The best days are days when fish will eat anything but as ice fishermen, we know that is unlikely. Choosing a bait that does not coincide with fish behavior can lead to inefficiency and greatly decrease angling success. While fish behaviors are out of our control, we can control educated bait choices and potentially increase how many fish we ice.
Fish behavior can change quickly by school or even by fish, caused by weather fronts, fishing pressure and time of day. Vertical presentations (under the ice) allow fish to inspect and analyze a bait as long as they wish so as ice fishermen, we need to select the best presentation while maintaining efficiency to accommodate changing fish attitudes.
Is carrying a variety of rigged rods, ready to drop as fish attitudes change, the best option? An action or cadence specific bait can be exceedingly difficult to match changing behavior because of its specificity. It is also rather difficult to aggressively rip a tungsten jig or fishing a glide bait delicately. Spoons, on the other hand, are unique and can be presented in countless ways to entice the most neutral to the most aggressive fish with no change needed.
There are characteristics of spoons that add to their flexibility in creating actions and enticing bites. Shape differences like a Northland Tackle Buck-Shot Spoon and a Flutter Spoon affect action by creating varying fall rates. Spoons that create noise or rattles produce vibrations can draw fish from a distance. Sizes or weights ranging from 1/32nd to 3/4oz. merely create different sized profiles in addition allowing them to be fished in any body of water for any species. With endless color options, it is easy to match forage and water conditions. Northland Tackle’s NEW Glo-Shot Fire-Belly Spoon even adds a glo-stick to enhance visibility in dark/stained water or low-light conditions in addition to UV colors. Adding live bait and plastics to spoons only adds to their versatility.
When it comes to rod/reels and line, spoons can be fished to your strength and confidence. Matching your rod weight/action to spoon weight will allow for proper presentation. For example, it may be difficult to fish a 1/16th Northland Tackle Forage Minnow Spoon in a very subtle way with a long, medium action rod and detect bites. Spoons can be effectively fished on everything from braid to monofilament. Tying smaller spoons directly to fluorocarbon and mono is best whereas with braid a leader will allow for a more natural fall and action. A small snap is often used allowing for easy change in size and color when spoons 1/8 oz or larger are being fished.
Subtle to aggressive, spoons can produce almost any preferred action. Like the smallest horizontal jigs, spoons can be jigged to barely move attached spikes and with the next aggressive stroke can cover 1-2 feet. Achieving this without changing spoons simply makes them a bait that can counter any fish behavior or attitude.
Of course, there will be days when a horizontal jig (ex. Mud Bug Jig) or a glide bait (Puppet Minnow) is preferred. To maximize efficiency, make sure a variety of spoons are in your arsenal as it is not uncommon to fish the same spoon throughout a day simply by changing how it is fished to match fish attitudes. Spoons can ice every fish that can be caught through the ice and it is probably safe to say that there more trophy fish that have succumbed to a Northland Tackle Buck-Shot Spoon that any other. Have a safe winter ice season and GOOD LUCK!