May 3, 2018 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Fishing and boating tips

That title up there says it all. Cuss me or thank me, but for Pete’s sake, try it!

FISH IT FOR ANYTHING and Booby trap that Toad!

As far as I’m concerned, a Toad (converted dock fender) is one of the most incredible fishing devices I have ever come across – and not just for shark fishing. Just the Toad alone raises, excites and turns on just about any kind of gamefish that you can think of, from tuna, to marlin, to sharks and I’d bet my bottom dollar, stripers.

The Toad does a great job of imitating something that very few if any of us troll – an excited, darting, apparently feeding medium sized gamefish in and under our spreads. Rigged right they wobble and wiggle like mad, sending out all kinds of powerful underwater vibrations to go along with the awesome visual scene that they present to otherwise neutral gamefish. You will not believe how they raise and turn fish on until you see it for yourself, but once you do, you will never again troll without one in your pattern.

Strong words? You bet. True? As the day is long. I am giving you one of the hottest fishing tips you have ever received and if you don’t avail yourself of it, you are foolish, to say the least.

Bear in mind that I spent many years in big game fishing paradise, Cabo San Lucas. I fished my thirty-six custom charterboat an average of five days a week, YEAR ROUND. The sea conditions there are consistently as sweet as you have ever seen. The grounds, including some of the best of them, start less than one hundred feet from the famous Cabo Arch you see in pictures. The Arch is on the right side of Cabo Bay, a bit over a mile from my slip. We averaged over 1,000 marlin (not billfish – marlin) a year, up to 28 in one day, plus literally thousands of tunas (2,863 from the log for my most recent year – and that was after the purse seine fleet and longliners exploded and did their incredibly dirty work) and we caught big numbers of mahi’s per year. We also caught big numbers of wahoos, more than a few of them the kind of major units that Cabo is famous for, Pacific bonito, huge numbers of sierra mackerel (Spanish mack clones, only from 8-20#), amberjack, Pacific Yellowtail, Roosterfish, groupers, snappers and lots of other fish. We even had big mako and thresher populations and we caught some swordfish (daytime) every year once I learned how to catch them.

I hasten to say here that I am not bragging about me or my boat – I am just trying to explain how incredible the fishery there once was and I am not exaggerating. If I put many of you down there at that time on a boat like mine, with tackle like we run (all Accurate reels and only the best of everything else from soup to nuts, plus my wonderful crews), you would have experienced similar results. Yes, big game fishing heaven.

More importantly, though, it was a fishing experimenter and mad scientist’s dream land. Because there were so many fish so close, it was an easy matter to experiment and try things both when the fish were biting and those even more important times when they weren’t. Unless it was a full or new moon – I hate fishing either one unless I have a wahoo charter or am night swording, which we could not do down there, I never had to worry about not catching a bunch of fish for my customers. The fishing was that good. And so, I experimented.

The single biggest benefit was with my spreaderbars. They are radically different than what the vast majority of you fish with. One of the first things that I did was get rid of those metal bars. Stainless, titanium or whatever, metal bars are lousy for making spreaderbars. The composite bars that we use are vastly superior and result in light, easy-to-troll bars that absolutely do not tangle – not once, all day, no tangles. They don’t have birds and all kinds of other junk on them to try to keep that skinny, heavy bar that cuts through the air and wants to go into the water out of it and they can be trolled on the whole tackle tamale from very light, to very heavy gear, no sweat, no pain, no strain on fish or fishermen. The bar is guaranteed for life not to break from being fished.

But this post is about Toads, not SuperBars. As soon as I began running my first one it became hard to believe that it was having the effect on the fish that it appeared to be having. It seemed to me that our already good catch rate skyrocketed when the Toad was in the spread, especially during those times when the fish weren’t feeding and had to be turned on somehow to get them to strike (we figured that one out…read the troll books).

My first “tests” were accidental. My Mexican crew (minimum of two top guys) did not like the Toad at first. Like many fishermen in most places, they resist change, especially if what they have been doing has been working. In spite of how simple it was, they viewed the deploying and retrieval of “this new Toad thing” an unnecessary pain-in-the-ass and so on one of the early Toad days, after three successful passes over a school of deep tuna, they “forgot” to put the Toad back out. Fortunately I didn’t notice at first, or I wouldn’t have seen what I did for the first of many times after that day – only on purpose those next times.

The next pass over the school had the same result that the other boats working these fish had been having – nothing. Since the first three passes were all full multiples, I immediately knew that something was wrong. I studied the bar spread closely as I made another pass over the fish and once again, no takers. Caramba!

Then I noticed the Toad laying in a stern corner. The boys had forgotten to put it back after the last batch of fish. Could it be, I thought? Long story short, it sure as hell was! On the next pass tunas exploded on the bars running over the Toad. I tried this on purpose on multiple species many times after that and the same thing happened.

You run a Toad back and under the bars with a huge, splashy surface teaser also in them, but off to one side. The bars are run stealthy, so they are very easy targets for the fish to see and attack, instead of running with all sorts of splashing and ruckus like metal bars cause and that actually obscure the bars – my teasers do the teasing and they do it better than any bar ever and my bars do the catching and stand out clear and clean for the fish that the teasers have raised.

