Every Iceman’s worst nightmare is watching your rod get pulled down into the ice hole. Big fish are strong and can easily handle your rod. If your ice holes are spread out, you may not be able to grab your rod in time.
On a Canyon Ferry ice outing, we watched a man lose 3 rods in 5 minutes! He had drilled his 6 legal holes and made nice ice piles to support the rods. At least he did not just lay the rods on the ice. Anyway, his short rods were positioned just over the hole.
When the first rod had a bite, he was off and running. As he went for the rod he fell, and the rod went down the hole. As he sat there cussing, for the entire lake to hear, his second rod had a bite, but was 20 yards away. Before he could reach the rod and grab it, the fish had scored a second rod. More adjectives resounded across the lake. A few moments later, another bite was on, and he was again 20 yards away. Strike 3 and he was out 3 rods.
Every Iceman probably has a similar story. Big pike, walleyes, burbot, and trout can hit fast and strong. If you are not on the rod, you may lose the fish and the entire rig.
Here are some rod tips that can help!
Electric tape your reel seats We have all had our reels fall off the ice rods. You grab the rod for a hook set, and the reel falls off the seat. A screw down threaded reel seat is secure but sliding rings need attention when it is cold. Use tape to secure the sliding rings to the rod handle.
Screw in your holders They make a drill adaptor for T-screws, similar to the ones on a ice shelter. Get the smaller sizes and use the drill to anchor the holder.
Lighten your drags A tight drag allows no leeway on a hook set. Loosen the drag. If the rod is in place, the line can run until you get to the rod. Now adjust the drag if needed. This is important when fishing with kids or beginners. They often set the hook too hard and quick. With a tight drag, you simply lose the rig, and fish.
Add a wide stand to the rod Using a couple wooden dials and a wooden block, make rod holders that stay attached to the rod. They will keep the tip up, reel off the ice, and won’t fit down the hole.
Build a rod rack support A wooden rack that is parallel to the ice will support the rod, allow for quick hook sets, and protect the rod. The racks may slide but will keep the rod out of the hole. When snow is on the ice, you can bury the rack in it. If there is ice, use a screw anchor. I also glue rubber shelf mats to the bottom to keep them from scooting. I make my racks to lay in the bottom of my sled. They take up almost no room.
Screw down the Jaw Jackers Jaw Jackers need to be positioned right next to the hole. If the fish pulls the Jacker to the hole, it will stand up and the rod can slide out and down into the hole. Use a large nail or screw to anchor the back of the Jacker.
Ice fishing is hard enough without losing your gear. Children, on the ice, do not need to learn any more nasty words than they need. Hopefully these tips will help you at least return home with all your tackle.