The Artful Frogger

Story by

Dean Rojas

Dean Rojas says the Spro Bronzeye Frog is the best bass bait ever made. "It's such a unique bait and one that draws emotion from all the people who throw it because of the strike and the anticipation of watching the bait walking across the water and a fish coming up and blasting it. That's why I enjoy throwing it - plus it gets big bites and it catches big bass. I know if I can get 6 or 7 or 8 bites throughout the day, they are going to be big ones. That's why I am willing to commit to the bait."

Wherever you live in the USA today, the frog is one of the most popular ways to fish. Topwater has always been a very popular way to fish, and the beauty of the frog is it makes topwater fishing pretty weedless. So you can throw a frog just about anywhere and not have to worry about getting hung up or losing it. It’s unlike any other topwater lure in that sense. That’s really helped expand the popularity of frogs amongst fishermen and even the average weekend anglers throws them a lot, says the world’s best frog angler, Dean Rojas.

Seasonality and Time of Day

Usually with the frog, in the spring time and the fall, the afternoons are always the best – only because the water temperature warms up more in the afternoon than it does in the morning, unless there is a front that’s coming through, a nice warm front. Then Rojas will throw it in the mornings too.

In the summer time, Dean will throw it all day long from first thing in the morning, all the way through midday and even into the evening. However, he will say he usually catches his biggest fish around noon on frogs. Around noon is usually when he catches his big ones because the fish are positioned with the sun so they are usually tight around cover at noon – and that’s usually where Dean’s frog is too.

It’s very good at night in the summer time too. Dean doesn’t change anything for night fishing. He uses the same everything, same lure action and retrive speed, saying you don’t need to slow down or do anything different at night.

Modifications

Dean advises people to tinker with their baits because any time that you can alter an existing bait to give it a different action, you are going to get more bites on it, so Rojas encourage that. There are a lot of different things you can do with them – and that’s the beauty of this type of bait.

Out of the package, the legs run long because some people like having the long legs but it also gives you the option to trim the legs if you want. Some people, they just cut the legs off almost completely.

As for the modifications that Dean makes, he usually cuts about an inch off of each leg. When you do that, the frog starts to walk and act more realistic – and that walking action is key to his presentation. He will also use pliers to open up the hooks a little more, the degree depending on the cover he’s fishing.

As soon as he gets a new frog, he’ll do those two things. He may modify them and put them in a storage box so they are ready to go as soon as he grabs one. In terms of how much to open the hooks, probably 1 to 2 degrees, just to where you are getting the point away from the body. Out of the box, they lay right up against the body which is really good. He’ll open it to be a degree or two more when he’s fishing heavy cover. For open water, sometimes it can be as much as 5 degrees that he’ll open them up because he’s not going to get hung up on anything.

Dean Rojas

Dean usually trims about an inch off the legs and open up the hooks a little more, depending on the cover he's fishing.

When he really wants his frog to walk sideward but not forward, Dean will trim even more than an inch off the legs – about an inch and a quarter. He usually does this when he’s skipping way under overhanging cover, and with the smaller legs on it, that frees up the back of the frog, keeps it in place and enables it to walk sideways better while staying in place when skipping into cover.

Biggest Mistake

The biggest mistake Dean sees other anglers makeis they’re not aggressive enough in throwing it where they really need to throw the frog to get a bite – because they’re afraid of losing the bait or it’s too difficult to make the cast or they’re going to foul up.

Skip Casting

To get his frog into the difficult spots without fouling up, Dean deploys a skip cast to keep a low line trajectory. The line stays down low, close to the surface. The line doesn’t float high in the air which would cause it to tangle onto limbs, brush, reeds and other emergent cover. By skipcasting the frog, the line stays low, flying below the grabby cover, and the frog simply skips in under overhanging trees and brush, landing tight up against the bank every time.

Dean’s frog rarely gets hung up in the cover as this is something he takes into careful consideration when sizing up a cast before he takes it.

Slow Motion

Rojas spends approximately 80 percent of his time fishing the first 10-15 feet closest to the bank with a frog.

Rojas works his frog very slowly from side to side, using a rod action much as one would deploy to work a Heddon Super Spook or topwater walking lure – but slower and more suspenseful. The difference being that Dean pauses for a lingering instant in between each sideways lunge of his frog. Most hits come during the jerk and pause part of his retrieve, within the first few feet from the bank.

Dean Rojas

Dean skipcasts his frog all the way under fallen cypress tress and overhanging brush - or flips it in open pockets within inches of the bank.

When he sees a wake, boil or fish flash behind it, he’ll slow his frog way down to let the fish have a chance to hit it.

Also, wherever he even thinks there should be a fish around, even if he doesn’t see a fish there, he pauses it the same way, evoking strikes from unseen fish.

Getting a Second Shot

When a fish does swipe and miss, about 30% of the time, they’ll take another chance at it on a second cast, depending how aggressive and hungry they are. When they’re hunkered down in an area or on a bed, the percentage they’ll hit it again on another cast are even higher.

If the fish doesn’t strike again on a second cast, yet he’s seen that it’s a good fish, Dean may come back there later in the day and he feels he has a good chance to catch it when he returns.

