Can You Use Frogs as Live Bait?

Can You Use Frogs as Live Bait?
Can You Use Frogs as Live Bait?

Every fisherman has seen frogs and thought, “I wonder if those would make good live bait.”

Well, the answer to that question is yes. Live frogs are excellent bait for just about every type of large freshwater fish. Basically, if a freshwater fish can fit a frog in its mouth, then it will eat the frog.

Anyway, I will cover everything you need to know about using frogs as live bait.

Are frogs good live bait?

Yes. Frogs make excellent live bait for most types of freshwater fish because they are fairly low on the food chain. In my experience, bigmouth bass, pike, and pickerel really like live frogs. Big catfish will hit big frogs bounced off the bottom.

Some states have laws prohibiting the illegal harvest of frogs. Don’t worry, I cover this later on in the article.

Using Live Frogs as Bait

Live frogs make excellent bait. However, there are a lot of things that you should know before using them as bait. This section will cover everything you need to know about using frogs as bait.

How to catch live frogs for bait

The most important part of using live frogs as bait is obtaining the frogs. Unfortunately, you won’t find frogs at a bait shop, so you will have to catch them yourself. Frogs aren’t difficult to catch, though.

I like to use a drip net to catch live frogs. You can also catch them by hand, but I find that less efficient. If you have a child with you, then you can have them catch frogs as entertainment.

How to keep live frogs alive

The hardest part of using frogs as bait is keeping the frogs alive. They just aren’t a hardy species because they absorb everything through their skin. This means you can’t store them in dirty water – they will just die.

I recommend keeping frogs in a submerged mesh bag. Frogs can breathe underwater through their skin, so you don’t need to partially submerge your bucket or net. You can also store them in a bucket (with or without water), but make sure the bucket is very clean.

Recommended tackle for live frogs

Frogs are somewhat big, so you should expect to catch big fish when you use frogs as bait. Fish will also aggressively attack the frog. You also have to fish frogs in cover. With that in mind, you definitely don’t want lightweight tackle.

I recommend a medium, or medium-heavy, rod while using live frogs as bait. You should use 30 pound braided line. Some fishermen use 50 pound braid, but I find that overkill unless you fish in very thick cover or are going for a world record bass.

As for hook size, that depends on the size of the frog and fish you want to catch. A size #1 to 3/0 hook will work fine. I don’t recommend going smaller than #2.

Baitcaster vs. Spinner for frogs

Most bass fishermen recommend using a baitcaster while fishing with live frogs. This is because bass hit live frogs very hard. And you also have to deal with some level of cover. A spinning reel just doesn’t have the strength to handle that.

Despite this, you can still use a spinning reel while using live frogs as bait. You just need to use a heavier rod (medium-heavy or heavy action) and a reel with a stronger drag.

How to hook a live frog

Hooking a live frog is fairly difficult because frogs are fragile creatures. If you hook them too aggressively, then they die.

Anyway, you have two choices for hooking frogs: through the mouth or through the back leg.

I recommend hooking frogs through the mouth because you’re much less likely to injure the frog. You still have to be very careful while hooking the frog, though.

If you hook through the back leg, then you run the risk of injuring the frog’s back leg. And that makes it hard for the frog to swim.

Where to fish live frogs

You should fish live frogs in a location that you would expect to find frogs. Most fishermen like to freeline frogs in lily pads or similar cover. Just make sure that the frog doesn’t sit on a lily pad. The ideal situation is to have the frog swimming around near the cover, but not using the cover as protection.

How to cast a live frog

As mentioned earlier, frogs are very delicate. You will kill them if you cast too hard and/or far. I recommend a light backhand cast into cover when using a live frog. This means you should move your boat (or body) close to where you want the frog to land.

Can I use frog lures if I don’t have access to live frogs?

Yes. Frog lures work fine. I prefer using live frogs, but I do know that using live frogs is fairly difficult. If you use an artificial frog, then use it in the same manner that you would fish a live frog.

Do I need a leader when using live frogs as bait (frogging)?


I use 30 pound braid while using live frogs as bait. If you’re going for toothy fish (ex. pike), then you might want a wire leader. But that will make freelining difficult.

Despite all this, some fishermen still use a mono leader (fluorocarbon sinks) while frogging for bass. I just don’t find that necessary if you are using 30 pound braid.

Do bigmouth bass eat live frogs?

Yes. Bigmouth bass eat live frogs, which makes them excellent live bait.

I like to freeline live frogs in lilypads. The frog should move from lilypad to lilypad on its own. If it doesn’t move, then I will pull it along. I don’t pull it too hard, though. That can easily kill the frog.

Can you catch smallmouth bass with live frogs?

