By Tim Moore
One of the first lessons I teach new anglers and those looking to increase their catch is how to properly match their ice fishing rod and reel to their line and lure. A correctly matched rod, line, and lure is an important ingredient in the success of any angler. Will you catch fish with an improperly matched setup? Sure, but with well-balanced gear you’ll catch more fish, feel your lure, detect more bites, and ultimately become a better angler.
The species of fish sought usually dictates what size rod and what pound test line to use, but lure weight and action often plays a heavy role in which rod and line to use. Every lure is designed to produce a specific action. Some lures are designed to be fished fast, while others are designed to be fished slowly. When fishing lighter lures, such as the Epoxy Drop from Clam Pro Tackle, 2-3 pound test line will allow you to produce the quick kicking action that drives most fish crazy. Light line will straighten out faster, allowing you to produce the quick kicking action that works for any of the Tungsten Drop Series lures.
Depending on the size of the fish you are after a 24” or 26” rod will allow you to control your lure, but also detect bites. If you increase the size of your lure you’ll want to increase the size of your line and rod to accommodate more weight on the business end of your setup. A 26” rod paired with 4 pound test line is a more appropriate match for a heavier lure, such as a ¼ ounce Clam Blade Spoon. If your lure is too heavy for your rod it will load the rod and prevent you from controlling the lure and detecting bites.
Selecting line for use in cold weather presents a unique challenge. Even the best monofilament line has memory, especially when it gets cold. When your line comes off the spool it is going to want to coil. These coils act as springs and can dampen the action you are attempting to produce with your lure. Line coils also prevent you from detecting bites by adding cushion the same way a shock absorber adds cushion to your vehicle. Use a good quality ice-specific line to increase sensitivity and reduce coils.
Ice fishing rod construction is very specific. The days of using ice fishing rods made from broken blanks stuck in cork handles are over. Every rod is built to certain specifications based on power and action, just like open water rods. With today’s rod construction you can tailor your rod to the lure you’re using and fish species you’re after.
One of the best ways to gain an appreciation for a matched setup is to fish with one that isn’t matched well. It won’t take long to realize how much of an advantage the right match gives you. When you change the size of your lure, be sure you make the necessary adjustments to the rest of your gear. A properly matched setup allows you to maximize the potential of your equipment, which means better sensitivity, better lure control, and more success. More success means more confidence, and more confidence means more fish.
Tim Moore is a full time licensed New Hampshire fishing guide. He owns Tim Moore Outdoors guide service and the New England Ice Fishing Academy. For more information visit www.TimMooreOutdoors.com or www.NEIceFishingAcademy.com.