Top Toad for toads

Anticipation can lead to a surge in adrenaline.

Watching a wake charging toward your lure resulting in a violent topwater explosion is quite enough to knock the sandals off your feet.

Setting the hook and then winching a fat bass out of green goop is quite the thrilling outcome.

It’s late spring, and water temperatures are already heating up to the 80-degree mark on southern reservoirs in Louisiana and Texas.

And bass are voraciously hungry from having survived the rigors of the spawn.

Largemouths will be looking for forage just about anywhere, but the chief ambush cover they will use in shallow waters is shade.

And there’s plenty of dark concealment within or beneath peppergrass, milfoil, coontail, hay grass, lily pads and mats of hyacinths in reservoirs of the deep south.

Any lure running the top or the edges of this vegetation in Sam Rayburn Reservoir or Toledo Bend is now prone to get clobbered.

It’s certainly topwater time, and amongst the main lures to be cast atop and alongside the vegetation are of the frog variety.

Johnny Watkins photo Since its introduction to anglers by Stanley jigs in February 2013, the Top Toad has been noted for some hefty catches at Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn Reservoir.
                                                                                                               Johnny Watkins photo
Since its introduction to anglers by Stanley jigs in February 2013, the Top Toad has been noted for some hefty catches at Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn Reservoir.

This is the third spring that the relatively new Stanley Top Toad has been around, and this versatile lure has proven popular in delivering impressive trophies and hefty bags for bass anglers fishing Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn.

Trophy bass pursuer Johnny Watkins of Lake Charles, Louisiana, has taken a multitude of bass ranging upward to 9 pounds on this lure on Toledo Bend Reservoir and in other locations in the southwest Louisiana coastal marshes.

He recalled a very special Mother’s Day in 2013 when Watkins and his wife, Sara, along with his young sons Kade and Garrett shared a family bream fishing trip together on south Toledo Bend.

With 60 nice bream already in the boat, Watkins noticed there were big swirls in the peppergrass and nearby lily pads.

Johnny Watkins Photo Sara Watkins displays her Mother's Day Toledo Bend lunker weighing 8 pounds and taken on the Top Toad
                                                                                                                                                                                                   Johnny Watkins Photo
Sara Watkins displays her Mother’s Day Toledo Bend lunker weighing 8 pounds and taken on the Top Toad

“I told Sara to cast a Top Toad toward the action and she hooked and hauled in an 8-pounder,” Watkins said. “An hour later I saw more movement to the side, and I cast the toad there and ended up with one at 9 pounds.

“That Mother’s Day was the best fishing trip my family ever experienced together,” he said.

Johnny Watkins Photo Right after Sara Watkins scored on her Mother's Day 8-pounder, Johnny Watkins saw a nearby swirl and later set the hook on this Toledo Bend 9-pounder taken on the Top Toad.
                                                                                                                                                                                                   Johnny Watkins Photo
Right after Sara Watkins scored on her Mother’s Day 8-pounder, Johnny Watkins saw a nearby swirl and later set the hook on this Toledo Bend 9-pounder taken on the Top Toad.

Watkins praised the versatility the Top Toad demonstrates when worked on the water.

“It can be reeled in fast over foliage like the Ribbit, or it can be cast and worked like a topwater,” he said.

“Since it’s weedless and floats, it can be worked through grass and pads and then halted in the holes of the vegetation. It’s really well-designed.”

Introduced by Stanley Jigs in February 2013, the idea of a “floating Ribbit” was initially imagined by Lonnie Stanley. John Hale and John Dean, Jr. worked together on prototypes until the current model was finally developed.

John Dean Photo Top Toad designer and creator John Dean Jr. will often work the Top Toad like a PopR and catch hefty Toledo Bend bass. Dean created the Top Toad to be ripped, run, popped and stopped making this large profile lure attractive to hefty largemouths.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            John Dean Photo
Former Bassmaster Pro and Toledo Bend guide John Dean Jr. will often work the Top Toad like a PopR and catch hefty Toledo Bend bass. He will also rip it, run it and halt it making this large profile lure attractive to hefty largemouths.

“The Top Toad is built with PVC plastic, not a vinyl like many other hollow-frog lures,” Dean said. “Its hollow body readily collapses during the strike, exposing the barbs for a quick hook set – yet still durable enough for taking repeated hits and abuse.

“Even the legs, made from the harder plastic, provide a thumping action as it moves across the water.”

Importantly, the Top Toad’s hollow body also allows the angler to pause the action for provoking strikes on the motionless lure. The air pocket within the hollow body keeps it afloat.

The Top Toad is designed to work well with Stanley’s 5/0 Double Take Hook giving anglers a little more advantage in obtaining firm hooksets. The two hooks of the Double Take slide right inside the legs and lie facing up against the body of the Top Toad for completely weedless action.

Dean often works the Top Toad like a PopR near shoreline structure and above submerged fields of hydrilla.

“This lure has been a powerhouse in delivering many bass for the clients I guide on Toledo Bend,” he said. Dean can be reached via his website John Dean Jr. Fishing or calling 936-404-2688.

Another angler, Matt Loetscher of Many, Louisiana, with Living the Dream Guide Service (318-256-8991) has extensive experience with the Top Toad on both Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn Reservoir.

“It’s a great bait and gives you some advantages over traditional frog baits,” the 25-year-old angler said. “It offers a big profile with that hollow body, and it will catch larger fish.

“You can rip it, run it, stop it and let it float. You have many different options working that bait.”

Both Dean and Loetscher said the Top Toad can be used all summer long with success on Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend – especially when cast into or near foliage and other shoreline structure where bass are feeding.

Loetscher’s largest bass taken on the Top Toad was a 9.6-pounder taken at Sam Rayburn, and fortunately the angler was able to offer some video of this lunker catch.

Loetscher was fishing with Caleb Boudreaux of Haughton, Louisiana, in this 2014 video with many more Rayburn hawgs taken than just Loetscher’s 9.6-pound bass.

These anglers were able to pattern fish by rapidly reeling Top Toads above peppergrass and lily pad fields on the lake.

Just click on the video below to see some hefty catches by Loetscher and Boudreaux.

 

As for colors, Loetscher admitted that it’s often a matter of personal preference.

“You can’t go wrong with white or black,” he said. “In May, I will use the bluegill color a bit more.”

The angler advises strongly that anglers use at least 50-pound braid due to the combined weight resistance from the bass and the glob of foliage usually attached to the fish.

Loetscher uses a heavy-action, 7.5-food Fred Magic Stick Genesis II iRod which offers both backbone and enough tip to winch the bass out the foliage.

To obtain the Stanley Top Toad, shop at your local tackle retail dealer or visit Stanley Jigs/Hale Lure Company online.

 

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