Normally when a person thinks about fishing frogs, it's summertime, the weather is hot and there are usually lily pads grown in all over the lake. While this is usually a great time to use this technique, there are many other times throughout the year where these baits can be very effective.
The fishing industry has provided so many different variations of the "frog" bait over the past few years due to this reason. There are solid frogs that can be "Texas-rigged" to stay weedless. There are numerous sizes and shapes of hollow-bodied frogs as well as "walk-the-dog" style frogs now. While most of these designs are weedless and meant to be thrown in the thickest stuff possible, I like the addition of the popper style frog and the "walk-the-dog" style. Frogs are still primarily a warm-weather bait due to the fact that actual frogs are cold-blooded, however these new designs allow a fisherman to fish under a variety of conditions and still remain effective. No more are the days where you have to pull countless grasses and weeds off your line after every cast. Both largemouth and smallmouth are aggressive feeders and have a knack for taking frogs when given the chance.
Here are a few designs that I have fished with and how I believe they are most effective:
Solid-Body Frogs (one piece)-
I like to Texas-Rig these baits with a #2 EWG hook, much like I would a worm or creature. This will give it the added benefit of being mostly weedless. The legs on these baits create a tailing ripple effect on the water when retrieved. These baits are best fished in summer months when bass tend to be more aggressive. The weight of these frogs is a little more than a hollow-body style and create more of a splash when they hit the water. I feel that the bass are less frightened by the splash during months when they are accustomed to feeding along the shore. Either mono or braided line will work just fine. The action with this style is achieved on the retrieve. The faster those legs get going, the better the commotion will be. I like these in more open waters. Lake Fork Trophy Lures Fork Frog (LFT)
This design, like the Live Target frogs I use, don't create as much of a commotion when hitting the water or lily pads. The hook is already part of the lure, so there is no need to rig it. Just tie it on and fish. These are the frogs I like to toss with a MH 7' or 8' rod with braid anywhere from 30-50lbs. These are the most weedless style I have found and I like to take advantage of that. Find the thickest, nastiest grasses and lily pad cover and throw it in. A slight pause after the strike will help ensure a solid hook-set.
Baits like the Spro Bronzeye 60 will float and act like a normal popper style lure. Like the one-piece soft plastic design, I like to use this in more open water. The indentation of the popper will create more of a gurgle in open water, than on or near lily pads. I will still fish this lure parallel to the shore or retrieving away from good cover. I will primarily use a reel rigged with mono to give it a little more side to side action and flexibility. A loop knot is also beneficial in adding to the action of the lure.
"Walk the Dog Frogs"-
This style is new to me, and I believe the market in general. This lure provides the effectiveness of the frog with the side to side action of a top-water stick bait. Again, fish this lure in open water situations similar to the popper. I like a MH rod with a strong backbone spooled with 17lb mono to enhance the "walking" motion. Twitch the rod back and forth with short jerks and add a pause. This will drive the bass crazy. A loop knot is almost imperative for this lure. I prefer the Live Target Frog (Walking) lure.
These lures come in almost any color imaginable from natural patterns like brown/black to orange/red and neon. Before purchasing one of these, I would recommend taking a walk around your favorite fishing holes to see what color frogs are native to your area. This "match the hatch" technique will further ensure your success. Many people are hesitant to throw a frog, however if you use the tactics mentioned above, you will get hit, and usually with the sort of aggressive strike that'll make you grin from ear to ear. There is a reason why major retail stores display frogs on almost every end-cap heading into the warmer months.