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27 Nov

Catching Bass on Toads: Overlooked Bait Explained

Bass Fishing Tips

When you think of bass fishing, you probably think about having a big tackle box filled with all the latest lures, a few good rod setups, and a day spent trying to find the perfect presentation to nab a massive bass or two.

There’s no denying that artificial baits and “tricking” the bass tend to be the focus of the sport. It’s not like catfishing where everyone is trying to find a great bait to toss in, sit back with a cold drink, and relax until the fish come in.

With that being said, that cultural devotion to artificial baits means that a lot of the old-fashioned fishing techniques from before lures became mainstream have fallen by the wayside.

Those techniques still work, and every bass angler should know how to use them to their advantage.

Today, we’re going to go over one bait that is overlooked by almost all modern bass anglers to help you add another skill to your repertoire. Toads.

Read on to learn more about catching bass on toads.

Fishing with Toads: Why It’s Not Popular


Fishing with toads has been a tactic that anglers have used for longer than anyone can pinpoint. They’re part of a largemouth bass’s natural diet, easy to use, and free if you’re able to go out and catch them.

This makes toads an effective and cost-friendly bait that brings in the big bass if you learn how to use them.

However, you don’t see many anglers using them, anymore. Why is that?

Well, it mostly comes down to three main factors.

First, you have to spend time catching them. This isn’t a problem if you’re looking for them in the right areas and the right seasons. We’ll touch on those details soon. However, it’s still time taken away from your daily life to find bait and hunt it down. It’s also not the type of bait you commonly find in a shop. So, buying it isn’t an option for most people.

Then, there’s the fact that they’re kind of gross to deal with. Worms and shad aren’t exactly pleasant, but a toad isn’t something people are typically used to pushing hooks through or watching squirm around. So, it can be mentally off-putting.

Even if time and the mental aspect of it aren’t problems, they do tend to fall apart when fish start biting on them. So, unlike artificial lures that can last multiple trips or even years of constant use, you can go through your toad supply pretty quickly.

On paper, it can seem like opting for artificial options is preferable, and in some cases, they are. However, it’s still a skill worth having, and if you’re dealing with a very stubborn bass, no presentation with artificial bait is going to outperform the real deal.

So, even if this isn’t a skill you’ll use every trip, it’s one that you should master and use when appropriate.

Is Fishing with Toads Legal?


Before we get into the guide portion of this, you might be wondering if toads are even legal baits. Well, that depends.

Some states, and even some individual fisheries, do ban the use of toads. So, you might not even be able to use toads depending on where you’re fishing. Always make sure you look up your local laws before trying something new on the lake, and make sure you know the rules of the fishery before you dip your rod in the water.

However, in most cases, it’s perfectly fine.

Using Toads for Bass Fishing: Sourcing, Rigging, and Presenting

Now that you’re primed, we’re going to go into how you use toads to fish. On paper, it’s the same as any other natural bait. You get the bait, hook it, and toss it in the water to do its thing. However, the details are where it starts to stand out from other types of bait that you’re used to.

We’ll cover this in 3 main sections. The sourcing of toads, how to rig them, and how to use them once they’re in the water.


Sourcing Toads for Bass Fishing:

Since most bait shops don’t carry toads, you’ll be on your own when it comes to sourcing your toads. That means you’re going to have to get your boots on, run around in the mud, and out-think the little buggers.

We recommend getting a net, or using your fishing net if you don’t mind getting it dirty and catching them like that. The old-fashioned method of sneaking up on them and grabbing them by the legs is viable, but it’s not as easy as using a net.

You can also use a frog gig, which is like a multi-pronged spear for sticking them from a distance, but you won’t have live bait by the time you’re done.

Two main factors will determine your success here. You need to source them during the right season and time, and you need to look for them in the right place.

For the season and time, you’re going to want to hunt for them during the spring, and you’ll want to go out during the early morning or late evening. You can find them throughout the summer and into the fall, but they’re nowhere near as plentiful.

Then, you want to look under areas near light sources. Rocks, bushes, outdoor furniture, and gardens are great places to look around your home and neighborhood, and if you’re looking at the lake, you should find them hopping around the mud and hiding in crevices.

You should look to have around a dozen before you head out. As we said, they can fall apart fairly quickly once the bass gets a hold of them.

Luckily, keeping the toads alive until you go fishing is fairly easy. You need an old fish tank, plastic tub, or any other vessel that is large enough to comfortably house your toads and retain them.

Toads aren’t like minnows. You don’t need to rush off to use them right away out of fear of losing half of them before you even get to the water. However, you should try to get out on the water within the next day. You’re unlikely to be caring for them as if they were pets, and you still need to consider the ethics of taking them in and not really taking care of them. Just because they’re hardy doesn’t mean you can toss them in a barren bucket for a week and forget about them.


