Although summer weather has most of the fishing populace focused in on open-water angling efforts, for hardcore ice-anglers, the hardwater season is never too far away to be out of mind.
The school season is upon us. By extension, so too is fall. Then it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to winter. Add in a brief period to wait for safe ice to form and boom! There you have it. Ice-fishing season.
Meanwhile, in the always-shortening interim, it’s always prudent to take stock of the latest new products and innovations in the hardwater scene. There are plenty this year, as can be seen by some of the great new ice-fishing gear introduced at ICAST 2019, where ice-fishing gear drew more visibility and interest than in previous shows.
This was the first year ICAST added an ice-fishing category in its Best of Show awards.
Below are some of these hot new items to help make your time on the ice more enjoyable, and more productive.
RODS AND TIP-UPS
13 Fishing Archangel Black Betty Freefall Combo
A perfect match. 13 Fishing’s excellent Black Betty Freefall inline reel pairs with its Archangel ice rod. The rod’s Evolve Carbon Forging process seamlessly merges blank and handle into a single-piece monocoque body. The blank is highly sensitive and the rod’s high-vis flat tip provides visual sight detection for more easily determining strikes. One of the reel’s key features is the FreeFall Trigger Instant Hookup System, but there are plenty of other nice attributes as well.
Acme Tackle Company Beaver Dam Northern Light Tip-Up
Don’t let the darkness keep you off the ice or impair your fishing efforts in any way. New this year, Acme Tackle Company has introduced an upgrade to its classic Beaver Dam Tip-Up system: a super-bright LED light atop its flag shaft that alerts the angler when the flag is no longer visible. The Northern Light Tip-Up, as it’s been creatively called, features enclosed wiring to prevent snags and runs on three AAA batteries. The light can be turned on and off with the push of a button. All of the great qualities that anglers have come to expect with the standard Beaver Dam Tip-Up are included on this system as well.
St. Croix Croix Custom Ice (CCI) 32MLXF Perch Seeker
St. Croix added four new models to its Croix Custom Ice (CCI) line for a variety of different techniques and species, including the 32MLXF Perch Seeker. This 32-inch, tubular, medium-light power, extra-fast-action rod represents something of a hybrid in the ice-fishing realm, being both extremely sensitive and stiff enough to fish “perch-sized, small-walleye sized and trophy-crappie-sized baits,” according to St. Croix Rod pro Joel Nelson. Features proprietary blank technology, recoil guides and a 5-year warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service.
Fenwick Techna Ice Rods
The new Fenwick Techna ice rods feature high modulus solid carbon blanks for improved strength while also retaining a lightweight feel and sensitivity. Nano particles work to support the rod’s carbon fibers, and the addition of 3M Powerlux resin in the rod blank helps disperse added stress and tension in the rod that can occur while casting or fighting a fish. Not only does this keep the rod from sustaining cracks, which can damage it over time, it also makes the rod 30 percent stronger on average according to the folks at Fenwick. High-quality cork handles and Fuji ergonomic reel seats round out these rods’ attributes.
Frabill Ice Hunter Sniper Combo
Available in five different actions from Ultra-Light to Medium-Light, the new Ice Hunter Sniper Combo is a great option for ice-anglers due to its versatility, features and affordable price. The spinning reel has a premium 5+1 ball bearing system and has been guide-tested to hold up in brutal conditions. Other attributes include split grip reel seats and matte finish rod blanks with a high-visibility section for easier strike detection.
Northland Fishing Tackle The Boom Stick
Similar to St. Croix, Northland Fishing Tackle also introduced a series of ice rods at ICAST, and just as those were tailored to certain species and techniques, so too are these. The new series includes the Cherry Picker for smaller panfish like crappies and bluegills, the Haymaker for perch and walleye pursuits and the Boom Stick for big ’eye and predator anglers. The rod’s solid carbon blank provides a sturdy backbone for driving hooks home, even in deep water. The Boom Stick has a moderate fast action to handle anything a trophy fish can throw at it, whether it be potent headshakes or blazing runs. It’s also stylish, with custom colors and a Northland grip handle.
Acme Tackle Corporation Tungsten Google Eye Jig
This nifty little jig is perfect for both ice and open-water applications. The rattling tungsten jighead utilizes a glass eye to reflect light and offer an added visual dimension. Meanwhile, the Shockwave Rattle System attracts and draws fish from afar. Features a quality, high-carbon precision-sharpened steel hook for solid hooksets. Comes in two size options — 3MM and 5MM — with 15 color options for each size. One per pack.
