These days, there’s probably not a basser worth his salt that doesn’t carry a box or two full of “toads”. Those incredibly versatile little rubber creatures, along with their froggin’ counterparts, have proven to be an incredibly potent weapon in the arsenal of bass anglers faced with shallow water filled in by vegetation of all sorts.
If asked, a majority of anglers would likely peg the introduction of the Zoom Horny Toad back in 2005 as beginning the toad trend. However, a look back in the archives reveals a much older history to the storied piece of soft plastic.
In fact, you have to go back about 25 years before the Zoom release, to none other than soft plastic manufacturer Mister Twister of Minden, Louisiana in order to find what might likely be considered the grandfather of today’s buzzin’ frogs, the Hawg Frawg. The Hawg Frawg came in 2 sizes (2″ and 4″) and six different color combinations at the time. The body shape mimicked the look of today’s modern toads, though perhaps a bit narrower, and the creature sported long flat legs that were basically wide curlytails.
There are a couple other things I find rather interesting and timely about this bait. One is that despite their penchant for putting boot tails on everything from 6″ worms to 2″ grubs at the time, Mister Twister didn’t put that modification on their frogs, going instead with their other well-known action tail, the curlytail. Doing so would have created a bait that would have basically been the equivalent of the Stanley Ribbit and the Sizmic Toad.
The other is that at the time, Mister Twister had out their Keeper Hook system, including their weighted Keeper Hook, a keel shaped lead weight on the wire shank of a semi-EWG type hook. This hook is arguably the predecessor of modern day swimbait and toad hooks, with its attached hook eye wire for securing into the nose of such baits.
Interestingly, both the Hawg Frawg and the Keeper Hook are still in Mister Twister’s lineup to this day, yet you rarely hear either mentioned in toad fishing articles. It might simply be a case of a great bait being introduced before its time, but it also goes to show that everything old in bass fishing becomes new again, eventually.