By Montana Grant

Posted: December 31, 2020


Line care, control, and maintenance are essential when ice fishing. Most ice fishermen use ancient line that has been wrapped onto their reels for decades. The clear, brittle, weak, aged line will almost always fail when you finally hook up to the fish of a lifetime.

Tangling is a hated part of angling! It is a fact that line will kink, knot, twist, and do impossible feats of tangled bird nests. They happen in the reel, guides, tip, and anywhere in between. Those that tolerate tangling, catch few fish. Ignore the tangles and you face future fishless efforts, especially in the cold environments of ice fishing.

Many ice anglers beef up their line strength. Match the line strength to the fish that you are targeting. Pike require stronger and beefier lines than perch or small trout. The lake I commonly fish is home to tons of trout between 6-20 inches. Rarely do I see or hook anything bigger. Most fish average 1-3 lbs.

Colored, finer lines will increase your hook ups. I prefer quality solar green or yellow monofilament lines. I often use 2 lb. test quality, fresh mono, that is colored. Affix a tiny barrel swivel to the end of your line and add a fluorocarbon tippet. This tippet will be 3 times a strong but the same diameter as your mono. Use the size line that best matches your targeted catch.

A quality reel with a decent drag is a must. If you cannot adjust the drag, get a reel that will. I use Daiwa Ultra-Light spinning reels and full-length rods. The drag will compensate for the lighter line. Sure, you can add anchor rope sized mono onto your reel and drag in a fish, but you will also get way fewer bites. The combination of quality light, colored line, a longer rod, and a superior drag results in more fish and few break offs.

Longer rods mean more hook ups. Short ice rods are for inside a shanty. If on open ice go the full monte 5-6-foot rod. This longer lever means quicker hook sets and better fish battling management.

Keep you line straight! Most monofilament, especially in winter, comes off the reel coiled. Use a gloved hand to pull the line tight and remove the coils. Do not stress the line, just straighten it. I usually walk my line out about the depth of my fishing spot and groom the line as I rewind it onto the reel. This is most important with fine lines and light lures. Your line will sink more smoothly, and light bites will be more visible. Use a rod tip strike indicator to help see the bites.

You can also purchase a fishing line lubricant. I am currently experimenting with the Kevin VanDam’s Professional Line and Lure Conditioner. It comes in a small spray bottle. It claims to reduce coiling, cast smoother and further, and protect the line. I sprayed it onto the reel spools and have seen fewer tangling issues when ice fishing. I still need to snug the line to stretch the kinks out, but much less. Warmer days are better than colder ones.

Catch a coiless Biggun!

Montana Grant

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