Hot new ice-fishing gear on display at expo
ST. PAUL -- The St. Paul Ice Fishing Show has become the unofficial kick-off to the ice-fishing season across the upper Midwest. Despite early fishable ice across northern Minnesota, the show on Nov. 30-Dec. 2 was well attended. It was, as usual, chock full of new gear, tackle and accessories that promise to help you catch more and bigger fish this winter. Here are a few things that caught my eye.
Frabill Magnum Bait Station
This insulated live-bait cooler is designed to keep minnows lively for up to three days. The 19-quart model holds a full scoop or more of fatheads, two dozen shiners or a few large-size suckers. Frabill marketing manager Chris Russell said that prototype units were tested across the ice belt by guides and pro-team members last winter. "The cooler itself is overbuilt to handle rough rides on the back of a snowmobile or ATV, or in a boat during the open-water season," Russell said.
The built-in aerator can be powered by two D-cell batteries (not included) or a 12-volt power adapter (included). The complete kit also includes a padded shoulder strap and a lift-out net liner to keep your hands dry when retrieving bait. Replacement latches, nets and aerators are available for easy repairs. Cost is $99 for the 19-quart model, $89 for the 13-quart size.
Jiffy E6 Lightning, Model 56
Jim Hass, sales manager for Jiffy Ice Drills parent company Feldmann Engineering, said the company's first electric auger features the longest lasting battery available. "We designed this unit to drill 80 holes through 24 inches of ice with a 6- or 8-inch auger blade," Hass said. "Using a prototype unit last winter, we were able to drill 54 holes through ice that averaged 32 inches thick."
Best of all, there's no motor to startup and the battery provides full torque until it loses all charge. The configuration pictured above features an 8-inch blade and weighs 22 pounds -- about 10 pounds lighter than a comparable Jiffy gas-powered auger. The company does recommend keeping the battery warm in extremely cold weather. "Many anglers put the battery in an insulated lunch cooler along with a couple of hand-warmer packets," Hass added.
An optional powerhead cover and replacement batteries also are available. Cost is $589 with either 6- or 8-inch drills, and $599 for the 10-inch model.
Northland Tackle Glo-Shot Jig
Building on the success of the Glo-Shot Spoon introduced last winter, Northland Tackle introduced the Glo-Shot Jig. Insert a small glow stick into the body of the jig to produce a colorful glow for up to 8 hours. The single-hook design is ideal for dead-sticking minnows with a soft-action rod or beneath a float. Tipping the jig with a small minnow or soft-plastic lure for vertical jigging should also be productive.
The lead-free jig is available in 12 colors in sizes ranging from 1/8- to 3/8-ounce. Each package includes three Glo-Shot Sticks and a stick-removal tool. Suggested retail price is $6.
Ice Armor Rise
The Rise float suit is a lighter weight version of the company's Ascent suit, and should be ideal for early and late season fishing -- on the ice or in a boat. Ice Armor uses "Motion Float Technology" to add floatation without inhibiting arm and leg movement. Both the bibs and parka are comfortable, waterproof and breathable.
Last winter, Clam Outdoors art director Brian Lindbergh donned an early version of the suit and jumped into a large hole in a lake near Elk River, Minn. "We were shooting a video to demonstrate how well the suit floats," Lindbergh said. "I used pair of ice spikes to crawl out of the hole on my own then repeated the whole process."
Parkas and bibs are available in black or blue, and in sizes from small to 3XL. Cost is $209 each for each piece.
St. Croix Custom Ice
The Croix Custom Ice series features technique-specific rods for virtually everything that swims. The rods are built on a variety of blank configurations. Some fishing presentations call for a solid blank while others are best faced with a tubular blank. Some models use only carbon fiber, while others use a combination of carbon and fiberglass.
The entire range is worthy of consideration, but St. Croix regional account manager Dave Lofgren said the Perch/Eye Spoon model should be popular with ice anglers across the upper Midwest. "The 28-inch tubular carbon and glass rod is designed to fish a 1/8-ounce spoon, and everyone I know fishes a 1/8-ounce spoon," Lofgren said. "But it's also versatile -- I call it the Swiss army knife of walleye rods."
All rods feature premium components, and cost between $130 and $160. Lofgren's favorite, the Perch/Eye Spoon, sells for $140.