Preparing for ice fishing trip

One of the most important tasks for anyone who wants to go ice fishing, is to prepare for next season. It’s late summer right now, so the season is only few months away. Lots of devoted ice fishing enthusiasts are starting to prepare for season right now. If you want to have great time on the frozen lakes, maybe you should too. Most people with subpar ice fishing equipment do fine, but people who have the most fun ice fishing are those who prepare very early.  There are many parts of ice fishing equipment that you need to prepare, but we’re going to focus on most important ones – rod and reel, shelter, augers, clothes. At first glance, it might seem hard to make sense of all this. You might not even have any idea of what rods and reels are supposed to do. I tried to explain things for that level of understanding. First off, i’ll discuss shelters and other minor ice fishing equipment that might be useful to you.

 There are few different types of ice fishing shelters. I can’t really recommend best shelter for you – for that, i’d need to know what your needs are. I can only give you broad outlines on how to choose shelter for yourself, and the rest is up to you. For instance, depending on how big your group of friends is, you should decide the size of the shelter you’ll get. I would recommend getting a shelter that houses at least four people though. Price difference between small and medium-size ice fishing shelters isn’t that much anyway. Plus, you might make more friends who like to go ice fishing, so it will be useful to extra room in your shelter, just in case.  

  Just because i and many other experienced ice fishing enthusiasts use it, doesn’t mean that you’ll need ice fishing shelter too. If you are beginner, there’s a big chance that you won’t need ice fishing shelter. Most beginners avoid extreme cold weathers and go ice fishing when weather is less extreme, so they can get away with not having shelter more easily.

 Stereotype is that ice fishing is expensive hobby to have, but in truth, it’s the opposite. You can get started with simple chair and ice fishing rod and reel, plus jigs combo. All of that will cost you less than fifty dollars, if you do your research right before buying any product, you’ll be just fine.  Many of the best ice fishermen i know have started that way. On the other hand, if you want to get serious with ice fishing and take on more extreme challenges to catch more fish, you will indeed need to slowly upgrade your ice fishing gear.

  Having good ice auger is even more important than any type of clothes or shelter.  The task of choosing good ice auger for yourself is much simpler, because there is much more narrow pool of options. You have manual augers, which are cheap and get the job done, but require manpower to operate. There are also electric and gas augers, which are automated and therefore take practically no effort on users’ end. The conclusion is – if you plan on drilling many holes, get expensive automatic augers, while if you think you won’t be drilling that much, it’s better to stick with manual augers to save money and time. You can technically survive without having ice auger at all, but manual ice auger costs too little for that to be a realistic option. The effort it takes to drill holes without ice augers is much more valuable than about twenty dollars, which is what good manual ice auger will cost you.

 There are many more gadgets – for example, sonars and flashers that people use to catch more fish. They are by no means necessary for beginners to have fun, but having one is certainly a plus. Pros don’t want to waste time on discovering best spots for ice fishing or drilling holes with their hands and that’s okay. It’s totally different for beginners though – significant part of the fun is exactly the process of finding best spots to drill and drilling them. Still, modern gadgets are pretty powerful and if you have budget that allows for such luxuries, go for it. It will indeed help you catch more fish, but i still remain unconvinced that catching more fish equates to having more fun.

We have one major part of ice fishing gear left – clothes. By clothes, i mean boots and gloves too. High quality clothes – boots, gloves and bibs combined – will set you back by about three hundred dollars. Most of that cost will be due to bibs and boots. I have Frabill bibs and can attest to their excellent quality. Baffin is the best manufacturer of ice fishing boots, i think. I’ve owned two pairs over the years and they sure have kept their quality standards high throughout last few years.

 Gloves are extremely important too. They protect your fingers, which are some of the most fragile parts of your body. You must absolutely make sure that gloves you get will be warm and waterproof, or you might put your health to risk. Good ice fishing gloves cost around twenty to fifty dollars. Some people also use skiing mittens, but i don’t like them because they lack dexterity. For more tips and tricks regarding the process of choosing ice fishing gloves, check out this tutorial. I, and probably you too, need to be flexible while on ice fishing trip.

Most essential parts of your ice fishing gear – Tutorial

Getting started in ice fishing obviously requires some upfront investment. You need to buy tools and learn ins and outs of the process. But there is right and wrong way to get started in ice fishing. The right way, in my opinion, is to start buying your ice fishing gears from core essentials, and then expand it to things that are nice to have, but aren’t necessary.

