The giant flat-screen in the newspaper ad looks amazing, and the price almost seems too good to be true. So instead of staying home and shoveling snow, you head for the store, intent on bringing home a bigger-than-life picture for your living room. Faced with the reality of making the purchase, though, you think about the sales tax, the extended warranty, and the set-up fun that would follow your acquisition. You decide against the TV, but while you’re in the store you notice that a Blu-ray player you had once considered is also on sale, and that price tag seems more manageable. You bite.
The same sort of thing can occur with fish under the ice, if the angler is properly equipped. Sometimes it takes something big, flashy, noisy and animated to get a fish’s attention and to draw it to a spot. Getting the fish to actually commit to such a big bite, though, can be a different story, so that’s when you have to be prepared with an offering that looks easy and unintimidating. The more subtle bait actually produces the strike when dropped among the fish, but each bait is equally important to the catch.
Keeping two ice rods rigged and ready (at times, where legal, with both lines in the water) provides a host of advantages for many hard-water fishing scenarios. In addition to allowing you to present two contrasting styles of lures or baits, doubling up makes it practical to jig one offering and keep another still, to experiment with two mostly similar offerings in order to refine a pattern or simply to double your odds by keeping two baits in the water.
Along with adding numbers to many days’ catches, rigging contrasting offerings on two different rods enhances the opportunity to catch multiple kinds of fish. Multi-species appeal is one of the greatest virtues of ice fishing, but much of that appeal is lessened by a bait that’s too big for most yellow perch or too small for many walleyes. And at times it’s not a simple obvious matter of size. Often fish of two different kinds will use the same area, and one will favor a spoon, while another will prefer a tipped jig, possibly based on the forage that each has been eating.
Whether you fish two rods simultaneously or simply keep a second rod rigged and ready to drop in a hole relates in part to your broader strategy. If you’re fishing from a house or using some other stationary approach, you might want to drill two holes and double your opportunity to catch fish at any given time. If you are moving more frequently and fishing open ice, you might prefer to use one rod at a time, but to keep a couple or rods rigged and switch offerings on a regular basis.
The best approach also depends on personal preferences and on the way the fish are biting. Some anglers simply don’t like to keep up with two rods at the same time, preferring to give dedicated attention to every fish that shows up on the flasher. Also, when bites are really light, running two rods at the same time can cause you to miss a lot of fish that you otherwise might have caught. A final reason to fish one rod at a time and to make regular switches is that at times it’s the sudden switch that triggers a reaction, and presenting the same two lures side by side wouldn’t have the same effect.