Technology Offers Many Improvements For Ice Fishing Rods | Sports
The profound adaptations observed in the ice fishing world over the past 30 years are remarkable. Today’s ice fisherman is well equipped with electronics, electric augers, fish houses, fishing rods, lines and terminal equipment, all specialized for the rigors of cold and ice.
As I pulled out my collection of cane bags to rewind the lines and prepare for a family trip, I couldn’t help but think specifically about the big changes seen in ice canes over the course of my life. I grew up ice fishing with my grandfather in a permanent cabin, lowering lines hanging from rattle reels hinged to the walls.
If I wanted to drop a line where we didn’t have a rattle reel, I would remove a stick from a shelf and unfold enough line to dance a jig on the bottom. I thought we hit the jackpot when Gramps switched to electronic rattle reels with buzzers, but we accidentally spilled enough 9 volt batteries into the holes to see their flaws.
You have learned to pull the line quickly and steadily and do your best to make a good pile of it on the ground. If the action was quick enough, I would get hasty with line placement and some crumbling shit messing up my pile of spools, robbing me of precious fishing time while I mended tangles.
I was in elementary school when I unwrapped a rod and reel combination one Christmas. It was a short, sturdy number from Mitchell that today is the back-up of my lake trout back-up suits. It’s as stiff as a mast but remains in my collection out of sentimentality.
It represented the era – few options on the shelf but inexpensive for the tastes of the time. It made a great bobbing rod for a while and allowed me to switch to something that kept my line off the ground.
Today, ice rods are available for all budgets, all applications and all fished species, and the options are endless. Ready-to-go fishing suits are blasting anything from 20 or 30 years ago, and the premium rod offerings are made with premium components finished on a top-notch blank.
Custom-made canes have proliferated to the point where Minnesota has a thriving market of busy cane builders year round. Builders big and small have rods that help you catch more fish, or at the very least, make your fishing more enjoyable.
If you haven’t treated yourself to a custom-made cane yet, this might be the year. Find a rod that matches your favorite ice fishing style or technique. Try going from a bobber to a deadstick, or swap your backbone-less noodle rod for a custom upgrade.
Choose guides to get out into the elements or inside a cabin. Choose your colors, lengths and outfits. Most importantly, get something that works for you and that will be fun to use. Here’s a sample of a few Minnesota builders and a favorite from their lineups.
The big ones
Thorne Bros (Blaine): Thorne Bros was one of the first in the state to offer custom fishing rods with premium blanks. They have been in the game for a long time and have a solid reputation. Sweet Pea, Sweet Heart, and Quiverstick are some great choices in their lineup.
Optimized custom rods (Coon Rapids): Tuned Up Custom Rods has become a major player in the customs market, with rods featured on In Depth Outdoors TV. Rod orders can be made in store or online. Experience the quick trick, the power of precision or a boost.
Custom DH rods and tackle (Wayzata): Dusty Hafner makes a wicked stick in his shop on the shores of Lake Minnetonka. Discover the Gill Seeker, the Perch Pounder or the Seven Deuce. Also check out the Al Dente noodle rod, the rod that started it all.
Custom rods JT (Farmington): A recent addition to the custom rod market, JT Rods is making its way through your social media feed. Owner Joe Bricko has designed a few rods in a cottage industry corner of his outdoor products business that includes their patented “Hot Box” ice fishing tip. Check out the Pan Handler, Black Out, or for a unique twist on a deadstick, try a snare rod.
The little guys
Bass Khang Custom Rods and Tackle (Minneapolis): Ge Khang turned his love of fishing and making fishing tackle into a passion for custom rod making. Khang’s constructions are truly personalized; customers choose guides, handles, blanks, wire and other additional accessories according to their taste. Bass Khang is a great noodle cane.
Cannes Custom Kichler (Elk River): Allen Kichler has built a cult following through word of mouth, fishing forums and, most recently, his Facebook page. Kichler custom rods are built from the ground up, as needed. Discover the Panfish, Black Ice or Thin Ice.
Cannes Custom ACE (Minneapolis): ACE Custom Rods are popular with tournament ice anglers who prefer tight lines, but they make all types of rods. Owner Stuart Manning is a competitive angler who knows the angler’s needs. Check out an ACE bare noodle.
AW Wolfram Rods (Prior Lake): Andy Wolfram started making fishing rods as a child and has made it a side job, passion and hobby over the years. Wolfram built to spec, but made a name for itself with eye-catching paracord grips and carbon fiber tempered designs. Ask for Wolfram’s unique ice fishing rod that no one else offers or get one of its carbon fiber rods for a beautiful and efficient ice fishing tool.
Scott Mackenthun is an avid outdoorsman who has written about hunting and fishing since 2005. He resides in New Prague.