Fishing Outside The Hole
Ice fishing is often a waiting game. The angler drills a hole and then watches his depthfinder, hoping a fish swims into his zone. Compared to the open-water season, ice fishing is downright contemplative.
And if all you?re doing is fishing in a shaft of water eight inches in diameter without any fish joining you, then, well, it can be really, really contemplative?to the point of boredom. Granted, it?s better than watching daytime television, but just barely.
That doesn?t mean it needs to be that way. You can hunt fish down, drilling dozens of holes in an effort to find biters, OR you can use Lindy?s aggressive new ice lures, the Darter and Slick Jig, drill fewer holes and spend more time fishing.
These lures do more than fish in one dimension. They move horizontally as well as vertically, and with the holographic flash and rattle, they really ring the dinner bell. And that dinner bell calls fish in from the surrounding area.
It's the next best thing to fishing in open water.
?Really,? says Lindy pro Jon Thelen, ?when it comes to the Darter, it?s almost the silver bullet. What I?ve found is that I have to drill a lot fewer holes using it because the lure just draws fish to it. You really are fishing well beyond the hole with the Darter because it has such a draw.?
There are three reasons he says this. ?The action is a big thing, of course. Because of it, the Darter has a reach well beyond the diameter of the hole or even the circle of its movement.?
?What you get is pretty unique,? says Thelen. ?You lift the Darter and then drop your rod tip to give it some slack, and the Darter gives a little quarter turn and then swims its way down. No other lure does that.
?Combine that swimming action with the deep-pitched rattle, and you can draw fish from far off. Rattles are important under the ice, and there is no doubt that a rattle makes a big difference at times.?
The action and rattle draw walleyes and panfish to the Darter, but it?s the finish that seals the deal. ?One time I was filming a TV spot,? says Thelen, ?and I set my rod down on the ice with the Darter still in the water. You can guess the rest: A walleye grabbed the Darter, even though it was just sitting still, and my rod starts sliding toward the hole!?
As Thelen points out, losing a rod is pretty persuasive: the holographic finish triggers strikes. ?The finish grabs all of the light there is and flashes it, and that?s a big draw. You know, walleyes can see pretty good in low light conditions like you?ll find under the ice, but these finishes really give them something to home in on.
?Don?t forget that Lindy also has two glow finishes. Come 4 pm, I don?t hesitate to tie one of those on my line. They really stand out as the day gets darker.?
While the Darter is tops for walleyes, the smaller sizes are good as well for panfish, crappie, perch, bluegills or whatever. Another Lindy pro-staffer, Bob Bohland of St. Paul, Minn., is pretty enthusiastic about both the Darter and the Slick Jig.
?Both the Darter and the Slick Jig work very well for panfish,? he says. ?Both lures catch panfish as well as walleyes,? but the real difference comes from the way the lures are fished.
"Walleye guys use a lot of motion?big sweeps and big pounds?but you don?t need to do that for panfish, either crappies or bluegills.
?With the Darter, I like a shorter pounding stroke, kind of like you?d do with a hammer about as fast as you can. You?re moving your rod tip maybe two inches or so at a time. Raise the tip up about a foot, and then drop it, letting the Darter swim back down. Then pause, hit the bottom; in other words, I like to mix things up.
?However,? continues Bohland, ?one thing is a constant, and that is that panfish like the pound.?
He says that the way the Darter is weighted, you can let it sit in place while you shake it, and the lure will roll back and forth. Pause and drop the rod tip, and the Darter will swim around. ?It really draws strikes.?
To bring fish in to the Darter and Slick Jig both, Bohland advises big, sweeping strokes, designed to make both lures flash and swim. Once the fish arrive, he switches tactics.
?For crappies, I like to find suspended fish, and then I position my lure two to three feet above them because I find that once you get a fish to move up, it?s more likely to bite.
?For bluegills, I?ve found it best to fish both the Darter and Slick Jig really slow, working them just above the tops of the weeds.
?And for perch, I like to fish the Slick Jig right on the bottom, pounding it into the silt, making little clouds that look like a fish is feeding on invertebrates in the bottom silt or on small minnows,? Bohland adds.
He feels strongly that neither the Slick Jig nor the Darter need any kind of bait or scent. ?It?s really a confidence thing,? Bohland says. ?But I?ve found that bait is totally unnecessary. The appearance and motion are enough.?
That?s not to say that the Slick Jig won?t work with live bait because it does so admirably. Tip it with whatever bait is hot, and you have a winning, swimming combination.
Bohland says he uses soft plastic bodies on the Slick Jig and is happy with them.. The more the soft plastic sticks out beyond the hook of the Slick Jig, the greater the swimming motion it will have and the farther it will swim from the vertical.
As far as colors of soft plastics go, Bohland tries for contrast with the jig as well as using brighter colors in darker waters.
Surprisingly, Bohland isn?t turned off by the comparatively large size of the Slick Jig when fishing for panfish. ?It?s kind of that old dictum of ?large bait for large fish,??? he says. ?Drop a larger jig than you might think is appropriate, and you?ll catch the largest fish first. Use a small jig in the same situation, and you?ll catch small fish as well.?
He does say, however, that he?s looking forward to the smaller sizes, the 1/16 and 1/8-ounce sizes, that are coming out this year. ?I think they will be a great addition,? Bohland adds.
It doesn?t matter if you?re fishing for walleyes or panfish, or rainbow trout, white bass, or what-have-you, both the Slick Jig and Darter will extend your reach well beyond the diameter of the hole in the ice.
You?ll spend less time drilling and searching, and you?ll get more time fishing?and catching. And that?s better than daytime TV, anytime.
For a look at other Lindy products, be sure to check out our gear section.