crappie iceIt’s no secret that when the water temperature drops, fish become a tad more finicky than most anglers may be used to. Because of this, making seemingly miniscule adjustments to your presentation or hole placement can mean a world of difference through the ice. One such adjustment that can spell big success is adding a bead to your setup when targeting bluegill and crappie to fill your cooler. Today, we’ll explore how to do this effectively and why it works so well.

The cold waters make fish less apt to use up precious energy to go out of their way and strike a lure. For this reason, you really need to appeal to their senses and instinct to feed, which is where the bead comes in. Not only does a bead add a splash of color that sets your bait/lure apart, but it creates a bit of noise that attracts them by sound, too.

I’d go with one 3 to 4mm bead when you’re using a bobber through the ice for panfish. Start by putting the bead on your line, then tie the hook on so the bead slides up and down the line. This setup adds some size and color to your presentation, which is great for attracting fish.

When choosing a color for your bead, I always find success when I pair opposing colors with the bead and hook. For instance, with a gold hook, I’d probably go with a red bead, whereas with a chartreuse hook, it’s smart to use a glow bead. Pair the bead with a size 12, or even 14, hook with silver wigglers or waxies and you’ll be in good shape.

You’ll want to be sure to keep your hooks sharp, especially with the smaller hooks associated with ice fishing. Furthermore, if the action picks up, it might even be good to widen the hook gap, or maybe even step up hook size, especially if you find that you’re missing fish. Often, going up a size or widening the gap will ensure a better hook-up ratio.

Adding a bead isn’t necessarily a panacea for a slow bite, but that subtle change in presentation can often times be the solution to hesitant fish. If nothing else, it’s a great option for your second hole, when you’re experimenting with different tactics. If you find the panfish bite a little slow this year, try adding a bead to your setup. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.