Brandon Palaniuk had success using topwater baits during Stage Four of the Bass Pro Tour. Photo by Garrick Dixon

TULSA, Okla. – Major League Fishing pro Brandon Palaniuk is fresh off of a ninth-place finish in Stage Four of the Bass Pro Tour. Throughout his time on Lake Chickamauga, Palaniuk had success using topwater baits that helped him boat more than 180 pounds of bass over four days of fishing. I spoke with the Idaho pro to get some tips on how to get the most out of your topwater bait in early spring.

Choosing the Right Bait

Palaniuk spent most of his week throwing a Storm Arashi Cover Pop in a Bluegill pattern. The Skeeter/Yamaha pro said he chose that color because Chickamauga’s largemouth were in a late pre-spawn and early-spawn stage.

“Any time the bass are around that time of their spawn, they can’t stand bluegill,” Palaniuk explained. “I chose the Cover Pop because I wanted it to be able to stay in their strike zone for as long as possible, but still have a lot of action. That bait is designed to be able to fish in and out of the cover, still be able to create enough disturbance that it draws the bass to it, and not create too much disturbance that it spooks the fish in shallow water.”

Patience is Key

Palaniuk said that a lot of anglers try to work their topwater bait too quickly, and that can end up hurting you more than helping you.

“Be patient,” Palaniuk warned. “A lot of times you can go too fast and the fish end up following your bait but they can never commit and catch up to it. Take your time and really work that bait in the strike zones where you think the fish may be holding. If you do that, you’ll see that you will get a lot more bites and the bites you do get hook up a lot better.”

The Rod is as Important as the Bait

While you may be focused on what type of topwater bait to use, Palaniuk explained that using the right rod is a large part of the equation as well. Matching up your bait with the correct tackle can take you from a few nibbles to multiple big bites.

“That can really help you improve your casting, landing ratio, and the overall performance of your bait,” Palanuik advised. “I throw a 6-foot, 10-inch Medium Alpha Angler Slasher when using topwater. It’s designed to have a good backbone and a good, light tip that allows you to control the bait very well. That’s really important for me because it creates that system where you can stay in the strike zone and take your time. The right rod allows you to do that.”

However, when choosing your rod, do your research. There are a couple of different variables that Palaniuk says can make or break your cast and retrieve.

“If you have a rod that’s too stiff you end up moving the bait and you lose action out of it,” Palaniuk detailed. “If you have a rod that’s too long, you can hit that water when you’re casting and that’s very cumbersome. That’s why I go with a shorter rod like that 6-10.”

Palaniuk and the rest of the Bass Pro Tour field return to action on April 30 for Stage Five from Cullman, Alabama.