FOM Battletoad feb 2020

Guest Blogger: John Satkowski, Toledo, OH, fly tying demonstrator and instructor, you can find him @ River Raisin Fly Company on Facebook


The rivers near home were all blown out due to some storms we had roll through. I had been thinking about some frog patterns I have been working on and one day it just clicked in my head. I was looking at some tutorials online from Johnny King and his “v” style tying would be great for not only the head of the fly, but the whole body as well. I tie a couple of baitfish imitations this way and thought I could pull off the shape of the frog as well using this style. The first couple flies were a bit too large but did get hit, but were kind of tough to throw with the materials I was using and were not hooking fish well. I switched over to some Fuzzy Fiber and ditched the shank and stinger hook configuration and this pattern was born.

With the rivers about two feet too high, I would have to find somewhere else to fish. I ended up going with my fishing buddy Andy to a series of ponds that he knew about. I brought out the frog and fished it around some lily pads and over the top of some weedbeds and it absolutely got slammed. I did have a bit of an issue with the weeds so I went back home after fishing and started playing around with some weedguards. The final design swims underwater very naturally with its long legs kicking, just like that of a real frog. A lot of frog patterns are made only for the top, this pattern gets down and swims just like a real frog evading a hungry bass. It can also be worked a little quicker and you can bulge and skip it on the surface for spectacular strikes. This is a fun pattern to tie and an even more fun pattern to fish. It is not that hard to tie, especially after you master the “v” tie style. Come tie my Battletoad and take it out for an evening, you will not be disappointed.


Hook: Owner Jighook or Umpqua XS506 Jig Fly Hook
Top of body: Darker colored fuzzy fiber
Bottom of body: lighter colored fuzzy fiber
Weight: .25 lead wire
Legs: equal sparse amounts of light and dark fuzzy fiber
Booby Eyes: Rainy’s Booby Eyes, sized to match hook
Eyes: 3d Stem eyes or 3d Holographic Eyes
Keel: 40 lb hard Mason mono line

Step 1:

I stick a five inch piece of Mason hard mono in my vise jaws. I then visually measure how long the keel will be against the hook and wrap a nice even layer of the .25 lead wire on in one layer. Towards the end I wrap over the lead wire with another layer for about 10 wraps.

Step 2:

I put my hook in my vise and attach my thread, for this fly I am using a color to match the color scheme of the frog in 140 denier or 6/0 thread. I then tie in the keel making sure the double wrapped portion is over the hook point to make sure the fly is balanced correctly. I cover the lead wire with good, tight wraps and make sure to get good coverage of the lead. I then snip the extra mono and cover with thread advancing to the back of the hook.

Step 3:

I now take a fairly sparse clump of the fuzzy fiber of each color and cut an entire length off the hank. I cut them in half, and then cut them in half again giving you four clumps of each color to work with. You can do this step ahead of time and then you do not have to do this during the actual tying session. I usually put these on my leg as I am tying them in as shown in the picture, but you can set them aside within arm’s reach.

Step 4:

To begin the “v” style tying, I tie in the lighter color on the top of the hook at a 45 degree angle. I then tie the darker color on the bottom of the hook in the same manner only alternating sides so that when you look above over your hook you will see an x. I then take each of the forward facing clump parts and pull them back and cover the other side of the hook as shown. You should then have one layer of the fuzzy fiber in both colors on the top and bottom of the hook. Keep in mind as you tie that the hook will keel with the weight so the top of the hook is actually the belly of the fly.

Step 5:

I tie in another clump of both colors and repeat the “v” tie process. I then take a sparser, full-length clump of each color and tie it on top of the hook using x-wraps and then put a couple of anchor wraps facing them backward. These will be the legs of the frog so you can just brush them back as you tie in the rest of the body.

Step 6:

I repeat the “v” tie process with clump after clump until I reach just past the hook point. I take another sparse, full-length clump of both colors of the fuzzy fiber and tie them in the same as I did with the back legs.

Step 7:

At this point I have flipped the hook in the vise making tying in the eyes much easier. At the halfway point between the front legs and the bend of the jighook, I tie in the Rainy’s Booby eyes on the top of the hook much like you would if you were tying in lead eyes on a streamer. Make sure the eyes are secure and add a drop of superglue if you wish on your thread wraps.

Step 8:

I now continue the “v” style tying and fill out the head of the frog and whip finish my thread leaving a bit of space near the eye of the hook.

Step 9:

I take the fly out of the vise and it is time to give it a haircut. I shape the body while I pull both pairs of legs down so I don’t accidentally snip them while trimming the body. Once you have a nice frog shape and the hook point has enough room to penetrate it is time to deal with the legs. I wet my fingers and run them over the leg materials a couple of times making them easier to work with. I simply tie and overhand knot with the materials and then I tie another one down where a frog would have their next joint. The frog’s toes are then snipped to a realistic length observing pictures I took of the real frogs in my area. I do the same process for the front legs only using one overhand knot and then snipping the excess material leaving the frog’s hands.

Step 10:

Once the frog has legs and arms, it is time to put the eyes in and construct a weedguard. If you are fishing in mainly open water, you can omit the weedguard but remember the vegetation is where frogs and bass coexist. I take a short length of the Mason hard 40lb. mono and heat my bodkin with a lighter. I heat the bodkin until it slightly glows red and gently touch it to the middle of the mono length. It will bend in a v shape and I am looking for a 45 degree angle for this style of weedguard. I then build up a bit of thread near the eye and tie in the weedguard making sure it is in the correct position. I then put some superglue at my tie in point and whip finish the thread. I started using the stem eyes for a while now on certain flies and they work great for deer bugs and streamers with looser heads. There is a small opening in the booby eyes, but I stick my scissor tips in the opening stretching it out a bit. I clip about half of the stem of the eyes and put a dab of superglue in the opening. I stick the stem of the eyes into the opening in the booby eyes and press for a couple seconds. The fly is now done, if you would like to add markings on the frog with a Sharpie that is up to you.

I hope you enjoy this pattern and hopefully it shows you that you can use different tying methods to produce a desired effect. I discovered the lead wire/mono keel looking at saltwater flies tied by Mark Blanton and the “v” style tying from Johnny King. Don’t be afraid to mix and match new techniques and experiment with your patterns.


  1. i agree with Carl, a video would be great. Also some idea of the hook size would be helpful to us newbies. i understand you can scale up or down, but a starting point would be helpful for reference.

  2. Hi John,

    For the hook for this fly, you can use any 45 degree jighook. There are many makes and models that will work, but for this tutorial I used a Owner 5167 Twistlock hook in 1/0. This is good for medium size bass in decent size water or rivers. For areas that I know hold bigger bass I would upgrade to a 3/0 size. You can also use Owner 5132 as the only difference is the heaviness of the hook. These hooks have a wire twistlock to secure plastics on them so I just take pliers and snip them off. I hope that answers any questions you have about hooks, if you need any more information please let me know!!

  3. So…what does this fly imitate? A cased caddis? A minnow? A worm?

    Just kidding John; great-looking frog…er, toad. I use a similar “keel weight” on my crawdad patterns (although I suspend a tiny split shot), and the technique works very well.

    I’ll look forward to tying up a few for warm-water lake shore fishing. Thanks for the how-to.

    – Mike

  4. Thanks Mike, you know I’m known for tying delicate little patterns lol I tie a leech pattern that uses this keeling method too and it has been equally productive for me.

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