The water of Neshoba County Lake exploded when a huge bass smashed Tyler Temple’s black plastic frog.

The angler waited a split second until he could feel the fish pull against his rod tip, and then he set the hook deep into the jaws of the big largemouth. The enraged fish began to fight, splashing a second time before diving for the cover of its “salad patch” home.

Before the bass could bury up in the vegetation, Temple jerked it around and kept it on the surface until he could get it clear of the tangled greenery. He landed the sow bass and admired it for a few seconds before releasing it back into the lake. 

Temple, of Collinsville, is a rising young star in the tournament world and is a threat to win any tournament held on Okatibbee Lake. One reason why is that he knows a thing or two about catching bass on frogs. 

Catching bass on frogs can be very frustrating, usually because of timing. Knowing when to set the hook is critical.

Just as in baseball, when a batter is a split-second off on his swing and either fouls off or even misses a pitch, getting a good hookset needs precise timing. A little fast, and the fish won’t have the hooks deep enough in its jaws. Too late and the fish will spit the lure.

“I read that one of the pros waits until he feels the bass with his rod tip and then sets the hook,” said Temple. “It’s hard to resist the urge to set the hook at the sight of the explosion, but I wait until I feel the bass with my rod tip and then set the hook. That’s worked pretty well for me too.”

Also critical is having the power to get a good hook set, and then the power to get the fish out of deep cover. Temple uses braided line to accomplish both.

“I like to fish my frogs on 40- to 50-pound Power Pro Super Slick Brown braided line,” Temple said. “You’ve got to use braid to keep from breaking off in the pads because the bass will bury up and break you off or get tangled in there and rip the hook out.”

“Braid is tough and will keep you from losing fish, and it’s also great for setting the hook. Monofilament has so much stretch that it’s hard to set the hook while using a frog.” 

Temple loves fishing frogs during the month of May and he’s been very successful at it. The young angler has won many tournaments in the East Mississippi and West Alabama area and has caught bass on frogs from Neshoba County Lake to the Tombigbee River and everywhere in between, including Okatibbee Lake just north of Meridian. 

The emergence of grass and pads at the two lakes the last few years have put both Neshoba County and Okatibbee on Temple’s must-fish list. Study the tips that follow and plan a trip to the water.

Temple’s equipment

There’s nothing more exciting than feeling and seeing a bass explode through the pads and crush a frog, but you’ve got to be geared up with the right equipment. Otherwise you’ll be left empty-handed with a sad tale of what might have been, and how the big one got away again. 

“I use a 7-foot-3 inch heavy action Boyd Duckett rod with a wide spooled Quantum reel,” Temple said. “The spool is wide on the reel which allows me to throw it further and that’s key in my opinion — making longer casts to get back where those bass aren’t spooked. 

“It’s important to keep from spooking the bass when you’re fishing the pads because they won’t bite if they’ve been spooked.”

Temple also prefers using long heavy action rods, but not too long. 

“I like the Duckett 7-foot 3-inch rod because it allows me to make long precise presentations, but it’s also got enough backbone for me to set the hook and get the bass out of the pads or grass,” Temple said. “You’ve got to set the hook and get them up or you’ll lose them in the vegetation, so quality durable equipment teamed with braided line is imperative.”

Temple also prefers the smaller diameter 40-pound braid instead of 60- to 75- pound that many people prefer. 

“I like the smaller diameter braid because it helps me cast further and also gives the bait more action than the larger and stiffer braid does,” he said. 

Temple’s choice: SPRO

When it comes to a frog to cast, Temple doesn’t waver much. 

“I prefer the SPRO frog, just the normal-sized frog most of the time, and I use it in black and white colors depending upon the situation,” he said. “When the shad are spawning I’ll use a white frog or a frog with a white belly because bass are feeding on the shad then.”

During one tournament on the Tombigbee River color did make a big difference. 

“We threw all different kinds of frog colors but they only bit my Sexy Shad, or white color,” Temple said. 

Temple also uses a popping frog but he utilizes that primarily during the fall. 

During a SPRO frog tournament held at Lake Guntersville where the anglers must use SPRO Frogs only Temple threw a SPRO King Daddy with great results. “They will bite it,” said Temple. “It’s as big as your hand and is good for lunkers, but 2 pounders will bite it also. We finished in 38th place out of 250 boats and caught a lot of fish.”

Temple looks primarily for lily pads but he will fish around any vegetation.

“I’ll start out early and throw a frog all day long in May,” Temple said. “I’ll throw it anywhere around grass or wood, anywhere they may be holding.”

Temple also modifies his frogs to get a little more action. 

“I’ll trim the legs of a SPRO frog,” said Temple. “I’ll cut about ½-inch off one leg and ¾-inch off the other one. It makes it walk better and you can walk the dog with it pretty good. And, if the pads get really thick then you can also stick some rattles in them as an added attractant.”

Hoot Gibson prefers Scum

“I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Scum Frog man,” said Hoot Gibson, a former BASS Classic Qualifier and successful tournament angler from Philadelphia, Miss. “I’ve tried some frogs that have sharp points but they stick into the frog when you set the hook, and that makes you lose a few of them on the hook set.”

That’s not the case with the Scum Frog, the line of soft plastic lures made by Mississippi-based Southern Lure Company of Columbus.

“If you look at the Scum Frog, the hook points stick up and that allows better hook penetration on the hookset. I’m always going to go back to what makes me money in the tournaments and the Scum Frog makes me money.”

Gibson tries all types of frog colors at different times but the hookset is perhaps the most important thing besides enticing a bite. 

“I like frogs with the rubber skirts because I believe it gives the frog’s better action and thus draws more strikes,” he said. “I’ve had several favorite colors over the years when they came out with new color combinations. Right now, Starburst White with a red throat is one of my favorites, and I catch a lot of fish on it. But during the early morning I’m going to throw a black one.”