In Your Face! Palaniuk’s Drop Shot Magic By Jonathan Lepera, Page 5

In Your Face! Palaniuk’s Drop Shot Magic
By Jonathan Lepera, Page 5


Summer 2021

page 20


After years of experimenting, Palaniuk believes he’s found the perfect set-up.

“It’s an entire system of drag, light line, and right action of the rod to be able to absorb but still have the power,” he said. “I have so much trust that I can land that fish, if I play it right, don’t rush those fish. There are situations where you aren’t going to win that battle, but I’ve had some crazy bites.”

Relying on the silky- smooth drag of a Daiwa Exist 3000 reel, he’ll often lock it down on the hookset and back off as the battle ensues.

Still, without a rod with enough backbone and power to pull those fish away from cover, even the best fluorocarbon line will carry you so far. The action cannot be so stiff that fish will break them off when they get tangled in cover or make a big surge near the boat.

“The Alpha Angler DSR rod that I use is stiffer at the tip than most but more parabolic throughout, allowing for a more even flex,” he said. “I can shake the line without moving the bait out of the strike-zone, because the blank recovers so quickly. “With a fast action rod that only flexes to the 3rd or 4th guide, during a battle, when a fish is headshaking, once the rod blank goes straight, everything after that happens on a slackline. If a fish surges, once it bends to a certain point, then all the pressure is on your line. The results can be disastrous even for the best of fluorocarbon lines.”

He often fishes an X-Zone Deception Worm on a #1 VMC Finesse Neko hook while rotating in an MB Fat Finesse Worm when the bite is tough. He will Texas-rigg and barely skin-hook the worm, while tying on the lightest drop shot weight that he can get away with.

Green pumpkin/blue is always his first choice when water clarity is better than a foot and a half. Red Bug, June Bug and black all come into

play in water dirtier than


Though he’s never

been a “scent guy”, that’s

slowly been changing.

“In colder

temperatures and when

targeting inactive fish, it

might not always give you

more bites; but, if it gives

you that one more bite, it’s

worth it,” Palaniuk said.

“Lately, he’s been fishing

Tightlines UV Fish Bomb

Scent in crawdad and shad.

Don’t be shy to put both on


Palaniuk is not one to

cast his rig out and just

hold it, sometimes shaking it in its place and others as he drags it along.


No doubt, technology plays a considerable role in his approach. Running two 12-inch units’ side-by-side on the bow, the left graph displays mapping and 2d imagine while the Solix on the right solely displays 360-imaging. Once Humminbird’s Mega Live is released, he’ll add a third unit to the bow.

He’s constantly asked the best settings to achieve similar detail to the images he’s able to receive from his electronics.

“There’s no perfect set-up,” he said. “I am constantly changing my palette, sensitivity and contrast based on the water clarity, how much debris or noise is in the water, what bottom content is and whether I’m looking

for structure or fish. As a

baseline, I turn my dynamic

contrast off, select blue

palette #1, bump my

sensitivity to 13 and go up

or down from there while

my contrast is around 11

Photo: Kyle Vandever

or 12 most of the time.”

When fishing forward,

he set’s the 360-imagine to

just scan the front of the

boat so that he can fill his

screen with detail. When

fishing a large flat, he’ll

zoom in twice, scanning

360-degrees around the

boat. Though he usually

sets his range to 100-feet,

he’ll bump up as he moves

into deeper water. •