New Ice Product Breakdown
One of the best parts of beginning any ice season is putting new baits to the test. You fish them, put them up against other lures in their class, and find what place if any, they hold onto in your tackle box. Old favorites are replaced or at least pushed to the back of the pile, and new technologies find their way into everyday applications. There are lots of ways to fool a fish, but most new baits focus on ways to entice via sight, sound, or both.
The new ice products from Northland cover both of those bases, offering anglers an upper hand in getting fish to both find, and eat. Especially in pressured systems, new lure types can make a difference in offering especially predators, something they simply haven’t seen before. Building new technology into time-tested lure designs, then coating them with proven colors has been a productive strategy as evidenced by these new offerings.
Glo-Shot Fire-Belly Soon
Glow paint has been around for a long time in fishing lures, and offers some distinct advantages, especially in stained waterbodies. I’ll never forget catching crappies on Minnesota’s Upper Red Lake in the early 2000s with a variety of glow-red spoons and jigs. We employed everything from super-bright flashlights, to camera flash bulbs that super-charged the glow in these jigs. Eventually, all luminous glow paint starts to fade in intensity, requiring a recharge to maintain the same effect.
That’s where the glo-sticks come in. The Glo-Shot Fire-Belly Spoons are pretty simple in design, have good colors, and have great hooks as a prerequisite, but really shine (pun intended) when that glo-stick is deployed. Pull it out of the package, bend it to “break,” and shake it to distribute, then insert it into the center of the lure. I’ve got a strong, bright luminescence from a Northland glow stick for up to 12 hours, and certainly all day.
For me, it’s been great in any of the tannic, bog-stained environments of the north, down to some of the turbid backwaters and productive lakes I fish in the south. Especially when fish are on the move in the early morning or late evening periods, I feel like I draw more fish to my setup with them than any standard jigging spoon. That little light does most of the work, so you don’t need to over-jig it either. Simple shakes and a slow raise before the hit has been most productive for me. Both walleyes and crappies love the thing, and with a few different sizes and plenty of colors in both lures and sticks, you can really fine-tune the situation at hand.
Red is a classic glow color, but I’ve been experimenting with chartreuse a great deal and really like how bright it is. On top of that, I’ve been pairing contrasting colors quite a bit, as I’m convinced from a color strategy standpoint that contrasting colors stand out in underwater environments. I know those colors stick out to me on an underwater camera, and I think fish can spot it much more easily from afar that way too, as it doesn’t blend into the blurry underwater background as easily then.
Of course, all of which is part of the fun. A few that have worked really well for me are Super Glo Perch with red, UV Purple Tiger with Red, and Super Glo Redfish with chartreuse. Mix and match your own color combinations to dial-in forage imitations for the lakes you fish.
Rattlin’ Puppet Minnow
One of the best bait styles of all time, both for open water and ice, has been a darting minnow lead-type bait. Until now, it’s been a reaction bite lure, focusing on the visual attraction to draw fish to strike. The Rattlin’ Puppet Minnow has been fun to fish, because it takes that darting action, and adds a ton of vibration and sound to a proven winner. It darts, but also dings.
The front hook has been removed, making it easier to fish on ice, and the rear hook is enlarged to make for better hooksets with big fish. It’s a bit front-heavy, which I like because you can dart it away from you, and also get it to rock in place really well and get that rattle pumping. I’ve been using it in the wheelhouse or whenever stationary to call fish into place. Not only can fish see the erratic action from distance, but they can hear/feel it through the vibration being kicked off.
Getting fish to come closer is often the name of the game, even if they never eat the offering you’re immediately presenting. That’s where deadsticks and rattle-reels come into play. If they never get close enough, however, you’ll never catch them, and bringing fish from the sides with a Rattlin’ Puppet Minnow is something that has really worked this ice season so far.
It’s important to note that this is a bait that works well in deep water especially. It’s heavy and gets to the fish quickly, and at those depths, again it’s nice for fish to have something they can both see and hear. React-to, as well as feel in their lateral lines. As we get to more mid-winter bites, walleyes inhabit deeper structures and you’re simply fishing a bait that excels in these depths.