UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Fish the Whopper Plopper

Fish the Whopper Plopper
Whopper Plopper

Although it’s not exactly a new bait, River2Sea’s Whopper Plopper has become the topwater sensation of 2015. It’s been flying off tackle store shelves, despite having gone largely unreported for generating more than a few big-time tournament paydays. Which begs the question: What caused this unique topwater bait to jump from being known more or less as a musky killer to blossoming into a clandestine must-have for bass pros? The answer is fairly simple: It catches bass, and lots of them.

When we asked them to spill the beans on the Whopper Plopper, 2015 FLW Series Western Division Angler of the Year Joe Uribe Jr. and FLW Bass Fishing League Lake of the Ozarks Regional champion Shonn Goodwin were willing to share what they know about the bait.

 

The Roots

Whopper Plopper

TV personality and well-known angler Larry Dahlberg has been using homemade versions of the Whopper Plopper for decades to persuade lure-shy muskies into biting. Eventually, Dahlberg teamed up with River2Sea to create the 7 1/2-inch Whopper Plopper 190 as a resilient musky and pike lure. Shortly after the release of the 190, the downsized 90 (3 1/2-inch) and 130 (5-inch) models entered the market to meet the needs of other anglers, with the 130 becoming the most popular size for bass.

The Whopper Plopper is sort of a hybrid between a traditional prop bait and a buzzbait. It floats like a prop bait, and has a similar profile, but its large flexible tail makes a loud plop plop sound when fished on a straight retrieve. The sound is unique to topwaters, though it’s most similar to the churning sound of a buzzbait. The Whopper Plopper casts a mile too, and the 130 size presents bass with a pretty beefy profile when viewed from below.

Because it floats, the Whopper Plopper has some distinct advantages over other lures. If a fish misses it, the angler can stop the bait in place and let it rest on the water. It can be ripped in short bursts. And it can be fished at a variety of speeds, while a buzzbait has a minimum speed in order to stay on the surface.

 

Taking the Stage

Little Joe was all smiles after a productive morning.

Neither Goodwin nor Uribe has had enough time to realize the full potential of the Whopper Plopper or the scenarios where it’s the best fit. However, their tournament results suggest that it’s a great bait for imitating big gizzard shad and for tormenting fry guarders in the postspawn. 

The bait was used – though it went unreported – at several summertime FLW Tour events when the bass were feeding along grass lines and under docks, as well as for schooling fish and in fall events in a number of scenarios.

Goodwin and Uribe offer details of their most productive Whopper Plopper patterns.

 

Fall shad eaters – Goodwin used the Whopper Plopper 130 to catch about 80 percent of his fish en route to amassing a three-day total of 14 bass for 43 pounds, 13 ounces at the Lake of the Ozarks Regional in October. He took advantage of the lure’s bulk and loud presentation to dial in on a pattern that involved hitting nearly 100 points a day to catch bass that were keying in on gizzard shad.

“The Whopper Plopper was such a good imitation of the gizzard shad,” Goodwin says. “And the reason I chose it over a buzzbait, or any other topwater, was that the body of the Whopper Plopper had a really big profile for the fish to target.”

Goodwin’s presentation was to cast and wind the bait – pretty simple, really.

 

Picking on fry guarders – Uribe also used the Whopper Plopper 130 to catch about 80 percent of his fish at the FLW Series Western Division’s Cal Delta tournament. He finished sixth with 54 pounds, 6 ounces.

Uribe found the topwater to be an effective search bait. His strategy involved hitting isolated tule berms around spawning flats and grass-lined levies in search of big postspawn females.

He made short pitches up against the grass edges, then brought the bait out on a straight retrieve. Many of his fish were guarding fry and likely bit the lure in defense. Some were spawning. Others were actively feeding.

 

Retrieves that Work

Whopper Plopper

The speed at which the Whopper Plopper is retrieved determines the speed that the tail rotates and degree of subtle or erratic action. The speed that the tail rotates also determines the frequency of the plopping noise – a slow retrieve creates a lower frequency sound, and a fast retrieve creates a higher frequency sound.

Dialing in on the perfect speed to produce the most desirable sound might take some trial and error, but according to Goodwin and Uribe, a fast and steady retrieve seems to work the best.

“One thing that I have found is that most people think they will catch more fish if they slow down,” says Goodwin. “I do the opposite. I try to speed up. So the key to my week [at Lake of the Ozarks] was reeling it as fast as I could to really get the fish’s predatory switch flipped.”