LIVETARGET Flutter Shad
LIVETARGET had a big year at ICAST 2019, winning Best Freshwater Hard Lure for its Erratic Shiner and both the Hard and Soft Lure categories for saltwater for its Slow-Roll Shiner and Flutter Sardine. However, it’s the Flutter Shad that LIVETARGET submitted for the Ice-Fishing category, and it’s that lure which is likely to be of most interest to ice-anglers. This innovative new lure behaves like a traditional jigging spoon but has the narrow profile and lifelike attributes of a common shad or sardine. This is possible courtesy of LIVETARGET’s Injected Core Technology (ICT), which enables the inner core to feature a realistic baitfish profile while the exo-skin imparts the lure’s signature flutter action. The result is a very anatomically accurate jigging spoon to help anglers put fish on the ice or in the boat. Comes in five different weights: 3/8 ounce, 1/2 ounce, 3/4 ounce, 1 ounce and 1 1/2 ounce. Ten color options are available.
Lindy Glow Streak
Fans of Lindy’s earlier Glow Spoon might be excited to see this new development. Designed for anglers who like to fish a little more aggressively, the new Glow Streak takes the same illuminated bait technology incorporated in the Glow Spoon and puts it in a hybrid jigging/ripping minnow design that lets anglers be a little more active in their presentations. This hybrid design includes a tail hook similar to those found on many of the jigging minnow-style lures out there as well as a treble hook like many of the various ripping minnow designs on the market. A glow stick is placed into the lure body to produce a soft glow that enhances the lure colors and attracts fish. Meanwhile, big rattles inside the bait further call out to fish. Last but not least, a heavy weight is included in the nose to help produce a tantalizing action. Available in two sizes: a 2-inch 5/16-ounce version and a 2 1/2-inch 1/2-ounce variant.
Looter Lure Ice Jig
This brass lure plated with premium silver features fiber optic inserts designed to collect and give off light, even in the low-light conditions sometimes encountered by ice-anglers. The glow-in-the-dark insert can be charged with a light for a few seconds for maximum glow, as needed. The Looter Lure Ice Jigs can be fished vertically through the ice, or they can be fished under a bobber in open-water scenarios. Available in 10 different color options. Length is 1 1/2 inches, and weight is 1/16 ounce.
Freedom Tackle Corporation Freedom Blade Bait
Freedom Tackle Corps latest is an innovative, versatile 3-in-1 blade bait design with a nice, flashy, fish-attracting finish. It gives anglers the option of determining how they want hooks to be configured for the type of presentation they want to fish. Hooks can be arranged in a standard blade bait configuration with trebles on the belly and rear. For a more vertical presentation, the belly hook can be pivoted to the nose of the lure. Or, for a nose-down presentation, the double hook can be positioned atop the head and pinned into place, and it will release on the hookset.
Phantom Lures Budzo
Yet another lure that offers double dipping capabilities as either an open-water or ice-fishing bait that can be casted or jigged vertically. Its weighted body offers a seductive, gliding action on the fall. Meanwhile, a strong internal BB rattle produces fish-attracting sounds to call in predators. Offered in three different sizes and 12 color configurations.
Northland Fishing Tackle Eye-Ball Spoon
Northland’s new Eye-Ball Spoon gets down to fish fast due to its lead material and compact design. The big eye calls out to an assortment of panfish and predator species. Because it’s available in three different sizes — 1/16 ounce, 1/8 ounce and 1/4 ounce — and 10 different colors, the Eye-Ball Spoon can be fished at a variety of depths and for various species. One per package.
Clam 120V Ice Auger Kit
One of the less-glamorous aspects of ice-fishing, but certainly part of the game, is drilling holes. The new Clam 120-Volt Lithium Ion Ice Auger from Frictionless World is one of the new ice auger options to come from ICAST. The 120-volt battery can drill up to 86 holes through 20 inches of ice on a single battery charge. The entire unit weights 25 pounds and comes with powerhead, 8-inch auger, 15-inch extension, 2 amp-hour battery, quick charger, battery bag and blade cover — and it includes a 5-year warranty and 1-year battery warranty. Because it’s battery-powered, it runs quiet and clean, which can be both pleasant and safe in an enclosed space such as an ice-fishing shelter.
