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Let's Dance the Rock Hop

By Russ Bassdozer

There are all kinds of hoopla high performance weight loss systems out there. The Hollywood Diet, Jennie Craig, Dr. Atkins, Carbo Be Gone and so on. Every day one can pick up a journal, click on the TV or radio, and get whipwhacked with some crack diet product, pill or patch to take the pounds off. Honestly, to avoid getting fat, you should simply fish harder, longer and more often. Eating the catch is optional, but low-fat and high in omega-3. Now that's a diet plan to put yourself on - the Dr. Dozer Diet.

Quite the opposite from these others, Mojo has a high performance weight system for those who definitely do not want to lose any weight. It's called the Rockhopper and quite snagless. With it, you'll keep your weight on as you add pounds to your livewell.

Now snagless doesn't mean you will never get snagged. Just like stainless steel doesn't mean it never stains. But you will snag far less with a Rockhopper than an ordinary sinker.

Before the Rockhopper got invented, I believed the original Mojo sinker was the most snagless shape in rocks. True, the original Mojo is still most snagless in vegetated areas, but I am now certain the Rockhopper is better in rock.

The convincing proof came one day as I forgot I was trailing a Rockhopper rig on a rod I had laid down on the deck for a moment. A fish splashed! I quickly picked up a topwater rod. Pop, pop, KaPOW! Fish on! I trolling-motored down a rock-littered shoreline, pop-pop-kapowing bass like that for over an hour. I had to be constantly careful not to troll into far too many jagged reefs, emergent rubble piles and van-sized rocks that rose and fell suddenly in 7-10 feet of the most rock-bottomed water imaginable. I had forgotten all about the dragging Rockhopper rig. It never reminded me either, since it never got snagged. Every few casts, I would hear some soft scratching on the boat behind me. It sounded like a field mouse that may have stowed away on the boat. Yet every time I took my foot off the pedal to look back, the sound stopped. Finally I pulled the trolling motor up to make another pass through the area, and discovered the Rockhopper rig was still down there. I realized it was the Rockhopper rod tip that had been making the scratching sound against the deck. It dragged over an hour in that extremely hostile environment! Incredibly, it never snagged! That unplanned demonstration convinced me of the heretofore unmatched snaglessness of the Rockhopper.

I never doubted the Rockhopper's ability after that day. Use a Rockhopper or the original Mojo sinker? Well, the Rockhopper and the original Mojo are both quite snagless on a rugged bottom. Before that day, the choice of which one came down to whichever I grabbed first when I went to tie a rig. I rig either the Rockhopper or the original Mojo the same as the venerable Carolina rig. I lace either sinker style loose on the main line, with a bead, a swivel, a length of leader line and hook. The only difference now is I use the original Mojo to come through weedy environments better, and use the Rockhopper exclusively in rocks.

Swivels. To me, there are no finer than SPRO Power Swivels. They are stronger than standard barrel swivels despite their tiny appearance. A standard rigging size of SPRO Power Swivel is incredibly 130 lb. test.

Beads. I tend to rig religiously with a bead because:

  1. It makes small clicking noises when the sinker strikes the bead, and
  2. bait-sized small-fries are always pecking at the bead like barnyard hens on a June bug.

These small bead peckers attract larger predators like bass over to the scene. As the bead peckers scurry to exit stage right, your bait is the last man left standing on the dance floor to attract the interest or ire of a larger fish.

I favor plastic beads, which have less chance than glass to ever chip and cut the line. Glass has done that to me too many times in a rocky environment. Some say glass makes a louder click than plastic. I find the plastic clicks more than loud enough for me and my bass, and plastic has more vibrant colors. There are also plastic hollow beads with sand or buckshot in them. I like the sound of that too. I can't swear it helps, but I do swear it doesn't hamper the fish-attracting confidence such beads can give me.

Speaking of confidence, I have it in MegaStrike attractant. I swear I smear the whole Rockhopper rig, the bead, sinker, swivel, leader line and bait in MegaStrike gel. I use the tube nozzle to apply MegaStrike to the entire rig. The MegaStrike melts slowly, releasing encapsulated pungent amino acids onto the scene that fish nostrils and facial receptors are receptive to, lots of aminos when the entire rig is smeared in it.

