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Ice Time By Mike Frisch

The open-water fishing season is about over for another year. While that is a bit depressing, the good news is that ice fishing is not far off! With that in mind, this is a good time to look at “what’s new” in the ice fishing world that can help us be more successful this coming season.

New lures are probably the first thing people think of when the topic of “what’s new” comes to mind. It seems that some new lures quickly become “the deal” when first introduced, probably because they offer an action, profile, etc. that the fish haven’t seen before and aren’t conditioned to.

Walleye anglers searching for the next hot lure may want to consider the new Macho Whistler Spoon. This lure features a Macho Minnow body, along with sound-producing beads, and a whistling prop blade. The Macho Minnow has been a hot spoon the past couple years and the added noise and vibration of the beads and prop blade offer anglers a chance to call in fish from an even wider distance. Not only are walleyes susceptible to this lure, but perch and pike anglers will probably want to take a look as well.

Walleye anglers have new options, and so do panfish pursuers. The past couple years, tungsten jigs have been the rage amongst many panfish anglers. Tungsten is denser than lead, so tiny jigs that fish “heavy” are possible when made with this ingredient. Pressured, finicky panfish often prefer very small lures.

Last winter, I landed some of the biggest bluegills and crappies of my ice fishing career using Mooska Tungsten Jigs. This year, the new Tungsten Fire-Ball UV Jigs will be added to my panfish tackle box. These jigs are compact, offer an ultra-fast drop through the water column, and have glow-in-the-dark UV patterns that make them very visible in deep water and during low-light fishing times.

Panfish jigs made from tungsten can be fished even more efficiently with some of the new rod and reel models now on the market. Traditional spinning rod and reel combinations in ultra-light actions are used by many panfish anglers. One problem with spinning reels however, is that jigs dropped in the water often spin from line twist. This spinning motion can turn fish off, especially finicky, pressured fish.

Last year, “straight lining” using non-spin reels and sensitive rods gained a great deal of popularity and appears to be the hot new technique amongst winter anglers. Frabill, one of the leading companies in ice fishing innovation, is now offering a pair of straight line rod and reel combinations designed to allow anglers to present baits without jig spin. I can’t wait to get my hands on a Straight Line 241 combo, load it with light line, and tie on a tungsten jig!

Walleye anglers looking to upgrade their rod and reel combos might want to consider one of the new Team Northland Ice Rods. I used these high modulus 100% graphite rods in the medium and medium light options for jigging last winter and was impressed with their sensitivity. Pairing one of these rods with one of the new Laser Lite Speed Spin spinning reels from Lew’s will make the ultimate walleye ice jigging rod and reel. Lew’s reels are known for their quality and affordability and these new micro reels should prove to be great tools for winter anglers.

New tools help those who spend time on the ice do our jobs better! If your goal is to be more successful in your job, you might want to consider some of the tools just mentioned for your 2013 ice fishing trips.

Mike Frisch is a western Minnesota fishing guide and tournament bass angler. His website is available at, or follow him on Facebook.

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