Rigging Toads for Bass Fishing:


When it comes to rigging your toads, it’s fairly simple. You’re going to need a 3/0 to 5/0 sized wide-gap hook, and you’re running it through their "lips" with the hook coming out of the top.

This allows the toad to stay alive on the hook, and it will naturally move around, but when a bass gulps it up, that hook is exposed and ready to grab its lip.

It’s not a good idea to experiment with different rigs on live toads. If you want them to last, you’re going to use them naturally, and you don’t want to interfere with their natural presentation much at all.


Presenting Toads for Bass Fishing:


Finally, you just have to get the toad in the water. Like we said, you don’t really want to mess with the natural movements of the toad. That’s the entire point of using them over an artificial lure.

However, you do need to think while you’re fishing. You don’t just randomly chuck it in the water and expect bass to bite.

To start, you’ll be fishing it like a top water lure. Casting the toad out to pads, weeds, and other areas where you’d toss a soft-plastic toad is the best, but structures are also great. Let it go weightless, too. If it wants to go under, it will. The weight of the toad is also more than enough to get your line way out in the lake without the use of weights, as well.

Then, try to avoid snags. Not only is it fairly easy to get caught up in the weeds due to the exposed hook and large size of the bait, but every snag risks seriously messing up your toad without a bass getting a chance to take it.

With toads, bass swallows them down quickly. So, you don’t need to play around with the hook set much. When the toad disappears, set the hook.

Make sure to check your toad every time you get snagged, miss a bite, or catch a fish. They’ll get torn up quickly, and if it dies on the water, you’ll be using it like a lure or letting it go to be fish food.


When’s the Best Time to Fish with Toads?


Fishing with toads is pretty simple, but it is a time-restricted tactic. You aren’t going to do it in the winter or during the hottest summer months. Instead, the best time to use them coincides with the best time to catch them. After all, that’s when they’re naturally out and getting eaten by bass, anyway.

This means that the early morning and early evenings in spring and fall are your best chances to not only catch a toad but to use that toad to catch bass, too.

Should I Use Real Toads or Plastic Toads?

This is a complex question to answer because it's all situational.

First, you have to be able to deal with the issues that we mentioned at the start of this article. It can be a little uncomfortable, and of course, it takes a bit of time and effort.

However, that doesn’t mean that real toads are useless.

Artificial toads can be picked up relatively cheaply at any time, and you can use them almost year-round with varying levels of success. However, they’re also notoriously difficult to learn how to use, and stubborn bass stays away from them quite often.

A real toad comes in handy when it’s not optimal to use artificial toads, or when you need that natural presentation to nab a big bass. In a lot of ways, they’re baits you can chuck into the water, and they do 90% of the work. So, they’re a lot easier to learn how to use, too. They can be a good primer for starting topwater fishing.

Otherwise, it’s perfectly fine to use artificial frogs and toads, but you’re going to have more of a challenge, and you’ll need to bring some backup lures in case the bass simply isn't messing with them.


Is It Ethical to Use Toads?


This is a huge controversy in the fishing world, and it’s not fair to just chuck a black-and-white answer out there.

If you’re worried about the morality of piercing a toad’s lips and using it as bait, consider the morality of using minnows, worms, shad, bluegill, or any other live bait. We tend to look at toads a bit differently because they’re fun things to catch as kids, and they’re more complex than those other common baits, but that doesn’t mean everyone who uses them is wrong for it.

However, just like any time you’re using a real animal to do anything, you do have to consider your behavior and how it factors into the treatment that animal receives while in your care.

Catching way more than you can use, throwing them in empty buckets for days on end, being unnecessarily cruel to the toads while you’re using them, and similar things should all be avoided. As anglers, we all tend to be in love with nature, and even if we’re using something as bait, we should take the time and effort to be respectful and not cause any undue harm.

One area where it’s not up to the angler to make that decision is when it comes to the law. As we said earlier, it’s not legal to use toads everywhere, and if you’re caught doing it in such a fishery, you can and will be fined by the local wildlife officer when they catch you. So, make sure you know your local laws and fishery regulations, and if it’s illegal, use artificial toads. They’re used almost the same way, but you have to create the movements to attract the bass.


Get Bass Fishing Help with BassForecast

If you’re about to try catching bass on toads, or you’re an avid bass angler in general, check out the BassForecast fishing app. We provide detailed fishing maps, a spot-on solunar, and weather data in real time. We also have a multitude of tips and tricks guides to help you get better at the sport.