The Final Sprint

Dean’s frog presentation while going down a bank is similar to how one would flip or pitch a jig at the bank or at cover, working it for those first few feet when it’s in the high percentage strike zone next to shore or cover, and then reeling in the rest of the way to make another cast.

When his frog gets further away from the bank or away from fish-holding cover, after the slow jerk-and pause hasn’t gotten any attention, Dean executes a sequence of faster, choppy side-to-side twitches in quick succession for several seconds – as if the frog is trying to flee or get away. He does this at least once or maybe twice on every retrieve. This is to give any stalking bass a sudden, frantic change-up action to trigger a chase. A lot of times that motion triggers them to bite it at the end of his presentation before he reels in the rest of the way to cast again.

Hooksetting

Dean Rojas

Dean will frog down a bank, hitting all the good shoreline cover in somewhat the same manner as others may go down a bank flipping a jig.

Rojas likes watching them come up and knowing that you tricked them into coming up to grab it. Once he gets the explosion, he usually doesn’t wait to set the hook. Sometimes he will see them coming after the bait and as mentioned, he’ll slow the bait down and wait for them to grab it but usually he lets them have it as soon as he sees them grab it. On the initial explosion, they’ve got it. There’s no reason to wait to set the hook.

There is a lot of other info out there that espouses for an angler to wait to set the hook until a fish goes down with the frog or to wait until you feel solid weight on the line, but Rojas feels that’s only because a lot of people use equipment that is not suited for frogging. The problem that causes a lot of people to miss the fish is their equipment is too light. Sometimes they’ll be using mono. They’re not using the right braid and they don’t get a good hookset and they end up losing fish on the strike due to mismatched equipment. Dean hears this often from people, that when they get a bite, they lose them and usually the remedy for that is opening up the hooks and to evaluate what line are you using, what rod are you using because that is going to be the connection between you and the bait and getting the hook into the fish’s mouth; the problem’s usually a case of underpowering not overpowering.

Rod, Reel, Line

Especially skipping really is a difficult technique to master, yet Dean encourages people to learn how to do it.  As mentioned about proper hooksetting, again you do need the right rod, you need the right reel, you need all the correct stuff to be consistently good with skipping. The rod, the line, the reel, everything has to match. It has to be perfect.

Rojas uses the Quantum EX 100HPT high-speed reel for frogging along with his signature series Quantum frogging rod.

He spools up with 80 lb Sunline FX2 braid. It’s heavy duty and Dean feels you’re taking all the advantage away from the fish using 80 lb line. Not that it’s going to, but the other equipment (rod, reel, hook) will fail before this line will, and Rojas likes that it’s just one less thing to worry about. He ties directly to the frog using a double Palomar knot.

Dean recommends the same outfit for all the frog versions except the Baby Popper and the King Daddy.

For the Baby Popper, for someone planning to use baitcasting tackle, he would suggest a little lighter action, a little lighter line, everything lighter because the Baby Popper is not as big, not as heavy as normal frogs. A lighter outfit makes it a little easier for somebody to cast it.

Really, a good spinning rod and light braid is ideal for the Baby Popper. Say something like a 7 foot medium heavy spinning rod with a fast tip capable of handling 20 lb braid and being able to walk the Baby Popper effectively with it.

The King Daddy frog is a little bit heavier than the others, almost 3/4 oz, and Rojas likes to use a little bit heavier actionbaitcasting rod for it.

SPRO’s Family of Frogs

Dean Rojas

If Rojas sees a bass swirl or flash on the frog, or even if he just thinks a bass could be there, he'll slow down to let the bass grab it. If he doesn't catch it, but it looked like a good one, Rojas may return to try to catch it later in the day.

SPRO and Dean Rojas kicked off their froggin’ affiliation at ICAST, the world’s largest annual tackle show where, in 2005, they won the Best New Soft Lure award for the original Bronzeye Frog. Since then, they’ve designed a family of frogs built for different levels of experience from the beginner to the weekend warrior to the top touring pro. The full line ranges from the Baby Popper all the way up to the big King Daddy version and everything in between.

“We’re trying to fill the niches and complement the product line with new models that will enhance the public’s frogging experience to maximize their fun and catches,” says Rojas.

► Original Bronzeye Frog

The original Bronzeye is streamlined, designed more for heavy cover. For fishing in and around bulrushes, tulles, reeds, overhanging trees, shoreline grass or any type of shoreline cover, the Bronzeye will perform best.

► Bronzeye Jr.

Simply a slightly smaller profile than the original Bronzeye Frog for when the fish prefer that. The original Bronzeye has a 4/0 whereas the Jr has a 3/0 to be more in proportion to the size of the bait. However both can be fished on the same outfit in the same general locations.

And although the general consensus is that the frog’s ideally a cover bait, nevertheless there have been numerous times when Dean’s caught fish on frogs in open water.

► Bronzeye Popper

Overall, Dean uses the popping frog versions about 20% of the time but it all depends on the condition of the water, the spot he’s fishing and what bait he thinks will be most effective.

The Popper walks a little more freely and makes a little more commotion on the surface. There are times when Rojas want that, usually when he’s fishing open water like riprap or rocky banks and so forth.

