Soft-plastic toads are frequently overlooked in my opinion. With all of the flashy topwater lures on the market these days, we often forget about the effectiveness and simplicity of them. They're not quite as loud as buzzbaits, so they work very well on pressured bass, but they still allow you to cover a bunch of water in a hurry.
I've been tinkering with the V&M Bayou Bullfrog a lot this summer. I'm a big believer in toads, so I spent a lot of time fishing this bait extensively on both large and small bodies of water. It may look a bit generic at first glance, but there's a lot more to it than initially meets the eye.
The hook point stays protected
This has always been a major problem for me when fishing soft-plastic toads. Your line will get wrapped around a lily pad stem or a thick stalk of grass and the toad will temporarily go underneath the cover, immediately snagging the hook point. If you fish heavy cover a lot, this is bound to happen to you on a semi-regular basis.
The V&M Bayou Bullfrog is actually designed to prevent this from happening. If you look closely, you'll notice that the top edges are taller than the middle of the frog; also worth noting are the raised eyes. This isn't for aesthetics.
These raised edges take the brunt of the impact when this toad is swimming through thick cover, whether it's laydowns or vegetation. Even if the toad is manipulated underneath the cover due to odd line placement, the plastic totally protects the point of your hook and drastically decreases obnoxious snags throughout the day.
You'll hook most of your bites
Most soft-plastic toads are essentially thick chunks of plastic. This helps castability and durability, but it can have a negative impact on your hookup ratio—there's a lot of plastic between the hook and the fish's mouth. Toads will often get balled up on the hook and prevent the hook point form penetrating the bass.
The Bayou Bullfrog has a deep hook slot along the belly. When a bass bites it, the body of the bait compresses quickly and easily in order to facilitate maximum penetration on the hookset.
I've enjoyed an extraordinarily high hookup ratio while using this bait. A lot of my bites have actually been similar to buzzbait bites; dramatic hooksets haven't really been necessary. All I've done is speed up my reel speed until the rod begins to load.
Because of this, it has proven to be a big producer in bright, high-sky conditions. This is when you'll usually have a lot of short-strikers and "nips" at the bait, but the V&M Bayou Bullfrog has allowed me to hook and land a bunch of these non-committal bass.
Heavy enough to cast well
I go back and forth with my toad hooks; sometimes I'll use a weighted hook and other times I'll use a regular hook. During my time testing this toad, however, it didn't really seem to matter. It casts incredibly well.
Having a toad that's heavy enough is a big deal. You'll get the majority of your big bites in very hard-to-reach places, so it's important to have the ability to cast your toad accurately and quietly. I've been skipping the Bayou Bullfrog underneath docks, willow trees and bushes with ease. It skips well, it loads a medium-heavy rod well throughout the back cast and it lands quietly in the water.
It draws attention
There's a fine line when you're selecting a toad. If you have one that's too stiff, its legs won't create enough surface commotion. If you have one that's too soft, however, it'll get torn to pieces after just a few fish catches.
I'm very impressed by how well V&M struck such a great balance with this toad. It's just as noisy as a lot of the popular toads on the market and it's also more durable than many. The legs kick like crazy at both low and high retrieve speeds and it's not uncommon to catch a half-dozen fish on a single bait. With five to a pack, I think you should at least get 20 to 25 fish catches out of each bag.
I consider this bait to be a major sleeper. It might be easy to overlook on a shelf, but as I said earlier, there's a lot more to it than meets the eye. It catches a bunch of fish, it swims upright and it can withstand the rigors of a hot and heavy topwater bite.