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Selecting A Line For Ice Fishing

By Bob Jensen - December 1, 2007
As ice-fishing season gets closer, we need to start thinking about getting ready for that first ice bite. Many of the most accomplished ice-anglers view first ice as being the best time to be out there. While first ice can be good, there are many very good fishing opportunities throughout the ice-fishing season. However, no matter how good the fishing is, you need to have line that is going to stand up to the tests that ice-fishing can provide. Your line must be strong enough to handle the fish that bite, but it’s also important that your line doesn’t spook the fish. Finally, the line you use for ice-fishing must be manageable. Here are some ideas for selecting a line for ice-fishing.

Iced CrappieSome lines are formulated especially for ice-fishing. Warm weather lines can get "springy" and hard to control when it gets cold outside. You want to use a line that is easy to handle when it’s on the reel.

Also, remember that fish under ice can be very spooky. The bait is directly below your fishing position, so the fish might be a little cautious because of your presence.

Also, because ice-fishing presentations are usually slow, the fish can take a good look at the bait. If the line is too visible, it could convince the fish not to eat. The best ice-fishing lines are hard for the fish to see, some are even invisible.

Last of all, consider the line’s sensitivity and stretch. When employing some ice-fishing presentations, there is no bobber to detect a strike. The only indication of a fish’s take will be revealed by soft "tick". A line that transmits feel will enable you to detect that soft "tick".

In deep water, a line with minimal or no stretch will let you set the hook better, which results in more fish flopping on the ice.

If the ultimate in sensitivity is what you’re after, take a good look at Berkley’s FireLine Micro Ice in the crystal color. I used this line a lot last year. It was possible to feel timid crappie strikes in deep water, and the no-stretch of the FireLine allowed for solid hooksets. I tied directly to the FireLine, and the crystal color seemed to prevent spooking.

If you want to eliminate any possibility of spooking the fish, go with a fluorocarbon line such as Vanish. This stuff is strong and the fish won’t see it, as fluorocarbon is invisible under water.

Here’s what some ice-anglers do to create what they believe is the ultimate in sensitivity and invisibility. They spool up with FireLine in the appropriate diameter, then tie a very small swivel to the end of the FireLine. To the swivel they tie the appropriate size Vanish fluorocarbon. Their bait is tied onto the Vanish. At times, this combination has produced outstanding results, but usually it isn’t necessary.

Just as in open water fishing, the line you choose will have an impact on how many bites you get and how many fish you put on the ice. Keep these ideas in mind and you’ll get more bites and more flopping fish.

Author Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen
Bob Jensen is the host of the Fishing the Midwest television series, a series of television fishing shows that highlight fishing locations and techniques throughout the Midwest. He also writes a syndicated fishing column and does fishing seminars throughout the Midwest. He is a former fishing guide and tournament angler. Visit Bob's web site at
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