Using ice fishing tech to your advantage
After the boat’s pulled out of the lake, the dock disassembled for the year and the tackle box stored until April, a new fishing season fills in the winter void—the kind that uses tools like augers, shanties and tip-ups while requiring some slightly heavier clothing than in, say, July. Yes, it’s ice fishing season, and if you have to scratch that fishing itch, it’s a great way to land that lunker, but with some slightly modified equipment.
As you prepare to set up shop on the lake, the first step is to drill out the hole. Using either a manual or gas-powered ice auger, you can quickly and efficiently drill through even the thickest of lake ice.
“The Honda Strikemaster auger comes in 8-inch and 10-inch with a four stroke 35cc Honda motor. It’s super quiet, clean and reliable,” said Ged Strzynski of Rapala. “The Lithium Lazer uses a 50-volt lithium battery and is available in 8- and 10-inch Lazer blades and 8.25 and 10.25 chipper blades. It offers consistent speed and torque without reduced power as well as a 25:1 transmission with polymer gear casting for maximum efficiency.”
Gas-powered augers are an item where you really do get what you pay for. As you step up in size and price, you’re saving yourself time that could be spent pulling out a northern the size of a Pinto.
Take, for example, the Eskimo Ion augers. The Ion X is Ion’s highest-performance auger with features like a 5 amp-hour XC5 lithium ion battery, which is a 60 percent increase from previous Ion batteries, and a cast bottom, giving smoother drilling and breakthrough.
Once you’ve got your holes drilled and strategy set, the next step is to set up shop by setting up a shanty. The various features and sizes can be a little overwhelming, but luckily with brands like Eskimo, it’s tough to make the wrong decision.
“The Eskimo Evo Ice Shelters are innovative new shelters that launched last season,” explained Tony Aloia of Eskimo. “They combine traditional flip-style shelters and roomy hub-style/pop-up shelters to allow maximum space with the portability and convenience of a sled-based shelter.”
In addition to the portability and convenience, the Evo shelters utilize IQ insulated fabric on the roof and rear panels. Black in color, they absorb and maintain more heat than competitive shelters.
Now that your holes are drilled and you’ve got your shelter ready to rock, it’s time to use modern technology to the best of its abilities. Sonar isn’t just used for finding enemy ships in the Navy. The MarCum VX-1i flasher, using sonar technology among other features not found in flashers at its price point, has the ability to show you a number and depth of fish right below your feet.
“It has 2-inch target separations,” explained Strzynski, “meaning that if two fish are 2 inches apart, it will show up on the screen as two different fish. The unit also includes a split-screen bottom lock zoom, helping you pay closer attention to the bottom 5 feet, where most fish are located.”
Tools of the Trade
Once you’ve locked in on the fish you’ve been after all winter, it’s time to get a line in the water. That’s where Celsius Ice Fishing comes into play. When looking for a new combo kit, look no further than the Blizzard Flat Line Combo. With a classic cork handle, it also comes with aluminum oxide guides, a high-visibility orange tip and a graphite reel body with a nylon compression drag system. An additional handy feature of this set is the antifreeze lubrication so you can reel up as the temperatures go down.
Another solid option from Celsius is the Boiling Point Combo. Coming in 24-, 27- and 30-inch lengths, this set will give anglers a fiberglass blank, EVA No Flex handle for added strength, a Dynaflow stripper guide and 1BB graphite reel.
As far as the lure or jig to use, the brand leader is no doubt Rapala, who remains at the forefront of technology and innovation in ice fishing hardware. The Slab Rap is the next in the line of classic ice fishing jigs.
“Quick rod snaps make this lure search in wide, erratic directions, circling back to center after pause,” explained Strzynski. “Lift-drop motion creates subtle vibration on rise followed by evasive side-to-side motion on the fall. Weight-forward design enables a rocking action to trigger fish.”
Whether you’re a seasoned vet or brand new to the sport, Dunham’s has you covered from the moment you stick the auger in the ice until you’ve pulled up enough walleye for a Friday night fish fry. And thanks to leading brands like Eskimo, Rapala, Celsius, Strikemaster and MarCum, there’s no stopping anglers from making this winter the most successful one yet.
-Hook, Line & Sinker
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