Joel Nelson with a walleye he caught ice fishing with a jigging spoon

By: Joel Nelson

Spoons are a staple, plain and simple. Many times I’ve been testing new lures, exploring wrinkles in a different presentation, or just caught with the wrong bait at the wrong time while buddies are way-laying crappies, walleyes, or perch on a spoon. While their application can be basic – tip a treble with minnow head then deploy – the design and ultimate draw of each type can be very complex and different among different species and depth ranges. Here are my top 5 ice fishing spoons, ones I can’t do without, and always have ample supply of come ice fishing season.

Macho Minnow Spoon – There are few fish that won’t give a Macho Minnow and fathead combination a second look. For good reason too, especially in clear water, I find that the right color, size, and cadence can really wreak havoc on walleyes. To me, that has something to do with the fact that it’s flat-sided and has an interesting sashay on the drop, but its broad angles allow it to be the perfect billboard of sorts. In many of the best colors, it simply stands out well underwater, and the kickertail flipper on it offers some really subtle motion as fish close. I make sure to rig my minnow heads on the opposite portion of the treble to that kickertail, ensuring it has the widest range of motion when I jig. Especially if you’re walleye fishing, the larger sizes are great, but for perch too, the 1/12 oz version is as good as it gets in clear water.

Macho Minnow Spoon in Bubblegum Tiger color

Bubblegum Tiger – Macho Minnow


Forage Minnow Spoon – For panfish, I absolutely love the Forage Minnow spoon. So often with other spoons, you’re trying to utilize larger-than-wanted sizes against panfish that just don’t want something that big. That’s where the Forage Minnows 1/32 oz and 1/16 oz sizes come into play. This allows anglers to select for panfish, perch, crappies, or multiples, given the body of water or situation they’re fishing. For deep water crappies, you’ve got an appropriately sized spoon in the 1/16 oz version that gets deeper and isn’t too large, and for gills, you’ve got something compact that’s doable for them too. What’s equally important, especially for panfish, is the 15 colors you get to play with on these things. When parked over a school of looming crappies, or trying to entice some weedbed gills, it’s really nice to have a few colors to run through along with the varied sizes.

Forage Minnow Spoon in Purple Wonder color

Purple Wonder – Forage Minnow Spoon

Glo-shot Spoon – In every good spoon lineup should be a flutter spoon, this one just happens to have a great flutter and a powerful glow coming from the center of it. Flutter alone is a fish-killer, and that’s been confirmed over many years with many different series of spoons. That lazy back-and-forth on the drop can really trigger walleyes that otherwise circle, rise, then fall. Moreover, it gives you a different look from some of the other lead-style spoons that can offer little action in comparison, but draw in fish with different mechanisms. I like the color combinations I can create with these spoons, as I tend to focus on contrasting colors. Glow red with metallic colors, and glow green or chartreuse with the ladybug and wonderbread colors. Especially on lakes with a good track record for glow baits producing, like Upper Red Lake, Lake of the Woods, and Devils, it’s nice to be able to finally add a glow component to spoons in general, let alone a flutter spoon.

Glo-Shot Spoon in UV Purple Tiger color

UV Purple Tiger – Glo-Shot Spoon

Glo-Shot Fire-Belly Spoon in UV Glo Perch color

UV Glo Perch – Glo-Shot Fire-Belly Spoon


Buck Shot Spoon Series – It’s always been hard to beat a Buckshot rattle spoon. For decades, this bait has put more fish on ice than most others combined, and not just because of the rattle. Sure, that’s the novel portion of this bait, with the brass “click” that really travels, but I think people forget about how many sizes, colors, and now shapes this bait comes in. The Buckshot flutter spoon offers a glass rattle and probably the best hybrid clear water/stained water option I’ve seen in a long time, due to the great colors and flutter that creates a visual appeal, and an audible tick from the rattle inside it. The Buckshot Coffin spoon is another interesting take on the audible plus visual, with a different fall and tumbles due to those beveled edges and large flat surface. This series is fun to play around with and again, is offered for more than just big-water walleye anglers. Panfish options abound in each part of the Buckshot series.  This series of spoons alone could make up our top 5 ice fishing spoons.

Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon in Sneeze color

Sneeze – Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon

Buck-Shot Coffin Spoon in Super Glo Redfish color

Super Glo Redfish – Buck-Shot Coffin Spoon


Bro-Bug Spoon – Some baits are simply “fishy.” Specifically, this bait to me looks “buggy” with the protruding, well-defined eyes that have always been a hallmark of great fish-catching baits. Probably what impresses me most with these spoons is the great weight to size ratio, meaning that bait can still be small and digestible to a variety of species while still being hefty enough to fish fast. Quick is what this bait is all about if you remember how fast you can get depth in a swimming pool with a pencil dive. That same principle applies, here, meaning it’s an instant classic for deep perching, suspended crappies over depth, and mud-flat walleyes. Getting back to the buggy, you’ve got a bait here that looks the part, especially when tipped with some euros or waxworms. This spoon is plain fun to fish, as you know it’s got a broad appeal from a multispecies perspective, making it a great choice when you’ve got a bevy of panfish species in the water body you’re fishing.

It’s tough to go wrong with a spoon, though there are quite a few differences among the types. Own a few of these staples in some key sizes and colors, and you’ll appreciate the humble spoon too. After being through tackle from some of the best anglers in the world, I can tell you that they often make up the bulk of all ice-fishing lures in the box, so you’ll want to make sure these top 5 ice fishing spoons are in your tackle box for this next ice fishing season.

Bro Bug Spoon in Super Glo Chub color

Super Glo Chub – Bro Bug Spoon

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