A Beginner's Guide to Ice Fishing – Foundry Outdoors
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A Beginner's Guide to Ice Fishing

Deep winter can be a challenging time for some of us. For some, the cold is hard to endure, and all but the warmest days are spent inside. For others, myself included, the short day lengths can make you go crazy. Spending too much time cooped up in the house can help you catch up on a few household chores, but doesn’t get the fresh air we crave. If you are suffering from a case of cabin fever, you might medicate by diving into the many outdoor pursuits winter offers. Whether it is hunting, trapping, or fishing, the depth of winter still can offer lots of outdoor fun. One pastime that has grown particularly popular as new gear has made it easier, is ice fishing. If you are a beginner, and need to start purchasing some gear, you’ll want to make sure to take this basic ice fishing gear along.

Fishing Tackle

Basic ice fishing gear beings with the actual fishing tackle. The pole for a day ice fishing doesn’t need to be anything fancy. Unlike fishing in the spring, summer, or fall, there won’t be any casting involved through the ice. With that being the case, most ice fishing rods are much shorter than your conventional fishing rod. They also are generally fitted with tough, but simple, reels. One feature you’ll want to look for are large guides. With the cold temperatures generally associated with ice fishing, icing can obviously be an issue. Having large guides keeps you fishing longer rather than messing with your gear.

Tip UpAnother handy piece of fishing tackle that is worth taking along is a tip up. A tip up is a great little modern contraption that you can use in lieu of a pole. The basic idea is to suspend the platform over your hole and run out your line and baited hook. When a fish decides to take the bait, it will begin to pull your line. The pulling of the fish, triggers the tip up flag. This allows you to set multiple tip ups and know when they’ve been hit. You can watch a video on the basics of tip up fishing here.

Ice Gear

Even if you’ve never fished through the ice before, you probably assumed there is some specialty ice fishing gear for dealing with ice. You were right. Of course, one of the most important chores when ice fishing is to get a hole made. Although people got along for years without them, these days you’ll universally see folks head to the ice with their ice auger. These tools are simply too efficient at their job not to have one along.

When it comes to choosing an ice auger you have a two main considerations to take into account. First off you need to decide the diameter of the hole you’ll want to punch. An 8” hole is fairly standard hole width and a popular auger width as well. Widths do come in all sizes, but the 8” hole is used by many fishermen out there. Another issue you’ll want to concern yourself with is the power source for your machine.

Ice augerThese days there are all sorts of different power sources for ice augers. Until recently, gas powered augers were the norm. Due to the noise, smell, and weight of a gas auger, fishermen started looking for new solutions. One solution that is really catching on, is using a propane powered ice auger instead. These are designed to be lighter than traditional gas engines, and still bring the needed horsepower to punch through a foot of ice.

You may also consider going a completely different route and opting for an electric ice auger. Electric augers are much lighter than gas or propane powered augers, and have the benefit of being almost silent. If you are looking to go the light and silent route, you may also consider a hand operated auger. Of course, hand augers are the lightest option and quietest. Obviously they have the drawback of having to operate it by hand. You’ll also be limited to smaller holes, unless you happen to be as strong as a north wind in January.


Frabill JacketThe final essential component of good ice fishing gear is proper clothing. Like with all outdoor pursuits, having the right gear can keep you in the field longer, thus improving your success. You surely can use any gear you normally wear in cold weather, but speciality ice fishing clothes have a few key design features. First off, ice fishing clothing will be made from a material that is water repellant. Most people realize that getting wet in cold conditions can really make you miserable. A specialty made coat can help wick away any water that may splash on you, and keep you much more comfortable throughout the day.

Another feature most ice fishing clothing will tout is a windsheer layer. By nature, there is no protection on the ice. If you don’t have the luxury of bringing along a shelter, or windbreak of some kind, you may want an outer layer that helps block the wind. Like water, wind on a cold day can certainly make your fishing trip hard to endure. It is also important to layer up and have a good insulating pair of boots on.

If you suffer through the short winter days and are looking for an outdoor outlet, you might give ice fishing a try. It is a hobby the whole family can enjoy and is getting more and more popular as people find ways to make it more comfortable. Having the right gear is not only important to outlasting the conditions, but can also improve your take for the day. Hopefully after browsing over the basic ice fishing gear, you’ll know what you need to get started. Stay warm and good luck!


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