Choose the right ice-fishing rod improves success

Ice fishing has become a serious activity among Sunset Country anglers in recent years.
An outing these days no longer consists of just drilling a couple of holes, and then hoping a fish swims by and maybe bites your jig. Most anglers today want to catch fish when they go out—and increasingly more folks are stocking up on equipment to put the odds in their favour when it comes to helping them catch more fish.
Ice-fishing rods are an often over-looked item that can increase your catches. Matching the proper fishing rod to the presentation that you drop below your hole will allow you to work your lure most effectively, as well as fight fish properly so your landing rate increases, as well.
Far too many anglers use an ice-fishing rod that is too light or too heavy for the application they are using it for. Using a rod that is too light for large walleyes, lake trout, and pike will make it tough to get a good hookset and increase the chance that the fish—your trophy of the season—will get away.
Another downside to fighting large fish on under-sized tackle is that you’ll likely have to fight the fish to exhaustion to land it, decreasing its chances of survival.
On the other hand, if you use a fishing rod that is too heavy, your ability to feel strikes from smaller fish is greatly diminished, resulting in decreased catches.
Panfish like crappies and perch have a subtle bite, especially now during the mid-winter period when activity levels are marginal.
As well, a fishing rod that is too stiff will move your small baits too much under the ice—­causing these neutrally active fish to turn their noses up at your offering.
If your rod has a soft tip, you will be able to shake your small jig or spoon naturally and trigger fish to strike.
The type of fishing line you prefer to use also should have influence over the length and action of the fishing rod you choose to use.
If you like to use braided line like I do, you want to use a slightly longer, softer rod to compensate for the no-stretch properties on these lines.
I’ve had good luck with Power Pro Ice line so far this season. This line is especially good if you are fishing in deep water because you get a much better hookset than you will with traditional monofilament.
This stuff really shines for lake trout because they consistently are caught in deep water.
The reason that the longer, softer rod is advantageous with these lines is they offer a lot more shock absorption on the hookset and while fighting fish, so you lessen the chance of breaking your line, as well as tearing hooks out of the fishes’ mouths.
Monofilament line still has a place in your arsenal, as well. I like to use it for crappie fishing because it stays soft in extremely cold conditions.
Northland has a new monofilament ice-fishing line called Bionic Ice, which has performed good this year, as well.
I like using it when I’m fishing for panfish because it is so soft, making it easier to drop small, light jigs into deep water. As well, your hookset does not have to be nearly as hard with crappies as with walleyes, lake trout, or pike.
If you still prefer to use monofilament for all your ice-fishing situations, you should try to choose a rod with some backbone to it that will allow you to get a good hookset.
When I fish outside, my preference is to use longer-than-normal sized ice-fishing rods. In fact, Frabill allowed me to design an ice-fishing rod earlier this fall that they are selling geared to lake trout and walleye anglers.
My dream ice rod is 38 inches long, in a medium heavy action. It has a soft tip for working my spoons and tube jigs effectively, yet it has enough back bone to land 20-pound plus lake trout.
If you spend a lot of time fishing in a shack, then the longer rods become cumbersome. This is where your 18-inch to 24-inch models shine because you can use them effectively in a small area. Just match the action to the size of the fish you are targeting.
I’m not here to tell you that you need to have a dozen fishing rods at your disposal on your next outing. It will pay off for you, though, if you have a few different rod combinations to best match the situations you are faced with on the ice.

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