Coaches Corner

Many times, I am asked what do you need for ice fishing, what gear should I buy or what do I need to bring.  As a member of WIFA, our team gets 20%-40% discounts from many manufacturers.  Please reach out before you buy any new gear so we can make sure you get the discount.  Hopefully, the following will help:

  • The number one thing is to bring warm, dry clothing.  Invest in a good set of insulated winter boots.  Many times, we fish in slushy conditions so get a pair of boots that is waterproof.  Favorite boots of mine include Muck Boot Artic Sporting/Hunting boot and the Lacrosse Ice Kings. 
  • Ice Fishing bibs such as Clam, Frabill and Eskimo all make good waterproof bibs, but they can be expensive.  If your child already has a good set of warm insulated bibs or pants, but they are not waterproof, bring something like a boat cushion so they don’t kneel in slush when landing a fish.
  • Jackets are similar to bibs.  Have your child dress in layers to ensure warmth.
  • Gloves and mittens, I recommend bringing multiple pairs.  I have not found a child yet that can resist putting their hands in water.
  • Tip Ups: The top of the line tip up is the Beaver Dam Arctic Fisherman, but these tip ups can run $50/each.  There are many other options that will work almost as well.  The HT tip up is the cheapest option at $15/each, but they will work adequately.  For the money the best options are the round Frabill Pro Thermal Tip Up ($25/each) or the yellow Frabill Arctic Fire tip up ($20/each).  Both are a heavier more durable tip ups and will work very well.  If you are frugal like me, watch Facebook Marketplace, Craig’s List, and yard sales.  You will find very good gear at steep discounts.
    • For most of my tip ups I have Beaver Dam tip up line in #20 or #30. Dick Smith’s bait and tackle will assist you in putting on line if you buy the gear from them. Otherwise, I will be happy to help as well. We are sponsored by Z Leaders Inc. I will supply you with any hooks or leaders you will need free of charge.
  • Panfish Rod:  Most of the kids are using spinning reel type rods.  You don’t need to buy an expensive rod for ice fishing, but you do need to modify the rod you buy.  Plenty of options are available priced between $20-$30 from companies like HT, Clam and Berkley.  Purchase a rod that has light or ultra-light action.  Some options have a custom light action spring already built into the rod.  If you rod doesn’t you will need to buy one.  Frabill, Rapala and HT all have good clip in options, or bobbers with a foam cork that pushes into the end of the rod.  What ever line comes standard with the rod you buy needs to be replaced.  It is too heavy and cheap.  Buy a 50-yard spool of 2lb fluorocarbon ice fishing line, any brand, and I will help you splice it onto your rod.  Again, watch Facebook Marketplace, Craig’s List, and yard sales.  You will find very good gear at steep discounts.
  • Jigs and Bait:  I use tungsten jigs almost exclusively, but they are a little pricey.  For shallow water fishing lead jigs will still work fine.  Here is the most important part of this entire document.  Size matters.  I only fish with three sizes of jigs with corresponding hook sizes.  They are #10 (5mm) #12 (4mm) and #14 (3mm).  I have not found one color jig that outproduces another.  Really it is your preference and what you are confident in.  Understand that in ice fishing, smaller is generally better.  In the dead of winter, there are no fresh hatches of minnows, mayflys, dragonflies, or any other type of bug that we have in the spring and summer.  Anything that didn’t hatch burrowed deep into the mud for winter.  Any fish or minnow fry had the entire summer to grow and some may have gotten too big for panfish to eat.  Many times, the panfish live on a diet of water flees and other zooplankton.  They don’t need much to subsist and their feeding periods are much shorter.
    • Plastics such as wedges have become very popular in the last 30 years and they work very well. Small jigging baits and spoons will also work well at certain times of the day. Live bait such as minnows and waxworms will be supplied by the club, free to all members.
  • Ice Scoop:  A plastic scoop is typically priced between $3-$5.  Please have one on hand. 
  • Ice Augers:  The team has plenty of members who have power augers and they are always willing to drill holes for team members who don’t.  If you don’t have access to an auger you don’t need to purchase one until you are sure this is the sport for your child.  If they really want their own hand auger buy them the Strikemaster Lazer Hand Auger size 6” (approx. $85).  Spend a little more on a quality auger, do not buy a cheaper brand, you will be disappointed.  Many members that already have heavy duty portable drills are buying just the auger attachment.  K-drill, Eskimo Pistol bit or the Strikemaster Lazer Drill Bit are the most popular options and work very well.  They all run approximately $200. 
  • Shelter: The team has a 7-person insulated tent that is open to anyone who wants to use it.  Many members have their own tent and are willing to share with other members.  Use the tents to keep warm or get out of adverse weather.  If you want your own tent, please reach out so we can get you the team discount.