There are a handful of companies that absolutely dominate the market when it comes to ice fishing gear. They’re on the cutting edge of product development and technology, and it shows. Here’s the latest and greatest for 2014.
There’s a reason the new Jason Mitchell Thermal 5000 ice shelter from Clam is gold colored. It’s the gold standard in shelters. It has a full thermal skin with 600 total denier fabric that retains heat and reduces condensation. It features 63.5 square feet of fishable area for four to six anglers, an 82-inch center height, covers 9 feet in diameter when set up, yet only weighs 50 pounds. Other hallmarks include flex-tested, extra large 11-mm poles, an over-sized skirt for snow banking, over-sized carry bag for easy re-packing, triple layer corner pockets, and ice anchors and tie downs to secure the shelter.
Frabill’s black, yellow and Fishouflage Ambush Outpost and Ambush Headquarters are the perfect combination of cosmetics and craftsmanship. Both models sport rip-stop side panels for an increased weight-to-strength ratio and 900 Denier skirt material for maximum durability in the known high-stress areas. The thermal top retains heat while preventing condensation. The core advantage of hub shelters is their spaciousness. The Ambush Outpost is a two-person shelter that measures 70 X 70 X 80 inches and weights only 27 pounds. The Fishouflage Ambush Headquarters comfortably houses six anglers within its 140 X 70 X 80 frame, but still only weighs 38 pounds.
Shappell’s sled-based and extremely mobile Bay Runner is perfect for the ice angler who likes to run and gun. Solid, one-piece, easy up frame, padded sliding bench seat, two heavy-duty zipper doors with a 600 D polyester shell. Features a large electroncis shelf and four removable windows. Travel dimensions: 60 x 44 x 18.5.
Eskimo’s new FlipMo 2 Inferno shelter is constructed on an oversized-extra-thick tub with a built-in spreader pole system and tables, and is the largest-ever Eskimo two-man shelter. The FlipMo 2 is fully insulated with Eskimo IQ (Insulated-Quilted) fabric and has rail-mounted, 360-degree, swivel Versa-Seats. These seats are steel framed and feature TearTuff Mesh.
HT Enterprise’s new Polar Fire Auger has is a two-cycle engine that fires quickly and runs smoothly, even in extreme cold. It warms to full-speed throttle operation within seconds, and then quiet, unsurpassed reliability. Options include 33, 43 or 52 cc two-cycle engines or a 35 cc, 8-inch four-cycle version. The Polar Fire features a solid base centering ring and point system, razor sharp heat-annealed blades and a comfort grip foam handle.
Ion unveiled its high-energy, 8-inch 40-V MAX lithium ion battery-powered auger last year. Now Ion has introduced a new version: a 6-inch battery-powered auger that allows for extended battery life and even faster cutting. Both sizes will also feature a re-designed trigger system adding to the safety and ease of use. At only 22 pounds, ION weighs nearly 40 percent less than many gas-powered augers.
The new Rapala StrikeMaster auger features a Honda 35cc 4-stroke OHC engine. VANDAR long-filament, high-impact synthetic handles cradle the power head, providing both strength and weight reduction at just 23 pounds.
Don’t have an auger, but you do have an 18-volt battery on your cordless drill? You’re in business with Clam’s new Ice Auger Conversion Kit. The kit converts any 18-volt battery into a lightweight, powerful ice auger that boasts power, speed and weighs less than 14 pounds. The 6-inch, stainless steel auger bit is durable and will drill 700 linear inches of ice on a full charge. The drill is used to spin and not to support the torque, which greatly extends the life of your drill. Simply remove the chuck from the drill and attach the auger bit.
Vexilar’s FLX-28 has revolutionized the world of winter flasher sonar technology. Available in an Ultra Pack with ProView Ice-Ducer, the features sound like a wish list for avid ice anglers. Digital depth, auto range, two zoom zones, battery status, five color palettes to select from for maximum visibility, 5-foot depth range adjustments starting at 10 feet, a maximum depth range of 300 feet, day and night display brightness settings, low power options for fishing in shallow water, and a unique “weed mode” for better performance while fishing in weeds. The Ultra Pack includes a 12-volt, 9 amp-hour battery enclosed inside the case, so you don’t need to connect or disconnect your battery after each use. A master power switch powers up your unit and remote charging posts make it easy to re-charge. The case comes with an adjustable rod holder, cable storage cleats, battery charger tackle box! The Ultra Pack will fit into a five-gallon bucket. An optional soft pack carrying case is also available.
