It's that time in the ice-fishing season when we really need to start fine-tuning our presentations if we want to experience ice-fishing success. The easy ones have been caught, and the remaining fish have been pounded pretty good by this point of the season, especially on the community holes or if you're fishing out of a shelter that hasn't been moved. This is when lure action become a very important consideration.
Perhaps the most important tool when you're trying to determine the appropriate lure action is a good sonar unit. A good sonar will reveal fish and your lure. How the fish react to your lure will give you some clues as to proper lure action.
On my last ice-fishing trip my Humminbird ICE 55 did an outstanding job of showing me exactly what the fish were doing when they saw my lure, and that enabled me to refine my lure action to make them bite.
One of the keys to triggering strikes from big crappies such as this is to match the lure action to the fish’s mood.
photo by Bob Jensen
Different lure types have different actions. A Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon has more of an up and down action as you jig it, while a Puppet-Minnow darts out to the side. In fact, action is such an important consideration that the Puppet Minnow was designed with three different line attachment positions so you can give it different actions.
So, let's say that you're using a spoon with an action that is pretty much up and down. You're jigging it and have a close eye on your depth-finder. A fish comes off the bottom and moves quickly toward your spoon. You should keep moving it the same way you have been. Keep doing what attracted the fish in the first place. If he eats it, good deal.
However, if the fish doesn't eat it, and that happens several times, you should alter the action. What you're doing is getting their attention, but it's not making them eat. Try moving it a little slower or a little faster when a fish approaches.
Let's say you're using a flying type bait like a Puppet Minnow. This bait "flies" out to the side as it goes down.
If the fish look at this bait but don't eat it, reel it in quickly and drop a more subtle bait down the hole. Sometimes a bait with a lot of action will attract fish to an area, then they'll hang around and eat something else.
A bait with a more subtle action would be a jig/minnow combo like you would use in open water, or just a hook/splitshot/minnow set-up. It doesn't get more subtle than that.
If you're fishing a lake or area of a lake that has lots of finicky fish, it might pay big dividends to go to an invisible line.
Try tying on a leader of Trilene 100 percent fluorocarbon or Vanish. This will eliminate the possibility of the line spooking the fish and could add to your catch.
Keep in mind that lure action is an important consideration when the fish are spooky and you'll put more fish on the ice.