Does anyone have success with not using gel?

I am new to this and until the last couple of days I haven’t had much success. My hair looked stringy instead of wavy. Then I read about the super soaker method and a light bulb went off. I realized I needed a base to get my curls to form. So I’ve been applying LI and Crème Brulee in the shower while my hair is soaking wet. I then plop while it is soaking and then after about 10 minutes, I plop again for 15-20 minutes. Then I let it air dry. When it is almost dry I scrunch it and the volume picks up. I can even mist it and get more volume.

When my hair dried, it was soft and full of volume and pretty waves. Since I am still experimenting, I decided to try the gel today. Maybe I used too much, put it looks like it broke up the clumping.
I am still having some experimenting to do. I have to figure out whether to comb or not, how long to plop, to double plop, etc.
I may try again with a little bit less gel but I am thinking gel may not work for me. Or maybe I need to apply gel after I plop? I would love to hear what works for you.