Topwater frogs of a different color

Posted on: June 2, 2017 | Bob Frye | Comments

P.T. Barnum would have loved fishermen like me.

I’m the guy who overfills his tackle box and then, this time, for real, no doubt about it, swears off buying any more gear for a long while.

Or at least until the next trip to the store.

You know, whichever comes first.

These guys didn’t help.

I interviewed some professional bass fishermen recently, asking about topwater frogs. Both are fans.

“It seems like they’re really, really hot during the spawn and post spawn,” said Ott DeFoe, a Knoxville, Tennessee, angler with more than $1 million in career earnings. “Then the start of fall, when the weather starts to cool down again, they really get hot again.”

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Brandon Palaniuk of Hayden, Idaho, who’s fished seven Bassmaster Classics, throws them anywhere there’s a target, be it grass, trees, rocks or boat docks.

“Anytime those fish can find a little bit of shade, where they can get in position to ambush prey, I’ll throw a frog up in there. I’m putting it pretty much right in their living room,” Palaniuk said. “You’re almost force feeding them.”

So OK, I thought, they work. But how much does a frog have to look like, you know, a real frog to be effective?

I’ve got more than a few in my gear, in various patterns. Some, to be honest, I bought because they appeared – to my eyes, in shrink wrap and hanging on a peg board, under florescent lights – fishy, or froggy, or both.

Some look exceptionally realistic. Others look almost hallucinogenic.

Does color matter?


“Of all the times I’ve fished a frog, I don’t know if I’ve ever caught a bass on a frog that had a frog pattern,” DeFoe said. “I don’t think bass hit it because they think they’re catching an actual reptile.

“It’s a reaction bite. The bass thinks it’s a baitfish or something. That’s why 99 percent of the time, I’m not trying to imitate a frog with a frog.”

He tries to imitate just about everything else, though.

The frogs in DeFoe’s tackle box are bluegill colored. And reddish brown. Black. Hot chartreuse or lime green. And colored – in one or two variations – to resemble like shad.

“I don’t think you need every color they make. But you do need six or eight to cover the bases,” DeFoe said.

And Palaniuk? He prefers two colors to all others.

“If I could only have two colors, I’d have black and white,” he said. “On cloudy days I’ll thrown the dark one and on sunny days I start out with the white one.”


He’ll have some bluegill-colored ones in his gear, too, just in case. Some in shad patterns, as well. And maybe a few others, too.

Of course, both carry frogs in two styles.

Palaniuk uses popping frogs – those with a concave face – when he wants to cause a disturbance.

“I’m definitely trying to fish them, if the fish are aggressive, pretty quickly,” he said.

But when fish are less active, walking frogs – those that, with twitches of the rod tip on a slack line, can be made to walk side to side – are the more effective, DeFoe said.

“You can fish it slow and really keep it on those fish and just aggravate them. You just bother them to the point they attack it,” he said.

Well then. Seems like my frog collection could use a few additions.

You’re welcome, P.T.

Bob Frye is the editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or See other stories, blogs, videos and more at

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