A diminutive departure from traditional ice-fishing sonar, MarCum Technologies’ ShowDown Troller 2.0 is a high-level, portable fish-finder that actually fits into a parka-pocket. Endowed with a digitally enhanced mini LCD, the vibrant new display shows depth, fish, lures and structure in sharp resolution. The all-new Auto Bottom Lock Zoom feature tracks and magnifies structure. ShowDown Troller 2.0 generates a snappy 4,000 watts of powfunctions continuously for 20 hours on just 6 AA batteries or for days on end on a 12-volt rechargeable battery. It’s driven by an intuitive push-button operating system.
Engineered using R8 Precision Braiding and fiber technology, Sufix 832 Ice Braid features a tight 32-weave-per-inch composition that includes 7 Dyneema fibers plus 1 GORE Performance Fiber. It’s one of the thinnest, toughest, most sensitive fishing superlines. It is available in 50-yard spools of 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, 20- and 30-pound test in Neon Lime and low-vis Ghost. The 4-pound test has the diameter of 1-pound test traditional fishing line and the 30-pound test has an 8-pound test diameter.
PowerPro Ice-Tec line highly sensitive and abrasion resistant. The 100 percent Spectra fiber is Teflon coated to shed water and remain flexible, yet be ultra sensitive and provide better knot performance. Its thin diameter and Ice Blue color make it nearly invisible under water. It is available in 50- and 100-yard spools in 5-, 8-, 10-, and 15-pound test.
The Sub Zero Boot is a welcome addition to Clam Outdoor’s line of IceArmo apparel. The waterproof solid black rubber boot has pull-on handles and a heel kicker. A neoprene lining, 1,200 grams of Thinsulate Ultra and thick midsoles keep cold out. High-traction Rellim outsoles provide sure grip on ice. They are available in sizes 9-14. A new Facemask from IceArmor is extremely soft and features 200 grams of fleece, yet is thin enough to wear under a helmet.
Frabill’s F-Series Storm Gear wasn’t designed specifically for ice fishing, but take quality raingear; add a fleece base layer and you’re ready to go hole-hopping. The F-Series Storm Gear comes in three models — F-2, F-3 and F-4 — good to better to best, depending on your needs and wallet. The F-3 and F-4 feature 3-layer technology — shell, laminate and inside liner; there are no loose linings to deal with. The 3 layers combine to be the most comfortable, breathable and waterproof material on the market.
The JigNMitt keeps your hand toasty warm. The JigNMitt uses 200 gram insulation and a Bliztech tough outer hide or maximum protection. Waterproof, breathable and windproof, the JigNMitt uses a Velcro attach system that fits most rods. It has an elastic wristband with an adjustable tension strap with a hand warmer pouch and included hand warmer.
The Dave Genz Legacy Series rod and reel combo from Clam has improved, lightweight wire guides and a fly tip; this series is a step above the popular True Blue series. The spring bobber version sports a very durable Nitinol-orange, nickel-and-titanium tip. The five-plus-one ball bearing reels boast a one-touch button-folding handle for quick storage along with infinite anti-reverse. There are five models that range from 24-inch ultra-light action to 28-inch medium action.
Frabill’s radical Telescoping Jiggler Long Rod features a glossy, retractable blank that deploys like a Jedi light saber. The Jiggler’s radical tunnel-through design lets line flow straight through the blank to shield against line coils and freeze-up. The result is superior bite-detection. Ambidextrous and oversized, the Jiggler reel also features a patented drag system, a large arbor 1:1 gear ratio, composite spool and body, and comes with Sub-Zero winter lubricant for continuous liquid-smooth operation. The supremely sensitive tip extends into an ultra-tuned spring that quivers nervously, which enhances the line-to-lure connection. It has a palm-friendly cork handle.
