New stuff that actually works
Each and every year, new products make the scene. It doesn’t matter what the field, as the latest and supposedly greatest innovations continue to make their fresh presence known, mostly through aggressive ad campaigns. Some of these products are here one day and gone the next, failing to impress the avid outdoor enthusiast.
However, when it comes to the ice fishing industry, I usually have a front row seat and make my own evaluations. Here are a few from this year that made the grade.
• