Ice fishing season is right around the corner

 It is the dawn of another ice fishing season. Soon our small lakes and rivers will be frozen over followed by Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba. I have to say this year I am looking forward to catching perch more than any other species. Don’t get me wrong, I will be chasing a wide variety of  species but last year got into some really nice big perch, quite a few in the 13 to 15 inch range. Catching those fish is fun, and somewhat of an art form in itself.  Matching your ice fishing equipment to the size of the fish only increases the challenge and fun!
 One of the most fascinating additions to the equipment list is the use of single action reels on ice rods, basically a fly reel on 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, when fishing in cold weather, better options to grip the handle. The real reason that 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.
Dale with home made rod crafted from a hockey stick
I have spent the last week rigging up some small fly reels matched with longer, very sensitive ice rods. In order to cut down line spooling I took a tip from an article I read recently and added some foam backing on the inner spool. To this I put on Dacron backing then tied  line to line with some 2 and 4 pound Trilene ice line. Try and stretch the first twenty metres or so by tying to a tree or pole and pulling on it slowly.  It might be a little difficult right now around here depending on the snowdrifts you have to go through! (I tied it to a pole in my basement and it was a lot warmer.)

Which brings me to the picture on the right. Here is Dale holding a lake trout from Clearwater Lake at the Pas caught using a tube jig on the end of a  line spooled on a custom made ice fishing rod crafted from a hockey stick. Dale caught the most trout of anyone on this trip and I figured out why when I talked to him  at length. When you watch his tube jig in the water, there is absolutely no spin to the lure. This is the key to putting more fish on the ice!

Other options designed to prevent line twist, are the use a 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 when using spinning gear. Made by Berkley, this line does not twist and is extremely supple, even in the coldest of weather. Also made by Berkley is a beauty of an ice reel, the Abu Garcia Orra SX 10. This is an incredibly smooth machine in even the coldest weather because of the Carbon Matrix drag system. I have been using Abu Garcia since I started in the industry 30 years ago and I would have to say this is the best spinning reel they have ever made.
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 weight forward 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

One final mention in the jig category is 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!