Core Concepts Make Ice Fishing Easier

By Tim Moore:

Spending hours on a frozen lake isn’t easy. Your body works overtime just to stay warm. Then, add the activity level that often accompanies ice fishing, such as drilling or chiseling holes and chasing tip up flags, and it can be downright exhausting. The degree of difficulty extreme cold temperatures add to fishing is what keeps most people from trying ice fishing. While there is a ton of gear designed to make ice fishing easier, core concepts, such as efficiency and mobility go a long way to make ice fishing easy enough for even the most warm blooded people.

When you strengthen your core muscles with exercise, you train the rest of your muscles to work in harmony, which leads to better balance and stability. The same can be said for ice fishing. Exercising core concepts on a regular basis not only improves technique and lure control, but ice fishing actually becomes easier. The hottest new lures and trending techniques might catch a few fish, but they do little to improve your ability as an angler, especially when everything is frozen.

Efficiency is arguably the foundation of any core. A highly efficient ice angler accomplishes more tasks in a shorter amount of time, and therefore catches more fish. Being efficient means eliminating unnecessary steps. Fewer steps means more time fishing, and more time fishing means more fish caught. Every second you spend with your line out of the water is time spent not catching fish.

Efficiency begins off the ice. There are many things you can do before you leave your house that will make you more efficient. Start by leaving equipment and lures you won’t need at home. If you’re going fishing for panfish and you have larger rods mixed in with panfish rods, you will have extra gear to deal with on the ice. It doesn’t seem like a big deal until you’re fishing in sub-zero temperatures and the rods you need get tangled with the rods you don’t need.

Rigging multiple rods with different lures before you leave your house will also reduce steps on the ice. Then you can cycle through pre-rigged rods rather than tie new jigs in the cold, wind or snow. Have you ever seen the deck of a tournament bass angler’s boat? They have many rods rigged with different lures so they don’t have to re-tie while they are fishing. The same goes for ice fishing, especially when it’s freezing out.

The work you do at home pays off on the ice, but there is more you can do while fishing to make things easier, such as putting gear back in its place when you’re not using it. Then when you want to move you have less equipment to put away. Sometimes we are so excited to get fishing that we tend to lay gear on the ice when we are done using it rather than put it back where it belongs. By the time we decide to move there is gear all over the place, which makes moving harder.

The Godfather of modern ice fishing Dave Genz always says, “If it’s easy you’ll do it.” Focus on ways to make everything easier and you will be more productive. The little things add up. Just as backpackers try to shave ounces off their packs to make hiking easier, successful ice anglers are always trying to shave off unnecessary tasks to make fishing easier.

The equipment you use also contributes to your efficiency. A Vexilar sonar flasher removes a lot of the guesswork. Figuring out if there are fish under you and their depth could take hours without a flasher. A sonar flasher is easy to use. It will instantly show you the entire water column including the bottom, your jig, and anything else that shows up under you, such as a fish. All in real time!

Clam Outdoors makes a number of items specifically designed to make certain tasks easier on the ice. Prices range from a few dollars into the $1,000 range. The simple low-cost products often make a big difference. The Clam Can allows you to carry bait in your pocket. Not a big thing, but it makes a huge difference when it’s cold. Rod Slicks keep ice rods from getting tangled, and Fish Trap shelters get you out of the cold quickly and allow you to move around easier. The parts all have a sum that equals success.

Mobility is another important core element of ice fishing. Mobility allows you to cover more water, which allows you to put your lure in front of more fish. Think of ice fishing the same way you do when open water fishing. We rarely head out onto the water and cast in the same spot over and over again. Ice fishing is no different. Every hole you drill is a cast. Make more casts and you’ll catch more fish. If you make a lot of casts in an area and don’t catch anything, move to another area and repeat. Give yourself a time limit, and don’t stay in the same area if you’re not catching fish.

Ice fishing doesn’t have to be cold and difficult. Core concepts that make ice fishing easier also make it more fun. Establish a routine and it will become second nature. By constantly thinking of ways to strengthen your core, you make ice fishing easier. Before you know it, you will be catching more fish than ever before. And who doesn’t love catching more fish?

Tim Moore is a full-time licensed fishing guide in New Hampshire. He owns Tim Moore Outdoors and the New England Ice Fishing Academy. For more information visit or his channel at

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