Even with the popper, you try to get the same walking cadence. Rojas doesn’t deliberately try to pop it although he says you can do that too if you want. But that’s not something Rojas normally does until he gets it into the strike zone, he’ll pop it and leave it. Say if he makes a cast to a log and walks it up to where he just knows one’s going to be sitting right up underneath it, he’ll just try to keep it right around there in the strike zone. That’s also something he would do with the regular frog.

Basically, Dean keeps the same speed, rhythm and walking cadence regardless, he doesn’t try to go quicker or anything. He usually applies the same walking cadence as with the original Bronzeye except that the Popper face adds a splash. The cupped mouth allows the bait to produce a different action as opposed to the regular Bronzeye which has a pointy nose. However, Rojas does nothing different to produce that splash. It’s built-in to the bait. The body’s narrower than the original Bronzeye and that just makes the Popper more active. It kind of swings on its pivot point more easily. Again, Dean just makes the same presentation as with the original and the beauty of the Popper is, it will do its own thing, being more active and splashing.

► Bronzeye Baby Popper

Dean Rojas

Rojas compares the new Bronzeye Baby Popper 50 (right) with the bigger original Bronzeye Popper (left).

The Baby Popper is the latest frog in the family. The Baby Popper Frog uses a 2/0 which is really small. It was designed to fill a niche for pond fishermen, for an inexperienced ang;ler who uses a spincast or spinning reel – and it’s just a smaller profile for many small lakes and small ponds throughout the country. When anything is small like that, it becomes less intimidating to a novice angler so they feel that they can go ahead and throw it and feel comfortable throwing it on the lighter outfits they typically have.

For Dean’s needs, which are those of a top tour pro, it adds another tool to his arsenal of frogs for different situations. There are definitely times when they want that really small frog and to have that in his box now, that’s great. It’s like a finesse frog and it’s armed with a little lighter wire Gamakatsu double-tined frog hook. It works, walks and pretty much does the same thing as the larger Bronzeye Popper, but it can be cast with spinning gear and 20 lb braid. This is the type of frog that you could really make use of around sparse brush, tules and docks on spinning gear with braid to be able to skip under a dock without having to worry about a backlash like with a baitcaster. So this will open up a lot of possibilities on the tournament side for guys to finesse fish with a smaller frog but also opens frogging up to the many anglers who usually don’t use the heavy baitcasting tackle required for normal size frogs.

► Bronzeye King Daddy

King Daddy is a niche frog which comes into its own on trophy bass waters. There’s a 6/0 hook in the King Daddy and there are times when it is nice to have a big one like that. It works well and it catches the biggest bass of all, says Dean. Although not shown in the photos below, Dean keeps a box of King Daddy frogs on his boat for where and when he needs to entice monster bass. Overall, between the King Daddy, original Bronzeye, Bronzeye Jr., Bronzeye Popper and Baby Popper, Rojas eztimates he has 100 frogs with him at all times – in three tackle trays.

Getting Started

For a reader who’s never frogged much before but wants to go out and learn to frog, Dean has the following suggestions to get you started:

  1. You probably need one Bronzeye Popper to start with, and Dean would recommend natural green as a dependable color that should get a bite.

  2. You would also need an original Bronzeye in the the color black to serve as your “go to” bait for the most part.

  3. Your third frog should probably be a Bronzeye Jr. On that one, Dean would say to go with a natural brown color.

With those three colors you will cover the spectrum of colors that work well in all different types of conditions, water clarity, brightness of sun and then you also have the three different models and sizes you would need to figure out which one the fish prefer on any given day. So basically three frogs could get you started and then you would just grow from there, There are many SPRO frog colors to choose from, and if there’s one you like over the others or you want a different color, you just grow from there. But for a beginner just starting out, those three would be the colors that Dean highly recommends. Black works everywhere. You’ve got to remember where the fish is coming from, it’s coming from underneath and a lot of times the black really shows up better against the lighter sky and they seem to grab it better and Rojas says the big ones eat it better too.

Why he says to go with the Popper first is that the body design of the Popper frog makes it a lot easier bait to work than the original Bronzeye. For that reason, for someone who’s a novice at throwing a frog, Rojas would recommend the popping frog first. He says to try to get the feel of it, learn what that bait’s going to do. Use different rod angles with the bait and just try to get it to walk. The way it is designed, when you twitch it, it veers off to the left or the right. So the Popper has the walking motion already built into it. And that will help you see the cadence and will help you when you move over to the regular Bronzeye – to make it work even better. Once you’ve gotten pretty close to being able to do that, then the original Bronzeye will be an even better bait for you. Once you get the cadence down of how the Popper actually walks back and forth, and you become capable of reproducing that with the original Bronzeye, you’ll find it can be used in so many different ways and situations. You’ll be well on your way to becoming an artful frogger.

The following two tabs change content below.

Latest posts by Russ Bassdozer

Russ Bassdozer (see full bio)

Owner/Angler at Bassdozer Store
Russ Bassdozer dedicates each story he writes to improving the knowledge, enjoyment and success of all anglers worldwide.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.