PAMPA, Texas -- One issue that bass fishermen have had with buzz frogs since the genre of lures first appeared is difficulty in hooking the fish that so aggressively bite these soft-plastic lures.
The first models were fished on a single, wide-gap hook with the point of the hook buried in the frog's thick body, making the lure very weedless. Fishermen who used heavy rods and stretch-free braided lines reported hooking about 70 percent of the fish that bit.
Anglers like me who prefer lighter rods and monofilament line didn't do that well. Luckily, the market responded with several types of double hooks that improved the hookup ratio.
The model I like is Gambler's Double Trouble Toad Hook, designed by bass pro Chris Lane. This hook is designed to be matched to Gambler's Cane Toad with the hooks penetrating through the body and just barely exposed on the lure's back. It works the same way with many of the wide-bodied frog designs.
By accident, I tried the Gambler hook with a Stanley Ribbet Frog body and found a combination that provides a solid hookup more than 90 percent of the time.
The secret is exposed hooks, which somewhat limits where you can effectively fish this lure. If you cast it in the middle of a moss bed or a patch of lily pads, for instance, you'll get hung up. It works great around the edges of cover and, once you have the lure churning across the surface, it's pretty weedless as it swims over most emergent vegetation.
This hook and lure combination works so well because the Stanley lure is the only buzz-frog-style lure I've seen that has a tapered waist. The lure cradles perfectly into the gap between the two Gambler hooks.
Also by accident, I decided to cinch the lure into place by tightly wrapping it with a rubber band. The result is a surface-fishing lure that's reasonably weedless, works as it was designed to and catches nearly every fish that gets the lure in its mouth.
There's a bonus. The rubber band holds the lure securely against the hooks, resulting in few lost or damaged lures.
Because bass tend to attack the surface frog so aggressively, you may only catch one or two fish on a frog before it's so torn that it's unusable. With my rubber band rig, I've caught as many as 20 bass without replacing a lure.
Be sure after every fish to check that the lure is aligned with the hooks. Otherwise it tends to spin and will twist your line.
Another thing that I've learned to do is rig several of the frogs in advance and keep them handy. If you have to replace a lure when the fish are biting, it's quicker and easier to simply snip the line and tie on a fresh, rigged lure.