Never leave home without it
Bassmaster Elite Series pro angler Brandon Palaniuk refuses to be caught on the water without a drop-shot rig. “It’s one setup that never leaves my boat,” he says. “That speaks volumes to its versatility.”
Palaniuk can fish this technique at any depth in the water column and it only requires minor adjustments in its business end, with the weight and bait he ties on. The line, rod and reel stay the same.
“For me, a drop-shot is something I throw in place of any other technique,” Palaniuk says. “If I’m on a rock pile and catching on football jigs and the bite slows down, I can pick up a drop-shot and get those fish to bite. It sometimes becomes my go-to technique because it can catch so many fish and it also catches big ones.”
He fishes drop-shot in and around grass and weedless around cover, and can also drop it vertically to fish around rock structure. “Ninety-eight percent of the time I’m fishing it with the weight on the bottom,” he says. He usually wants no more than 12 vertical inches between the weight and the bait. When he’s fishing at an angle that often translates to 18 inches of line between the weight and the bait.
“A lot of times you cast the bait out and let it sink to the bottom where the weight will give you bottom contact but the bait will have a lot of motion and a natural approach.”
Let’s take a closer look at the rig.
For dropshot, Palaniuk likes a medium, medium-light (M-ML) action rod. He prefers a 6-foot, 10-inch Alpha Angler DSR. The letters DSR naturally enough stand for Drop Shot Rod.
“The cool thing is it has a more parabolic bend than a lot of drop-shot rods,” Palaniuk says. “Daiwa went away from a stiffer backbone. That allows the rod’s sensitivity to transfer down the blank better than when you have a really light tip.”
Palaniuk says sensitivity is critical for light-line applications such as drop-shotting. The Alpha Angler DSR has three Fuji K-Framed alconite “choker” guides and 5 durable yet lightweight Recoil RSPG guides, which makes for a precisely balanced rods, further enhancing sensitivity.
Palaniuk prefers a compact 3000 size spinning reel when drop-shotting, and for him the Daiwa Exist fits the bill. “It’s their premium spinning reel,” he says. “The cool thing with this new Exist is its one-piece frame. That allowed Daiwa to put the same size gearbox and all the reel components in a smaller package. For me that’s a big thing.”
A superior drag is important when fishing unforgiving light line, and Palaniuk says the Exist’s is phenomenal. “Some reel drags take a certain pressure to get started and then they are smooth. The Exist is consistently smooth from start to finish.”
The Exist spinner and Alpha Angler DSR rod make a powerful combo. The rod and the drag work together. “The action of the rod helps absorb energy,” Palaniuk says. “Paired with the smooth drag, a fish on 6-pound test hooked close to the boat can run without fear of it breaking off.”
Palaniuk runs the same line on all his spinning setups, 15-pound Seaguar Smackdown braid in the Flash Green color. That color allows him to see the line as he’s working the bait. “I can tell if there are any changes in the line’s movement,” he says. “It helps me detect bites. The big thing with the braid is its lower stretch, again aiding sensitivity.”
The braided line also is superior for making long casts and fishing deeper water. “It also gets a better hookset,” Palaniuk says.
For leader, Palaniuk prefers a 12-foot leader of Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon. He uses 6-, 8- or 10-pound test for drop-shotting, depending on how heavy the structure. “In really clear water I go with the 6,” he says.
There are two baits Palaniuk favors when fishing the drop-shot, both from X Zone: the Original Slammer and the Deception Worm. The Slammer is a shorter, more rounded style bait. “I use it in smallmouth situations, especially if they are feeding on gobies, or I want a smaller more finesse presentation,” he says.
The Deception Worm is a 6-inch floating straight finesse worm. “On the drop-shot it stays perfectly level in the water column, which looks more natural and creates action with less movement of the rod tip,” he says.
The color depends on the forage and the water clarity. Most of the time Palaniuk carries a couple hues of green pumpkin and one or two baitfish colors. The X Zone 309 color is popular, matching a green pumpkin back with purple red flake and a bluish, pearlescent body. If the fish are keyed on shad, Palaniuk will switch to a matching color, something more gray and smoky looking.
The Rigs series examines the technique-specific gear high-level bass pros rely on.