The Snag Proof Frog as designed by Harry Ehlers in 1961. This ad from 1975 shows a different hook configuration where to hook would release from the bait.

Yesterday we posted a piece on Alfred Williams and his introduction of the tournament worthiness of the hollow body frog.  In that piece we talked about Snag Proof and how Williams doctored his frog to bring it new life.  Today in Snag Proof 1970s, we’re going to take a deeper look into the original frog and some other baits that Snag Proof offered.

When one thinks of hollow-bodied frogs these days, there are a lot of choices to choose from.  In fact, it seems every manufacturer out there is making one.  But when one thinks of the original hollow-bodied frog, there’s only one – the Snag Proof Frog.

The Snag Proof frog was designed way before its time.  The design was brilliant – a hollow rubber body with an integral double hook where its points rested tight against the top of the body.  Designed this way, the angler could cast the frog into the nastiest weeds or brush and not have to worry about getting hung up.  Unfortunately, when the frog was originally manufactured in 1961 it lost more fish than it caught.

This wasn’t the fault of the design, though, it was the fault of the period tackle of the time and the original hook.  Short, fiberglass rods, monofilament lines that stretched, and slow reels made it difficult to hook the many fish that would blow up on the bait.  In fact, when I started seriously bass fishing around 1974, relatively few anglers fished them because of the heartache they would provide.  It was this way until Alfred Williams changed everyone’s thoughts by winning the 1983 B.A.S.S. Federation Divisional on Ross Barnett, clinching his spot in the 1983 BASS Masters Classic.

But Williams didn’t use a stock frog, he doctored his amphibians up.

Snag Proof ad from 1975 showing the Snag Proof Frog, Popper, Worm, and Minnow.
1979 Snag Proof ad showing their new spinner spoon. July/August 1979 Bassmaster Magazine.

Williams would cut the legs off the frog just above the knee and would then string a spinnerbait skirt through the hollow legs.  He’d also jam split shot and rattles into the body cavity, something Snag Proof left for the angler to do.  This adjustment to the original design is what got him to the Classic, where he placed 10th on a stingy Ohio River.

Anglers started to take note of what the frog could do.

By the mid- to late-1980s, anglers started fishing longer rods with more power than the 5-foot 6-inch pistol grips from a decade earlier.  Also, reels started to be manufactured with much higher gear ratios.  Those two factors alone were good, but the final piece of the puzzle was a new line.

Here are some words from renowned California frog expert Bobby Barrack from an interview I did with him some 20 years ago.

“When I first started fishing the frog in the ‘80s I knew if I could get every fish in the boat that blew up on it, I could win a lot of money.  It was that devastating.  [The] problem was the monofilament line wouldn’t cut through the grass and pads and you’d end up losing about 80% of the fish you hooked.

“Then came braided lines.  That’s what changed frog fishing forever.  In the early days there was no one that could beat us.  We had the frog all to ourselves for quite a while until the word started getting out.”

1979 Snag Proof ad showing another version of the frog with actual feet. January/February 1979 Bassmaster Magazine.
1979 Snag Proof ad showing their hollow body Craw. March/April 1979 Bassmaster Magazine.
1979 Snag Proof ad showing their Snag Proof Worm. May/June 1979 Bassmaster Magazine.

From that point on, anglers started paying more attention to this simple bait.  In California and the west, too many tournaments to count were won on the hollow amphibian.  And, as anglers started throwing the bait more and more, they realized it wasn’t just a slop bait – it also caught fish in open or near open water with regularity.

Anglers learned that the frog could be “walked” the same way as a Zara Spook if they trimmed the knees of the bait and shortened the legs.  They also took the tip from Williams and started putting bells and weight into the body to add noise and make the bait sit lower on top of the slop – so fish could eat it easier.

All this started a revolution in the fishing industry.  It seemed everyone was turning to the Snag Proof Frog.  Now there isn’t a tackle company out there that doesn’t produce a frog.

Snag Proof wasn’t only a maker of their famous frog, though.  They had plenty of other baits including the Snag Proof Popper, the Snag Proof Worm, and the Snag Proof Minnow, shown in the ad from 1975.  Other baits that Snag Proof manufactured over the years were a hollow Crawdad, a spoon/spinner combo (both shown in the ad from 1979), and the Weed Demon.  I’m not sure how well these other baits sold but the Popper morphed into a Popping Frog in the 2000s.

In 2019, Snag Proof was acquired by American Baitworks and since that time, all of these other products have been dropped.  The only remnants of the original company are Bobby’s Perfect Frog and the Phat Frog.  The original Popper was morphed into the Smashmouth Popping Frog.

We hope you enjoyed this look back into the history of the original hollow-bodied frog company.  As we uncover more ads from them, we’ll keep posting them.