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Ice Fishing Gear Under $25

Posted by 
December 11, 2012
Published in News & Tips > Fishing > Ice Fishing
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When ice fishing season approaches and it's time to replenish your angling supplies from the previous year, you'll need to gear-up with new products. While ice fishing has it's share of big-ticket items with large price tags, such as portable shelters and power augers, there are many essential items and handy accessories that retail for under $25. The following is a rundown of these affordable equipment options.

Terminal Fishing Tackle

Berkley Trilene 100 Fluorocarbon Ice Fishing Line
Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Ice Fishing Line

Frequently overshadowed by the glitz and glamour of shiny lures and other ice gizmos, the terminal tackle category deserves attention when assembling your hard-water arsenal. Your kit should include the following:

  • Super-sticky single and treble hooks for set-line and tip-up rigs as well as replacing inadequate factory-installed or dull hooks on lures;

  • A range of split-shot sinkers for various stationary and float rig set-ups;

  • Quality ball bearing swivels to prevent line twist; just don't let them freeze during travel or they'll loose their effectiveness and will require hand warmth to get them spinning again;

  • A good selection of clips and snaps for attaching baits when you're not tying direct; and

  • Ice-fishing line designed to handle the rigours of winter. Consider fluorocarbon for its rigidity, low memory and near-invisible underwater properties. If you prefer superline it's best to add a section of fluorocarbon or monofilament leader.

Best Fishing Baits

No ice fishing gear guide would be complete without a discussion on lures. The nuts and bolts of any hard-water collection will include representation from the following categories:

  • Jigging minnows, such as the deadly Rapala Jigging Shad Rap;

  • Jigging spoons in various sizes sporting a range of actions, including rattling models like the Northland Fishing Tackle Buck-Shot;

  • Darters, which are becoming increasingly popular — the Lindy Darter is one great choice;

  • Various soft baits and plastics, with sizes ranging between 1- to 4-inches to cover the panfish to lake trout spectrum — tube jigs are must-have items, as they're deadly on ice; and

  • A selection of ice jigs to match your quarry size — an easy way to ramp-up your inventory is purchasing a kit.

Set-Line Essentials

Using tip-ups or a dead-stick rod is a surefire way to boost the odds of catching more fish in winter, so consider the following components to round-out your inventory:

  • tip-up light will increase the signal intensity of its flag in low-light or heavy snow and overcast condition, and

  • Rod holders to keep reels up off the ice and rod tips visible so you can easily see a strike.

Essential Ice Fishing Gadgetry

I regularly rely on many types of outdoor gear that are outside of the realm of ice-fishing-specific equipment. These go-to items include:

  • A headlamp for hands-free angling and other duties during low light condition; 

  • A small multi-tool for hook removal as well as other duties, such as tightening screws or bolts that came loose during transport;

  • Hemostats or forceps are popular among trout anglers, but these devices are excellent for quickly removing tiny ice jigs from small-jawed panfish, trout and whitefish — opt for a pair with a rubber coated handle for better handling in cold temperatures; and

  • Quality scissors to help make quick work of lure changes.

Ice Fishing Safety Stuff

While this isn't a comprehensive list of all safety-required items, these low-cost products are worth carrying:

  • Ice picks for increased traction and grip in the event you need to perform a self-rescue should you fall through the ice;

  • Ice cleats to wear over your boots for additional traction on glare or wet ice; and

  • A first-aid kit to address minor issues.

Frabill Arctic Fire Tip-Up Light
Frabill Arctic Fire Tip-Up Light

Warm Fishing Apparel

Dressing for winter activities is a broad topic, but investing in a few quality items will dramatically improve your ability to stay warm on the ice and have fun.

  • A high-end base layer provides a thermal and moisture-wicking foundation that will help you stay toasty;

  • Linked to the above you'll want a range of socks in different thicknesses to combat the varying temperatures throughout the winter season;

  • Supplementing boots with insulated liners or heat pads can also increase comfort on bitter cold days;

  • While heavily insulated gloves or mitts are a must, I'm a fan of fingerless gloves and flip-mitts when fishing in a warm shelter or in mild conditions as they allow you to keep your dexterity while offering insulation;

  • Also worth your hard-earned cash are a pair of fully waterproof, insulated gloves;

  • A hat that blocks wind and offers adequate thermal protection is also a must; and

  • It's also good practice to keep a spare set of clothes kept in a duffle bag in your vehicle in the event of an accidental wet boot or when additional layer or a change of clothes are needed.

Ice Fishing Accessories

The following are some other inexpensive items that will quickly find use on your ice fishing outings:

  • An insulated minnow pail or bucket and net for your bait-rigging needs on ice;

  • A variety of shelter accessories are available to organize your ice hut; one good option is a cargo net for collecting loose items;

  • An ice hole skimmer is another essential product you'll need to clear holes of ice and slush;

  • A small shovel has countless uses, such as building up a snow barrier around a portable shelter's skirt to block the wind or removing snow and ice mounds from freshly drilled holes;

  • Carry spare auger parts, such as extra blades, cover and gas cap to be prepared;

  • Small, clear and durable jig boxes and tackle trays that fit the dimensions of your outerwear's pockets are useful to let you carry your best baits when hole hopping;

  • Lip balm and sunscreen are recommended to protect your face from the elements; and

  • A water bottle is also essential as staying hydrated is a critical factor in keeping warm.


Fishing Lures Mentioned in this Article:

LindyDarter small NorthlandFishingTackleBuckShot small RapalaJiggingShadRap small
Lindy Darter Northland Fishing Tackle Buck Shot Rapala Jigging Shad Rap
Tagged under Read 2890 times Last modified on December 22, 2014
Tim Allard
expert

Tim Allard hails from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He's a full-time outdoor journalist and author and photographer of the multi-award winning book, "Ice Fishing - The Ultimate Guide" (2010), which is also available in French under the title, "Pêche sur glace". Tim regularly contributs to numerous North American print and online publications. For more information visit www.timallard.ca.

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