New technology and tactics have changed ice fishing forever. Mark Romanack photos
January 01, 2013The popularity of ice fishing continues to explode and with it, the amount of gadgets, shelters, clothing and accessories available to ice anglers. Here's the latest and greatest for 2013.
Use a gas power auger in a shanty and you might suffocate and you'll definitely need to fumigate. But that's not the case with the new Jiffy® (www.jiffyonice.com)Pro 4 Model 40 auger. The auger uses a propane powered 4-stroke OHV engine that is quiet, clean, emits no smoke, starts like a dream and has super low emissions. Jiffy's proven HTT transmission and heavy-duty clutch combined with the optimum gear ratio transfers more energy and torque. Stealth STX™ serrated Ripper™ Blades stay sharp two to three times longer than similar blades. Available in 8-, 9- and 10-inch drill assemblies.
StrikeMaster (www.strikemaster.com) continues to try and build a better mouse trap (aka auger) with their newest 4-stroke power endeavor. The StrikeMaster auger has been upgraded with a clean, powerful Honda 35cc 4-stroke OHC engine that goes through ice like butter. The new power source is cradled by VANDAR® high-impact synthetic handles that reduce weight and improve performance. Fitted with Mora Ice Lazer blades, the 8-inch StrikeMaster is the company's flagship model.
The ION™ Electric Ice Auger (www.ardisam.com; 800-345-6007) goes where no auger has gone before. ION capitalizes on state-of-the-art battery technology featuring a high-energy, on-board, 40-volt lithium ion battery, and a major improvement from current electric 12-volt lead-acid battery systems. ION weighs only 40percent of what a gas-powered auger weighs. The ION Electric Ice Auger gives you gas auger performance without the gas, weight, noise and exhaust. A revolutionary planetary gear transmission provides the optimal combination of high-power delivery without the weight. ION's "No-Catch" cutting system utilizes an exclusive "Straight-Through" blade design that makes smooth even cuts with no bone-jarring breakthrough and no jagged edges.
When Clam Outdoors™ (www.clamoutdoors.com; 763-2314138) introduced the original Fish Trap® it quickly came the standard in portable ice shelters. Now, Clam has reinvented the Fish Trap in the X2 Thermal version. With a redesigned, thicker, two-tone extruded tub, improved seats, patented Spreader Pole System™ (SPS) and Rapid Pole Slide Extreme™ (RPSX) system, the Fish Trap X2 will have avid ice anglers drooling. Thermal Trap™ Technology means double layers of fabric boasting 900-count denier. Two deluxe seats slide both forward/back and side-to-side and remove completely for total flexibility. The center console tray slides for comfort and easy access. The X2 fishes two anglers comfortably.
Eskimo's (www.geteskimo.com; 800-345-6007) unique new FatFish™ pop-up ice shelter has the most fishable area of any similar-sized shelters. The FatFish features up to 80% more fishable area than other standard pop-up ice shelters. FatFish A-frame removable Velcro® windows are not only stylish and functional, but allow you to see more of the lake. It has two doors for quick and easy access and undisturbed fishing. The FatFish has highly visible reflective trim, heavy duty YKK® zippers, reinforced corners and wall nets for storing coats, hats and more. FatFish's hub-style design folds down easily and stores in the included backpack. The FatFish also comes in a highly attractive and visible red and black color. It's available in models that can accommodate from three to nine anglers.
Shappell (www.shappell.com) offers value and quality in their new FX200 and FX-200D two-man, flip-style shelter. The shelter has a solid, one-piece flip frame and a wide 60"L x 44"W x 13" H body sled base. The FX200 model offers the flexibility of a bench seat or removable swivel seats on the FX200D. Made of heavy-duty 600D polyester fabric, the FX200 has a wide front zipper, rear door access, high-visibility reflectors for night fishing safety and auto-flow air vents. Available with optional travel cover and tow hitch.
Ultra-cool in style, ultra-warm in extreme weather conditions, the new line of IceArmor® Ultra™ bibs, parka, gloves and mitts from clamcrop.com will put a smile on the face of diehard ice anglers. Waterproof, windproof and breathable, what you won't see in the new IceArmor® Ultra™ line, but you will feel, is the 3M Thinsulate™ used at heavier weights-key to preserving warmth without excess weight. Forward-thinking design changes in the Ultra™ Bibs, like extra-long zippers for easier access over-the-boot, and pass-through zippers to access jeans pockets in the bibs, make the ice-fishing life easier. The Ultra Parka boasts an adjustable, detachable zip-off hood with reflective Scotchlite™ safety piping and more pockets with strategic niche functions. Adjustable cuffs, sturdy two-way zippers, D-rings, toggles and bungees and comfortable tricot lining make the new Ultra™ line ultra nice.
