September 3, 2019 by Justin Onslow
Like Yamamoto Senko, the River2Sea Whopper Plopper has become synonymous with all the baits in its class. Whether it's a Berkley Choppo or any other newcomer to the Plopper-style bait market, "Whopper Plopper" is fishing for what "Kleenex" is for fabrics.
That does not mean that other Plopper style baits are not good. In fact, some FLW Tour professionals will swear by Choppo just like others will swear by the original Whopper Plopper. But for the purposes of this article, we will analyze how Nick ProBrun, a Tour professional, uses the bait that changed the game and assaulted the world of sea bass fishing less than half a decade ago: the River2Sea Whopper Plopper.
LeBrun's story with the Whopper Plopper
As any tournament professional will tell you, it is almost impossible to master any bait or technique. LeBrun is no exception; He is still discovering it as he goes. But the Whopper Plopper is one of the few baits in which he has a lot of confidence, especially in the Middle South of the Ozark-style lakes.
"For me, little by little I am beginning to have faith (in the Whopper Plopper) in other parts of the country, but from Hot Springs to the Ozarks, that is my destiny," he says. "When I'm up there in those Ozark-style lakes, it's one of the first things that comes to mind."
The Louisiana professional does not usually launch Ploppers in the southernmost fishing lakes, particularly Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn, but admits that it is mainly because he has not had that great day in those lakes with a Plopper in hand to convince him to throw it with more frequency
It's about trust, which is also the reason why LeBrun usually favors a Plopper over the bait that many professionals could choose instead: a buzz.
"Buzzbait is just a matter of trust," LeBrun explains. “I know some guys who throw a buzzbait religiously and not so much a Plopper. I have some buzzbaits, but that is not something I have a lot of faith in. I've caught some big fish, but probably the reason I don't have faith is because I never throw it away. "
So while a good part of the 2019 FLW Cup field was buzzing around the docks at Lake Hamilton, LeBrun was opting for a 110-size Whopper Plopper in just a couple of basic colors. It's what worked for him during practice, and although he finally fell with a Plopper in his hand (finishing in 24th place), the Plopper has generally been good to him in Arkansas. He gained 15 pounds on the first day of the 2019 FLW Cup, and his fourth place at Lake Ouachita in the 2018 Cup was greatly reinforced by a 6-pound blow on a white Whopper Plopper.
Selecting the right model
For LeBrun, launching a Whopper Plopper is a fairly simple matter.
"Black and white spear, which, to be detailed, is the color of the rascal or the white pearl," he explains. "A lot of people throw the color of the bone, and that's why I didn't throw the bone. I like to throw the target, especially after catching 6 pounds in the Cup last year. That was a confidence generator for me.
“I keep it simple. I throw the white or the black, and, really, I find myself throwing the black most of the time. I don't have a special formula of "well, when the straw in the pond is light brown and the squirrels run on the left side of the tree, it's when you throw the black one."
LeBrun chooses its Ploppers based on the basic principles of deep sea fishing: black for low light conditions and white for sunny days. Of course, that is not a strict rule, and many times LeBrun simply chooses a trial and error approach.
"I just put one on top and throw it away, and if it didn't bite me, I could throw the other one for a couple of hours," he says. "I think the colors catch more fishermen than they fish."
That is why LeBrun maintains its simple color selection. He finds that size and configuration are much more important, especially in certain situations.
As a general rule, the rookie Tour pro will generally opt for the 130-size Plopper (a 130 mm bait) to maximize their chances of catching quality fish, rather than fishing many smaller fish. For him, the Plopper is an all or nothing decoy.
"It's a zero or hero agreement," he says. "I don't think he weighed 12 pounds in a Plopper. If he did, it would be two or three fish. I think that's why some people don't throw him away. They listen to him and watch the videos and see the results of the tournament, and they go and they tie him and fish him for 10 minutes without biting him, they leave him and try something else. "
Still, there are times when LeBrun really prefers size 110, as in Lake Hamilton during the 2019 Cup.
"For bass fishermen, you have 90, 110 and 130," LeBrun adds. "I say that my goal is 130, although in the last two cups I caught 110, but that is because I felt that the size of the fish was smaller. You can catch a 12-inch fish in 130.
"You can't rule out 130. It will catch smaller fish. But, in a tournament like Hamilton where it really matters 12 inches, I just wanted to have a smaller profile bait to have that fish in my hands."
LeBrun also simplifies things with its configuration, at least to some extent. However, you always make a specific adjustment to your Plopper out of the package.
"I remove the factory hooks and replace them with Hayabusa triple size 2 hooks," he explains. "Two reasons why I do that: it is a slightly lighter wire hook compared to what comes in it. I just think that the hooks they put there are a bit exaggerated. Also, the Hayabusa treble comes with a NRB coating which makes the hook a bit slippery and, in my opinion, helps me get some more fish in the boat. ”
Apart from that, it is basically direct from the package and its line. LeBrun likes Sunline Xplasma Asegai (no leader) for his 30- and 50-pound test Ploppers, and will bounce between the two line sizes based on what he is targeting.
