LADSON, S.C. – With an innocent little splash, the defenseless amphibian belly-flops into the drink. Powerful legs kick and recoil, scooting the frog forward. The critter pauses, re-surfaces, bulging eyes betraying looming danger. Webbed feet dangle invitingly, soft white belly tantalizing, almost taunting. In one explosive instant, the water beneath the creature drops like an elevator; an unseen predator opens its jaws with the vacuum force of a plunging five-gallon bucket. With a watery whoosh and a steel-door snap, poor little critter meets his maker.
In the bass-eats-whatever-it-wants-to world, it’s tough to be a frog. Even tougher, perhaps, for a new artificial amphibian, freshly metamorphosized and minted by the bass bait artists at Z-Man Fishing. Hatched with a hollow, super collapsible vinyl body, the Z-Man Leap FrogZ puts itself in immediate danger every time it slaps the water’s surface. Two different “species”—a Walking Frog and a Popping Frog—arm anglers with situation-specific frog baits, featuring subtle and lifelike or aggressive and loud surface actions, respectively.
An amphibian fan from way back, pro angler Luke Clausen contributed several valuable assets to the design of the new pro-grade topwater frog. Among them, a precise, easy-to-retrieve anatomy. “One cool attribute frog anglers will appreciate, we molded both versions of the Leap FrogZ with a deep-V belly that acts like a rudder to carve the surface and empower easy walk-the-dog retrieves,” says Clausen.
Clausen also calls attention to the frogs’ hollow, super soft body, which collapses with minimal pressure, activating the custom, heavy-duty double hook. “We forged this special frog hook with the perfect, slightly ‘open’ angle to yield super-high percentage hooksets. Hookpoints are keenly sharp, right out of the package.”
Further elevating the Leap FrogZ’ performance, Clausen and Z-Man constructed the bait with a fully sealed eyelet to prevent water from entering the cavity, while a rear drain hole sheds excess moisture. “These fine-tuned assets allow the Leap FrogZ to float higher in the water and perform at the highest level,” adds Clausen.
Extra-long, multi-colored silicone legs are remarkably suggestive of actual amphibian appendages and webbed feet— slowly trailing down as the frog rests, folding back, articulating and flaring when the legs kick and stop.
A deep-V belly shape yields effortless walk-the-dog retrieves.
“Silicone is actually a pretty amazing imitator of frog legs,” notes FLW Pro Tour angler Miles “Sonar” Burghoff. “Out of the package, you have the choice to fish the Leap FrogZ as is, or to trim the silicone to your own requirements. At times, I’ll trim the legs all the way down to just an inch and a half, particularly when bass seem to be short striking and keying on the legs rather than the body. Fortunately, this frog is designed and built so well that trimming the legs doesn’t dampen its side-to-side walking action one bit.
“Remember, too, that bass might not always interpret the bait as a frog,” he notes. “I actually like to throw a black-bellied pattern around shallow cover. In open water, when bass are keying on shad, a white bellied bait excels. Or, throw a bright chartreuse belly around sunfish schools.”
According to Burghoff, the two Leap FrogZ versions cater to different bass activity levels. “When bass are really on fire with a large strike zone, I pick up the walking version and cover water with a faster retrieve. The walking Leap FrogZ is also the one you want for fishing over heavy veg mats.
“At times, you want to work the bait with long pulls,” notes Burghoff. “Other times, bass prefer short little moves forward, almost like hops and stops. The key to activate the bait lies in the slack line you provide before and after each twitch of the rodtip. Many anglers think a frog only produces in vegetation. Actually, this frog draws strikes from bass in open water. And the Leap FrogZ skips really well under overhangs and docks—two more awesome places to fish it.”
For bass with smaller strike zones, Burghoff selects the popping version of the Leap FrogZ, sculpted with a deeply concave mouth that ‘talks’ bass into biting. “When I’ve located a big bass or am zoned into a smaller area, the popping frog is perfect,” he adds. “The bait walks and bubbles on top, stays in the strike zone longer and calls bass to the surface without too much forward motion. I pull this frog trick on post frontal fish, in spring, around beds and near isolated reed clumps—anytime I’m casting to specific targets—and catch bass by working it right on top of their head.
“The bait is really well made. I’ve caught over 25 bass and counting on the first one I tied on, and it’s still going strong.”
“You hear anglers complain about missing blow-ups on other frogs. We built the Leap FrogZ so soft and with so many little goodies that hooksets just aren’t an issue with this bait,” Clausen suggests. “Even the paint application is top-notch. It doesn’t wear off or even show signs of abuse after a bunch of bass have chewed on it.”
Available now at retailers nationwide and at www.zmanfishing.com, the Leap FrogZ is built in 2.25- and 2.75-inch sizes in both Popping Frog and Walking Frog body types. Five different naturalistic frog patterns, 3D eyes and premium paint apps max out the lure’s attraction. MSRP $7.99 each.