I’m not a gear junkie but I’m always on the lookout for new products that improve angling efficiency, whether on the ice or on open water. This winter, I’ve added several pieces to my arsenal that have made ice fishing more productive. Maybe a few of them will appeal to you, too.
Clam Scepter Rods
After spending time with these rods on the ice, Clam Outdoors pro-staff manager Matt Johnson said they’re severely underpriced. “Anyone looking for a lightweight and sensitive rod at an affordable price will find it in the Scepter series,” Johnson added.
The solid carbon rod blank runs through a tube in the reel seat, allowing anglers increased sensitivity. The rubberized cork handle also provides a comfortable grip. Eight models are available to tackle from ultra-light- to medium-power. $40, clamoutdoors.com.
Cold Snap Auger Cover
Try this innovative cover on your auger and you’ll never use your factory cover again. Push the auger blades into the cover and it locks on with an audible snap. To remove, use your boot to open the cover and lift the bit out. The cover goes on and off in seconds.
Cold Snap manufactures blade covers most major auger brands, including Strikemaster, Jiffy, ION, Eskimo, K-Drill, NilsUSA and Clam. Replacement bands are available and all covers feature a lifetime guarantee. $28, coldsnapcover.com.
Power-Sonic Lithium-Ion Bluetooth battery
Lithium-ion batteries have many advantages over lead-acid batteries. They’re roughly 40% of the weight, support up to 10 times as many charging cycles and charge faster. But the Power-Sonic lithium-ion battery is even smarter.
The battery has onboard Bluetooth circuitry to monitor battery status via the free Power-Sonic app available for iOS and Android phones and tablets. The app reveals the current charge, the number of recharge cycles and more. $100, power-sonic.com.
Larson’s Quality Jigs
Not all tungsten jigs are created equal. These jigs, hand-painted by Mike Larson, are among the most beautiful finishes I’ve seen. They’re available in three sizes (3 mm with a #16 hook, 4 mm with a #14 hook and 5 mm with a #12 hook) and a variety of custom colors.
Larson said that tungsten jigs are 40% smaller than lead jigs of the same weight, allowing them to fall faster through the water column. “That’s especially important when you’re trying to get back down to a school of fish before they move on,” he added. $2-$3 depending on color, larsonsqualityjigs.com.
Frabill 371 Straight Line Reel
Small spinning reels create line twist that in turn causes horizontal jigs to spin when they reach fishing depth. Inline reels don’t twist line, but early models featured a 1:1 gear ratio when the line is retrieved. Consequently, many anglers only used them when fishing in shallow water.
The Frabill 371 reel features a 3.7:1 retrieve speed that recovers 22 inches of line with each turn of the handle. Other features include 100% free spool, instant anti-reverse and a durable aluminum spool. It also includes long and short reel stems to accommodate bulky gloves. $70, frabill.com.
Suffix Ice Magic
Like many anglers, I still prefer using monofilament line when ice fishing. Suffix Ice Magic is designed to remain limp in cold weather and contains additives to prevent water absorption that causes ice build-up.
The line is available in one- to eight-pound-test in both clear and fluorescent orange to cover a range of winter fishing situations. $4 for a 100-yard spool or $6 for 300-yard spool, rapala.com.
LL Bean Boa Traction Footwear
I consider ice cleats mandatory gear, especially early and late in the ice season. I’ve long preferred the heavy-duty crampons used by hikers, but they’re often difficult to install or remove from boots. These cleats from LL Bean solve that problem.
The Boa lacing system uses aircraft-grade stainless steel that cinches tight to footwear with the turn of a dial. Built to withstand years of use, it’s the fastest way to add reliable traction. The small/medium size fits size seven to 10 boots, while the large/extra-large size fits 10 to 13. $80, llbean.com.
Eagle Claw Ice Rod Case
From extreme temperatures to long trips across frozen lakes, ice fishing is hard on gear. Fragile ice rods, in particular, need tough protection. The Eagle Claw Ice Rod Case features four separate locking points with double-hinged latches.
Inside, the case has adjustable foam inserts that accommodate up to six rod-and-reel combos plus a few tackle boxes or other small accessories. Best of all, it costs much less than similar cases from other manufacturers. $50, eagleclaw.com.
Northland Tackle Eye-Ball Spoon
A small spoon tipped with a perch eye is a standard offering across much of the ice belt, but it’s not legal in Minnesota and many other states. Northland’s new Eye-Ball spoon features a realistic eye on one side of the spoon and a glow or metallic color on the other. Designed to be tipped with live bait, the lure also pairs nicely with small plastic tails.
The spoon is available in three sizes (1/16, ⅛ and ¼ ounce) and 10 colors to cover a range of depths and fish species. $5, northlandtackle.com.
Plano Edge Terminal Tackle Box
I didn’t know I needed a $50 utility box until I saw this one at the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show. The base of the box has Rustrictor technology and vented dividers to help prevent corrosion. A Water Wick divider and an O-ring seal provide further moisture protection.
The 3700-size tray features lift-out boxes for accessible organization, including three boxes lined with high-density foam to prevent sinkers and split-shot from rattling during transport. It’s an innovative box that solves a range of common problems. $50, planomolding.com.