Imagine, you are on early ice…how comfortable with your gear are you?

I am not just talking about your line and jigs, yet.

I am talking about your outdoor wear. Are you prepared to survive if you fall in?

Nobody is ever really prepared for how you will react if this does happen, but you can protect yourself and better your odds of survival, one incredible measure is having the proper suit. The technology in float suits has come an immense way.

I encourage everyone – early, late or any ice in between (because we all know no ice is ever safe ice) – to spend the extra money for peace of mind. Clam Outdoors is at the forefront of this technology.

This year they introduced the Rise suit for men, and the Glacier suit for women. Its patent pending ‘Motion Float Technology’ assists the wearer if they should fall in. Along with a float style suit, you should always wear ice picks to help pull yourself out.

These picks range from $6 to upwards of $22, as an inexpensive option to save your life. These need to be checked every year to make sure they are not rusted together. A way to prevent this, is to spray them with graphite spray.

A couple other things you need are an emergency throwable rope – self-explanatory, but make sure you check it annually, as ropes can fray. As well as a spud bar to test the ice thickness in front of you. Once you have these, use them! It is always better to have them and not need them, then to need them and not have them.

Next, how comfortable are you with letting the biggest fish you’ve ever caught through the ice break off? We all hate when we know we have a big one on (let’s be honest – they all seem like a huge fish because you can’t see it) and the line snaps because you have old line on that has gotten kinks in it or nicks from reeling and scraping the edge of the ice hole.

Every season you need to peel your old line off and put new stuff on, this will help to protect from unnecessarily losing that fish of a lifetime or even if it’s a smaller fish; dinner that night. Everyone has their own preference of what is best, but that’s exactly what it is – a preference.

There are many great brands of line, my only advice is if it’s cheap, you pay for what you get. A question I get asked a lot is “What’s the difference between mono and fluoro?” The application depends on what you are fishing for, rod, tackle and how you want to fish. Monofilament floats, so for a finesse bite, as well as tightlining, this is a great application of this line.

Sunline makes a fantastic mono Frost ice line for CPT-Clam Pro Tackle, this product or Stren Crappie Mono are my preferences. With fluorocarbon, you get more of a response as it sinks faster. It reacts faster so you can change your cadence without line lagging.

So just remember, Mono = float, Fluoro = sink.

If you are a walleye angler and use braid, make sure you spool a cheaper mono for a backing so that your braid doesn’t spin on the inside of the spool.

Braid has a coating on it, and when it is on the spool, it has a tendency no matter how tight you get it, to spin on the spool.

Moving onto the reel portion. Have you checked the reel seat, how is that looking? If you have one, give it a check, wipe it down for dirt, and tighten it up. However, you may not have a reel seat. Why is that you ask? The short answer is the new quality blanks sometimes have shorter handles hence no reel seats.

Reel seats make for a bulkier handle and hence you lose sensation and have a heavier rod. Make sure if you don’t have one and you were previously using medical tape or binders that you replace them. Do yourself a favor and check into Cold Snap Reel Wrap bands or Clam Outdoors Pro Wrap. Both offer a great hold without worrying about ruining cork or leaving impressions on foam.

Now, when it comes down to your jigs, before heading out to the ice, go through your jig box. Pull out the rusty ones and use a file to sharpen and clean them up. Or a great alternative is to not let them get rusty in the first place.

You know those packs you get when you buy new shoes, a purse, or medicine? Keep them! I always put a packet of silica in my jig box at the beginning of the season and switch it for a new one at the end of the season. This helps prevent them from rusting. Or you could just be lazy, throw out the bad ones and help the economy by buying new ones. And, well, who doesn’t need new jigs!?

How about your Vexilar or electronics? Have you charged your battery at all this summer!?! Well now is the time! Plug it in, charge it up, and make sure it holds a good charge. Vexilar has a smart charger available for purchase. This charger stops the battery when it has a full charge, so it does not over charge nor overheat.

While that is getting juiced up, pull out that tried and true Vexilar and give it a once or twice over. A few things to check out are your screen, cord, and transducer. Make sure your cord does not have any exposed line, knots – yes, I have seen this (insert eye roll), or kinks. And while you are checking that out, peruse your transducer.

Make sure it is cleaned off for a good read and has no visible cracks. Take a moment to wipe down the screen and if all looks good, then you are set for your electronics. If not, then give Vexilar a call or stop on into their building in Bloomington, MN. They have a top-notch customer service department, who are among the best at getting your flasher where it needs to be.

Oh yes, we cannot forget about your auger. These can be a nemesis when they are dull or don’t want to start. We will start with the good ole gas auger. You either end your season with a full tank of fuel or you run them out of gas and store them for the season.

Fill it with fresh gas if empty. Or if you left it full, it’s a good idea to empty it and fill it with fresh gas so the carburetor is not gummed up. Next check your spark plugs, air filter, and fuel lines – check for dried or cracked lines. If all looks clean, then you should be set for the season.

My preference and easiest for use and reliability is the Clam Drill Auger Conversion, also affectionately known as the drill plate. As with both augers, make sure you have a sharp set of blades on – and always use a cover when not in use.  Cold Snap makes amazing covers for K-Drill (which I use), Nils, ION, and many more. It’s always a good idea to have an extra set of blades in the vehicle with an allen wrench so you can easily switch them out if needed.

With the drill plate, you will want to check your auger and make sure it is tightened up. Look at the motor shaft where it is attached to the plate and see that the set screws are tight.  Also, look and make sure that the drill is flat against the vertical bracket, not loose.

If you have multiple batteries, have those charged up and ready to go. If you have a soft sided cooler laying around your house dig it out. This is a great place to store extra batteries for your drill. I throw a disposable hand warmer in, or a stainless-steel bottle with hot water (in a towel or plastic bag in case it may leak) to keep the batteries warm. This keeps them running longer.