Uribe also found that a fast and steady retrieve was the way to go, but he acknowledges that sometimes letting the lure float in place for a moment immediately after it hit the water helped with striking the interest of potentially spooked fish.

“The nice thing about the Whopper Plopper, as opposed to a double-buzz or single buzzbait, is that as soon as it hits the water I don’t have to retrieve it real fast to keep it on the surface,” says Uribe. “[At the Delta] I was able to place it in a shallow pocket, let the ripples die down and then start retrieving. Sometimes when I would cast up in an area I think it would spook the fish for a second, but if I’d move the bait real fast, it would move out of the strike zone. By letting it rest for a second, the fish would spin around and reposition itself. A lot of the times then, it was three cranks of the reel and I’d get bit.”

 

Colors

Whopper Plopper

The Whopper Plopper is available in 15 colors to match several types of forage. At Lake of the Ozarks, Goodwin threw mainly the loon (black) color because he prefers black for any topwater, especially in the overcast conditions he faced there. He also relied on “blood blue” when he came across clearer water or just to switch it up if he hadn’t gotten bit in a while. Uribe also used the loon color at the Delta but also worked in the bone color.

Those three colors – loon, blood blue and bone – are popular choices.

 

Rod, Reel and Line

The Whopper Plopper 130 is a heavyweight at 1 3/8 ounces. Uribe fishes his with 50-pound-test braid on a 7 1/2-foot, medium-heavy frog rod. Goodwin’s choice is 20-pound-test monofilament and a 7 1/2-foot, medium-heavy rod.

 

Staying Power

Uribe and Goodwin have been fishing with the Whopper Plopper for only a year, which means they have yet to master it totally. The same goes for many others who have discovered the Whopper Plopper only recently. But will it grow to become a standard go-to lure used among tournament and trophy anglers?

The answer to that question will come over time. It’s a unique lure that doesn’t fit perfectly into any existing topwater categories, and many bass have yet to see one buzz by. That is an attraction in itself. Sometimes the “newness” of a lure is all it takes to draw strikes.

Tags: dominick-schenewerk  article 

Check-in Time: Kurt Mitchell

Check-in Time: Kurt Mitchell

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with Delaware pro Kurt Mitchell.  READ MORE »

Top 10 Reasons to Fish the Phoenix Bass Fishing League

Top 10 Reasons to Fish the Phoenix Bass Fishing League

Fishing tournaments in general is obviously a blast, but we like to think that fishing the Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine is especially fun. READ MORE »

BFL Registration Now Open

BFL Registration Now Open

Boaters and co-anglers interested in fishing the Bama, Buckeye, Choo Choo, Mountain and Ozark divisions of the 2020 Phoenix Bass Fishing League presented by T-H Marine can register now. READ MORE »

How to Fish Offshore Grass in Florida

How to Fish Offshore Grass in Florida

In recent years, fishing a lipless bait, a spinnerbait or a vibrating jig in offshore grass in Florida has lit up the leaderboard in many tournaments. Tyler Woolcott, a second-year pro from Port Orange, Fla., has plenty of experience tracking the bass in offshore grass throughout the seasons, and you might be able to learn a thing or two from him. READ MORE »

Registration Starts Monday 

Registration Starts Monday 

This year, things are better than ever for anglers looking to get in on the action of the Bass Fishing League, which is the premier grassroots tournament circuit. MLF and FLW are rolling back entry fees – now just $200 per boater and $100 per co-angler for one-day qualifiers and $300 per boater and $150 per co-angler for two-day Super Tournaments. Those are the lowest entry fees since 2014.  READ MORE »

FLW, TBF Extend Strategic Partnership

FLW, TBF Extend Strategic Partnership

Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) and The Bass Federation (TBF) announced today a new strategic partnership. This agreement extends bass fishing’s longest-running alliance between two pioneering organizations in service to grassroots anglers from coast to coast and around the world. READ MORE »

2020 High School Fishing Details

2020 High School Fishing Details

Today FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) announced the schedule, rules and entry dates for the 2020 FLW High School Fishing season. New for 2020, the winning team (two anglers) at the National Championship will both advance to the 2020 FLW Series Championship to compete as co-anglers and fish for the top prize of $30,000, in addition to each receiving a $5,000 scholarship to a school of their choice. READ MORE »

