Ice fishing 201: Lures and Techniques

Now that you’ve learned the basics of ice fishing from my previous article Ice Fishing 101: The Basics, it’s time for some more info on ice fishing. By now you should have purchased, or are thinking about purchasing the basics for ice fishing and it’s time to cover some techniques.

The next thing to consider when you head out is what kind of bait or lure you will need for ice fishing. The easiest way to get started is by using live bait. For this minnows are the preferred bait. They are simple to use, require the least amount of work and technique. The best way to set your rod up for this technique is the drop shot. What you want is to put your minnow in the strike zone. The drop shot is an easy way to get your minnow down to the bottom of the lake where the fish like to hide in the winter. The drop shot consists of a large weight tied to the bottom of your line and then a hook tied about a foot above that. The weight will get your minnow down and will stir up some of the lake bottom making fish curious about what is going on. Fish will naturally be drawn to this as they see the commotion and then hopefully they will sense your minnow and attack. The minnow drop shot technique is easy to set up and easy to fish. Once your weight hits the bottom, you will know this once your line stops spooling out, you just have to leave to minnow down there and wait for a strike. From time to time you can reel up to check on the status of your minnow or attach a new one to keep it alive and fresh. You will know when you get a bite when the tip of your rod starts dipping up and down. At that time what you want to do is reel up a tiny bit to pull up any slack in your line and set the hook by pulling your rod tip straight up. Then all you have to do is reel the fish in.

Other than a minnow you can use a lure. Lures require a little more work than a minnow but can also be very effective. There are a variety of lures you can use but something like this Lindy Darter Lure is a good start.

Lindy Darter Lure - 1/8 oz. - Redtail Lindy Darter Lure – 1/8 oz. – Redtail

Expand the bite window with a proven jigging patternDeadly for walleye, bass, pike and other predator fishExcellent under ice and in open waterProduces an erratic, darting action fish can’t resist 9 loud rattles attract fish from distanceKiller high-def holographic finish Complete with premium treble hooks The Lindy Darter Lure is a great vertical jigging pattern designed to expand the walleye bite window so you’re catching all day, not just fishing all day. Complete with killer, high-def holographic finishes and nine super-loud rattles to call fish from a distance, the Lindy Darter Walleye Lure darts around erratically, and at the peak of the jig the Darter quickly turns with a rolling action before naturally swimming back down. Because the Darter is naturally appealing, there is no need to tip the premium trebles with waxies or add attractant to draw strikes through the ice or when vertically jigging in open water.. Lindy® Darter Lure

With its rattles it can cause some commotion under the ice and stir up the fish. With a lure like this you want to pop it through your ice hole and get it close to the bottom. From there you can vertically jig it by pulling your rod up and down about 2 feet every 3-4 seconds. Try to change up your rhythm from time to time to make it seem more natural. If you are in deeper waters your lure will also follow the currents under the ice, so be careful that your lure doesn’t tread too far away from your ice hole or you will have a lot of reeling to do and it may cause you to lose a fish. There are a variety of lures out there for ice fishing. You can also use something like this minnow shiner from Northland Fishing Tackle. You can fish this in the exact same way as the Lindy lure. So try your luck with lures and see if you land something through the hard water.

Northland Fishing Tackle Puppet Minnow - Silver Shiner - 1-1/2'' Northland Fishing Tackle Puppet Minnow – Silver Shiner – 1-1/2”

Designed for vertical jigging below a boat or ice hole Swims in a semi-circle when jigged, pumped or dropped on a free-fall Adjustable swimming action Lipstick® wide-angle hooks Tie this puppet on your string and hang on! Northland Fishing Tackle’s Puppet Minnows are some of the most versatile and deadly swimmin’ lures ever developed for vertical jigging below a boat or ice hole! The Puppet Minnow’s hydrodynamic, airplane-style body design allows it to swim in a semi-circle when jigged, pumped or dropped on a free-fall. The versatile Puppet Minnow features an innovative triple threat tie-system which allows anglers to alter the Puppet Minnow’s swimming action in a snap, while the lifelike Baitfish-Image® color schemes entice bone-crushing strikes. Deadly for perch, crappie, walleye, trout and other aggressive predators, so tie on a Puppet Minnow and hang on! Equipped with Northland Fishing Tackle’s ultra-sharp Lip-Stick® Wide-Angle Hooks. . Northland Fishing Tackle Puppet Minnows®

Minnows and lures are effective, but if that does not satisfy your appetite for ice fishing, then you can also use a vertical jigging spoon. Usually when you head out for ice fishing the lures are a lot smaller than when you head out in summer. Here is an example of a vertical jigging lure.

Bass Pro Shops XPS Tungsten Jigging Spoon - 1/2 oz. - Nickel Bass Pro Shops XPS Tungsten Jigging Spoon – 1/2 oz. – Nickel

Wherever you find fishermen hauling up fish from their deepwater lairs… wherever anglers make hay by snap-jigging the shallows and ripping the weeds… wherever superior flash, detail and action could make a difference in your catch—that’s where our XPS® Jigging Spoons really shine. These are without a doubt the finest spoons on the planet, with compact precisely shaped bodies, brilliantly detailed lifelike finishes, and 3-D Lazer eyes that scream “Hit me!” You can’t fish ’em wrong—and the fish just plain pound ’em! Discover the joy of fishing with XPS® spoons today! Tungsten is heavier than lead – so these spoons are much smaller than comparable lead spoons, allowing you to “match the hatch” with no loss of sink rate. Classic design with brilliant scale finish.. Bass Pro Shops® XPS® Tungsten Jigging Spoon

So don’t hide inside all winter long and just dream of summer fishing, get out there and hit the ice.