 First and foremost, the cornerstone of any ice fishing tool kit is the rod. It is the one thing you use almost all the time. Good thing about ice fishing rods though, is that they’re quite inexpensive. Especially if compared to other ice fishing equipment like tents or clothing. For under fifty dollars, you can afford basic ice fishing rod and reel combo that will allow you to catch most common fish. That’s basically all you need – you can use anything to break the hole in the ice, and if you have ice fishing rod properly set up, you are ready to go. That’s inefficient in the long run, but perfect for when you’re just getting started .

 But using random tools to make a hole in the ice isn’t always a good idea. It might work, but there are more efficient ways to perform the same task. Most effective, yet simple tool you can use to speed up the process is hand auger. Hand augers are rather simple – they are made of metal and have pointy ends, and they are supposed to be used manually. Compared to having no auger at all, they are indeed huge improvement, but there are ways to dig your ice fishing hole even quicker. You can achieve these feats by using either electric augers or gas powered augers. They are much faster and don’t put a lot of pressure on your body like hand augers do. In the beginning though, i’d recommend to stick with hand augers. The ones that dig a hole through ice automatically for you are good if you’re doing it a lot, and in the beginning, you don’t have to do it a lot.  

 Next, we have the rest – ice fishing shelters, clothes, and other minor accessories. Shelters are good investment only if you plan to go somewhere very cold. Otherwise, warm clothes and good gloves should suffice as a protection from cold weather. Buying shelter is also a smart idea if you have group of friends who like to go ice fishing, but none of you have one. I first heard(or read) this from ice fishing enthusiast who is also a blogger. You can buy one as a group and it will be much cheaper in the end.  Or you can borrow from someone, if you know such a person. At first, renting an ice fishing shelter is also a viable option. You don’t want to buy one for using it that once. So it’s good idea to rent it to find out how much you like ice fishing. If it turns out that you like it quite a lot, you can buy shelter afterwards. Talking about various ice fishing shelters, their prices and differences, will take too long. That’s why i’ll recommend reading this tutorial about choosing good ice fishing shelters.

 Boots and good socks for ice fishing trips are also worth buying, because you have to protect your feet at all costs. Same goes for gloves. Bibs on the other hand, aren’t essential, but if you have budget for it, they can make your trip very comfortable.

How to choose ice auger as a beginner

Ice auger is one of the most essential tools that every ice fishing enthusiast must have. It is important to the core of ice fishing – it’s the thing you use to dig holes in the ice. Of course, there are some alternative tools you can use, like hatchets or hammers, but those have two big flaws. First of all, they’re not designed for this type of work, so they won’t allow you to make consistently good holes,  and second of all, they will take too much time. Plus, you might not be able to make a hole in thick sheet of ice at all. My point is, if you value your time and energy, it’s smart to invest in at least a decent hand auger. They don’t even cost that much – you can find nice used augers for about twenty bucks on craigslist. By the way, i do recommend buying them on craigslist, because they’re too heavy to be shipped otherwise and too big for retail stores to sell at reasonable cost. That’s why i always choose local craigslist listings when looking to buy one.

 Hand augers aren’t the only option you have though. You can either buy hand augers – the ones that require manual labor to perform the task, or you can buy powered ice augers. Those are the ones that require some kind of fuel to perform the task, but they perform it at much faster pace and with little to no energy cost to you. You press the button, and they get the job done. Choosing between manual and powered augers is usually pretty easy. If you plan to go ice fishing only once in a while and don’t mind spending energy on making couple of holes on your trips, then you should get hand augers. They’re much cheaper and have simpler structure, so they’re more reliable as well. Powered augers are reliable too, but still, there are engines involved, and something can always go wrong. To protect yourself from such accidents, you should only buy powered auger after reading experts’ ice auger reviews. In contrast to hand augers, gas or electric-powered augers are much more expensive as well. In my opinion, they’re only worth getting if you are experienced in ice fishing and have a habit of making a lot of holes in the ice. In that case, they’ll save you a lot of time and energy. Or you might be just recreational fisherman who isn’t concerned about the budget and in that case, go for it.

  Powered augers also differentiate based on their raw power and thickness of the ice that they can cut. Most augers will be able to handle anything below 10 inches of ice, but if the lake you happen to be on is especially cold, you’ll need to check product description to find out it’s maximum capacity. Other than that, figuring out how to use them is pretty simple, i think.