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HANK’S NEWSLETTER

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from Hank Parker!

Just like you, I get excited when a new lure trend comes along. It not only gives us a new way to catch fish, but the learning process adds to the fun and excitement of this great sport.

Well, I’m here to tell you that today’s swimming toad baits have me revved up like never before. There are several reasons, but perhaps the most important is the versatility of these baits. Although toad baits are basically soft-plastic frogs with paddle-tail action legs, their performance characteristics are like a jerkbait, buzzbait or soft-plastic lure all in one.

You can do so much with them. You can throw them in the heaviest, sloppiest grass and still work them effectively. You can wind them over the top to create a lot of commotion and draw fish out of heavy cover. And they drive bass wild.

My experiments with toads remind me of when I first tried a buzzbait in the 1970s. I could take a buzzbait to any pond or lake and catch bass. The fish would absolutely crush it. However, after you pounded on them, they’d start shying away. It was like they figured out that noise represented danger and not something they should eat.

The toad is different. Because it is more subtle, the fish don’t seem to become as conditioned to it. You can catch them time and again on the toad, unlike the buzzbait.

Another advantage is that you can cast toads into the kinds of places you’d never fish a buzzbait. It’s one of the few baits that I’ve fished that comes over and through grass mats or moss so effectively. And if you spray it down with an oily fish attractant, it works even better.

A lure’s ability to work through cover is critical. Anytime you are trying to make a fish react to a bait out of impulse, you can’t be inhibited about throwing it into cover for fear of it hanging up or not working properly.

I rig mine on a 5/0 Mustad MegaBite hook that has a wide bend and strong wire. You basically rig these baits weedless the same as you would a plastic worm. The hook point comes out the center of the back and can be skin-hooked to protect the point located on top of the lure. When a bass bites down, the barb penetrates his jaw easily.

I also prefer superlines such as FireLine or Spiderwire Stealth because I need a non-stretch line to bury the hook the moment I jerk and the strength to horse fish from the heavy vegetation. I think it also increases your chances of hooking fish. These types of baits tend to produce more misses, and you need every advantage you can gain to increase your landing ratio.

I’ve tried quite a few of the various brands and have caught fish on most of them. However, I’ve been impressed with Mann’s HardNose Swim Toad because of its unique plastic that provides a hard head on a soft body. When you rig the hook, the firmer plastic in the head keeps the hook snug so that it doesn’t slide down the hook and interfere with the action or hook-setting capabilities.

The best way to fish a toad is to slither it over the top and make the legs kick, creating a sputter on the surface similar to a buzzbait. When strikes occur, it’s best to not set the hook until you feel the weight of the fish. If you miss, allow the bait to sink beneath the surface and swim it again. Some fish will come back and get it.

Like most topwater lures, toads are deadly during low-light conditions, but I’ve caught a lot of good fish through the middle of the day. That can make for an exciting day on the water, especially when you’ve got big bass blasting through grass to crush your toad.