Our Outdoors: The hottest stuff on ice

February 5, 2009 by  

By Nick Simonson

“It’s that time of year again. Even though there is no snow on the ground, and just barely a glazing of ice on the Sheyenne River, it won’t belong until white is everywhere underfoot, and outdoorsmen make like holy men and walk on water in search of hot fishing action.

In order to prep you for what is sure to be another long and eventful season of ice fishing, this article, will address what I feel are the top ten advancements made over the past year in the increasingly popular sport of ice fishing. From lures and rods to augers and shacks, the top ten innovations on ice are as follows.

Number 10 – Tired of your auger blade grinding into the ice and freezing solid with newly frozen water from the dozen or so holes you just punched? Do you worry about the blades dulling, rusting and falling into disrepair while you sit in your ice shack? Me neither, but the good folks at Cold Snap industries have us covered.

Auger Blade

Auger Blade

A simple cup-shaped snap-on protector called the Cold Snap Cover, with its easy attaching cover and rubber security strap provides all the protection auger tips need in harsh weather, and in transport. Retailing around $27, this cover holds tight to the auger point, so you can hold tight to your money, and worry more about buying bait, than purchasing new auger blades. The Cold Snap Cover is designed to cover all Jiffy auger models with eight and ten inch blades. More information on this handy cover can be found at www.coldsnapcover.com.

Number 9 – If you are anything like me (a wuss when it comes to cold weather having spent four years in Florida, and still not gotten used to these cold winters again) protection from the ice, cold out-flowing water from fishing holes, and wind is a must to make any on-ice excursion a lasting trip. The key is to dress warm and waterproof.

Ice Armor

Ice Armor

Thanks to Clam Corporation, the maker of nearly a dozen portable ice shacks, protection from the elements can start at the body level. Clam’s new Ice Armor body suit is waterproof, windproof, and has more storage area than a Craftsman toolbox. With multiple pouches, pockets and D-rings to attach your tackle and ice fishing tools to, this get up will get you going on the ice. The complete set, consisting of durable parka and overalls retails for around $300, setting the pace for the ice-fishing fashion market. For more on Ice Armor gear, log on to www.clamcorp.com.

Number 8 – For the new generation of on-the-go ice anglers, who don’t waste time sitting around if the fish aren’t biting, storing, transporting and re-setting equipment can be a real trip burner. Newcomer, Ready Rig industries had these fast-paced ice fishermen in mind when they created the Ready-Rig Icepack. The Icepack stores several rods, tip-ups, tackle boxes, and even a folding chair, so that run-and-gun ice anglers have everything they need strapped to their



backs. The set-up boasts many pockets and a roomy main chamber for all of your fishing combos and equipment. The pack is available at many retailers and provides quick protection for all of your valuables on the ice. Learn more about the Ready-Rig Icepack, and all of Ready-Rig’s transportation products at www.readyrig.com.

Number 7 – Every year brings a new competitor in the on-ice sonar market. Each new company attempts to chisel away at the icy grip that the Vexilar series has put hold on the under ice fish finders. This year is no exception. Lowrance, maker of many popular multi-colored and high-end open water sonar systems and GPS combos, has entered the fray with its X67C Ice Machine. The set up, similar to portable sonar systems for open water fishing, boasts a bright 3.5 inch monitor with 256 colors in its display. With a pixel resolution of 320×240, this device is on par with many warm water fish finders. The system is powered by a 12-volt battery, which is sealed in the pack itself, preventing any wiring disconnections. A battery charger comes with the factory package, providing easy recharge right out of the box. The Ice Machine is priced competitively with other companies’ models at around $400. For more information visit www.lowrance.com

Number 6 – The first generation of Buzz Stix ice rods was impressive, but still left much to be desired. The rod would quiver with the press of a button, and the line would vibrate. However, much of this action was lost with lines that were heavier than four-pound test. The second season of the Buzz Stix ice rod boasts several new improvements and new models for anglers looking to tweak their presentations under the ice. The new Auto Buzz Stix presents three different levels of fish-attracting wiggle. The settings are designed to attract fish through constant buzz, to pulsate in short bursts to trigger curious fish, and to activate negative fish in an extended pause-buzz-pause sequence. These three options give far greater control to the angler targeting certain areas, and using certain tactics depending on how the fish are, or are not, biting at the time.