MarCum Technologies' (www.marcumtech.com) new LX-9 was all the talk of the 2012 ICAST show. The LX-9 is the equivalent to ice fishermen what combining the fax, printer and scanner is to an office manager. The LX-9 combines the latest in sonar/camera/DVR technology into a single, high-tech portable unit. An 8-inch flat panel color LCD (with RCA video out) plays live underwater video, multiple user-defined sonar displays…or both simultaneously – the readouts actually merge into a single, easily viewable image. Industry-exclusive Sonar Footprint™ Technology displays area of bottom coverage at any depth. A built-in DVR even provides screen recording and instant on-screen playback. The unit can also record to a separate SD card, or via video-out/in so you can watch the action when you get home. The LX-9 is driven by a cool 4800-watts PtP with a switchable Dual Beam (8º and 20º) transducer. The entire LX-9 system comes sheathed in a special padded soft case with a rechargeable 12-volt, 9-amp battery, automatic charger and Snow Shield Faceplate.
Vexilar's (www.vexilar.com) FSDV20DT Fish Scout Double Vision with FL20-TRI with DTD combines the vision of an underwater camera with the industry's ultimate sonar system. The Fish Scout Double Vision DT system starts with its digital depth, temperature and directional sensor that indicate the camera's position. The Fish Scout Double Vision DT system uses a 7-inch, 16:9 wide-screen color monitor, 80 feet of cable and a color/black and white camera system that automatically shift from color to black and white mode in low light conditions. The unit comes with its own carrying case with two options for over-the-hole suspension arms and a 9-amp hour, 12-volt battery, 1 amp hour battery charger and a battery status indicator. The FL20 Tri-Beam IceDucer system has two zoom zones for deep-water fishing, a night mode option and special low power mode for shallow-water fishing. The Tri-Beam IceDucer is the world's first and only three- cone transducer in one housing with 8-, 12- and 20-degree cones.
Rods & Reels
Team Northand's (www.northlandtackle.com) new specie-specific Ice Combos pair a one-piece, through-the-handle ice rod with integrated blank design with a perfectly balanced reel that features 7 ball bearings, a machined aluminum spool and infinite anti-reverse for fishing cobweb-thin ice lines. The high-modulus 100% graphite rods sport a soft, comfortable, ribbed handle for all-day comfort. Available in 24- to 28-inch lengths in ultra-lite panfish to medium walleye actions.
HT Enterprises' (www.icefish.com) Tight Line Combos feature premium, custom tapered carbon blanks tempered with just enough tip action to allow optimum control with extreme strike-sensing capability. These precision balanced ice rods feature genuine cork handles with EVA twist lock fore grip and fixed reel seats, hook holders and easy flow aluminum oxide guides. They're available in 24" ultra light or 27 medium-light actions models. Each Tight Line combos feature a specially designed ice fly reel with large arbor and "straight line" release to virtually eliminate line twist.
Frabill® (www.frabill.com; 800-558-1005) has come up with a pair of ice combos that a guaranteed to put more slabs on the ice. The Straight Line 241 Bro Series Combo utilizes a lightweight, composite fly-fishing style ice reel with an amazing 2.4:1 retrieve ratio. An oversized handle eliminates fumble-fingers. Line flows like honey through the durable aluminum oxide guides on the rod, which features a unique aluminum reel seat and six technique specific tapers ranging from a 24-inch ultra-light version to a 36-inch model aimed at walleyes and large panfish. Key to the Straight Line 101 Combo is you can present a jig without the slightest spin. Line flows off the reel arbor straight and smooth. All-new composite design facilitates easy reel cupping in addition to a balanced spool, super smooth drag and oversized reel handle. Coated with Sub-Zero® for cold-weather performance. All-new composite design 101 Combo rods are available in three lengths from 24– to 32-inches. All rods and reels are also available separately.
The trend towards using fly-fishing reels for ice fishing didn't go unnoticed by ice-fishing legend Dave Genz. Genz brainstormed with clamcorp.com to bring to market the Ice Spooler™ fly reel. The black graphite fly reel excels for tight-lining for panfish with its superior grip and comfort. The larger arbor reduces line coiling and twisting. The longer reel foot separates the Ice Spooler™ from the competition, for a better fit in most anglers' hands. The reel is sold separately in a blister pack or as a combo with the Ice Spooler Series rods in 20-, 23-, 26-inch combos.
The Calibrator Line Counter Tip-Up (www.frabill.com) is a whole new level of tip-up technology. The Calibrator sports a spiffy LCD that reveals the digital depth of your bait at all times. Once the flag flies, the LCD displays the time at which the strike occurred and how much line the demon has peeled off. It can even tell you the time since the last bite. The display module is removable for storage and features a powerful backlight for low light use.
