Bobby Lane on topwater frogs/toads


Name: Bobby Lane
Hometown: Lakeland, Fla.
Technique: Fishing a weedless, soft plastic frog or toad across the surface like a buzzbait. This is one of the most exciting and explosive techniques in all of bass fishing.
History: Frogmania began with the introduction of the Zoom Horny Toad in 2004. Suddenly, it was possible to fish a buzzbait-style lure through the heaviest cover without getting hung up. Since topwater lures and heavy cover often combine to produce larger-than-average fish, the phenomenon was off and running. The technique is especially popular in and around aquatic vegetation, and it probably enjoys its greatest popularity in Florida, where lily pads, hydrilla, hyacinths and dozens of other water weeds sprawl across much of the state's bass water. Lakeland's Bobby Lane has won several tournaments and caught thousands of bass on the frog, including his fourth largest (11-1). He learned the technique out of necessity. A lot of Florida's vegetation is impossible to fish any other way. "There are plastics you can flip and worms you can cast that are weedless, but the toad is an exciting and weedless topwater bait," he says. "Sometimes they just want something on top."
Highlights: Lane has many fond memories of fishing topwater frogs and toads. During the 2008 Elite Series event on Lake Toho, Lane weighed in a 7-pounder that fell for a toad. He also won a BASS Federation Nation event on Lake Seminole primarily throwing a toad. In fact, he weighed in 27-plus-pounds on the final day of that event — all caught on a toad.
When to Use: There are three key times that Lane uses a toad and just three months when he doesn't use it (November, December and January). His best times are (1) early in the year when bass are spawning (buzz it over their beds), (2) just after the spawn, when bass are guarding fry ("They hit it thinking it's a bream or bluegill.") and (3) August through October around heavy vegetation. While most anglers restrict their frogging to areas with vegetation, Lane has taken bass on a toad in open, clear water. "I always have one tied or one ready to be tied on," he says.
Where to Use: Though he's caught fish on a toad in 25 feet of water, he catches most of his toad fish in the shallowest pockets or creeks on a lake. The more vegetation present, the better.
Tackle: Lane's toad outfit can easily be mistaken for a flipping setup. The truth is, there isn't much difference. Both techniques involve wrestling hefty bass from substantial cover. He uses a 7-foot, 3-inch medium-heavy All Star casting rod with a 7.1:1 Revo STX reel spooled with 50-pound-test SpiderWire braid.
  Lane's favorite frog or toad is the Berkley Chigger Toad. This 4-inch amphibian-imitator is borrows design cues from the entire Chigger family. It has a thick body with a hook slot, six legs and two "pincers" that chop and buzz as the toad comes across the water. Lane rigs it on a 5/0 Mustad EWG hook and pegs a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce weight to the nose to improve castability. "Be sure to rig it perfectly straight or it won't run true," he warns.
Basics: "This toad works for itself. You throw it out and reel it in," Lane says. If you're around fish and they're in the right mood, they'll strike a topwater toad. Lane says that you need to keep a steady retrieve the entire time so it stays on top and buzzes along. When he gets a bite, he uses the 3-second rule: count to three, reel down tight, then lay into the fish as hard as you can.
One More Thing: Lane says you shouldn't get hung up on toad colors. "It's a reaction strike, so they're not going to stare at it for long. If it's there, they're going to eat it," he says. Lane typically keeps just three colors in his boat: black, white and green pumpkin.