Another ice fishing season is almost upon us. Luckily most of our rivers and lakes were not frozen when we were hit by the Colorado low. Early snow and wind makes for tough ice conditions.
As the snow fell, I made my way to the local bookstore to see what new ice fishing magazines had arrived on the shelves. As usual, the In- Fisherman Ice Fishing Guide turned out to be the best source of information. While there was not a whole lot of new information on locating fish, there sure were some changes on the equipment used to catch your favourite species through the ice.
NEW PRODUCTS: Ice fishing augers have come a long way in recent years, with more and more companies offering four-stroke models. Economical and environmentally friendly, these are a great option. New on the market this year is a model called the ION, powered by an on-board 40-volt lithium ion battery. This unit is silent and smokeless and only weights 10 kilograms. (ioniceaugers.com) The manufacturer claims it can drill 40 holes before recharging.
One of the most fascinating additions to the equipment list is the use of single-action reels on ice rods. This is basically a fly reel on a short, light action rod. There are a number of new models on the market that will cover all species of fish, but the Ice Spooler, designed by ice fishing expert Dave Genz, has a longer handle and larger base than traditional fly reels. This allows anglers better options to grip the handle when fishing in cold weather.
The real reason these single action reels came on the market is to clean up the presentation of a light jig. These units allow an angler to spool line straight on, thus preventing line twist. With no line twist the jig will not spin in the water column, a real bonus when trying to trigger fish to bite.
For pan fish, I use light line, usually in the one-kilogram range. Before adding to your reel, try to stretch the first twenty metres or so by tying the line to a tree or pole and pulling on it slowly. It might be a little difficult right now, depending on the snowdrifts you have to go through! (I tied it to a pole in my basement and it was a lot warmer.)
Another option to prevent line twist is the use of small, in-line swivels a metre above your lure. I prefer using a fluorocarbon lead for that one metre of line and Nanofil on the rest of my spool. Made by Berkley, this line does not twist and is extremely supple, even in the coldest of weather.
TUNGSTEN JIGS: There are numerous jigs now on the market made of tungsten. Nearly twice as dense as lead, these jigs get down to the bottom in a hurry, making them ideal for ice fishing, especially in deeper water. Another bonus is that you can use them in our National Parks. Ranked near the top of all tungsten ice fishing jigs is the G-HOPPER from Bentley fishing. It is molded in the shape of an ice cube and has a Swarvoski crystal on the top of its head. This crystal provides a unique flash as it drops to the bottom. The square shape also allows the jig to rest on the bottom with the hook up. If you want to check out some unique ice fishing products that have been designed in Russia and used in the world ice fishing championships, check out www.bentleyfishing.com.
One final mention in the jig category is the broadened application of natural materials, such as fur, in tying tungsten ice fishing jigs. Similar to many of the flies that I use on the end of my fly line, these naturally pulsating presentations are a great addition through the ice for perch, stocked trout, crappies and whitefish.