Humminbird ICE HELIX 7 CHIRP GPS G3N All-Season
Humminbird won two “Best of Show” category awards during ICAST. The company’s MEGA 360 Imaging won in the best electronics category. In the Ice-Fishing category, it was their ICE HELIX 7 CHIRP GPS G3N All-Season that took top honors. This is not too surprising given how many key features are packed into this device, not the least of which is the AutoChart Live Ice. This technology allows anglers to create custom contour maps on the ice, eliminating some of the guesswork involved with finding a fishing spot on lakes without established depth contour maps. Take data points at multiple holes and AutoChart Live displays the layout of contours below the ice, permitting hardwater anglers to map and find previously unknown humps and dropoffs on remote or unmapped lakes. Also new with this year’s models is Hummindbird’s Jig Charge Mode, which uses light from the HELIX screen to charge up glow-painted lures. Add in Dual Spectrum CHIRP sonar with target separation down to three-quarters of an inch, CHIRP Interference Rejection to remove noise from nearby flashers, internal GPS and microSD card slot for LakeMaster map use and Ethernet networking and Bluetooth for connecting to other Humminbird units, Minn Kota i-Pilot Link trolling motors, wireless remotes and Humminbird’s FishSmart app, and users have a truly potent tool.
Fish Monkey Yeti Premium Ice-Fishing Gloves
Keeping warm on the ice, as contradictory as it sounds, is crucial to being comfortable and successful during a long day on the ice. The new Yeti glove from Fish Monkey wraps hands in an inner coating of Thermo-Conductive fleece to absorb and transfer body heat while the exterior has 100-percent HIPORA wind and waterproof technology to keep hands dry and warm. Add in some 350-gram Thinsulate for the back of the hand and 150-gram Advanced Cotton insulation for the palm, and anglers will be fishing in comfort no matter the conditions. Also includes premium goat leather grip for comfort and durability, as well as thumb nose wipe, adjustable wrist and cuff and touchscreen-compatible index finger for all electronics interactions.
NISUS Champion Ice-Fishing Suit
This feature-packed ice-fishing suit has tons of positive attributes for the hardwater angler. A waterproof yet breathable Fortex material acts as the outer membrane, while Slaytex insulation provides added warmth (300 grams in the jacket, 250 grams in the bibs). The jacket has a two-way front zipper with magnetic storm flap and chest zip venting. It contains ample pockets — two fleece-line external, two large front pockets and two internal pockets for documents and other important items. The bib also features a two-way front zip as well as leg zipper with storm flap and zip venting. Elastic suspenders are adjustable, and there are two large pockets as well as one for documents. Knees are also Cordura padded for comfort.
VMC Bladed Hybrid Treble
This little number won ICAST’s “Best in Show” award in the terminal tackle category. What makes it so special might just be its simplicity. What’s an easy way to make a bait stand out? Adding a little bit of flash. The Bladed Hybrid Treble combines a small silver willow blade with a 1X-strong, wide-gap, short-shank, high-carbon steel VMC Hybrid Treble via a resin-sealed split ring. The willow-leaf trailer is able to rotate 360 degrees on the split ring, meaning a bait’s natural built-in action can send it kicking out in any direction. It will catch light and produce flash each time this happens to help trigger bites. This piece of terminal tackle can be added to a wide variety of baits ranging from big topwater plugs in open water to blade baits, jigging spoons and jigging raps under the ice. Available in four sizes: 2, 4, 6 and 8.
Aqua-Vu Multi-Vu HD10i Pro Gen 2 Underwater Camera System
Aqua-Vu has been in the underwater camera game for more than two decades, but its new Multi-Vu HD10i Pro Gen 2, appears set to provide all-new levels of visibility. The HD10i Pro Gen 2 utilizes full high-definition 1080p optics to display a dynamic underwater image on a Super Bright 10-inch LCD screen. The unit incorporates a new OptiRX lens to deliver ultra-clear video. Meanwhile, AutoClear Technology self-clarifies the image to meet the given water conditions, whether that be murky, tan-stained or clear water. The system’s modular XD Camera Housing also features a handy Quick Attachment System, which is compatible with all Aqua-Vu XD accessories. Comes with 125 feet of camera cable, a 12-volt battery and charger and has on-screen displays of depth, temperature and camera direction. It is ice-fishing ready and RAM mount compatible for direct, in-boat wiring for open-water applications.