"I throw more than 50, except when the fish are smaller and I have to be really creative with my molds," says LeBrun. “As in Hamilton, I had to throw that bait and lift it under the catwalks, and the fish were smaller, less than 3 pounds, most of them. The lighter braid (30 pounds) helps you handle that bait a little better and also takes you more distance. "
Distance can be important when fishing on a bare bench or in open water, when a long launch is more efficient, but when LeBrun is in a lake like Lake of the Ozarks, when "those 4 and 6 pounds are chewing." , it is always 50 weight test.
"If all I have to do is throw it over the wires and roll it at that angle of 45 degrees, I'm going to go with 50, just for peace of mind and more control when playing with those wires," he said. add.
LeBrun has sometimes played with the idea of using a monofilament line instead of a braid, more recently in the Cup in Hamilton, where the fish were smaller and he was worried about "overwhelming them" with a heavy braid, but he finally decided not to do it for Fear of losing a giant.
He is able to get away with the choice of limited stretch braid because of the cane he uses for his Plopper configuration: a 7-foot, 2-inch, medium-weight Fitzgerald Bryan Thrift frog rod.
"That is really the only rod I've tried in the Plopper," he explains. "It has done me a good job. I like it because it has enough tip to play the fish and not dominate it, but it has enough backbone to where, if you get a 6 pound blow, you will have control and you can flip it if you want."
It combines its Fitzgerald rod with a Fitzgerald Stunner reel in a 7: 1 transmission ratio to minimize fatigue associated with the winding of a Plopper all day, and also to maximize its efficiency by covering a lot of water.
It's about the situation.
Like all baits, there is a suitable time and place to launch a Plopper-style bait. During warmer months, when large fish that feed in shallow waters are ultra aggressive, a Plopper can put a ton of quality fish in the box. But LeBrun only looks for a Plopper in the right conditions, even during the summer, and almost always in a particular type of lake.
"It goes back to the Ozark lakes," he says. “My confidence is Grand, Hamilton, Ouachita, (Lake of the) Ozarks. Apart from Ouachita, all those lakes are full of docks. ”
It is not necessarily that LeBrun just points to docks with Ploppers, or that any lake with many docks is the best food for a Plopper. It's just that the lakes where he has been most successful with a Plopper are the Ozark lakes, which inherently have many piers.
LeBrun also notes that, even in those lakes with docks, he has caught many good fish in bare banks with nothing but rock or gravel. This, he says, could have more to do with bait types and how they act in those fisheries.
"With baits to walk, I throw it around the bream beds and shad spawning situations," says LeBrun. "Those are two scenarios in which I have seen that a stationary type bait works best."
However, when the great gizzard shad crosses the shore, LeBrun believes that the bass is doing the same. Launching the Plopper is about matching the hatch, not necessarily from a size and profile perspective, but based on the idea that if shallow bait fish are moving, so are the bass that chase them, and the bass will play a lure that is moving around as well. It doesn't hurt that in those scenarios, a Plopper allows fishermen to cover a lot of water.
"Many times, if I have the goal-oriented bass, I like to catch them in stagnant water like Bill Lewis StutterStep, but sometimes a Plopper-style bait helps you cover more water," LeBrun admits.
LeBrun is a master in baits with triple hooks where many other fishermen cannot. That includes the Plopper, and has no qualms about throwing, throwing and flipping one around any pier that can hold fish.
"When you approach the new water, you have to fish everything," he says. First down the face of the pier, then the sides and then behind. It takes some coverage water to mark. "
In other words, use trial and error until you can establish a pattern. LeBrun says he has caught fish in a Plopper around almost any type of dock (either stationary or floating) and every part of those docks (from piles to cables and walkways).
He has a particular inclination for fishing behind them, which, by extension, means fishing on many catwalks.
"Different tournaments and different lakes would throw behind the pier and around the gangway and then kick it up and turn the pier," he explains. “The fish were only behind the docks.
“I have a lot of confidence fishing behind the pier. It is difficult to launch a Plopper under a walkway on the other side. It would be much easier to do it with a frog or even a buzzbait or a ghost. You take that Plopper and put some heat on it, and if you are a few centimeters away, you could break it if your cast is not right. I like it though. It is not conventional. People don't think of a triple hook bait to throw in narrow places, but it will be worth it. "
Certainly, there is less mystery about where and when to fish a Plopper when you have a lot of experience using one.
"Anyone who throws the Plopper a lot, especially around these docks, knows where he will be bitten," says LeBrun.
Part of it is experience, and another part is choosing the right bait at the right time. LeBrun has proven time and again that he is very good in that part.
And if LeBrun is throwing a Whopper Plopper, it's because he knows it's a bait that will catch a lot of quality fish.
"I have eight or 10 baits that I throw across the country, and that's it," he says. "I always had to spend time.
“The most important message I have for the user is that you must commit; It's like turning the grass. It is a deal in which you cannot go to do it for an hour. You really have to spend some time and some hours. ”
Coming from someone who has certainly spent time discovering the secrets of Whopper Plopper, that is advice that can take you to the bank.
Tags: whopper-plopper -nick-lebrun -lake-ouachita -lake-of-the-ozarks -grand-lake tips and techniques of justin-onslow
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