Attach a spring tip
It can save the day when they’re biting light. Here’s how
Want to double, triple and, on many days, quadruple the number of fish you catch? Attach a simple spring tip to the end of your ice rod. This is especially effective when you’re ice fishing for neutral, negative, turned-off black crappies, bluegills, ciscoes, pumpkinseeds and yellow perch. It’s the easiest, most strategic detail you can employ to help you catch more fish.
Not familiar with a spring tip? It’s merely an 18-inch piece of ultra-thin wire (titanium is the most sensitive) that you affix to the end of your rod as an extension. If a fish so much as touches your bait, the spring tip will bow like a palm tree in a hurricane, alerting you to set the hook.
One winter day, for example, I put 23 slab crappies on the ice, while my fishing buddy caught just one. The only difference in our set-ups was the HT Enterprises Marmooska Spring Bobber I had attached to the end of my rod with fly-tying thread and epoxy. (Stringease Tackle also makes wonderfully sensitive spring tips you can snap on and off your rod, although I like to anchor mine permanently.)
Fish with a spring tip for tough-bite crappies and other panfish
There are two other significant spring bobber details to remember. For some strange reason, most ice anglers place their sonar unit on the ice off to one side of the hole. This forces them to move their head back and forth between watching the spring tip and monitoring the sonar screen. Instead, place the unit behind the hole and immediately in front of you so the spring tip is directly lined up with it, a fraction of an inch above the screen. That way, you can see how the fish are reacting to each one of your rod’s movements.
Many days, the fish will want your bait perfectly deadsticked and totally still after you’ve ever so subtly twitched it. To do that, lay your rod on the ice with the reel nestled and cushioned in a small pile of crushed ice, keeping the spring tip directly above the hole. Then tap the tip a couple of times with your fingertip and watch what happens. A final bit of advice? Hold on!
Fishing editor Gord Pyzer hones his ice-fishing skills near Kenora, in northwestern Ontario.