I was in a sporting goods store a while ago and stared in amazement at the number of fishing lures on display, most notably bass lures. These lures came in all sorts of shapes, sizes and an unbelievable array of colors and patterns. How, I wondered, does a fisherman choose which lure to use? On top of the variety, many of these lures were expensive, costing 10 dollars or more.
When my neighbor and fishing partner had his cottage at Black Lake we did a lot of bass fishing and, in modesty, we caught a lot of bass using only three types of lures.
A Texas-rigged rubber worm worked along the rocky shoals, off island points and at the edge of weedbeds. With a Texas rig the rubber or plastic worm is impaled on the hook with the point of the hook pinned back into the body of the worm. This makes it more or less weedless. A bullet weight is placed on the line ahead of the hook to allow the rig to be fished through or around hook-snagging cover.
Black Lake has many bays and coves, and all are covered with vegetation. In the relatively open lilypads, where thick grass wasn’t a big problem, we used topwater Hula Poppers. The Hula Poppers could be worked in the open areas between the pads and they, too, caught a lot of bass. However, Black Lake, like many good bass lakes, often had mats of grass and algae in the bays we fished, and that was problematic. No Hula Popper or Texas-rigged worm would or even could work under these conditions.
Enter the weedless frog. In my opinion, no other type of lure works as well for bass sheltered under thick, matted vegetation. The weedless design of this lure permitted it to slide over and around weedbeds, lilypads, limbs and stumps. What’s more, it allowed us to fish in places other lures couldn’t go without hanging or picking up moss.
There are several models of these frogs currently on the market and, typically, these lures are built around a double-pronged hook and engineered to remain weedless until they are engulfed by the predator bass as it breaks the surface to attack the intruder. It is at that time the hollow design proves most ingenious as it collapses, exposing the hooks and allowing anglers to hook into the bass. Bass fishing with hollow topwater frogs is among the most exciting techniques as it’s a completely visual application that often results in vicious attacks.
I’ve found working one of these lures is a no-brainer because all you have to do is cast it out and work it to any open space in the matted vegetation. However, a word of caution is in order. Be prepared to lose one or more of these lures because, along with bass, pike and even ling will smash it as well. Pike will cut the line; ling will crush the hooks.
The soft-bodied Scum Frog has been available for years and it currently comes in a variety of colors and casting weights. The Live Target Hollow Frog has all the attributes to catch big fish, including lifelike anatomy, detailed color and a simple, effortless action that often elevates the thrill of topwater fishing to a whole new level.
Both soft-bodied frogs will catch bass, and the Hollow Body Frog walks incredibly well and floats tail-down, enticing bass to come up and clobber it. Because of thick vegetation, fish really can’t go anywhere after they’re hooked, so a heavy or medium-heavy rod with a fast tip and strong backbone is recommended for winching fish out of the thick cover. Like the Scum Frog, the soft body of the Hollow Frog collapses easily on the strike, exposing the custom double hooks for higher hookups.
There you have it, a non-professional bass fisherman’s opinion on the three best artificial lures for catching bass under difficult conditions.