Sure to be hot this winter

Over the last couple of years, ice fishing has gained in popularity by leaps and bounds.
Prior to this time, dangling a line through a hole in the ice was viewed by many as something akin to masochism. It is not the case anymore.
Indeed, at the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, or ICAST as the world’s largest recreational fishing trade expo is called, new sophisticated ice-fishing products were the hit of this year’s show.
That is ironic because ICAST was held in Las Vegas in July. The only ice within 5,000 miles of the convention centre was tinkling in glasses.
The city also set an all-time record high for temperature—117 degrees F in the shade.
For this reason, I had to chuckle when I told Vegas natives that I was from Canada and they asked, “Doesn’t it get cold up there?” Well, yes it does, I explained, but at least you can put on a sweater, warm jacket, pair of gloves, and a hat and go outside.
Sweltering in Vegas, I literally ran from one air-conditioned vehicle or building to another. And there was no one—and I mean no one—crazy enough to walk outside.
So, let me ask, would you rather have our winter or their summer?
Among the winter products creating the buzz this year was the new Lowrance X67c Ice Machine. It is amazing. For the first time ever, you can use a colour sonar unit that lets you switch instantaneously between LCG and flasher mode.
And the flasher is real time. So what you see on the screen is what is below your hole.
But that’s only half of it. You can program the upper and lower water depths that show on the screen—even when you’re running it on flasher. So if you’re fishing in 27 feet of water, you can program the upper depth at 19 feet and the lower depth at 28 feet and the entire right-hand side of the flasher will show what is happening in this zone.
What about the left-hand side of the screen? It is always showing you what is going on from the bottom up six feet. And this all happens in amazing Technicolor.
Since the unit is portable with its own carrying case and battery, this is the sonar you want if you only can have one for both open water and ice fishing.
Oh, by the way, did I mention the 200 kHz transducer gives you up to 60-degrees of bottom coverage? Awesome!
One of the nicest folks in the fishing industry, and someone with whom I am always keen to renew acquaintances at ICAST, is Mark Gostisha from Frabill. Mark’s my kind of man—an ice-fishing fanatic.
And that is reflected in his company’s innovative line of hard-water angling products. A good example this year is Frabill’s new modular seating system that comes standard in all of its state-of-the-art portable flip-over style ice shelters.
You no longer have to sit in one location inside the hut. You can place the seats anywhere along the extruded aluminum track and pop them on and off in seconds. The fold down bucket seats are super comfortable, plus you can swing the base around 360-degrees.
There even are two built-in cup/accessory compartments and a handy rod holder moulded into the front of every seat. Who says you have to suffer when you’re ice fishing?
And speaking about ice fishing rods, wait until you see Frabill’s new Amplifiers. They’re unlike anything you’ve ever ice-fished with before. Instead of a cork or foam handle, the Amplifier rods feature a nifty-looking aluminum tube.
Why a tube? Because they suspend—literally float—an ultra-sensitive, precision-tapered solid carbon fibre rod blank through the centre of it. So you can feel a fish sneeze beside your hook.
The Amplifiers also feature oversized line guides that won’t clog up with ice. And you can buy them in six different actions—from ultra-light for pan fish to medium heavy for lake trout, walleye, and pike.
Frabill’s not the only company striving to meet the needs of winter anglers, though. Last year, the folks at Rapala turned heads everywhere when they introduced a premium line of high-performance open water fishing rods that a working man could afford.
Now they’ve done the same thing for ice anglers.
The Rapala Ice Series Rods are fashioned from custom-engineered high-modulus graphite blanks so they’re incredibly sensitive yet lightweight and strong.
The Solid HM Graphite series feature handles moulded around the blank, graphite reel seats, and oversized friction-resistant titanium carbide guides. These are the things you’d expect to find on custom-made tournament fishing rods.
Rapala’s Tubular HM Graphite Rods, on the other hand, come with many of the same features, but use friction-free aluminum oxide guides.
For each series, Rapala offers seven different rod actions and lengths. And when you see the price, you’ll use them as stocking stuffers this Christmas and be Santa Claus to every angler on your list.
Maybe the coolest new ice fishing product of all, though, is the first-ever soft plastic swimming lure. It is Storm’s Vertical Jigging Soft Minnow and it looks so real, thanks to the holographic flash foil and natural colours, you may never buy live bait again.
The Storm jigging minnows are moulded around an internal belly weight and come pre-rigged with a single jig hook out the back and a treble hook on the belly.
They are to soft plastic jigging lures what the famous Jigging Rap is to hard-bodied baits. And you can buy them in two-, three-, and four-inch sizes and seven different colour patterns.
Talk about an all-star line up of hot new ice-fishing products. When you see them, you know why I came back from steamy Las Vegas saying bring on winter!

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