Phoenix Signs as Exclusive Boat Sponsor

Phoenix Signs as Exclusive Boat Sponsor

FLW has reached a sponsorship agreement with Phoenix Boats, a leading boat manufacturer known for innovation, performance and an angler-centric business approach. Effective immediately, Phoenix will assume title sponsorship of the FLW Bass Fishing League, which recently announced decreased entry fees to offer grassroots anglers the best payouts at the lowest cost available. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. READ MORE »

Wall Back to Building Baits

Wall Back to Building Baits

The offseason for many professional anglers is a time to hang out with family and take a step away from a bass boat, while some even swap time on the water for time in a deer stand or duck blind. Not so for Jacob Wall, who just wrapped his first year as a professional angler. READ MORE »

Thrift, Dudley Join 2020 Bass Pro Tour

Thrift, Dudley Join 2020 Bass Pro Tour

Bryan Thrift and David Dudley will be joining the 2020 Major League Fishing (MLF) Bass Pro Tour. READ MORE »

How the Pros Spend Thanksgiving

How the Pros Spend Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy the company of family and friends – especially those we might not get to see that often. And, of course, it’s time to indulge in some delicious food while giving thanks for what we have in our lives. For professional anglers, the holiday is even more special because it lands during that small portion of the year when they’re not on the road and can spend a little extra time relaxing at home. READ MORE »

BFL Co-Anglers Win Polaris ATVs

BFL Co-Anglers Win Polaris ATVs

Jacob Yelton and Richard Thornburg, both of whom fished as co-anglers in the T-H Marine FLW Bass Fishing League this season, are each proud recipients of a brand new Polaris Sportsman 570 EPS ATV as winners of the Polaris Sportsman Giveaway. READ MORE »

How to Catch Winter Bass on Hair Jigs

How to Catch Winter Bass on Hair Jigs

“It’s hard to pass up smallmouths in the winter,” Slegona says. “When they get bunched up out there you can have a lights-out day. So, when that water temp drops below 50, I break out the hair jig box, and I put it away again in the spring when the water gets warm.” READ MORE »

Cash in on the Florida Prespawn

Cash in on the Florida Prespawn

Growing up on Lake Okeechobee, Jared McMillan loves to flip for big fish when the opportunity presents itself, but he’ll be the first to tell you that mid-November can be one of the best times to be on the water. READ MORE »

Check-in Time with Kurt Dove

Check-in Time with Kurt Dove

The most exciting thing I have going on currently is that I just picked up my 2020 Ranger 520L, and the prepping and rigging happens on the weekends. I’m hoping to get out on the water sometime after Thanksgiving to test it out. READ MORE »

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 5 Airs Friday 

Rapala Varsity Bass Ep. 5 Airs Friday 

Join FLW for a watch party for the premiere of Episode 5 of Rapala Varsity Bass presented by General Tire. The episode will air Friday, Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. CT. READ MORE »

2020 FLW College Fishing Details

2020 FLW College Fishing Details

The schedule, rules and entry dates for the 2020 FLW College Fishing presented by YETI season are now available, highlighted by the FLW College Fishing National Championship on the Harris Chain of Lakes in Leesburg, Fla., and advancement opportunities for anglers to compete in the Bass Fishing League (BFL) All-American and the FLW Series Championship. All teams also now have the freedom to add as many nonconference tournaments to their schedule as they like.  READ MORE »

Less Stress and More Fun

Less Stress and More Fun

After qualifying for the FLW Tour out of the FLW Series Northern Division for the second time in 2018, Slegona finally had the money lined up and hit the big leagues. So, he pointed his Tundra and Skeeter toward Texas in December to start an adventure that was a lifetime in the making. READ MORE »

Be Aggressive to Catch Big Spots Now

Be Aggressive to Catch Big Spots Now

When FLW pro Alex Davis isn’t hunting trophy bucks in the fall, he spends a lot of days fishing for big bass that are binging on shad in the reservoirs of north Alabama. In particular, fall is a killer time to fish jerkbaits with high-speed, aggressive tactics in clear-water reservoirs for spotted bass – for both size and numbers. READ MORE »

Check-in Time: Bradford Beavers

Check-in Time: Bradford Beavers

From time to time, FLW checks in with its anglers to find out what they’ve been up to, what they’re listening to, who they’re following and where they’re heading while out on the tournament trail. This week, we caught up with South Carolina pro Bradford Beavers.  READ MORE »