Double nickels, 55 - that's the water temperature mark that Jackson angler Alfred Williams eagerly awaits each spring. That, he said, is the threshold for his favorite largemouth bass tactic - frogging.

An old-school bass buster with plenty of big fish to his credit, Williams knows that a hollow-belly frog like his favored Snagproof Tournament Frog can entice some of the most aggressive surface strikes imaginable.

He also knows that, no matter how good a frog is right out of the package, certain scenarios call for a little creative thinking. In other words, when the bite is tough - fish attitude, meteorological conditions or challenging habitat - Williams and other fans of the frog often work to alter their fortunes by altering their amphibians.

"A lot of times, you want to change your frog because (the bass) are feeding on different things," Williams said. "You want to make your bait look like what they're feeding on."

Color selection is the simplest way to alter your frog's appearance, and Williams has a simple plan for basic selection.

Early in the year, when bluegill are in shallow, he likes a frog with green and purple in its coloration. Later, when shad are more prevalent, he'll shift to white and chartreuse.

When he finds the bass eating a lot of live frogs, something with a spotted design gets the call.

A tackle tray packed with a rainbow of frog colors certainly gives you a diverse menu of options, but if you're really serious about this game, you'll want to consider the many ways to alter, enhance and trick out your bait one frog at a time. Do-it-yourselfers can often hand-pick their frog-tricking gadgets, but the Snagproof Frog Works kit offers a convenient option - complete with tools for altering the way a bait looks, sounds and smells.

Consider these strategies for frog enhancement, and blend them with your own observations and creativity.

 

Cosmetic surgery

With most hollow-bodied frogs using multi-strand skirt material to simulate legs, the aft section is a good place to start with the alterations.

Trimming skirts is nearly an art form for jig fishermen, but you won't need such detail for a frog. As Williams explains, shortening a frog's legs is mostly done to decrease the profile when bass prefer something smaller and to reduce wind drag, thereby extending your casting distance.

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Ish Monroe, a devout frogger who designed the Ish's PHAT Frog for Snagproof, points out that trimming one of a frog's skirt legs about 1/32 inch shorter than the other can improve the walking action. If you're having trouble delivering that eliciting thatside-to-side saunter, take a pair of scissors and snip a little off one side until the bait walks properly.

Now, in certain scenarios, Williams said the best thing you can do with a frog's skirt legs is to remove them entirely and plug the holes with rattle chambers. Snagproof offers this exact setup in its Guntersville Frog - a bait that trades leg action for more weight, noise and vibration.

"This frog was designed for fishing heavy, matted (vegetation) where the fish feed more on sound than sight," Williams said. "The rattles help the fish locate the bait, and then without the skirt it's a smaller target.

"When a fish strikes, he hits the bait, instead of pulling the skirt. A lot of times (with a standard frog), they'll come up and grab the skirt. With only the rattles, it makes the frog more compact, and the sound helps them zero in on the frog."

Other helpful tweaks to a frog's original form include bending the hooks upward or outward for better hookups or bending them downward and inward to minimize snags when you're throwing into heavy weeds.

Also, if too much water enters the frog's body via the hook hole, or if wear and tear leave a leaky spot in the body, seal the hull with a shot of super glue.

 

Sounding off

Expanding on the Guntersville Frog notion, increasing a bait's noise appeal while keeping the skirt legs remains an option: Just shove whatever rattle chambers or loose BBs you like through the leg holes and replace the skirts.

Monroe advises anglers to consider how the ideal frog habitats can actually muffle the bait's presentation. Therefore, the more gnarly the cover, the more noise you want your frog to make.

"It's effective all the time, but it's necessary (anywhere) you're fishing big, heavy mats or heavy grass," Monroe said. "My PHAT Frog comes with rattles inside, but for more noise I'll either A) put extra worm rattles through the legs or B) take a pair of pliers and crush the rattle that's currently in there.

"Instead of having one rattle in there, you have a bunch of glass and a bunch of BBs rattling around in there. It also changes the type of sound. It's like the difference between a One Knocker and a Rat-L-Trap."

 

Makeup, marking & smellin' good

If you think permanent markers are only for the office and art room, think again. Adding indelible accents to a piece of pliable plastic can go a long way toward closing the deal with a largemouth bass.

You can get as artsy fartsy as you wish, but Williams said simple lines and dots work just fine. The key, he said, is to take your inspiration from natural forage.

Fortunately, the bass will often assist with your research.

"If you fish where frog fishing is (appropriate), eventually, you're going to see some feeding activity," Williams said. "You're going to see something that's been knocked up on a lily pad or matted grass. You'll get an idea of what it is, and then you try to match your frog to that color.

"It's usually bluegill and shad - and there's crawfish in the lily pads also."

Whatever you come up with, understand that even your best creation will, at some point, wear out its welcome if for no other reason than the fish simply changed their mind. They do that a lot.

Don't despair - adjust.

"Say you take a frog with a black back and a white belly, sometimes they'll want it in reverse, or vice-versa," Williams said. "Why would that be? I have no idea, but you go with what you're getting bites on."

Scent wax, scented markers, lotions and various scented gels can all bolster your frog's appeal.

As with color choices, be sure to match the formulated scent to the primary forage (shad, crawfish, etc.).

You might be tempted to squirt some of that scented goo inside your frog's hollow body, but Monroe notes that doing so can significantly alter the bait's performance.

Now, some may scoff at the notion of enhancing frogs with external scent. True, the reactionary nature of frog fishing means that scent is less important here than with a static, or slower, presentation.

However, consider these closing points: First, a fish is more likely to hold onto something with an appealing scent and/or taste. Also, a plastic figure with lots of surface area slides more smoothly across matted vegetation and lily pads if that surface area is slick. Most importantly, anything that masks the scent of human hands is a benefit to anglers.