Are you a die-hard ice fisherman and you don’t have a gas or electric ice auger? Not a problem. Even if you don’t have a powered auger, you still don’t have to spend all day drilling holes in the ice.
The right manual auger and a few tricks of the trade will allow you to spend more time fishing and less time catching your breath between drilling.
Buy the Right Size
If you don’t need big holes, don’t kill yourself making them. A 6-inch auger chews through ice much faster and smoother than an 8-inch model, and, honestly, it’s all you’ll really need for trout, panfish and pickerel. Of course, if you’re targeting larger fish like pike or walleye, you’ll want to go with a larger hole.
Keep Those Blades Sharp
While augers make drilling through ice look easy, your blades can get nicked or become dull over time. If you find that your auger’s blades are biting more and cutting less, you can hone them with a file or have them professionally sharpened. It’s also wise to keep a spare set of blades on hand and make sure to keep the blades covered when not in use. The sharper your auger’s blades, the easier it will be to drill.
Dress for a Workout
It’s easy to work up a sweat drilling holes, but damp clothes and winter weather don’t bode well for your health. To prevent chills, make sure your baselayer is as thin as possible and made from a material that will wick sweat away from your skin, like UnderArmour. You’ll be warm while you’re drilling, but a wet cotton baselayer makes for a miserable time sitting over a hole for hours.
Don’t Neglect Posture
Drilling with a hand auger is all about form. To get optimal performance from your auger, be sure to keep your feet shoulder width apart and make sure you have solid footing. Ice cleats–Eagle Claw’s Stainless Steel models, for example—will help with that. Also, the auger’s handle should be at chest height. Your top hand should never move from side to side and is only there to apply constant pressure while your bottom hand turns the screw. Many anglers will kneel while drilling to keep their back straight.
Watch this angler demonstrate proper drilling technique with a manual ice auger: