While Major League Fishing Pro Fred Roumbanis may be best known for his swimbait and frog fishing skills, his waters run deep. Equally at home with a flippin’ stick or a spinning rod, Roumbanis is among the most versatile anglers in the professional ranks. True to his Western roots, one of his favorite under the radar baits is the Ima Finesse Popper. “The cool thing about the Finesse Popper is that there are so many ways to work it,” said Roumbanis. “It pops, spits, and walks. It weighs 3/8 oz and measures a little over 2 ½ inches. It’s a small bait, don’t let that fool you. It gets bit when the bite is tough and it catches big fish.”
The Basic Retrieve
“My basic retrieve with the Finesse Popper is a pop, pop, spit,” explained Roumbanis. “Little twitches and a long drag with the rod, that’s how you make it spit. After the spit, I’ll let it sit there for a second or so. A lot of times they’ll hit it when you move it again. But sometimes they’ll just crush it when its sitting still. With this retrieve, you can really mix it up by changing up cadence. Add a pop or a spit. Let it sit or not, but ultimately the fish will always tell you the right way to work it. I’ll throw it on a baitcaster, a Dobyns 705CB which has a nice soft tip with a lot of back bone and I’ll use 12lb copolymer line with a 6.3:1 Sixgill Wraith Reel. I’ll tie directly to the Finesse Popper with a Perfection Loop Knot.”
Speed It Up
During the Summer and Fall, schooling fish will move offshore and suspend around baitfish. Roumbanis will fish the Finesse Popper at a fast pace to mimic schooling activity. “On those slick calm days you can see the fish busting and you’ve got to chase them around and find them visually,” offered Roumbanis. “I’ll put the Finesse Popper on a spinning rod so I can bomb it as far as I can without ever having to worry about a birds nest or anything like that. It works really good. When I’m popping the bait, I’m reeling at the same time. What this does, it actually pulls the bait and causes it to spit water forward. I’m covering a lot of water and the bait is constantly moving and creating a commotion. This technique can really triggers some good bites.
The Arkansas Pro relies on a Dobyns Champion 733 Spinning Rod paired with a 7.1:1 Banshee Sixgill Reel. He’ll spool up with 10 lb Cortland Braided Line to which he ties a short 8lb mono leader.
Walkin’ In Place
By contrast, there are times when Roumbanis will use the Finesse Popper to draw bass out of cover. “On natural lakes or rivers, where you get a lot of lay downs, especially post spawn when you get the fry guarders, a popper is probably the best bait to throw,” he said. “I’ll walk it real slow. I’m not really pulling the bait towards me as much as I am working it in place. I just want to keep the bait in the strike zone as long as possible.”
The Finesse Popper is available in eleven great fish catching colors including three new choices: Baby Bass, OG Ghost Minnow and Blue Head Black Back Ghost. “All the colors work well,” said Roumbanis. “My three go to colors are Real Ghost Shad, Bone, and Chrome. If the water is super clear water, I like Real Ghost Shad. Bone is a great all around color. Even though the Finesse Popper is a small bait, I believe Bone makes the bait look bigger and more enticing. On sunny calm days I love Chrome, it just reflects crazy in the sun. In the Fall when the bait is shallow, it’s just awesome. When the fish are guarding fry, I’ll mix in the Bluegill or Baby Bass. Like I said, all the colors are great.”
So the next time you are searching for a topwater bite, remember these great tips and tie on the Finesse Popper. You’ll be glad you did.