No different than in open water, each trip on the ice is unique: we fish at different depths, with different lures, for different species, each time we venture on the ice. As a result, every angler should own a basic arsenal of ice rods and reels that will cover the typical contingencies they may face during the hardwater months. Let’s begin by dissecting the issues surrounding rod, reel, and line selection for ice fishing.
Just as when fishing open water, the variables we need to consider when picking an ice rod are length, power, and action. Of these, length may be the most significant difference between soft- and hardwater rods; while a long rod for bass fishing might extend into the eight- to nine-foot range, the longest rod you’re likely to ever string up for ice fishing is 48 inches long, and most will be significantly shorter. To a certain extent, rod length correlates with your target species: most panfish rods fall into the 20- to 30-inch range, walleye rods are frequently 32- to 36-inches long, and apex predators, like pike and lake trout, are often best pursued with rods that are 40- to 48-inches long.
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