When Fenwick set about designing their new Aetos Ice series they wanted to create rods with a revolutionary action/power. They succeeded. The Aetos Ice series incorporates fast and extra-fast actions with extremely quick tips designed for instant hook-ups and sensitivity. The unique reel seats feature a Hidden Handle Design, matching cork and TAC material. The guides have stainless steel frames and inserts. Available in 18- to 30-inch spinning models sporting ultra-light to medium-heavy actions.
Beam Ice Rods is the first and only lighted ice rod with interchangeable blanks. Threaded Quick-Change bank systems makes changing rod actions easy. Six LED beams create enough light to fish all night. Powered by four lithium button cell batteries.
HT’s Little Jigger Night Star Spring Bobber uses a tiny, ultra-bright red LED bulb set on the end of a sensitive tube spring that universally clips to any rod. Just press the battery in place, clip the spring to your rod tip, thread your line and you’ll be able to fish all night.
Frabill’s answer to the dead minnow dilemma is the 1469 Aqua-Life Bait Station. It is a sturdy 6-gallon baitfish condo that utilizes a built-into-the-lid air pump and aerates bottom to top via a removable micro-bubbler diffuser. Uses two D-cell batteries, a 12-volt adaptor or optional 120-volt adaptor.
Color matters under the ice. Rapala had the flesh-tones covered, so they went 360 with their UV Jigging Raps. Ultra-violet (UV) treatment maximizes available light and reflects it. So Orange Tiger UV takes Firetiger to a whole new degree of visibility. The UV Jigging Raps are lead weighted and balanced to perfection. On the rip, the UV Jigging Rap fires up and away, and then circles back to its point of origin. It comes in five sizes, 1 1/4-inch W2 to the 3 1/2-inch W-9 and three colors: Green Tiger UV, Orange Tiger UV or Pink Tiger UV.
Creating a new category of lures doesn’t happen every day, but Lindy has done it with their new 360 Jig. The jig features a body that spins on an internal axel to produce a unique vibration and sound that calls fish. The 360 Jig can also be finessed to revolve slowly to tease shy biters. It features an oval baitfish shape with a diagonal wing on each side that rests on a colored bead. The jig color presents the primary colors of forage, while the color-coordinated bead represents secondary hues. The jig body raps and taps against the central axel and grinds on the bead to create a sound and vibration that game fish can’t resist. The 360 Jig is available in 12 colors and four sizes: 1/8-, 1/16-, 1/4-, 3/8-ounce.
Pinning the head of a minnow or the eye of a fresh-caught perch on your lure is an old trick. If you need a readily available bait source, Northland’s new Impulse Minnow Head or Perch Eye is the answer. The 3/4-inch Minnow Head is molded with quivering pectoral fins and comes in three forage patterns, nine per package. The 1/2-inch Perch Eye’s highly reflective Attractor Pupil mimics the eye of a baitfish and comes in four eye-appealing colors, eight to a bag. Both are infused with super-charged Impulse Attractant.
HT Enterprise has added to its selection of ice-fishing jigs with the Marmooska Tungsten Shad Jig. The jigs come in two designs: a horizontal version with a semi-off-set head for good hooksets and light-wire, small-barbed hooks for efficient penetration — or the option of a classic crescent-shaped, vertical design. Both jig bodies feature premium gold- or silver-colored plating. Made of tungsten, the new Marmooska jig fishes “heavy” for presentation control and sense of feel. Customized with colored beads on the hook shank and a small, light-reflecting crystal hung from a dropper chain. Marmooska Tungsten Shad Jigs are available with in #8, #10, #12 or #14 hooks.
Clam Pro Tackle iis plunging into ice fishing with their Maki soft plastics. Lethargic fish have plenty of time to inspect baits in winter, so plastics have to look and taste right to get bit. Clam’s new Maki plastics are hand-poured, infused with Maki Juice, then molded into five supple shapes developed by Clam’s stable of pro staffers. The baits have a natural texture and some are infused with glow paint to extend that hot low-light bite.
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