With the turning of the season, our favorite outdoor retail stores have been gearing for the coming ice season by putting out all of the latest and greatest lures, devices, and accessories to help us be more efficient and successful out on the hardwater.
As the popularity of the sport as grown over the last decade, the amount of tackle to help us bring those fish up through our ice holes has also grown exponentially.
It has grown so much that it can very difficult to choose lures with such a variety available to use, especially when it comes to ice fishing spoons, which have gained more popularity over time, thus leading to more options and choices. There are the standard natural colors (gold, silver, blue, black) along with an array of new choices in glow or UV enhanced colors. Then there’s the different shapes and designs to look at. And each season, more designs and colors come along, further adding to our choices and confusion.
What do you pick when the spoon options are almost endless? The hard answer is that there is no one answer and picking spoons to use depends on what you are fishing for and where are you are fishing. Here in the Black Hills, where there are a plethora of large and small lakes to choose from, what works on one lake may not necessarily work on another. That is evidenced by the very large collection of spoons I’ve acquired over the years. Across the Ice Belt, every ice fisherman and woman have similar decisions to make on what and where they will be fishing. A simple answer would be on clear lakes, use flashy patterns and spoons that will tumble a lot to attract fish in your area. On stained lakes, natural or UV/glow colors work best or spoons that rattle or make noise to draw in fish to them should be used.
Many brands make many different types of spoons these days. I’ve been a fan of the variety of spoons that Clam Outdoors has been putting out over the last several seasons. For those clear lakes around the Hills, the Leech Flutter spoon is always a winner thanks to its unique tumbling design. It’s always fun when a fish slams this spoon on the flutter down. For those stained lakes, the Rattlin’ Blade and Time Bomb spoons put off a lot of noise, especially when jigged aggressively. Many times, the noise brings in the fish and if they choose not to hit the loud spoon, throwing a smaller spoon or jig tipped with a minnow head closes the deal.
New last year, the Pinhead Mino spoon became a favorite of mine for crappies and perch and makes a great bottom-pounding spoon thanks to its design. I’m looking forward to using the new Jointed Pinhead Mino this year. The extra motion of the swinging head should be a real attractant for upwards-feeding fish. The Small Pea Slab spoon is also a great flashy spoon for bass as well as crappie and trout and its single hook gives a good deep hookset into a fish’s mouth and also allows a Maki plastic to be used much easier than a standard treble hook. There are other good spoons out there in the market too and many of them are in my tackle box as well, but when it comes to that first drop with a spoon, it’s usually going to be a Clam one.
Once you’ve selected that spoon to start with, how you use it will be entirely up to the attitudes of your intended quarry. For panfish, I prefer more subtle movements with my spoons, bouncing them up 6” to 8” and letting them fall. For larger fish, I’m usually bringing them up anywhere from 10” to 16” or so before letting the line slacken. For those that are rattling baits, most of the time, I’m aggressively jigging them, making those ball bearings in the spoon move and make noise, often pounding them into the bottom. But while these are my standard cadences for them, in no way are they the only ones. The fish dictate how and when I use them.
With such a wide variety of spoons out there, it can hard to pick which types to use. Go into your local outdoor retail store in early December and you’ll be bombarded with the spoon selection that is available for us to use on the ice. Just remember to choose the ones that you think will best fit your local lakes and the fish available—clear vs. stained, panfish vs. predators. This is a simple formula to help break down which spoons to look for and pick the ones that you have the most confidence in. More than anything, confidence in a spoon is needed or else you will never use it or won’t fish hard with it. Be sure to use what you know about your local lakes to make the most informed decision and then actually use it! Once that first fish slams that spoon, you’ll have all the confidence in the world to use it and others in the future.