One key piece of ice gear is a bucket. Not only will a bucket hold live bait and your catch at the end of the day, but it can also serve as a rod holder. Berkley’s Bucket Rod Holder is a great option for securing your dead-stick rod when using live bait, and at only $4, it’s affordable. If you already have a bucket, then you can pick up a caddy, such as Bass Pro Shops’ bucket caddy, for around $9.
Depth finder weights are inexpensive and are traditionally used to quickly find the bottom when you’re setting tip-ups and other stationary lines. You can also use them to add extra weight to an underwater camera if needed.
Snaps will make changing your lures quicker and easier than retying baits, and they don’t interfere with your lure’s action. Swivels will reduce any line twists, which can be your worst enemy when you’re trying to draw strikes from finicky cold-weather fish.
Small soft plastic finesse baits are super effective, but don’t cost a lot at all. Baits such as Gulp! minnows or Squirt Tubes attached to a small jighead will make for a great day on the ice. Furthermore, these small plastics appeal to a wide variety of species, including panfish, whitefish, walleye, and trout.
Add one or two inexpensive glow beads before tying on a hook for a set-line minnow rig. Regularly charging these beads with a lantern or flashlight will keep its strong throughout the day, which can help bring in fish when the water is dark, or after nightfall.
Finally, it’s smart to pick up a pack of hand warmers for the ice season. Hand warmers can reduce the chill in your fingertips, which will let you get back to catching fish and keep your hands nimble for tying knots and changing baits. It’s smart to keep a few on hand during your outings, just in case.
The gear outlined today is inexpensive, but vital, and will jump start your ice fishing season on the right foot this year. Be sure to pick them up if you’ve been thinking about hitting the ice this winter, as they’ll help make a solid foundation for your gear.