I wasn't all that familiar with Savage Gear's products until I started writing regular product reviews a couple years ago. The process of having to constantly find new products to test and review has given me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and find new products and companies of which I'm fond.
Companies like Ark, Duel Hardcore, Yo-Zuri and the aforementioned Savage Gear have really impressed me over the last couple years and prior to intentionally selecting their products to test, they weren't even on my radar.
That's no fault of the companies' or their reputations; there are just a lot of products out there these days and I'm a creature of habit. If I find something I like, I tend to buy 10 of them and stick with it. But that's not to say there isn't something out there I might like just as good or even better.
Reviewing products from these companies and others has shown me several such products. The latest to fall in that category is the Savage Gear Hop Popper Frog. So let's talk about it now.
Finesse pop, fantastic walk
The Savage Gear Hop Popper Frog is a popping frog, obviously with that characteristic in the name of the bait. But this popping frog is a little more finesse. The bait is about the size of most other "regular-sized" popping frogs but it sits high in the water and the mouth doesn't really chug and move a lot of water like some other, more aggressive popping frogs. That's not a deterrent for me really though and in fact, it gives me a frog that does a little something different so it kind of creates its own spot in my tackle box.
But the really impressive thing about this frog is how well it walks. I like to walk all frogs at times but most popping frogs I tend to just pop along. You can do that with the Hop Popper Frog by working the bait with your rod tip down and a nice, rhythmic cadence. But it's amazing how easy it is to walk this frog and that is honestly the way I choose to fish it most of the time.
I took these pictures for instance, holding my camera in one hand and flicking the star-shaped drag control with my left hand. I wasn't even twitching the rod tip in these pics; I was simply one-handed flicking the drag. This thing is ridiculously easy to walk and, for that reason, a frog I would highly recommend to any angler having a hard time learning how to walk a frog or just starting out frog fishing.
One of the most important characteristics of any type hollow-body bait is the hook and the Hop Popper Frog has a good one. I don't know the exact maker of the hook since I couldn't find it listed anywhere. But I'd say it's comparable to other leading frog hook brands. It's a super strong, double frog hook with a slight upward bend.
I tested this frog out without modifying the hooks and it performed well. Though I typically bend up the hooks slightly on almost every frog I throw and trim the legs a bit, I always like to review a frog by fishing it exactly how it comes out of the pack; so that's what I did with this bait.
I did lose one good fish on this frog and bending the hook up slightly might have helped there. Overall, however, the hookup ratio has been great and comparable to other frogs I like to throw. And that one instance where I lost one, the fish made a big run right after the bite and I wasn't able to catch up to it to make a good hookset. So that likely had as much to do with it as anything.
The essential colors and some really pretty ones, too
Nine times out of 10 when I'm throwing a frog, I'm throwing a pretty basic color. I'd say black the majority of the time, then brown a good bit, white sparingly around a shad spawn and then I'll mix in a handful of other colors when a match-the-hatch scenario occurs.
Savage Gear has those essential colors and a handful of other really detailed frogs, which I really like. For a while, I thought the belly of a frog was all a fish saw so fancy color schemes didn't really impress me much. But I've learned over time that most frogs roll over on their side as they walk, so the fish actually do get a good view of the whole bait.
Frog fishing is one of the few techniques where I think detail in a color scheme can play a big role. The majority of the time, the fish are going to eat a frog somewhat regardless of color because of the action of the bait. But there are times, participially in clear water, where bass will follow a frog a bit and really get a good look at it before they eat it. Having a realistic paint job helps haul in those one or two hesitant big bass every now and then. So I like that the Hop Popper Frog has some real pretty ones.
Earlier in this piece I mentioned briefly that this frog sits high in the water. This is, at least in part, because it's a particularly wide frog. Though I haven't had the opportunity to fish with this particular frog yet in thick grass mats, I do believe its buoyancy and profile will make it a great bait for this application.
In the fall when submerged grasses like milfoil, coontail and hydrilla top out and mat up, fishing a frog over them can be the deal. But it's a whole other deal from most frog fishing. You need a frog that the fish can find through the thick mats.
One way anglers up their odds is by inserting weights into their frogs so the frog will essentially create a little ditch in the scum as it's worked along. A wider frog shows up better as well. With this being a wide, particularly buoyant frog, you'll be able to add enough weight to the frog to help it show up but still not sink in the holes as easily as a smaller frog would.
It's worth mentioning as well that this frog comes in a 2 1/4-inch, 1/2-ounce size as well as a 2 3/4-inch, 3/4-ounce size. I have only personally fished with the smaller of the two, which is again pretty close to the size of a lot of other popular walking and popping frogs. But its big brother would probably be a lot of fun to fish as well if you're feeling froggy.
Overall, I've been really impressed by the Savage Gear Hop Popper Frog. It has a finesse pop to it, a fantastic and super easy-to-generate walking action and comes in a good variety of colors. The hook is sharp and strong like other top-tier frogs. And this frog in particular finds its own little niche, being a wider and sitting higher than a lot of other frogs. All in all, definitely worth giving a try.