Tackle & Techniques- Ice Tackle Trends

Tackle & Techniques- Ice Tackle Trends

Jan 1, 2013

The Latest & Greatest on Ice for 2013  (Part I)

By Mike Pehanich

If products are, indeed, the lifeblood of the fishing tackle industry, at least one segment of the industry appears to be in robust health.

The St. Paul Ice Fishing & Winter Sports Show at the St. Paul RiverCentre, November 30 through December 2, 2012, was the celebratory launch to Minnesota’s 2012-2013 ice fishing season.

Brian Brosdahl explains the “Straight Line” concept in exclusive SWF video on this post. See below!

“If the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show were the measure, I’d have to say that there’s nothing wrong with the economy,” said Scott Glorvigen, who with brother Marty are the twin faces of Minnesota Northwoods fishing on Wired2Fish TV, NBC Sports. “People are buying product. Resort booths are full of people. And more companies are getting involved in ice fishing tackle.”

New soft plastics were only the tip of the "iceberg" at the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show.

Ice around the state may have been “iffy” to non-existent at the time, but new ice fishing tackle, gear, accessories and other accoutrements appeared in abundance.

Stirring discussion and interest on the show floor was Rapala’s mushrooming presence in the ice world, bringing together leading brands under the “Ice Force” umbrella.

Rapala had etched its name in the ice-angling lexicon long ago with the Rapala Jigging Rap. But even that iconic presence prepared few for the company’s ice fishing market onslaught in 2012 when the company purchased StrikeMaster and Mora of Sweden augers, Otter Outdoors, and established a marketing alliance with underwater electronics star MarCum.  Rapala also markets ice fishing line under its Sufix brand.

Insulated ice shelters marked one conspicuous trend.

“Everyone wants an insulated home on the ice now,” observed Scott Glorvigen. “A few years ago, no one wanted to invest in one.”

On display were insulated shelters from Clam, Frabill, Eskimo and Otter.

New lures for 2013

Expect far more micro-plastics to substitute for live bait offerings this coming season. Many of these tiny artificials made from super-supple plastic formulations quiver with tantalizingly subtle action even at rest – and offer convenience to boot!

Northland Tackle's new Impulse soft plastics, impregnated with a proprietary scent, were among the new lures on display for the 2013 ice season.

Northland Fishing Tackle expanded its already voluminous ice tackle offerings with an array of Impulse soft plastic baits impregnated with a scent/attractant formulation said to be 143 percent more effective than the market leader.

The Impulse Panfish Baits include a Mini Smelt, Mayfly, Waxy, Tapeworm, Stone Fly Tadpole, Roundworm, Jig’n Tail Mayly, and Jig’n Tail Smelt, as well as baits expected to spend more time in open water angling than working through the ice — one-inch Tube, Water Bug, Angleworm, Jig’n Tail Mini Crawfish, Jig’n Tail Waterbug, 1.5-inch Paddle Bug, and Sumo Worm.

Marukyu of Japan made a surprise appearance at the St. Paul show. The company, which markets carp baits and chums under the Marukyu brand and artificial lures under the Nories and Ecogear brands, introduced the Ecogear VX blade bait and Ecogear ZX, a shrimp-shaped blade bait, at the show. Both were instant hits.

“Two men from an international ice fishing team bought a big bag of the Ecogear VX, and soon everyone was coming to the booth to buy them,” reports Munenori Kajiwara, U.S. distributor for Marukyu brands, which also displayed a line of Ecogear soft plastics for ice and open water panfish. “But then they bought the ZX baits, too. We had none left when we left the show.”

Marukyu's Ecogear VX blade baits and the shrimp-shaped Ecogear ZX (left) blades were a hit with ice tournament anglers.

Rods & reels

No, that’s not a new line of fly rod/reel combos for the Seven Dwarves.

The “straight line” rod/reel offering in Frabill’s Bro Series last season was a bonus addition to the eight spinning rod/reel ice rods. But once experienced ice anglers recognized its value, it became a harbinger of one of this season’s hottest trends.

“Straight line,” reels – a.k.a. in-line reels – resemble mini-fly reels and operate similarly. Their advantage in ice fishing presentations is the fact that line pulls straight off the reel. Ice jigs often spin unnaturally from spinning reels due to coils created as line comes off and winds around the spool.

I fished with Brian “Bro” Brosdahl, the driving force behind the straight line reel and combos in this new series from Frabill, on several lakes in the Grand Rapids, Minnesota, area last February. Frabill had but one model ready for market at the time, but Bro provided a hint that more “straight line” combos were on the way.

“Bro” explains the Straight Line concept in this exclusive SWF video


The new Bro Series Straight Line 241combos ($79.99 MSRP) come in 30-inch Light, 24-inch Quick Tip, 36-inch Quick Tip, 30-inch Quick Tip, 24-inch Ultra Light, and 36-inch Light models. The Straight Line reel also comes solo ($59.99 MSRP for the 241 series; $29.99 for the 101 series).

Frabill added another twist to the Straight Line concept with 48- and 54-inch Jiggler Ultra Light Long Rods. The Jiggler design passes line through the center of the rod blank. The result is a bare minimum of wind interference and superior sensitivity. Long rods – a growing trend in recent ice seasons — are great for hole-hopping in shallow water where fish often are ultra-sensitive to an angler’s presence. The long rods give an angler “reach” from the hole.

Frabill also introduced a titanium spring bobber that fits easily on most ice rods for better “light bite” sensitivity.

More new ice fishing products including insulated ice shelters, augers and electronics in Part II.

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