It wasn’t long before my boys were putting the Toad out first every time and I actually had a hard time getting them to take it out when I wanted to see what would happen without it in the water, which as noted, I did many times on many species…always with the same results, the bite shut off until the Toad went back in.

Remember, I am not trying to SELL you anything here…I am trying to GIVE you something that you can make for yourself and not only that, that you can make really cheaply. (If you do want to buy a couple, we will make and sell them to you, but they will cost you more that way.) Captain Kevin has put photos of well-made Toads on this thread, so I won’t bother, except to show you a shot of me down in Cabo with my very first Toad, “La Arana Loco”, what my boys called it, “The Crazy Frog”.

Captain Kevin followed the instructions in the books and his Toads are good enough that I would fish with them. Basically, you run two or three heavy egg sinkers on a loop of heavy mono (five or six hundred pound) thru the “lip” at one end of a dock fender. The 16″ long ones are best for offshore use. The smaller diameter, 13″ ones are too small and too many fish try to eat them. Use them inshore (and hold on!) Remember, unlike normal teasers, a Toad represents COMPETITION, NOT FOOD!

Then attach the Toad leader – about eight feet is fine and 300# test works great – to the loop holding the sinkers. I always run a “reverse dropper” about two feet in front of the Toad. I use one of the same Squids that are the teasers on the SuperBars running above the Toad. This completes one form of the competitive scene I am creating by making it appear that the Toad has cut out and is chasing and about to catch one of the “baits” from the bars. It is “Katy, bar the door” when incoming tunas or other fish see that and the bars get annihilated!

Attach the squid teaser in front of the Toad by sliding it onto the dropper leader, then securing it with a split shot. This will make it a snap to change the teaser in front of the Toad to match the ones on the bars when you change them.

And then there is the Booby Trap. Oh, lord, this thing is deadly, deadly, deadly! Here you should buy something to do it the very best way, but it is something that you will love and should have anyway. I’ll get to that in a sec. First, the trap.

To rig the trap, attach a “Static” (the kind that grips the line – not the kind that lets it slide thru) release clip, usually a Cannon or Penn downrigger clip, to the back loop of the Toad with a two or three foot piece of heavy leader or even cable. You can use a rubber band here, but it is time consuming. This is the trap snap.

Do not run this Toad with a squid teaser in front of it. The absolute best way of running a booby trapped Toad (and a lot of other trolling lures and baits) is off of one of those new UpRiggers. You run the Toad OFF A ROD AND REEL that is hung off the lower arm of the UpRigger. We run ours off of two speed lever drag 50’s or 30’s, but an old, low gear ratio star drag works too. Because of the angle from the rod to the Toad, it is always pointed at the teaser. Keep it that way when you retrieve the Toad and you won’t even have to slow down to crank it in.

SPECIAL HINT…If you have someone along who annoys you or gets drunker than a skunk, ask him to retrieve the Toad and tell them it’s important to hold the rod upright when they do it…that’ll fix ’em! “Whatsamatta, hotshot? Can’t beat a little old teaser? Whatta ya gonna do when a big, hairy, bad-assed fishy comes along, huh? Go cryin’ for your momma, are ya? Har, har, har!” Retrieved that way, the Toad feels for all the world like a good sized tuna, which should tell you something about the signals that it is sending far and wide through the water.

Okay, this ain’t a book and I can only spend so much time on this, so I am going to have to assume that you understand how UpRiggers work for now. I’ll explain later if need be, but I’ve got stuff that pays the bills that I have to do right now.

The “loaded” rod, the one with the lure or bait on it is run out of the upper rod holder in the UpRigger. The lure leader is clamped into the clip on the back of the Toad and runs far above the Toad leader. To deploy the two, both reels are put into freespool and the Toad and lure are dropped back into the spread together, with the Toad actually pulling line off of the lure reel. Stop the Toad where you want to run it and let the lure line continue for (just) a few feet, then flip it into strike and you are ready to rock.

The Toad darts along like a hunting fish and it’s action is transferred to the lure trailing behind it (you want the lure to only be six or eight feet behind the Toad) and it darts like a hand-jigged, wounded baitfish. When a predator of any kind sees this he jumps all over the lure, right now! I can only guess, but I’m pretty sure that what gamefish “see” is a baitfish that the Toad has crippled and missed and they hit it before the Toad can turn back and eat it. Whatever it really is, it is a mind-blower of a fish exciter and catcher!

And sharks? I would never, ever troll for sharks without a booby trapped Toad in the pattern – never! The sharks love this setup so much that we had to come up with a way of avoiding them when we are trolling Toads for marlin and other species (in the books).

This is the best damned fishing gift that I could ever give you. Fools will “know better” and ignore it. I could care less about fools. I don’t write for them or even tolerate them. I guarantee that you sharp fishermen will thank me once you have started “Doin’ the Toad.”


By Capt. Fred Archer

Wicked Tuna