Well, quite frankly you don't need one. Nope. You
could just buy some ice fishing line and drop your hook
and bait down the hole and wait for dinner to grab that
bait. This really does work! In fact, in a pinch this is
just fine. When you learn about tip-ups, you will note
there is no rod at all, you pull the line up by hand.
Micro spinning reels baby! Now that's what I'm talking
about. Infant versions of those reels that catch the larger
fish in the spring, summer and fall.
Simply put, the best ice fishing reel is one that
works for you. You can catch the large fish with that
small reel. Yes you can.
Why are the reels so small?
You may ask, "Why are those reels so small?" I'm glad
you asked, because the reason is quite simple. Normally
you are going to be fishing with maybe 15-25 feet of
However, this article is all about the ice fishing line and why this is the time to splurge a bit.
Twenty years ago, when I first started getting into
ice fishing, I really had no idea what to use for
fishing line on the ice. I just figured, "water is
water!", so I used leftover monofilament line I had from
summer. Yes, it worked "ok", but I didn't know anything
else. I'm pretty sure this was before the new
Firelines, the braided lines, Teflon lines, etc.
They used to give them away, and they always smelled like old
Some people used them like adult
Steppers when things got a little crazy around New
Years Eve. Around 3 AM, I'm thinking.
Somewhere, somehow, some old geezer (and I am
probably called an old geezer, nowadays), thought it
might be a neat idea to take one of those and use it as
a seat when ice fishing. And why not? It was just about
the perfect height, it held all your ice fishing
equipment, it held up under the cold weather, and it
smelled like old pickles!
They are sold in little packages for around $1.00 each.
Later in the season they can usually be bought for around
1/2 price because they do have a shelf life. I have used 5
year old warmers and they still have about 10-20% of life in
them, but those aren't going to help except in a pinch.
I can say the first time I bought some of these I was
impressed. They were really cool. You just ripped open the
package, shook them up, and put them in your gloves, or
pockets...and they just got warm. It is in excellent idea if
you aren't going to be in a heated ice fishing shelter. Out
in the wind...and snow and...well...you are standing on ICE
for goodness sake!
These simple tools have been the headlines in the New
York Times for at least 3 weeks.
But if you want to go ice fishing...and your over 40
years old...well...you'll need these.
Let me tell you
The perfect pair
Suppose you want to switch out your ice fishing
jig...that teeny-tiny thing? The bite is hot...and you
need (with your cold hands) to remove the jig that isn't
performing and replace it with a jig that is working for
your buddy? Good luck with that!
This tip should almost be at the beginning of the list,
but it is fine here.
Simple tip: Get one, and don't forget it.
As far as I know, no state offers a 'ice fishing
only' fishing license, and that means that your license
will only be good until the start of the next fishing
season, which is often April 1st of the following year.
(Some may be March 1st, or some other date.) If you are
going early in the ice fishing season, then you really
don't need to worry when the fishing license expires,
but later in the season you will need to be aware of the
expiration date of your license.
Simple thing...your ID. Make sure you have it with you (along with your fishing license) in case you are checked by the local game warden.
It seems obvious, but some people don't carry it with them when they are on the ice. It is a bad idea for this reason:
If you get checked by the game warden and your ID is
somewhere else, you will waste valuable fishing time
trying to convince the game warden you are who you say
you are. Don't waste that time. Have your ID handy.
Grad some. They will set you back no more than $3. Bobber stops take a lot of time to rig up, so I suggest you get them ready ahead of time. You don't need to actually use them when you are fishing, you can still "free hand" it (jig), but if you have more than one hole you are in control of, then using a bobber on a 'dead stick' is really handy.