Perhaps the greatest thing about being a professional angler is getting the first crack at all the new stuff that tackle manufacturing companies produce every year. Some of it is destined to sit on a shelf and never be used, but a lot of it winds up in my boat and gets used extensively on the tournament trail.
Most of the time, when I get a new bait—be it a plastic worm, jig, crankbait, etc—I already know how to use it, in what situations and with what techniques. Sometimes, I get a bait and I am not quite sure what to do with it. So, when I opened up a pack of Berkley Gulp! Bat Wing Frogs, I had to ask around and figure out what it was designed to do.
Because it is made out of Gulp! which is the most powerful fish attractant on the market today, I found some anglers who were rigging it Texas style with a heavy weight and flipping it into holes in brush and vegetation, letting the bait fall quickly and drawing the reaction strike on the fall. Others used it as a jig trailer. Sounds good to me, and with the Gulp! scent clouds filling the area, people were catching a lot of fish this way. But then I discovered that the Bat Wing Frog also makes an excellent topwater bait.
The 4-inch bait has dual backbones and a realistic profile, but it’s the split-tail grub-like legs that produce this turbo churning action on top of the water—like a slow-motion buzzbait. Since the Bat Wing Frog is designed to be weedless, you can pull it through some pretty thick cover without getting hung up.
And the frog’s legs flutter like crazy, actually creating a burbling action and a considerable wake, like a small animal swimming desperately for its life. This drives the bass wild and when the bass strike, it creates incredible top-water explosions that anglers get very addicted to. When the bass are hitting topwater baits or whenever you encounter a location with a lot of cover that is holding bass trying to shade themselves from the summer heat, the Bat Wing Frog is ideal.
Rigged weedless with a wide-gap hook, you’ll need some heavy line that doesn’t stretch and a long rod with a stiff action—Fireline was made for situations like these. Because the fish explode on the bait from below, setting the hook with line that has a lot of stretch can be difficult. Also, the heavy line does better during the repeated trips through the heavy cover. The longer, stiffer rod also helps you set the hook and makes managing a fish easier in the vegetation.
Yes, Gulp! baits are designed more for finesse presentations, but chugging this bait across the top of the water like a buzzbait is an equally effective technique for this new soft plastic. And the explosive strikes make it hard to want to fish it any other way.
Larry Nixon is a former Bassmaster Classic winner with more than $1.5 million in career earnings on the BASS Tour. Nixon lives with his wife and three children in Bee Branch, Ark.