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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2021 10:53 am • # 1 
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Location: North Central Indiana
Occurred to me on short drive to the gravel pits that not only had I not been there for awhile, it had also been precisely that long since I’ve held a spinning rod in my hand. Granted, it has been a fine year on the fly so not surprising, but these overgrown and brushy quarries are best assessed first with “cast anywhere” tackle and then maybe some flyfishing if growth of greenery & lay o’ the land permits such tactics.

Kicked it off with a gray mop jig and experienced mediocre results which means a few small bass for a lot of territory covered. Suspension fishing F’n”F style with my go-to golden jig brought about the same, a rather surprising result given the historical consistency of such rigs in this water. Switching to a D-shot & chamois worm pulled in better bass results and one ambitious kitty who’s take was a good running hit, yet apparently had the worm by the ass end as cats around fiddler size are inclined to do. Reminded me of near every experience bait fishing with Euro thread rigs, the hook often get’s ‘em in the cheek…
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Few small and occasional dropshot fish later, the decision was made to fish a marabou mini-craw and chamois trailer for no other reason that if the fishing was gonna suck, at least I’ve have fun just fishing the craw. Although it is part of my flytying hobby I don’t speak much of these outside of spinning tackle forums as some consider the chamois version of “Uncle Josh” and chosen attachment method to be an abomination of sorts.
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This switch was a game changer to say the least. No biggies, but the sheer numbers and successive cast catches of bass around this size was astounding relative the results prior…
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Not surprising given the size of their maw, plenty of Greenies were all in on the idea…
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Even some smaller mouthed species like pure strain Bluegills were committed enough to get the hook in their mouth despite ignoring more appropriate sized offerings.

Biggest and baddest scrappers of the day had whiskers and came in at considerabley larger sizes than the earlier dropshot kitty.
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Now, about the ridiculous post title? Yes, I did indeed create these jigs a with a craw’s likeness in mind and always fished them as such. However, from the fishes POV I’ve become pretty darn certain the vast majority of time it’s being eaten is due to resemblance of these…
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Cricket Frogs! Millions of these little guys around the lakes this time of year, so many that every step one takes sends half dozen leaping out of the way. The fish seemed absolutely locked-on to this subsurface frog foraging pattern and largely ignored everything else to an unbelievable extent. If it don’t have frog legs, it ain’t food, regardless of what usually passes muster.

Never pondered this before, but I’d wager it’s happened more than I’ve been aware of over the years. We always think frogs=topwater whereas craws=bottom, but from the fish perspective it’s not always such a hardline dichotomy. I think a great deal of my late summer/fall craw bites are in fact frog foragers as the look and behavior of a smaller frog underwater is not so different from the manner in which we fish most craws. The divedowns, twitchy shakes, and quick successive darts through vegetation and along the bottom are behaviors so very common to both forage types. What to do but reconsider the jig as a Crog, the technique as crogging, and let the individual fish decide which one it is.

Fly or spinning, any of you folks wonder about this stuff when catching fish on what we think are craw imitations? Plenty of double tail micro-jigs in the market, most of which are labeled or described as crickets, grasshoppers, or baby craws. Some small froggy stuff, but by and large it seems no one really addresses the possibility or potential of subsurface frog effectiveness irrespective of what we think we are imitating with these forked tail jigs.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2021 10:39 pm • # 2 
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Great post. I'm pretty sure that nearly all assumptions from fly fishermen about what fish think about their flies are wrong.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2021 11:38 am • # 3 
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Well, this’ll likely be the last report for 2021 and as of December 27 I’m still croggin’ bass out of the local gravel pits. :) Cats have slowed to nothing in the colder weather and the bass are typical cookie cutter size 10”-14”, but they’ll still eat the downsized UL craw/frog pattern.
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Despite the cold snaps, it apparently only takes a few days of milder weather to invigorate an Indiana cricket frog…
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Then again, they tended to be concentrated at or near natural spring areas on the bank where the groundwater water typically stays a bit warmer than the lake. Nevertheless, it’s an enduringly effective forage pattern to capitalize on in some waters and I really didn’t think I could push it this late into the cold season.

Also picked up a few bass on a gold/beige craft hair jig, but it too had to be “frog scuttled” in remnant weed growth near shore to provoke customers.
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The ice is coming soon and it’ll shutdown the fishing part for a short bit. Time at the vise will definitely involve some explorations of mini-craw/frog patterns for the next seasons use. Last few months have proven it a very reliable and practical angle for UL bass fishing. Occurred to me that in over two decades of fishing this series of lakes, I’ve severely overlooked those little cricket froggies significance as a forage item.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2021 5:08 pm • # 4 
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Good, enjoyable report.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2021 8:09 pm • # 5 
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Location: North Central Indiana
Thanks, gents! I don’t get around to much internet stuff these days, but try when possible to participate in the forums in hopes they stay active and existent. Do work and fish a lot, though.

Was rooting about in cameras and memory cards and found a few pics from late September which may be of use to some who wish to exploit the sunny bank froggy bite late into the season. Here’s a kitty pic facing about due North, the “compass” mark-up kinda explains the phenomenon into cold weather…
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Nice Eastern bank which gets cooked by a setting sun, even better with a wind blowing warmed surface water against it. I’m all but convinced those rocks can hold heat well into the chilly nights hence the huge numbers of late season Cricket Frogs active there. Eventually, late at night the water is the warmer choice if the air gets cold. Another productive Eastern stretch of bank, without rocks, yet highly productive for the tactics discussed above. This particular pit is far enough from tree shadow interruption on sunsets that it can produce active frogs and fish well into the cold season…
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Just a few additional elements in case one should happen across this post and wish to dial it in for some croggin’. Perhaps a bit regional, but I think the principles involving late season/sun warmed banks apply pretty consistently anywhere the seasons change. Sun exposure is a huge determining factor.

Beyond those fundamentals, I’ve been playing with leather/chamois notions and have grown to like the quad tail version of a homemade jig trailer. A basic fold & split…
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They just have an extra bit of flappityness when scrubbing along the bottom and the increase mass in wet leather gives a nice bit of additional casting weight for small offerings. Almost tube-like from the rear, a nice provocative element and one I shall explore further.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2022 10:42 am • # 6 
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KnotJoe,
Excellent post, thanks.
Where is your source for the leather to make tails on your flies.
Do you have any additional close up photos of the fly?

Regards,
FK


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