Ice fishing is Canada’s fastest growing recreational sport! And for good reason-its accessible, affordable and such a blast! You can start ice fishing with basic and affordable equipment such as a hand auger, gad set up and some good outdoor clothing. Even if you don’t have a closet full of winter rated technical wear you can still layer up and enjoy the benefits of ice fishing.
We may own an ice fishing business and have some high end gear but we haven’t forgotten our roots! Rielly and I used to hand bomb a little pelican sleigh into little back lakes, loaded up with our un insulated pop up hut, 2lb’s of propane, canadian tire rod/reel combos, a coleman jug full of minnows and NO ELECTRONICS. We have really come a long way!
Anyways I digress… My Ice fishing must haves generally aren’t fancy or over priced but I will add 2 more ‘expensive’ items that will change your ice fishing game and are well worth saving up for!
Let's just start with those items shall we? First is a strikemaster 8” electric auger. I know I know it's pricey but it is so worth it! Battery powered means no more mixing gas or leaking gas (we all know those pesky o-rings only last so long) and it also means QUIET. The batteries can be transported in an insulated cooler bag making the auger itself quite light and to keep batteries warm and charged. Additionally they are simple to use-I myself feel comfortable using an electric auger whereas I was never confident with a gas auger. I have never spent a day ice fishing that the batteries were fully drained and unable to drill holes.
Pricey item #2 would be a Humminbird Helix 5 Chirp . This is not a purchase you will ever regret- I do recommend the GPS model so you can auto chart and mark waypoints. You can get the open water kit and mount it to your boat in the summer months for the most bang for your buck! This fish finder is excellent for targeting preferred species and is so HELPFUL if you are a trout or panfish enthusiast. We have great luck walleye fishing using our Helix 5 and can’t imagine hitting the ice without this piece of equipment.
NOW it is important to remember these expensive items are NOT necessary. You can go to Canadian tire with $100 and get yourself set up with a rod/reel combo and a tackle kit and be ready for the winter-make sure to grab some jigheads, trout lures and maybe treat yourself to a vibrato or hyper rattle. A hand auger can run you from $65-$300 and clothing doesn’t need to be high end. Make sure to layer up, wear wool socks, a toque/scarf, and grab a pack of hot hands for your fishing trip. Take a trip to the thrift store and hit up Facebook MP for deals you cannot resist.
Tackle favorites of mine include chartreuse mooneye jig heads, Little Cleo, Hyper Rattle, Vibrato, white tube jigs, and skirted glow jigs. If plastics are your jam check out True North Baits-a mom and pop shop based out of Courtice, ON. As for the line we are fans of a braided ice line with fluoro leaders. It is also important to make sure to have an abundance of terminal tackle like red hooks, snaps and swivels!