Hot Stuff For The Hard Water!By Walt & Poppee Matan
Every year, new ice products come and old products go. As you know, folks, times have changed and technology has reached the ice belt in the form of specialized electronics, premium portable shelters, extreme clothing, super finesse ice fishing rods and hi-tech, high performance ice jigs. Let’s take a look at some hot new items that will improve your catching this season.
When it comes to ice jigs, nothing is more cutting edge than tungsten. Tungsten is much heavier than lead (1.7 times) so you can get a smaller sized jig down quickly. Just because a big bluegill is settled into deep water doesn’t mean that it will hit a big jig; it still wants something small. To be a fish catcher, the jig has to get down deep quickly without the aide of weights that would spook the fish.
Whether you are in deep water or shallow water, panfish forage is the same; small worms, shrimp and insect larvae make up the food base no matter what depth the bluegill are. So it follows that smaller larvae imitators will catch the lion’s share of the fish.
While tungsten is great for panfish, it is not only used for panfishing—quite the contrary. Tungsten can be used for all species of fish. Walleye anglers have had big success using the larger sized 10 Custom Jigs & Spins Majmun and Chekai jigs tipped with fatheads. Trout anglers have reported big catches also.
Even master Croatian ice jig designer, Chekai Matan got into the big bass while ice fishing last year. According to Chekai, “I was catching some nice bluegill fishes and ‘mine’ line keep breaking. So I tied biggest Majmum jig on heavy pole with six pounds line. I catch it nice basses, maybe 13 kilos. I say to Mr. Walt, ‘Look at this one!’ He says I must to release it. It is called gamefish. We get in biggest fight on ice. Nobody win in fight like this. Fight is over and fish is cooking in my pot. Everyone is winner now, except for mister Walt who refuse to eat ‘mine’ bass. He can go scratch himself!”
Custom Jigs & Spins new Tungsten Heavy Metal series ice jigs consist of two models. One is the Chekai (check eye), which comes in four sizes: 16, 14, 12 and 10 and a myriad of airbrushed finishes in fluorescent colors, glow hues and plated models. On three-pound ice line, these babies will get down to where the big ones live!
The other model, the Majmun (my moon), has a compact, round ball head that is positioned on the hook so that it rides at an angle just right for maximum hook setting success. The Majmun is also available in sizes 16, 14, 12 and 10. We like fishing this jig with a small Wedgee plastic tail and a single smashed maggot on the hook.
Super premium specialty ice rods, electronics and wind protection are final keys to the deep water puzzle. Frabill’s new Trekker Max hardtop series tents feature black Ice Armor fabric that cuts the wind and light penetration. With no wind blowing your line, you are free to detect the slightest nibbles.
With Frabill’s high tech ice rods like the Ice Hunter Series “Walt & Poppee” 26- and 40-inch rods and the Frabill “Bro” ice reel, you will have the right action and less line twist due to the higher quality drag system. Add Frabill’s spring bobber to these poles for ultra sensitivity.
Frabill also has some new ice rods for shallow water use that will really be great for hole hopping. They took an old style design and updated it using high tech components. Their 48- and 54-inch Jiggler light models have a built in straight-line reel—just the right action, a built in spring bobber and tough blank line for extra sensitivity.
We love Humminbird’s ICE-55 locator because of the high (4,000) wattage. This gives a very defined visual between jig, fish and bottom, which is where these fish hide a lot of the time. Tungsten jigs, because of their high density, will show up nicely on the Humminbird. Another bonus to fishing with electronics is that many times the fish will suspend and you can lift your jig right up to where they are hanging out.
New this year for Humminbird and us is a portable 597 GPS/Locator. With accessories like a car adapter, ATV adapter and a LakeMaster chip, we are able to GPS the lake while in our truck, then swap it to the ATV and then on to the portable unit. Once on the spot, we can switch to sonar mode and begin fishing.
When using the 597, make sure you go into the sonar menu and select “Ice Fishing Mode.” This will bring that unit into all the features like the ICE55 flasher—the zoom, color pallets, etc. This is VERY IMPORTANT to do. Poppee actually likes the flasher mode on the 597 better. The target separation is easier on the eyes. We change the background color to black or blue and it is VERY easy to see in the sunlight or the house
This is going to one good winter. All indications are that this should be a cold winter with plenty of ice. Stop in your local tackle shop and check out some of these products that will make you fishing more enjoyable. Remember, the happier you are, the more fish you will catch!
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