Ice Fishing Tackle
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In Vermont state fish culture stations will be stocking 602,850 catchable trout or smolts.


Understanding Your Ice Tackle

Ice fishing tackle comes in all different shapes, sizes, colors, weights…and the list doesn’t stop there. Several lures can be used for more than just one species, and others are designed specifically for a certain species. With so many options out there for ice anglers today, how do we choose what will best fit our needs? Several tackle companies have designed lures to fit the conditions that ice fishing brings, and these companies have designed ice fishing tackle that is effective on what’s swimming below the ice. Let’s learn about some of lures out there available to ice anglers…

Most ice fishing tackle can be categorized as either vertical or horizontal. Vertical jigs are when the shank of the hook runs parallel to the line. Horizontal jigs are when the shank of the hook runs perpendicular to the line. Exceptions would be spoons and swimming lures. Spoons, like the JR’s Tackle Flasher Spoon, Scenic Tackle Angel Eye, or the Phelps Glow Spoon, would be classified as a vertical presentation. Swimming lures, like The Minnow by JR’s Tackle, would be classified as a horizontal presentation. Both spoons and swimming lures come in a variety of different sizes and actions. Some spoons will flutter and some will drop like a rock. Swimming lures are designed to spiral as they drop in the water column. This not only attracts fish, but it will trigger them into striking as well.

Vertical jigs come in all shapes and sizes. The Shrimpo by Custom Jigs and Spins and the Speckled Grub by Bad Dog Lures are two productive vertical jigs. The Shrimpo is equipped with a plastic finesse body that can work wonders on days when the fish are in a negative mood. These plastic finesse bodies can also be mixed and matched with different colors and sizes as well. Vertical jigs are very versatile, and can be used with just about any type of live-bait as well with plastics to fit almost any situation. Vertical jigs are great for tipping with minnows, because they will keep the minnow looking natural when hooked behind the dorsal fin and this is more appealing to the fish. Vertical jigs imitate much of what a crappie or bluegill will feed on during the winter months.

Horizontal jigs are designed to give off a “kicking” motion when jigged. The back end of the jig will bounce up and down while the head of the jig holds relatively still. This is a very productive technique that can have great success throughout the winter months. The JR’s Tackle Pumpkinseed and the Custom Jigs and Spins Ratso and Rat Finkee are good examples of horizontal jigs. You can benefit from a horizontal jig in tough conditions…a horizontal jig sits parallel to a fish’s body, and the action of the horizontal jig already wants to move “horizontally,” so when a bluegill inhales the bait you not only have the hook in a position for a better hook-set, but you also make is easier for the fish to inhale the jig. Horizontal jigs also show up better on a flasher.

Using a float or bobber when ice fishing can have several advantages. A float not only allows you to have a second line in the water while you focus on your jigging presentation, but it can also act as a strike indicator on a negative day. You want to make sure that a float is properly balanced. This can be very crucial when float fishing and a lot of missed fish are a result of an unbalanced float. You want your float to be pulled down with the slightest resistance, so when those light biting crappies or walleyes come by and grab the bait they won’t feel a thing. The Ice Buster Bobber by Today’s Tackle excels in this category. The Ice Buster Bobber is a foam slip bobber that can be cut down to match the weight of any presentation. Having a rod rigged up with an Ice Buster Bobber is second nature to me. You can fine tune the Ice Buster Bobber so that just fraction of it is sticking out of the water, and even the weight of a couple extra water droplets will pull it down. This is a very effective tool to have when out on the ice.

Hopefully this will give you a better understanding of what’s in your tackle box this winter, and what can be productive throughout the winter months.

Good Fishin,
Matt Johnson

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