The latest gear in ice fishing

It was back on the road for me this past weekend when I travelled to the Twin Cities to attend the 18th-annual St. Paul Ice Fishing Show.
This show has become a tradition for me for the past six or seven years now. I travel down there to help some of my fishing sponsors in their booths, as well as to see what’s new in the ice-fishing world.
It is a big show that boasts more than 170 exhibitors, including fishing equipment manufacturers, retailers who sell the goods, as well as numerous resorts and guiding outfits.
As always, there was plenty of new gear on display that’s sure to help anglers put more fish on the ice this winter. It really is amazing when you think about how far ice-fishing equipment has come over the past 10 years or so.
Going ice fishing no longer is about heading out and sitting on a bucket, waiting for the fish to come to you. Snowmobiles, portable shelters, power augers, flashers, GPS units, rods, reels, and tackle all are designed with the ice angler in mind.
These items make us more efficient on the ice and will allow us to catch more fish.
Clothing also has improved to the point where we can go out and fish comfortably in nearly any conditions we possibly could be faced with.
Northland Fishing Tackle has released a new line of baits called “Live Forage” that includes some really cool ice-fishing jigs and spoons which feature realistic baitfish images that look more natural than any other lure I’ve ever seen.
The guys from Northland came up last year at the end of the ice season in March and filmed some fish catches and strikes to produce an short commercial to promote these baits.
We caught a number of walleye, pike, and lake trout on them. These baits were a big hit at the show as nearly every store was sold out of them by the end of the weekend.
Electronics, meanwhile, continue to evolve. We now can watch our lure as we fish and see when fish come in to take a look. This not only reveals if there are, in fact, fish below our hole, but it also teaches us how to jig our lure in order to trigger the fish the strike.
We are lucky to live in Sunset Country, where we have some of best fishing in the world.
There are many anglers who have ice-fished successfully their entire lives that are not interested in using a flasher or sonar unit. The fact is, they will improve your fishing and your catches, hands down, no question.
Beyond that, they are fun to use. I love to watch fish approach my lure so I can test different jig strokes to figure out what they want.
Sometimes it’s a different lure entirely.
Humminbird has released a new unit that contains the Cadillac of flasher units—the ICE 55 on one side and a GPS unit on the other.
On large bodies of water like Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake, which have very accurate mapping available to load into these units, anglers can fish precise edges, waypoints, and humps by utilizing one machine—it’s a great idea.
Last year marked the first season I started working with Frabill, a company long-known for making nets and minnow buckets. In recent years, they’ve aggressively attacked the ice-fishing industry and are producing great portable shelters, as well as apparel and fishing accessories.
Late last year, they asked me to design an ice-fishing rod for catching big predators like lake trout, pike, and large walleye–fish that are common in our waters.
My finished product came out as a longer than average 38-inch heavy model that is part of their Ice Hunter line. This rod is ideal for jigging tube jigs for trout, as well as handling big walleye.
Frabill, for their part, deserve credit because they have allowed myself and other pro staff who fish a lot to design rods and products that really work.
By no means am I trying to tell anybody that the tackle and equipment they use is insufficient. I’m simply trying to keep people in the loop with new products I think are really good.
They will make fine Christmas gifts for your favourite angler, as well.
A word of caution: overall, the ice is not safe for fishing yet. Give it another week on the small lakes!

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