presentation to learn, but it is critical if you want the frog to swing side to side. Once you establish a cadence, the frog will pretty much take care of itself, and then you can add pauses or begin to change speeds, too."
Monroe favors shallower water for his floating frog, but says not to rule it out over deeper water.
When he's fishing over vegetation, Monroe usually chugs his frog, which is done by twitching the rod downward but not giving any slack line. He does this quickly, too, so the frog actually moves steadily over the surface in a jerky but continuous movement.
Although he considers three to four foot water depths the best overall for frog fishing, the Yamaha Pro doesn't limit himself to this narrow range. He's caught bass while fishing the frog over water as deep as 20 feet, and knows other tournament pros who've caught fish over even deeper water.
Catches like this generally come from extremely clear water, but Monroe has learned over the years that most of his best frog catches come from slightly dingy conditions where visibility is much less. In fact, the only situation he's found in which frogs don't produce good results are in extremely muddy water.
The Yamaha angler uses 70 pound braided line, matched with a heavy action rod (which he himself designed just for frog fishing), and a speedy 6.3:1 reel. The rod has a fast tip that makes working such a light lure much easier, and the strong braid easily controls bass in thick vegetation.
"Overall, I don't think there's a better lure for summer bass fishing," concludes Monroe, "nor is there an easier lure to learn to use. You can cast it anywhere and just twitch it back, and the bass will find it."