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Ice Fishing
Written by Scott Binnie   
Friday, 29 June 2007
Article Index
TFN Ice-Fishing Primer
The Rules
Equipment Basics
Cutting Through The Ice
Keeping the Hole Clear
Rods, Reels and Tip-ups
Lures and Baits
Locating Fish
Keeping Warm

Rods, Reels & Tip-ups

There is nothing preventing you from using your summer gear on the ice, but a regular length rod is a bit cumbersome to use while fighting a fish through a hole that's 5 or 6 feet away from you, where you can't see the direction in which the fish is swimming. Ice can be quite sharp, and without controlling the line's entry into the water, you can also get broken off right at the hole.

Ice Fishing RodsTo make things easier, you can purchase reasonably inexpensive ice-fishing rods that will accommodate your spinning or baitcasting reels. These rods are between 18" and 36" in length, and are designed to help fight the fish while enabling you to be positioned directly over the hole. There are also one-piece rod and reel combinations made out of plastic or wood specifically for ice-fishing.

Although jigging with rods is often more productive than just leaving lines in the water, the major drawback to fishing with them is that you are pretty well restricted to one or two lines, and both within a very short distance of each other.

The generally favoured method of fishing through the ice is by using some sort of contraption that dangles the line in the water at a specific depth and comes equipped with some visible or audible method of indicating that the bait has been taken.

Using a SwitchIn many places, anglers still use switches taken from the dead or dormant bushes on shore, freeze them into the small piles of ice and snow created when the holes are drilled, and hang a loop in the line from the switch with fluorescent orange ribbon tied to the loop. When a fish takes the bait, the loop with the ribbon on it falls into the water to indicate the strike. The line runs freely off the spool until you get there. Once again, the major drawback is that the line can easily freeze into the water (unless you use something similar to the Ice-free Tube above). Additionally, many of the switches get frozen in hard and cannot be transported to different locations.

Common Tip-UpsMost anglers now use tip-ups to aid their ice-fishing success. Tip-ups involve a flag that pops up to indicate the strike. In the associated diagram, you will notice that examples A and B have spools at the bottom of a post. The spools are actually immersed in the water so no line-freeze occurs. If you don't clear the hole from time to time, though, the whole thing can get frozen in fairly solidly, which makes it difficult to reel in a fish when you can't reach the line. Additionally, many of the models have a hard time spanning a 10 inch hole, which is the large size available from augers. Stories abound of the tip-up slipping into the larger holes. There are wooden models that are about 16 inches across, but one wonders why don't they make the more-convenient plastic ones with extensions that can be pulled out the ends.

The example marked C sits beside the hole, so there is less chance of it falling in. You may have noticed that it also has a small metal plate on the end of the arm where the line goes through. The reason for this design is to enable the wind to impart a jigging action to the line. Anglers who have used all three types will tell you that this model will out-catch the others on average by at least 3-1. Once again, however, the hole must be clear, and if the wind changes directions, the tip-up must be adjusted accordingly.

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