August 13, 2014
The 3 1/2-inch TriggerX Slop Hopper was introduced to the angling world at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades show at Orlando, Florida, on July 15.
It is the sibling of the 4 1/2- and 5 1/2-inch Slop Hopper. This diminutive one has caught the eyes of several Midwest finesse anglers, who say the 4 1/2- and 5 1/2-inch models are too big for them to wield, and they are eager to give it a whirl.
On Jan. 23, 2013, we published a gear-guide column about the 4 1/2-inch rendition, which can be seen at this link: http://www.in-fisherman.com/midwest-finesse/bass-anglers-gear-guide-triggerxs-4-12-inch-slop-hopper/.
In that column, we noted that Davy Hite, who is a veteran professional bass-tournament angler from Ninety Six, South Carolina, helped the engineers and designers at TriggerX create the Slop Hopper. We mentioned that it was originally 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 various prototypes emerged, and Hite, other field testers, designers, and engineers tinkered with it, it became a multifaceted soft-plastic bait, and not just a topwater bait to use around slop.
In fact, Mark Fisher of Nowthen, Minnesota, who is the director of field promotions at Rapala and an acclaimed tournament angler, remarked that Slop Hopper's boot tail is different than the boot tails on similar style baits. It kicks up and down, left and right, and possesses enough 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.
Likewise Dan Quinn of Hudson, Wisconsin, who is the Field Promotions Coordinator for Rapala, called the 4 1/2-inch Slop Hopper a universal bait that 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 we were writing about the 4 1/2-inch Slop Hopper, Quinn hooked us up with Jacob Wheeler of Indianapolis, Indiana. At that time Wheeler had spent 13 days on Lake Okeechobee, Florida, practicing for and competing in the Southeastern Division Everstart Series tournament on Jan. 10-11, 2013, and practicing for the Walmart FLW Tour event on Feb. 7-10, 2013. During those many hours that he was on the water, Wheeler worked with a variety of lures and presentations. During some of that time, Wheeler was casting and retrieving a Houdini-hue Slop Hopper, and he estimated it inveigled approximately 300 largemouth bass at Okeechobee.
According to Wheeler, Quinn, Hite, and Fisher, the way the 4 /12-inch Slop Hopper rolls, twists, undulates and hops during the retrieve can't be matched by any other soft-plastic swimbait.
As for the 3 1/2-inch Slop Hopper, Quinn said: "I have also used it quite a bit and will attest to the bait's ability to catch both largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. It is an absolute killer. I have used it a lot on 1/8 and 1/4-ounce VMC Boxer head jigs, as well as a trailer on a swim jig and the Terminator Stainless Rig (Umbrella rig). It has worked for me from inches of water all the way out to suspended bass in 30 feet of water. The Boxer jig has a stout hook and works will with braided line. Many anglers also like to use it on a lighter jig and hook, and lighter line as well, which I know is the Midwest-finesse style."
What's more, Scott Bonnema of Zimmerman, Minnesota, and Mark Fisher exclusively used the 3 1/2-incher and 4 1/2-incher at the 24th Annual Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament on May 16-17 at Sturgeon, Wisconsin. During this two-day tournament, they competed against 152 teams of anglers, and finished in fifth place by catching 10 smallmouth bass that weighed 58.37 pounds, including the biggest smallmouth bass of the event, which weighed 8.29 pounds.
During this tournament, Bommema said that he and Fisher caught their smallmouth bass in two to six feet of water inside several large bays. In each of the bays that they fished, they focused on about eight shallow-water lairs, which they dissected by wielding a 3 1/2- and 4 1/2-inch Slop Hopper in a light-green hue.
Bonnema said that he employed his Slop Hoppers on a seven-foot, medium-light-power, fast-action spinning rod. His spinning reel was spooled with 10-pound-test Sufix 832 Advanced Superline and a five-foot leader made from seven-pound-test Sufix InvisiLine Fluorocarbon.
Most of the time, his 3 1/2-inch Slop Hopper was affixed to a 1/16-0unce jig . At other times, the 3 1/2-incher and 4 1/2-incher were wielded on a jig as heavy as a 3/16-ounce VMC Darter Head Jig. Throughout the tournament, the 3 1/2-inch model was Bonnema and Fisher's primary bait. Bonnema said it was essential that the leader was tied to the eye of the jig's hook so that it was situated at the top of the eye; this allowed them to retrieve the Slop Hopper very slowly and barely tick the top of the rocks that bordered sandy areas that they were dissecting.
The 3 1/2-incher is available in 14 colors: Baby Bass, Black Blue Sapphire, Bluegill, Dirty Herring, Gizzard Shad, Herring, Houdini, Muck, Pearl, Pink, Shiner, Smelt, Tru Blue, and Watermelon.
The suggested retail price for a package of 10 is $3.99.
Here is a link to information about the VMC Boxer Jig: http://www.rapala.com/vmc/jigs/bj-boxer-jig/BJ+Boxer+Jig.html.
Here is a link to information about the VMC Darter Head Jig: http://www.rapala.com/vmc/jigs/dhj-darter-head-jig/DHJ+Darter+Head+Jig.html?start=27&cgid=vmc-jigs.