Lucky Dip Review: River to Sea – Bully Wa

Bully Wa

Using top water lures to catch fish can be some of the most exciting fishing.  To visually see fish take your lure with explosive force provides some real entertainment and although the hook-up rate is quite often less than when fishing with sub surface lures, observing the take and timing the strike becomes the thrill of the chase.  An added bonus with this is the fish that feed off the top are usually more aggressive and put up a better fight.  As you may have read, some of my more recent exploits have been chasing Bass on top water lures, namely the Fish Arrow Cicada’s, Live Target Frog (hollow body) and also the River to Sea Bully Wa’s.  In this article, I’m going to take you through the thoughts gathered from my recent experience with the River to Sea – Bully Wa.

Out of the packet:

The Bully Wa’s are a frog imitation with a weedless double hook setup.  They come in a variety of colours and two sizes: 45mm and 65mm.  The body of these Bully Wa’s are hollow, the idea with hollow body top water lures is that when a fish strikes the lure, the hollow body compresses exposing the double hooks which then penetrate the fish’s mouth.  With some previous soft bodied top water lures I have used, quite often the body isn’t soft enough and in turn reduces the hook-up rate however these Bully Wa’s feel soft enough to compress quickly yet hold their form when being cast and retrieved.  


The Bully Wa’s cast quite well.  They don’t appear too bulky and cast quite a distance accurately, whether making long casts into the wind over lily pads or flat direct casts to place the frog under overhung trees.  One of the advantages of weedless presentations like this one is that if your cast does go astray into the structure, more often than not you will be able to slowly shake the lure out and into the water.

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Aaron Horne using a Bully Wa to pull a fish from some nasty structure.


From my experience, the Bully Wa touches down on the water without too much commotion 75 per cent of the time.  Although when it does cause quite a splash, I haven’t found it to affect the fishing too much because of the active nature of the fish we are targeting.  It is necessary to impart action on these lures unlike the cicadas which, when wound over the water, create their own action.  The technique I have been using with these lures is similar to ‘walking the dog’; essentially trying to make the frog look like it is doing breaststroke through the water. The speed of the retrieve however varies day to day depending on how the fish react, with a faster retrieve they spray a small amount of water forward in a spitting like V-shape, creating a sense of melee on the water.

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Bully Wa mid-retrieve

One thing to note, quite often when working it over semi submerged branches or lily’s, I have found that they can turn themselves upside down and will require a quick sharp retrieve to put them back the right way.

Hook Set:

At the best of times the hook up rate on any top water lure can be challenging, on soft bodied lures it can be quite frustrating.  After a bit of trial and error, my experience with these lures has produced some impressive results and I would say that the majority of my fish now hook up in one or two strikes of the lure.  From what we have been observing, the bass seem to be engulfing these lures with only the first couple of millimetres protruding out of the bass’ mouth, if any.  Because of this, the hooks aren’t actually penetrating into the fish that well and as such I have now taken a few factors into account when fishing these lures.  Firstly, I now use a high gear ratio reel to ensure I am able to strike and retrieve the line as quickly as possible maintaining pressure on the fish at all times.  Secondly, it is important to be patient and wait for the right moment to strike.  Striking too early more often than not pulls the lure out and away from the fish’s mouth and as such I have found if I wait until the lure has just disappeared under the surface before striking, the hook-up rate is far greater.

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The equipment I would recommend for this style of fishing would be a medium action,  6-12lb, Fast tapered rod, 7’ or longer with a high ratio 2500 -3000 size reel.  On this combo a 15-20lb braided line and 15-20lb monofilament leader will give you a fighting chance if the fish get the better of you and turn down into the structure. 

I have seen these River to Sea Bully Wa frogs retail from $9-$14.  In comparison to some of the other soft bodied surface lures out there, I personally think that they are great value for money with my favourite colours the BW01 or BW11.  

3 responses to “Lucky Dip Review: River to Sea – Bully Wa

  1. Hi Ian, good article. I’m a huge fan of frog lures. Personally I like the jackall mask frogs (I was gutted when they started making them widely available again- as I have a big stockpile) I find the hook up rate much higher with the single hook instead of the heavy gauge double, although you still wait that half beat before striking

    • Elvis,
      I agree, the Mask frogs are pretty awesome. Aaron Horne, one of the guys I fish with has them pretty sussed, experimenting with additional weights to make them sink slowly as well as some pretty unique retrieves and actions.


  2. Interesting. I hadn’t considered getting them to sink. I’ve got a few different retrieves/techniques fine tuned as well. I’d be interested in a email chat with Aaron if he’d like to discuss the finer points

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