Double duty: using summer gear on the ice

by Ben Beattie | January 6, 2016

Double dutyDon’t be so quick to pack away all your summertime fishing gear — a lot of it can be used just as effectively during the hard-water season.

Reusing reels, electronics, and tackle for ice fishing saves money and puts quality gear to use year-round.

The reel deal
Spinning reels are an obvious choice for reusing while on the ice. Upgrading from inexpensive reels that are common on ice fishing combos provides an advantage by putting improved drag and increased line capacity in your hand.

Small to medium reels in the 500- to 1,000-size range are ideal for double duty. Reels in the 2,000-size range also work on ice fishing rods.

Oftentimes line can be reused, too. The same eight-pound test monofilament used in the summer can be used for jigging through the ice.

No-stretch braided line in the 10 to 20 pound range works through the ice as well.

Bait and switch
Going through tackle trays and pulling out an assortment of spoons, jigs, soft plastics, and lipless crankbaits will pay off during the hard-water season.

Spoons and lipless crankbaits work well when vertically jigged through the ice.

Spoons used for spring pike work wonders for winter walleye, lake trout, and pike.

Soft plastics, like twister tails, imitation minnows, and tube jigs, are good options when jigging for a variety of species through the ice.

On-ice electronics
Converting an existing fish finder for on-ice use is a wallet-friendly solution for getting set up with portable electronics on the ice.

Use a rechargeable 12-volt battery to power the head unit, and mount the transducer to a piece of wood or metal to get it down the hole and keep it level.

Alternatively, ice transducers are commercially available for many popular brands of electronics.

Simply plug them into your head unit and drop them down the hole.

Be prepared for ice-fishing season by taking a few pages from your summertime playbook.

This article originally appeared in the 2014 Jan-Feb issue of Ontario OUT of DOORS. To see more features like this one, subscribe today.