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Tom's Tips



Modern ice anglers have a huge selection of lines to choose from, and many of these are specially engineered to help you catch more fish in specific situations.

A thick book could be written to cover them all, but to keep things as brief as possible, you can significantly increase your catch by using thinner diameter, lower memory lines. Premium, thin diameter, low memory ice lines such as HT’s IBL Ice Black Line or ARL Arctic Line provide several advantages.

First, they balance dramatically better on today’s lighter micro, finesse, ultralight and ultralight rod and reel systems, helping improve presentations with tinier ice jigs. They also cut through the water more quickly if you’re trying to lower tiny lures quickly, don’t ice up as easily and add greater sensitivity to your overall presentation. Low memory also means no “coiling,” which increases sensitivity by helping you maintain constant contact with your lure. It also stands to reason that these lines will be easier to rig whenever you’re fishing tiny, #14, #16, #18 or small micro jigs with tiny eyes--thinner diameter lines fit through thinner diameter eyelets much easier.

But don’t limit your light line usage to micro and ultralight panfish situations! For example, you’ll catch more big, finicky winter fish such as walleyes and largemouth bass by using somewhat downsized lures, and correspondingly cutting your line test down from 10# to 6# or 8# to 4#--but don’t stop there. We’ve actually been catching finicky, double-digit walleyes on Great Lakes bays in recent years using longer, 48-54” micro rods such as HT’s MM-48 or MM-54 Micromaster rods, quality spinning reels (with the drags set light) spooled with 2# test line and tipped with bare-bones jigs on dead-stick systems.

This is happening when very few fish are being taken on more traditional systems. The smaller, lighter presentations are highly effective. Just be sure to use a longer rod—the extra “sweep” helps offset mistakes because you can keep your line tight without adding pressure--simply follow the fish and lower your rod tip on hard runs. The trick is to set the hook, keep your rod tip high and the drag set light. You may even wish to consider “thumbing” a loose spool to make the reel even more forgiving. Retrieve line slowly, taking your time, and lowering the rod as necessary on runs. Maintain a tight line, but don’t apply too much pressure, always using every opportunity to gently raise the rod while slowly retrieving line.

Once the fish nears the hole, don’t try bringing it close—a short line between your rod tip and fish equals disaster when fishing light lines. Instead, keep your rod high and call for help—your partner should be able to reach down with a hand or a skimmer and guide the fish’s head into the hole. Remember, if the fish runs, lower your rod and give it line as needed until it can be lifted to the ice.

Now you’ll be experiencing the full benefits of the light line advantage!