Further, Buzz Stix has introduced the Hot Stix line. These hand-warming models are designed to not only vibrate, but also generate heat to keep angler’s hands warm on the ice. By inserting a heat pack into the base of the rod, anglers can keep fingers from going numb. To catch the buzz, log on to www.buzz-stix.com.

Number 5 – A newcomer on the portable ice shack scene is Eastman Outfitters. However, their 60-second pop-up Tundra Tuff ice shanties draw on years of the company’s experience in short-order deer blinds and other field blinds. In both two- and four-person models, the Tundra Tuff shanty boasts lightweight transport (20 and 24 pounds, respectively) and minimal setup effort. This means that anglers can spend less time loading and unloading their shack, and more time fishing. The Tundra Tuff models come in their own backpack, for easy portability. More notes on the Tundra Tuff line can be found at www.eastmanoutfitters.com

Number 4 – Where tried-and-true ice fishing reliability and limited economic impact meet, you’ll find Frabill’s new Arctic Fire line of tip-ups. At a mere ten bucks each, every angler can afford three or four to fill out the front line in the battle to catch more predator fish. With its new bright yellow body and classic blaze orange flag; this tip-up is tough to miss on the ice, or when its flag is waving around with a fish on the other end. A built in ruler, as well as high-quality components from flag to filament spool, will make this tip-up a top choice among anglers this year. Log on to www.frabill.com to see all of their fine ice fishing products.

Number 3 – In the realm of under ice attractants, swimming lures have become all the rage. From the Nilsmaster line of jigging shads, to the Rapala Jigging Rap, lures with more than just an up and down motion are now the go-to for many anglers pursuing predator fish like walleye and pike. Northland Tackle enters this arena with its new and improved Airplane Jig. An old classic lake trout lure, the Airplane Jig has had some tweaking done to it during the warm water season. With a stabilizing ‘V’ built into it, along with its classic airplane wings and trailing treble hook, the new version of this frozen-water favorite is sure to hook both anglers and fish with its flying movements. Learn more at www.northlandtackle.com – Having eyes in the back of your head would be a perfect thing when pursuing anything outdoors, be it game or fish. NatureVision, the industry leader in underwater optics, and maker of the Aqua Vu line of cameras, grants many anglers that very wish, with its new top-of-the line model for 2005. The Aqua Vu Quad 360 consists of a four-frame monitor and a four-camera under-ice unit that allows anglers on the surface to see whatever activity is going on in any direction under the icehouse. The seven-inch monitor is compact enough to fit any ice-rig, yet big enough to show movement in any angle. The 360’s Spectral Response lighting system helps brighten up dim waters, and provide vision when night falls on the ice. To see more, visit www.aquavu.com.

Aqua Vu

Aqua Vu

Number 2

And the hottest, most innovative advancement on the ice is…

Number 1 – Most people are from the camp that more is better. Less is not more, MORE is more, and the engineers at Strike Master couldn’t disagree less. The StrikeMaster Laser 224 auger has, count ‘em, one, two three, four; yes FOUR blades that cut through ice like a hot spoon through ice cream.

Strike Master

Strike Master

Tipped with a power point stabilizer at the end of the auger, the 224 stays put in position while the four serrated ice-busting blades rip through the thickest surface. The new auger is the most powerful and fastest model designed by the company, and can tear through three feet of ice in a matter of seconds. With its two horsepower engine, the behemoth of blades is still light enough to be transported efficiently. When it comes to punching holes, the 224 is at the forefront of technology, log onto www.strikemaster.com to learn more about this sharp looking auger.

So there you have it, a great wish list for Christmas and a hot new arsenal of ammunition to throw at whatever species of fish you are pursuing under the ice this year…in our outdoors.


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