By Nick Simonson
The ice fishing market has exploded in the last twenty years. Where once only a couple of companies dominated the auger, fish house, and sonar categories when I started this column detailing the annual advancements in on-ice technology, now hundreds are present, creating better competition across all hardwater product classes and a free-market economy that would make Adam Smith proud. This year sees that continued expansion with new products such as the growing electric auger market, and tweaks on classic options like tip-ups, as those items and more take center stage in the Hottest Stuff on Ice.
Led by Ion Ice Fishing’s (ionicefishing.com) eponymous auger, electric options on the ice went above and beyond some iffy offerings a decade ago to models that lasted most of the day and held a charge to drill dozens if not hundreds of holes on one battery. This winter, a trio of electric options push the boundaries of power and brag of “better than gas” drilling ability. Ion’s G2 builds on its established green line of electric augers, providing a new top-tier offering for ice anglers in its series of rechargeable options. StrikeMaster (rapala.com/strikemaster-augers/) also looks to crank things up with its new Pro Lithium 40V Lite auger, shaving three pounds off its Lithium 40V series with a leaner, longer-lasting powerhead in its electric series. Finally, auger industry pioneer Jiffy (jiffyonice.com) seriously enters the electric fray with the Rogue, a model offering a two-speed motor capable of cutting up to 2,400 inches of ice on a single charge.
Frabill (frabill.com) again outdoes itself this year, continuing to tweak its tip-up line with the VYPR straight line model. While its price tag of around 70 dollars might cause budget anglers to balk, the advanced fish trap has all the bells and whistles the extra cost would suggest. Among them are a built-in aerator to keep holes from icing up and insulation around the base of the unit to prevent the edges from freezing. The top boasts a clear lid, lighted trip indicator and a high-visibility plastic flag with reflective striping for low-light fishing. The in-line reel with two ball bearings ensures a smooth release of line when a fish picks up the bait as well.
HT Enterprises (htent.com) brings economic rod-based tip-up options to the masses with its Quick Strike Auto Hooksetter retailing for around 15 dollars each. Designed to hold a rod steady in a bent position until a fish bites and set the hook on the take, the simple plastic base is an affordable option for deploying combos around the ice and sensitivity can be varied by adjusting the line clip and trigger release.
While on-ice sonar offerings have plateaued in recent winters after catching up with open water models in terms of features, the batteries which power them have become a market unto themselves, as lithium lines in various sizes and powers for traditional, digital and live-view units hit the retail space. Companies such as Amped Outdoors (ampedoutdoors.com), Dakota Lithium (dakotalithium.com) and Norsk Lithium (norsklithium.com) have created lines of batteries dedicated to the ice angling sphere and are now in the thick of competition for a growing niche of sportsman dollars for these options that power sonar for days at a time without a recharge.
What’s next on the ice is anybody’s guess, but this season once again brings with it a step up in hardwater angling technology. From new ways to open the water, more power to do it, and tweaks on established technology, there’s certainly some novel offerings to once again heat things up this winter…in our outdoors.
Simonson is the lead writer for Dakota Edge Outdoors.
Featured Photo: Jiffy enters the high-end electric auger market with the Rogue. Image courtesy Jiffy promotional.