Tackle & Techniques – Frog hookset

Froggin’s big question: The Hookset!

By Mike Pehanich

To strike or not to strike.

“One of the most crucial things in frog fishing is the hookset,” proclaims Gerald Swindle, who likes to put his fake amphibians to work at times and places outside the norm. And, without a doubt, “When do I strike?” is the most problematic question in froggin’ technique.

See exclusive hookset video with Gerald Swindle below!

Do you strike the moment the bait disappears from the surface?

Do you strike only when you feel the weight of the fish?

Do you strike after a one second pause…three second pause…10 second pause?!!!

No doubt you’ve heard every one of these options from a proven or self-proclaimed expert before. And yet opinions differ widely even among the most experienced pros.

Clearly, even froggin’ experts can offer no perfect answers for at least five reasons:

1)   Frogs gliding over grass mats or walking wildly in open water are tough for a bass to grab.

2)   Most frogs are built “weedless” – with hook points tucked tight against the back of the bait.

3)   The pressure of line against vegetation or other cover can affect both the lure’s positioning and the hookset itself.

4)   A soft plastic frog may feel natural or unnatural depending on the position of the frog in the fish’s mouth.

5)   Bass reposition large baits in their mouths before they swallow them.

Still, you’ll want to listen to the sages of the froggin’ world! Here’s what two of them have to say.

Gerald Swindle, Bassmaster Elite Series (Warrior, Alabama)

Hollow-bodied Poppin’ Frog

“One of the most crucial things in frog fishing is the hookset. When you see your frog disappear, pause!  Drop the rod if you have to.

“I call it “the pause before the storm.”

Exclusive SWF video “The Pause Before the Storm” with Gerald Swindle


“Stare at the bait and make sure that frog is gone from the surface. That lets the bass take the bait better. Pause. Pause…With braid, you have time to set the hook.

“Without that pause, you will probably just be jerking your frog across the water – and very fast!”

Bobby Lane, Bassmaster Elite Series (Lakeland, Florida)

“Do you count to three…count to 10…strike right away? That’s a great question, and I hope I can answer it properly.”

Swimming (a.k.a. “toad” or “buzz frog”)

“When I am swimming a Chigger Toad and get a strike, I like to take a ‘two’ or ‘three’ count if the fish wakes it or absolutely annihilates it. It is not easy to do, but I like the two or three count.

“Now I don’t like to drop my rod and set the hook. I like to keep steady tension on the line. It’s more of a pull, but yet a ‘crack’ at the same time! A good hard hookset, but I don’t drop the line and make a crack. I think you can pull the hook loose even from a giant fish by doing that!”

 Hollow-bodied frog – open water

“If you are working or walking that frog (in open water), the strike is visual. When I’m using a hollow-bodied frog, most of time I go to a ‘one’ count.“

Hollow-bodied frog — slop

“If it is in the grass or the slime, I like to go to a 3 to 5 count because you have to pull them out of so much slime and grime that you really need to put a good hook in them.

Hollow-bodied frog – paused or worked slowly near cover

“When I am fishing around wood and shallow grass like we have in this pond here (at VIP Adventures in Summerville, SC), I kind of visually put that frog where the bass wants it. When I see that bass come up, I immediately set the hook, and normally when I set the hook, 9 times out of 10 both hooks are in the top of the mouth.

See exclusive froggin’ videos and features with Bobby Lane!

My Three Frogs,” “Gary Klein & Bobby Lane Unlock the Secrets of the Sand Pits

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