Yes. Smallmouth bass will hit live frogs. However, smallmouth bass really don’t like to hit topwater bait when there is light, so I recommend using live frogs on dark nights. Even a bright moon will cause smallmouth bass to avoid topwater bait.

Do catfish eat live frogs?

Catfish generally don’t eat live frogs, but they do eat dead frogs. I recommend using any frogs that die in your bait bucket as catfish bait. Simply attach a heavy sinker (2-4 ounces) to your line and drop it down.

You can cut the frog or use it whole. The catfish really don’t care. Bigger catfish will hit bigger bait, though.

What other fish eat live frogs?

Chain pickerel really like live frogs. You should use smaller frogs if you plan on fishing for chain pickerel, though. Simply fish the frog in a location that you would expect to find frogs. That includes lily pads, weeds, and fallen trees.

Pike also eat live frogs. They don’t like them as much as other fish, but they do eat them. Again, fish the frog in the same area that you normally find frogs.

For pike and chain pickerel, you definitely want to use a wire leader – these fish have some teeth on them.

Can I fish live frogs off the bottom?

Yes. I’ve never tried it, but I have heard that it works great. You simply attach a weight about a foot above the hook and drop it down. The frog swimming around on the bottom can attract some large catfish and bass.

Again, I’ve never tried it. It does make sense, though.

Downsides of using live frogs as bait

Fish like to eat frogs. Despite that, using frogs as bait has plenty of downsides. I’ll briefly cover some of the problems with using frogs as live bait.

Hard to keep alive

In my opinion, the biggest problem with using live frogs is keeping them alive. The frogs just seem to have a death wish. If you put them in a bucket that has even a hint of soap in it, they die. They also die if you hook them too aggressively. Even casting a live frog too hard can kill them.

As I’ve mentioned, they make excellent bait. But the entire process of using live frogs is very annoying.

Difficult to catch

Another problem with frogs is that they’re somewhat difficult to catch. I don’t have a problem catching frogs, but I know many fishermen don’t enjoy the process. The difficulty in catching frogs is further compounded by frogs not being a hardy species.

If you have difficulty catching frogs, then you should probably choose another live bait. You could even use an artificial frog for basically the same results.

Topwater only

Another problem with live frogs is that you can only use them for topwater fishing. I will admit that this makes them great for fishing at night. I don’t recommend using live frogs, or any topwater bait, when it is sunny outside. Fish generally don’t feed high in the water column when it’s sunny.

Other Questions About Using Live Frogs as Bait

Can you use toads as live bait?

I’ve heard that using toads as live bait works great, but I’ve never tried it. I know that some toad species are federally protected, which makes using them as bait illegal in the United States. And it’s difficult to tell the difference between protected toads and pest toads.

I avoid using toads as bait for that reason alone. It’s just not worth the risk when there are so many other legal baits available.

One more thing, make sure you know the difference between a toad and a frog. Most freshwater fishermen should already know the difference. But many beginners will assume that anything that looks like a frog is a frog, which isn’t necessarily the case.

Is using live frogs as bait legal in my state?

That depends on your state. The best way to figure out the law is to look through your state’s natural resources website. You can also ask a game warden about the legality of using frogs as bait.

Trust me, the game warden will know if you can use a frog as bait. Make sure you know the answer before you start harvesting frogs. You don’t want to get a ticket!

Are tadpoles good live bait?

Tadpoles work great as bait for small fish. You won’t catch a big bass with a tadpole, but you can catch smaller bass and bluegill with a tadpole. I recommend hooking a tadpole through the lip. And it should be a bigger tadpole. Don’t bother using a tiny tadpole as bait – it’s just too difficult to hook it.

It’s illegal to use tadpoles as bait in some states, so make sure to check your state’s laws before using them as bait.

Is using live frogs as bait ethical?

Yes. Freshwater fish eat frogs, so it’s no different than using any other form of live bait. If you accidentally kill the frog, then you can eat it or place it in the water. Something in the water will eat a dead frog.

Can I use live snakes as bait?

Since I’m already talking about unusual live bait in this article, I’ll mention this: Yes, you can live snakes as bait. They actually make excellent bait.

However, you must ensure that it is legal in your state. I don’t recommend using snakes for a variety of reasons, but you can use them as bait. Freshwater fish simply view snakes as a larger worm.

Final Verdict

Well, that’s everything you need to know about using live frogs as bait. I like using live frogs as bait, but it’s definitely not for everyone. Catching frogs is tough. And it’s even harder to keep them alive.

I will say that frogs make excellent bait if you’re fishing from a dock with smaller children or if you run out of bait. You can simply tell the kids to go catch some frogs, which will eliminate one of the more annoying problems with using frogs as bait. Also, if you run out of bait, then you can somewhat easily catch a frog from your boat. You just need to have a net.


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