How to Fish - Equipment
From the collections of buckets, sleds, shelters, heaters, and other trappings strewn around the anglers on a frozen lake, it is clear that equipment plays an important role in ice fishing. But it's not the amount of equipment nor its complexity and cost that make an effective ice fishing outfit. More important is how the equipment fits the fishing style of the angler using it. Obviously, veteran ice fishermen understand that, and no two of them are ever equipped exactly alike.
Fishing The only equipment that most anglers agree on is clothing and boots, and anyone out on the ice in the wrong attire pays dearly in discomfort or frostbite. Perhaps the single most important item in ice fishing wardrobe is footwear. Poorly shod feet pressed onto the ice will soon chill, and insulated rubber boots, or pac boots with separate, thick felt liners are the best insurance against cold feet. Daintiness is not required in good ice-fishing boots, and they should fit loose enough to accommodate extra socks and to allow maximum blood circulation. Most insulated hiking, hunting or work boots will not do the job. Neither will inexpensive nylon or plastic boots lined with synthetic fur. Gimmicks, such as battery-powered electric socks, can be a big disappointment in cold weather. For most anglers, rubber or rubber and leather boots with heavy felt liners, good quality insulated rubber boots designed for extreme cold or government surplus arctic boots with air chambers for insulation are best. Snowmobile boots with felt liners are often adequate, as are lightweight, inexpensive "moon boots." Above the boots, several layers of comparatively light clothing are warmer than just one or two bulky garments. The layers trap air for maximum warmth and also allow the angler to add or remove layers to match changes in temperature or level of activity. At moments of heavy exertion-dragging equipment across the ice or auguring holes-an angler can shed some clothing and avoid breaking into a sweat. Perspiring should be avoided since the body will later use considerable heat to dry out damp inner clothing. Good headgear is particularly important. Up to 75 percent of the heat lost on a cold day leaves the body from the head and neck. A wool cap or parka hood can provide comfort when you feel a chill, and if you are on the verge of breaking into a sweat you can cool off merely by exposing your head. Comfortable long underwear worn next to the skin topped by insulated coveralls or a wool, down or fiberfill insulated snowmobile suit for a middle layer and a windproof, moisture repellent outer layer make a good combination. Many anglers also wear a heavy parka for added warmth and as a barrier against the wind. Gloves are also needed, although the importance placed on them varies among anglers. Some wear light gloves inside mittens and do all but the most delicate knot tying and hook baiting with the gloves on. Others wear bulky, loose-fitting mittens and put them aside to do most tasks. Some anglers use gloves only when lugging gear long distances, keeping their hands stuffed deep inside warm pockets the rest of the time. If you need gloves on the ice, take two pairs in case the first pair gets lost or wet. Last Updated on Friday, 04 September 2009 12:53
Spuds and Augers
Fishing - Fishing Guides Nearly as fundamental to ice fishing as good clothing is a device for cutting holes in the ice. Options range from light, simple, inexpensive devices that run on muscle and sweat to heavy, costly, noisy motor-driven augers. A simple ice spud, a steel bar or pipe with a chisel-like blade at one end, has served well for many generations. Components for a good ice spud can be scrounged from most salvage yards for only a few dollars. Other options for hole cutting are the spiral auger and the Swedish spoon auger, both hand powered. Those rigs are probably the most popular among ice fishermen, partly because of their modest cost. At the other extreme is the power ice auger, which carries a price tag in the neighborhood of $250. Their lightweight engines turn an auger bit through even the thickest ice in seconds The spud's main advantages are its low cost, simplicity and light weight. But it is difficult to spud a neat hole through thick ice, and it is difficult to use some tip-ups over a jagged, tapered hole. Hand-driven augers make tidy holes, even in thick ice and are fine for anglers who use only jig-poles. The kind of fish an angler pursues dictates much of the rest of his equipment, including either jigging poles or tip-ups. Poles are most often used by panfish anglers and usually consist of just a foot or two of fishing rod tip attached to a wooden handle. Most are fitted with a pair of pegs or screws around which the line is wound. Tip-ups are preferred by anglers pursuing big fish such as northern pike, walleye and largemouth bass. It is difficult to describe the dozens of styles of tip-ups available commercially and the dozens more of homespun varieties. The basic function of all these devices, however, is to hold line and keep the bait at a specific depth in the angler's absence, then feed line when the fish takes the bait while also signaling the distant angler with a colored flag. Last Updated on Friday, 04 September 2009 14:29
Fishing - Fishing Guides Just how far beyond the bare necessities an angler goes will dictate his last piece of gear-a device to carry all the other equipment. Some anglers take just a small pocket tacklebox holding a few extra hooks and weights, a small container of bait, a handful of jig-poles and a spud or auger. Others use a five-gallon bucket to lug everything onto the ice. The bucket then serves as a seat and, at day's end, as a container for fish. Others, with food, coffee jugs, lanterns, minnow buckets and other equipment, use a sled. The ice fishing sled can be nothing more than a child's sled with a box on it, or it can be specially built for the job. Some have a seat, perhaps protected by a folding windbreak and warmed by an under-the-seat heating chamber containing a gas lantern. Many have compartments for tip-ups, poles, minnow buckets and lunch, and special brackets to hold a lantern aloft for night fishing among other features. One last piece of gear that many anglers improvise or purchase contributes to both enjoyment and safety. Boot cleats greatly improve footing on a frozen lake, and it's obvious that a vertical angler is more effective, more comfortable and safer than one who is horizontal much of the time. Aside from minimizing the bruises and sprains likely from falls, cleats also reduce the likelihood of more serious injuries from spills near razor-sharp augers, ice spuds and gaffs, and lighted heaters and lanterns. Such injuries also can be prevented by keeping the area tidy, putting protective covers on sharp edges or laying augers with the sharp blade against the ice.