Open water is getting harder to find. (Get it?) The difference between ice fishing success or just shivering over a hole can be a fine line. Whether you are new to ice fishing or have years of experience, it is important to have the right gear.
Due to the importance of ice fishing safety gear, there will be many shared components between beginner and advanced ice fishing anglers. The ice fishing gear list of each will include items such as a lifejacket, warm clothes, ice safety picks, and ice cleats. When it comes to fishing, beginner ice fishing gear can be minimalistic. Basic ice fishing gear conceivable could only consist of a hook, line, and a method to get through the ice like an axe or chisel. Standard spinning or spincast fishing gear could work in a pinch, but the lighter the gear, the better. At a tackle shop, especially if you are new to ice fishing that new ice fishing gear may seem unusually small. However, downsizing gear is a must for ice fishing. The basic setup will consist of a rod and reel combo which is shorter than your arm, 4 lb. fishing line, and little jig type lures.
Beyond safety gear, the differences between beginner and advanced ice fishing gear often reflect the ability of the angler to be persistent. This can mean items to stay warm (proper clothing, hand warmers, wind protection via a popup shanty, etc.). Being able to drill multiple holes also can help keep you over fish so the upgrade to a power auger, along with a contour map are among the must have ice fishing gear for the advanced hard water angler. Eventually, one may acquire enough equipment that organization and the ability to move efficiently to more active lake areas will become an issue. So, additional gear such as an ice fishing gear bag and a sled will be important additions. And then a list of the best ice fishing gear would need to include electronics. Advanced ice anglers invest in depth finders and nifty fish cameras that provide concrete evidence that indeed, you have found fish.
Ice fishing beginners may give up too soon. This could be because they are too cold or have not been able to locate fish, which often are grouped together under ice. With experience and by upgrading with new ice fishing gear, you will be able to stay safely on the ice longer and thus, increase the chances of success through a hole in the ice.
Andy is an outdoor writer (http://www.justkeepreeling.com/) and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to takemefishing.org since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.