Ladson, SC – Today’s bass are an educated breed, often requiring special presentations to turn their heads. Reaction bites are a go-to for many tournament anglers, as the aggressive nature of the fish forces strikes out of instinct as much as hunger.
For Miles Burghoff, the theory seemed logical. He’d found reaction-bite success using speedy retrieves with jerkbaits and cranks, even topwater Spooks. Why not frogs?
“I thought it was the normal thing to do, really” Burghoff commented. He’d recently revealed his frog walking methods with a top-10 finish at the FLW Super Tournament on Lake Chickamauga; the entire event covered live online.
Burghoff’s method at Chick was to trick the bass before they knew what hit them. Sparse, shallow grassbeds held the fish, but also the attention of other anglers. Burghoff turned to his favorite frog lure, the Z-Man® Leap FrogZ™. It’s different by design.
“I call it a deep-V hull” Burghoff joked of the frog’s aggressive keel. Such allows anglers of any skill level to get speedy side-to-side action, something Miles takes to a new level any time he’s faced with educated fish.
“I want it in and out of the strike zone as quickly as possible. The grass at Chickamauga has a lot of holes in it; my goal is to get the frog through those holes quickly, so the bass can’t get a good look at it.” Burghoff included.
Doing so takes the right lure, as well as the correct set-up. For these light-cover duties, Burghoff scales back from his normal frog stick to a medium-heavy Fitzgerald Stunner rod.
“That allows for real accurate casts, but it also helps give the frog more action. The key is to always slap slack in the line; you shouldn’t be working the bait as much as you are the line itself. It needs to slap the water.”
On the business end, The Z-Man Leap FrogZ is more than just a weighty keel. The super-soft body collapses on every strike, and a rear drain hole sheds water from the lure, should any enter from a hard skip-cast or missed blow-up.
Cruising through the shallows, Burghoff stays on high alert.
“You need the ultimate awareness when fishing a frog. Anything that looks out of the ordinary can signal a fish.”
In the event that a bass misses his speedy amphibian, Burghoff will often rest the area before trying again. He’s gone as far as sitting down and having a sandwich before making another cast.
“That will lower their wall a little bit” Burghoff theorizes about the psyche of the bass. “Those fish are on edge already; especially pressured fish. They’ll generally stay in one spot and, when you give them a little time before trying to catch them, they hit even better the second time.
While many frog fishermen rely heavily on a black-colored bait, Burghoff switches it up a little. If shad activity is high in the shallows, White Knight gets the nod. But, when fishing grass near the bank, nothing replaces Old School Frog.
“The bottom of the bait is really the key” Burghoff admits, “and Z-Man’s blend is perfect on this whole series. Color transitions are subtle, and match well.”
The Leap FrogZ is offered in two sizes in both walking and popping versions. For Burghoff, the full-size walker gets the nod for speed fishing.
“I can’t over-emphasize the importance of having a lure than can be fished fast. By the final day of the Chickamauga FLW event, I really thought my shoulder was going to give out; that’s how many casts I was making” he added. “Pressured bass just haven’t seen a bait like that.”
And, before they know it, they’re caught.