January 23, 2013
By Ned Kehde
Davy Hite says TriggerX's Slop Hopper is a soft-plastic swimbait with a unique twist.
Hite is a veteran professional angler from Ninety Six, South Carolina, who has competed on the Bassmaster circuits since 1989 and in FLW events from 1997 through 2003. Hite helped the engineers and designers at TriggerX create the Slop Hopper.
Initially, it was designed to be a topwater bait for anglers to retrieve across patches of emergent and submergent vegetation, which Hite often describes as slop.
But as Hite and other anglers have wielded it, the Slop Hopper has become multidimensional bait.
Mark Fisher, who is the director of field promotions at Rapala, likes to Texas rig it on a 3/16-ounce VMC 6/0 HDWSB Heavy Duty Weighted Swimbait Hook. He says the design of the Slop Hopper's boot-swimming tail is different than the boot tails on similar style baits. In fact, it was designed to create a cacophony commotion during the retrieve. The tail kicks up and down and left and right. According to Fisher, the tail possesses enough power or kick to cause the Slop Hopper to replicate the wobble of a crankbait. Not only does the Slop Hopper wobble and undulate, but it also hops.
Dan Quinn, who is the Field Promotions Coordinator for Rapala, calls the Slop Hopper a universal bait, which can be fished on the surface, a foot under the surface, 10 feet below the surface and deeper, drug and hopped along the bottom and even with the deadstick motif. When Quinn retrieves it on the surface around patches of lily pads, he rigs it weightless and Texas style on a 5/0 VMC Worm Hook, and during the retrieve, Quinn occasionally allows the Slop Hopper to drop into an opening in the lily pads. During that pause, Quinn says the Slop Hopper's tail creates an alluring flutter as it falls downward.
Besides alluring largemouth bass, some of Quinn's angling colleagues, who ply the lakes and rivers in Minnesota and Wisconsin, say that it looks to be a dandy smallmouth bass bait, too.
Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis, Indiana, spent 13 days on Lake Okeechobee, Florida, practicing for and competing in the Southeastern Division Everstart Series tournament on Jan. 10-11 and practicing for the Walmart FLW Tour event on Feb. 7-10. During those many hours that he was on the water, Wheeler worked with a variety of lures and presentations. And he spent some time casting and retrieving the Slop Hopper. In fact, he estimated that the Slop Hopper in the Houdini hue allured approximately 300 largemouth bass at Okeechobee.
As he was driving home to Indianapolis after his 13 days at Okeechobee, he chatted for a spell about the ways he uses the Slop Hopper to allure those 300 largemouth bass.
Wheeler said that he used a 7 ½-foot, medium-heavy-powered rod and a Shimano Core MG reel with a 7.0:1 gear ratio. When he was plying Okeechobee's patches of bulrushes, cattails and maidencane, Wheeler's reel was spooled with 65-pound Sufix 832 Advanced Superline. In the more open-water environs, his reel was spooled with 20-pound-test Sufix Castable Invisiline 100% Fluorocarbon Fishing Line. To those lines, he uses a Palomar knot to attach a 3/16-ounce VMC 6/0 HDWSB Heavy Duty Weighted Swimbait Hook.
Wheeler said that Okeechobee's surface temperature was in the low and middle 70s, and he discovered that some of Okeechobee's largemouth bass were either spawning or nearly spawning in pockets, holes and openings within the patches of bulrushes, cattails and maidencane. In these patches of emergent vegetation, Wheeler executed a 40-foot cast that was aimed at allowing him to retrieve the Slop Hopper across the pockets, holes and openings where the largemouth bass were trying to perform their reproductive rituals.
On cloudy days and during low-light times, the bulk of his retrieves were executed with a quick pace, which allowed the Slop Hopper to gurgle, pop and hop on the surface. If the sun was bright, Wheeler slowed the speed of the retrieve, allowing the Slop Hopper to swim a foot or so under the surface. But he also noted that there were periods during the sunny days when the largemouth bass would attack the Slop Hopper when it was retrieved on the surface. Therefore, he would periodically retrieve it on the surface even when a China-blue sky was illuminated by a brilliant and radiant sun, and he occasionally inveigled a largemouth bass.
When Wheeler focused on what he described as open-water areas, he wielded the same casting outfit, but the reel was spooled with 20-pound-test fluorocarbon line. He also executed a different presentation by retrieving the Slop Hopper so that it would swim from one to three feet below the surface. During this subsurface retrieve, Wheeler executed a pause in the retrieve by not rotating the reel handle for a second or two when the Slop Hopper was about halfway back to the boat.
As Wheeler was winding up his conversation about how, when and where he used the Slop Hopper at Okeechobee, he said he has also found it to be a splendid addition to his Alabama-rig routines when he is afloat at Kentucky Lake or one of the Tennessee River impoundments in October through March. Wheeler noted that he dresses his Alabama rig with five Slop Hoppers, and he works with two colors: pearl and bluegill. To determine which color the bass prefer, he affixes either three pearl Slop Hoppers and two bluegill-hued Slop Hoppers or two pearl Slop Hoppers and three bluegill ones on his Alabama rig. Then if the pearl hue catches the bulk of the bass, his Alabama rig will be adorned with five pearl Slop Hoppers, but if the bluegill hue elicits most of the bass bites, it will embellish all five jigheads on the Alabama rig.
Wheeler, Quinn, Fisher and Hite regularly exclaim that the way the Slop Hopper rolls, twists, undulates and hops during the retrieve can't be matched by any other soft-plastic swimbait. As 2013 unfolds and some Midwest finesse anglers will undoubtedly test it on their Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head Jigs, we will post an update or two about it from the finesse anglers' perspective on the Finesse News Network and In-Fisherman's blog site.
It is available in 14 colors. They are injected with Ultrabite Aggression Pheromones. A package of six sells for $4.09.