When the going gets tough, ice anglers break out live bait. Minnows are a reliable standby for many species. There are several ways to rig them, depending on the presentation. Here is a run-down of some methods.
Tipping Jigging Lures
- When trophy-hunting walleye with spoons, try tipping each point of a treble hook with a 1.5- to 2-inch minnow. This offering has a knack for getting the attention of big fish looking for a sizable meal.
- Using a single, full minnow hooked through the head works well for spoons or for jigs. If fish are nipping the tail, add a stinger hook to stick them.
- Sometimes using a minnow head is better than the whole body. The entrails boost the scent of the offering and enhance the lure's action, so be sure to leave some guts dangling. Skewering a minnow head works on pretty much any lure or jig for an array of sport fish.
- When tipping lures remember to always check that the minnow adds to the presentation and doesn't sabotage its action.
Set-Line Minnow Rigging
- There are many options for hooking a live minnow on a jig or a hook for a tip-up or a dead-stick rod. Head, back and tail each deliver a different action. Certain days a specific rigging method can trigger more strikes from fish.
- Jig style influences how a live minnow behaves beneath a set-line. Experiment with ball-head, bladed models, banana, flutter and teardrop style jigs.
- Ice guide, Pat Kalmerton of Wolf Pack Adventures, has a great method for rigging minnows on a set-line for aggressive trout or when dealing with murky water conditions. He tail-hooks two minnows on opposite ends of a #16 treble. Each minnow swims against the other creating a disturbance that's potent at attracting fish and triggering hits. He adds a small glow bead above the hook for extra eye-appeal.
There are many ways to rig minnows for jigging lures and set-lines. Be sure to experiment the next time you're on the ice. Refinements in rigging regularly help coax inactive fish to chew on tough days. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog that will discuss quick-strike rigs for dead-bait.