Ready? Let's dance. Picture a cluster of small fry pecking away at your bead (which can be sensed via line feel). That's step one. This brings an ornery big guy over to the scene, who's got his fins all huffed up over the small fry commotion. That's step two. He positions his ugly green mug up behind the bait and waits, just staring the bait down for what seems like forever. Step three. Meanwhile, all those aminos from the MegaStrike you smeared on the rig are bombarding the big guy's facial  receptors. Step four. The music gets faster. It's the B-52's song, Rock Lobster. It's too much to stand for either you or the green guy... it's time to dance! Not the Texas Two-Step or the Tango. This new dance step is called the Rock Hop, and it's destined to become very popular!

The rod and line I favor for the Rockhopper rig are stout. A heavy action stick such as Yamamoto's backboned Mod IV baitcaster and 16 to 20 lb Sugoi fluorocarbon line. Due to the strength of this specific set-up, you can cast a heavy Rockhopper rig far and using low-stretch Sugoi fluorocarbon, solidly set the hook from afar. Whatever you hook with this heavy grade of gear will almost certainly not be making an early escape. Especially in a tournament or just in a friendly Saturday afternoon brag-athon, you are likely to land any lunkers you lure on a Rockhopper rig.

I often hold the rod tip high (ten to eleven o'clock) but sighted straight down the line, like an up-pointed rifle. Holding the rod down, sideways, or not sighted down the line, I feel that lays the sinker more on its side, prone to snag more. The high tip helps me hold the Rockhopper sinker more upright for it to rock-hop the rig through snags. The line holds the sinker in a straight up, near vertical position while dragging the rig through the worst rubble. The cross bore angled line hole is computer-designed to let the hanging sinker pivot and adjust its degree of camber angle for ultimate snag-avoidance while it is pulled through various obstructions. With the rod up, upon bite detection, I reel down to nine, confirm the bite, then lay into the rod with a powerset.

Since it tends to stand up vertically when being dragged properly, if it does snag, you have a real good chance to free it. You can try shaking your fishing rod vigorously with slack line. But most of the time, I find shocking the sinker shoots it straight up out of the snag like a NASA Cape Canaveral missile launch. I tighten up on the snag, with my hand holding the reel and reel seat, I slam the heel of my other hand on the end of the butt - with force! Since it's mounted vertically instead of horizontally (inline) like most other sinkers, the Rockhopper is shocked straight up out of the snag, instead of forced into the snag as with an inline sinker.

The hook must provide the penetrating power to match the rest of the gear. I favor sturdy Gamakatsu of Daiichi offset round bend worm hooks with larger baits like Yamamoto Laminate Lizards or Core Shot Senkos. A 4/0 arms and readies them. Since not only the Rockhopper sinker but the bait's head will also be dragged through jagged-edged rock beds, it's so important to rig the hook eye farther back in the bait's head than usual. Rigging the hook eye further back makes it less able for the snags to pull the bait's head down the hook and ball it up on the bend. If that happens, the hook is bound to get snagged. Equally important, the round bend of this style hook let's you bury the point fully in thick plastic. With the hook point buried deep in the plastic, the point is less prone to come out and snag as it would using a tex-exposed hook style which lays on top of the bait only under the skin, ready for rocks to pop the point out and snag.

Wider-bodied baits like lizards are better for the conditions where a Rockhopper operates. The squat body trunk, front and rear side legs serve as bumper points that deflect the protected hook away from snags before they happen. Compared to all the bumper points on a lizard, you can see where a featureless slender bait like a Senko is unprotected and going to get itself pulled into more snags but... many times they crave the Senko so I rock hop it to them. The Senko's still more snagless on the Rockhopper rig than most other sinker rigging methods.

That's the full skinny on the new Mojo Rockhopper rig for 2004. For additional information, how it was computer-designed, field-tested and more, visit

Now go dance!

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