Ice fishing is work. Just to get a line wet, you’ve got to drill and scoop. Just to keep a line wet, you’ve got to clear ice from the guides. There are a ton of little things that can make a hard-water outing much more challenging than fishing on a sunny summer afternoon, so it should be no surprise that smart ice anglers have come up with a pile of gear hacks to make any day on a frozen lake a little easier, more comfortable, and a lot fishier. You could fill a book with these tricks, but here are four that every serious ice fisherman should know. They all require a few inexpensive items you probably have lying around at home.
Hockey tape was made for the ice, and even though hard-water anglers are looking for a different kind of score, they should always have a roll on hand. A few wraps around the butt and foregrip of any jigging rod immediately improves the hold and comfort, but hockey tape can be used on any ice tool. If you’ve ever had the cheap rubber handle cover disappear from your ice scooper, you know the feeling of metal freezing to a glove or the burning sting of touching it with your bare hand. A few wraps of hockey tape can easily fix that. Should your bibs or jacket get hooked or ripped, the hockey tape will keep a tear from getting worse until you can make a permanent repair.
In summer and winter, water temperature is very important - these units will help you discover areas that should be comfortable for your target species. Safety is found in structure, for prey and predator alike. The illusion of safety for baitfish equates to food for prey. So locating proper structure is certainly important. It's been said that 90% of the fish can be found in 10% of the water. Believe it. If you're fishing structure in the middle of a lake or a man-made reef, knowing what's below you is important. Now you know.
Bait: If you're not using live bait or cut bait, you'll want to use artificial bait or lures. Most artificial lures resemble the type of bait fish or other food, such as worms or shrimp, that the fish you're trying to catch normally eat. These artificial baits can be scented and have metal spoons attached to them or be painted in metal flake to reflect light in the water. Other types of bait include jigs and jig heads, spoons, flies and spinnerbaits, which you can attach artificial or real bait to, and attractants to make artificial lures smell lifelike.