Outdoors column: Ice angling on the leading edge

The big Ice Fishing Show at RiverCentre has come and gone and has historically served as a proper sendoff to the hard water season.This year’s event was bigger than ever with another level added and more manufacturers, more displays and more people than ever before.

They came to see the latest and greatest, see a seminar, maybe buy a big ticket item like an ATV or shelter or maybe book a trip to a northern destination.

I was there to work the show for a couple of manufacturers that are my sponsors but still took a little time off to peruse through most of the displays.

One of the things I noticed was the fact that there was no shortage of high-end rods and there were some really cool stuff designed specifically for panfish. The latest trend includes adapting a fly reel to a super light action spinning rod.

Because of the way fly reels retrieve and store the line there is no twist added like spinning reels do. Spin or twist in the line will end up at the lure and a spinning bait is an unnatural occurrence that can turn off super fussy bluegills that have monocles for eyes and spend a lot of time studying a bait before taking it in or rejecting it. The downside is the fact that they’re not real effective in deeper water because their retrieval rate is so slow. Manufacturer 13 Ice has addressed the problem with an addition of a fly style reel called the Black Betty 6061 but is geared and retrieves at a rate of 18 inches per turn which definitely opens up its use in deeper water and panfish are often found in deeper water. The bad news is they will be hard to find this year because of their popularity.

Another big hit was a new electric auger called the Ion which makes use of a high speed motor and a lithium ion battery. It comes with an eight-inch auger and a 12-inch extension and reportedly can drill up to 40 holes through two feet of ice which would handle most of my needs. There was a video being played that demonstrated the 40 holes being cut as well as measuring it up against a couple of brands of gas augers which was rather impressive. Even more so was a live demonstration where an Ion representative actually drilled through an eight inch block of ice in no time flat. It gives you the feeling that you could be seeing the future of ice augers.

Insulated portable shelters aren’t new but there was more of it in more styles. Having fished out of an insulated portable shelter there is no turning back.

Last year I used a 949i from Eskimo that was much, much warmer than the standard canvas, was incredibly quiet and produced virtually no condensation. For this season they’ve added three insulated flip over models including the Wide 1 which is a rather unique one man. It has an expandable bracket that provides 30 percent more fishable area with the push of the button allowing you to actually work two holes and still have room for a heater and a depth finder. In fact there is one of them in my garage right now, all rigged and ready to go.

See you on the ice.

Ron Anlauf is a contributing writer to the Outdoors page.

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