It wasn’t that long ago when frog and mouse topwaters were “niche” baits used only in certain situations at certain times. But these days, frogs and mice (which continue to grow in popularity) are employed almost year-round in some areas, and anglers have found new ways to present them. They also cast them to a lot more structure types than just pads, mats, and grass. While it might be easy to say a frog lure and mouse lure are so similar, one isn’t better than the other, there are subtle differences, and understanding when to go with an amphibian, and when to tie on a rodent can really help you cash in on the hot topwater bite this time of year.
Most hollow-body mouse lures on the market today are a little smaller and weigh a little less than hollow-body frogs. Most also come with a single tail as opposed to two plastic or rubber skirt legs. In the tackle shop, I’d say anglers opt for the frog over the mouse nine times out of ten. And why not? There are, after all, a lot more frogs than mice swimming in the pads. But let’s say you’re dealing with finicky bass that won’t hit a larger, louder frog because of fishing pressure or ultra-clear water. That’s when I reach for the mouse. The smaller profile, lighter weight, and single tail instead of double legs will create less of a surface disturbance. It seems counterproductive during a topwater bite, but in several instances, I’ve had more success with a mouse that I could finesse more subtly than a frog that created a significant wake and splashed down harder. If you’re still in love with your hollow-body frog and don’t believe my mouse theory, try removing the frog’s legs next time the bass are hitting without committing. Instead of hitting the legs, the bass key right in on the body (where the hook) is, and your connection ratio will go up.
Another factor I consider when deciding between a frog or a mouse is the overall consistency of their movements in nature. Frogs typically stop and go, whereas a mouse that ends up in the water will swim frantically as it looks for dry ground. It may not seem like it would make much difference, but I’ve found that bass often prefer one style of movement over the other. OK, so make your frog move fast, right? Perhaps, but single-tail mouse lures often have more streamlined bodies and smaller profiles than frogs. By design, they look more natural during continuous movement. Frog lures are designed to capture that leg-pumping action of a real frog, and those legs are supposed to dangle enticingly on the pause.