By William Schwarz - Several years ago a new and improved lure hit the bass fishing market that has been all the rage. Dean Rojas a Pro Bass Fisherman, in conjunction with his sponsor SPRO developed a frog bait that sent anglers rushing to the stores to buy them up. For years now I have seen anglers who have trays of these, SPRO Bronzeye Frogs. The Spro Frog, which it best known as, is a dual-hook hollow frog bait which can be worked over all types of grass, around timber and as Dean Rojas has be seen on TV in the open water. SPRO had the market pretty well covered until in recent years we have seen many imitations and improvements from many companies.
Over the past several months several of my friends set out to test several skirted frog baits and see if there is a real difference. We used the following frogs: The Tru-Tungsten Mad Maxx, the larger SPRO Bronzeye Frog, Scum Frog?s Trophy Series and the Cabelas brand Chuck-It Frog.
Overall the skirted frogs were constructed in similar fashions with the differences coming from the existence of a keel, larger hooks, rattles, body hardness and skirt length.
Keels: Walking-the-dog and popping are the most common ways to run a frog. The Tru-Tungsten Mad Maxx is the only lure in the group which was designed with a keel. For a fishermen like myself I found it much easier to make this bait move from side to side without any alterations to the skirt. Further, the way the Mad Maxx floats adds the this feature and when you want a more exaggerated side-to-side motion from your Mad Maxx try snipping a little skirt off one side and watch the action. I took about a half inch off one side of the long skirted Mad Maxx and the actions really jump over the completion, even when I did the same to the SPRO Frog. In Battle Frog more hits (blow-ups) and hook ups were recorded from the Mad Maxx competitor, with the SPRO Frog and Scum Frog recording about 70% the number of the Mad Maxx and the Cabelas Frog about 50% the same number of hits.
When popping the frog for a more conventional swimming-popping action the keel kept the Mad Maxx frog from sliding to either side and emulated frogs swimming action better then the Cabelas and Scum Frog options. The Spro Frog acted in a similar fashion and also gave a life like action which emulated a typical frogs swimming action.
Hooks: Hooks were all fashioned in a dual V-type design and that?s all that was similar. Hook-ups are the name of the game and when you see blow-up after blow-up on your frogs you go to scratching you head, why didn?t that bass get hooked when I set the hook? The basic problem is that the hook needs to be big enough for it to reach over the body of the frog and be in an angle to ensure penetration. So the size of the hook, the width of the frog body and where the hook raps around the frog all make the difference! The frogs that didn?t perform best here were the Spro Frog and Scum Frog competitor. In their cases the hooks were too small or the tip angler pointed downward too much. SPRO does make a smaller frog, whose hook size adds to better hooks according to one the testers Matt Jannerone. In his experiences with using frogs before this test, he has gravitated to the smaller SPRO product to accommodate more hook-ups.
The clear winner in this part of the test was the Mad Maxx. We all found that when a solid hit and/or grab of the Mad Maxx occurred, either in loose or tightly packed grass we experienced better hook-ups. The hook on a Mad Maxx points up a little and allows for better penetration.
Rattles: We are all used to hearing rattles in our jerkbaits, crackbaits, jigs, rattle traps and with our worms and tubes. But a frog? Tru-Tungsten and their Pro-Staff really made a smart decision here to add a rattle. When you are popping the bait or just working it slowly over the weeds, Mad Maxx has a clear advantage in calling bass from greater distances to your frog and when a frog is missed on a hit, the bass can find the frog again by just shacking the bait and continuing on your retrieve.
Body Hardness: How the body of the frog bait is constructed lends itself to a couple challenges. First concern is durability and the Scum Frog, SPRO and Cabelas frogs all have softer bodies and will tear over time and cannot handle the any serious hits to any toothy critters. The Mad Maxx is made of a harder rubber and after catching two pickerel on one of the baits it still performs quite well. A Cabelas frog was nearly torn in two after just one hit from a pickerel.
The Mad Maxx has another two advantages because of its harder body. It is heavier, which lends to longer casts. In New England we have an incredible amount of clear water and having the opportunity to cast a longer distance is important. After hook-up with all the frogs the Mad Maxx?s body type again shinned through as it kept it form with ease, while the others at time had to be reformed before casting.
Skirt Length: Of the four baits Mad Maxx has the longer skirt. With the longer skirted feet when popping the bait you don?t get as much glide to the bait. The glide is important at times when you are popping the baits and working them slower presentation. We found no clear advantages to the longer skirt over the SPRO, Scum Frog and Cabelas Brands.
Overall the test in Battle Frog was quite exciting. When starting the test we had heard so much about the SPRO Frog, that we felt their might not be a vast difference in products. The SPRO frog is a very good bait and the innovations brought to the anglers early on are excellent. The Cabelas Chuck-It Frog is a cheaper copy whose main advantage is that it?s hook is better shaped for hook-ups and is larger. The Scum Frog Trophy Series present no clear advantages.
So the winner in Battle Frog is the Tru-Tungsten Mad Maxx. The keel, rattle, hooks, harder body type all present this frog with advantages that a seasoned frog fishing angler will appreciate.