A nice mess of fine eating fresh perch motivates plenty of ice anglers.
The Jason Mitchell (www.jasonmitchellrods.com) Elite Series Meat Stick line up of finesse rods has long been one of the most popular rod designs in the entire Jason Mitchell line up. The rod action has a high-vis finesse tip created by sanded glass that loads extremely fast for better hook sets and more control of fish. New for the 2013 Season, the Meat Stick line up will feature the new Tack-Grip handle, which adds weight above the reel for balancing the tip for increased sensitivity along with creating a better gripping surface.
Tungsten Fire-Ball UV Jigs (northlandtackle.com) combine the hi-vis attraction of ultraviolet glow colors with a proven jig design. Dense Hard Rock head material takes jigs down to the depths at warp speed. Fish can see the glowing jig at a distance. Tungsten fishes small, drops quick, and shows up better on flashers. Available in three popular panfish weights.
HT Enterprises' Marmooska Tungsten Lunar Jig (www.icefish.com) features the unique, yet still unmatched qualities of the original Marmooska- Off-set head for unsurpassed hooking ability, light wire, small barbed hooks for efficient hooking percentages even when using the lightest rods and lines. Marmooska Tungsten Lunar Jig Heads feature premium epoxy coated paint for superior fish attraction and durability. Made of tungsten, a material 70% more dense than lead, so they drop super fast. Marmooska Tungsten Lunar Jigs are available on #10, #12 or #14 hooks, and in HT's wildest new colors: zebra and reversed zebra.
One of the premier ice-fishing lures of all time, the Swedish Pimple (www.baydenoclure.com; 906-428-1133) now comes in a convenient Multi-Pack that includes seven classic Swedish Pimples in a light, easy-to-carry plastic box. Never get caught without your favorite Pimple again. The assortment includes four lures in size 2, two in size 3 and one in size 4 in a variety of productive colors.
The Lindy's (www.lindyfishingtackle.com) Frostee Spoon is a petite jigging spoon with a slender, aerodynamic body perfect for finesse fishing. Now it's available in eight new deadly colors. The Frostee Spoon features a Bleeding Bait red treble hook. Available in two finesse sizes, 1/16 oz. (5/8", #14 treble) and 1/8 oz. (13/16", #12 treble). Super-hot for panfish and perch!
Bionic Ice Fluorosilk is a do-it-all ice line designed by Team Northland (northlandtackle.com). The co-polymer nylon core is coated with an ultra–slick fluorocarbon sheath for invisibility, knot strength and manageability. Available in clear and ice gray in 1 to 7 pound test.
Braided line has made its way to ice fishing. Sufix's (www.international.sufix.com) Ice Braid uses 100% high strength Dyneema fibers to create a thinner diameter when compared to monofilament. Ice Braid won't freeze and remains flexible under the coldest conditions. With near zero stretch and incredible sensitivity, you'll not only feel the lightest bite, you'll hook more fish. Ice Braid is available in 6 – 35 pound test and diameters from 0.06 to 0.28.
You'll never have to worry about your ice fishing holes freezing up again with the Ice-Off No Skimmer (tablerocksports.com). Powered by two D cell batteries or attach it to the 12-volt battery on your electronics. Position the bubbler at the surface of the water for ice-free fishing. Field-tested to -40 F. Clip the Ice-Off Bubbler to the transducer cable on your flasher or graph. Simple to set up and use.
The Flipper Dipper from Northland (northlandtackle.com) has an innovative, hinged system that collapses when passing down through slush, and then opens to lift slush out of the whole. It has a Hi-Vis 24–inch ruler, high–impact strength plastic dipper and a wooden handle that floats.
The Titanium Spring Bobber (www.frabill.com) offers unmatched durability, flexibility, kink and bend elimination with superior sensitivity and transmission of everything from a bluegill smooch to a crappie inhalation. Frabill's Titanium Spring Bobber excels at detecting those "up" bites when a panfish inhales your bait or swims up slightly. Hi-tech titanium, and its no-bend kink qualities allow for worry-free storage. You can instantly fine-tune the bobber's sensitivity by increasing or decreasing the tension.
Organizing and toting tip-ups has never
been easier with Flambeau Outdoors's®
(www.flambeauoutdoors.com) Tip Up Transport. Made of 660D nylon with a rugged zipper and a comfortable padded shoulder strap, the Tip Up Transport systematically stores six rail-style tip-ups. It has interior and exterior pockets for storing accessories. The Tip Up Transport also comes with a water resistant knelling pad for comfort and convenience.