Several of the more memorable moments in recent televised bass-tournament coverage are action shots of wild strikes on Dean Rojas' frog baits. Explosive hits and Rojas' front-deck victory dances make for great TV. And any BassFan's blood pressure soars at the thought of a good bass smacking a frog.
Rojas has elevated frog fishing from a specialized tactic for certain situations to a primary gameplan with enough oomph to propel him high up the leaderboards. His success with soft-plastic amphibians has earned him a solid reputation as a master frogger worthy of an exclusive bait with his name on it.
While developing his frog prowess, he's learned how to overcome two of the major drawbacks commonly associated with the lures – a miserly strike-to-boat ratio and a relatively limited application.
Not Just for Weeds Anymore
"Probably the number-one misconception about the frog is that it only works over matted vegetation," Rojas said. "That simply isn't true. I've taken lots of bass – good ones – in open water. I've caught big spotted bass on the frog in 25 feet of water at Smith Lake in Alabama."
He counsels anglers to try frogs in more places than they would typically expect. Any place a topwater lure might work is potential frog water.
"Don't overlook open water. That's the beauty of the frog – particularly the new one I designed after last year's Bassmaster Classic for Spro/Gamakatsu (more on the Dean Rojas Classic Frog below). It can be fished in so many different ways," he said.
"The whole key is presentation. It can be skipped under docks and overhanging brush and across matted vegetation. If you fish the frog in places average anglers avoid, it really pays off."
Get More Hookups
Rojas said the missed strikes – so common in frog fishing – can be overcome.
"It's tough, when you see that explosion, to avoid jerking too early," he said. "But I find that when a bass goes to eat a frog, it really wants to kill it. They don't just want to bounce it around."
As with any topwater strike, he said an angler needs to wait to be sure the fish has the bait securely in its mouth. That means waiting to feel the weight of the fish, or watching the line zip from the scene of the blowup.
He said a key to solid hookups is in the design of the frog. "I wanted a frog that's user friendly for everybody – including those who are just learning how to fish that way."
He's a stout advocate of braided line to increase hook penetration and to wrestle fish from snags.
"You can use 20-pound mono, but I highly recommend you throw the frog on braid. I use 65-pound-test Izorline. It lays nice and limp and it's soft, so it casts really well."
The Dean Rojas Classic Frog is designed around the 4/0 Gamakatsu Double EWG hook. "The body collapses easily and fits perfectly inside the hooks, making it weedless and increasing the hookups," he said. "The bait was designed for a high hookup ratio. I'm landing 85 percent of the bass that take the bait and most of them are caught back in the roof of their mouths. I wanted a bait that weekend anglers could land fish on and get the same enjoyment that I get."
When and Where
Rojas breaks out his frog as soon as topwater conditions arrive. "Around 63 or 64 degrees (water temperature) is the start," he said. "They really get on it when the water hits 67, 68, 69 degrees and then all throughout the summer."
Frogging gained a loyal following in the West among a corps of anglers who dedicated much of their fishing time to perfecting their skills with the bait. But he said recent tournaments in other parts of the U.S. have helped spread the word about the bait's potential.
"It catches them all over – Lake Havasu, Toho, Champlain, the Potomac River, everywhere. Bass eat frogs all over the country. In fact, I never knew how many enemies frogs had until I started fishing it. Turtles, snakes, grinnel, gators – they all love frogs."
He also noted a good frog bait can be made better as an angler experiments with modifications. Weights and rattles can be added to the lure's hollow body to change the way it performs and sounds. He said the new Spro/Gamakatsu frog has legs that are 3 1/2 to 4 inches long and can be trimmed if desired.
Walk, Pop, Skip
Rojas said his frog retrieve changes on any given day, depending on the mood of the fish.
"The best way usually is a walk-the-dog cadence," he said. "The longer you walk the bait in place, the better. When you make that perfect cast, you want it to sashay in the strike zone as long as possible.
"But sometimes the fish want it fast, so you chug it across the water, and other times they want it slow, so you throw it out and just pop it a little."
He acknowledged that frog fishing can be hit or miss, especially for neophytes.
"But when they're on it, they're on it. You can get big bites that will catapult you to the top of the standings."
> Rojas' frog rod is a medium-heavy Quantum. "It's the Dean Rojas Frog Rod and has a fast tip and a lot of backbone. The tip helps a lot in avoiding backlashes when you're skipping the bait back into cover."
> The Dean Rojas Classic Frog features a body that's narrower than many other baits in that genre. "It goes through the cove really well," he said. "After the Classic last summer, I got hundreds of emails asking about frog fishing and what's the perfect frog. Now I've designed it."
> The new bait will be available exclusively through Bass Pro Shops around the first week of July, he said. Seven colors will be available, including black with red eyes. "It's the most intimidating frog you'll ever see. It looks a lot like Darth Vader."
> He noted the frog is designed to land belly-down. "It's weighted that way – in the design of the belly and the hook. We've also beefed up the barbs on the hook so it has better holding power."