By Nick Simonson
Another ice season is upon us, and with the shift to hardwater comes not only the annual tradition of getting out there after walleyes, pike and panfish but also the review of some of the latest innovations in what has become one of fishing’s fastest growing markets. While things have certainly shifted from the scant selection of miniature rods and the loud-running (but nigh indestructible) Jiffy Model 30, which served as the first and only motorized auger for much of the advent of modern ice fishing thirty years ago, each season on the ice tops the last in terms of technological advances and the winter of 2019-20 will be no different. From a focus on safety-lined suits and the expansion of electric augers, to new advancements and combinations in tackle and tip-ups, the Hottest Stuff on Ice again explores what’s new and what’s next.
Where once just a couple of industry leaders set the standard for winter fishing comfort, a wide selection of bibs, jackets and suits specifically designed for the challenging elements and on-ice efforts are now available to hardwater anglers. Knowing that these sportsmen are a particularly adventurous sort, and their passion takes place on a surface that is never 100 percent safe, companies are cranking out suits that keep anglers warm and afloat in case of emergency. Eskimo (geteskimo.com) enters the market this season with its Uplyft series of bibs and jackets containing breathable flotation material along with StrikerIce’s (strikerbrands.com) inclusion of Sureflote flotation assist technology in a wide selection of its apparel.
Electric augers are taking over the ice providing a lightweight, fume-free option for anglers and the market is expanding with advancements from not only the leader in non-fuel options, but also the inclusion of new offerings from others. Ion (ioniceauguers.com) introduces its G2 line of second-generation electric augers which build on the wildly successful Ion X series and boasts the ability to cut through 2000 inches of ice on a fully charged battery at a rate of one foot every six seconds. Weighing in at just 17 pounds, the newest super-light electric auger looks to continue the company’s success as Clam (clamoutdoors.com) finally enters the auger market with its 120V Lithium Ion Auger. Competition in this arena is growing and most auger manufacturers now sport a lithium battery model for hardwater anglers to consider over the more traditional gas and propane-powered units which previously dominated the hole-punching market.
This season’s “advancement so simple it’s scary” item comes from venerable tip up fixture Beaver Dam now marketed under the growing Acme Tackle banner (acmetackle.com). Known for its old-school looks and premium performance on the ice, Beaver Dam has taken its simple design for wooden fish traps and added a circuit that sets off a highly visible LED light at the end of the tip up flag, signaling the race to the hole in nighttime or low-light fishing conditions when a fish takes the bait under the new Northern Light model. The unit is powered by three AAA batteries stored in a watertight compartment and the light can be switched off with the push of a button for daytime fishing. While more expensive than just any tip-up, the all-in-one light-up version may well be worth if for die-hard night anglers.
Glow to Go
Finally, the expansion of glow-everything continues under the ice as UV colors, iridescent hues and insertable light stick options for many baits continues the illumination trend. Lindy’s (lindyfishingtackle.com) new Glow Streak swimming lure builds on the success of the company’s Glow Spoon from the past two seasons, and both baits utilize interchangeable glow sticks that light them up from the inside out, providing an almost surreal presentation in the depths beneath the ice. The new Glow Streak is available in a four-lure kit to help jump start a tackle box expansion with the baits and the light sticks ready to go for the season.
These additions and tweaks to existing technology continue the refinement of the modern ice fishing era designed to help anglers succeed throughout their winter efforts. A far cry from the days of simply running a perch eye or a small minnow on a #4 hook below a split shot and a slip float, they serve as a sign that each year brings new improvements and things to try to increase success on the ice, while making the pastime of ice angling more comfortable and providing new ways to heat up the action…in our outdoors.
Featured Photo: Utilizing glow stick inserts, the Lindy Glow Streak swimming lure builds on the company’s popular Glow Spoon line and is a unique innovation this season. Photo Courtesy Lindy Promotions.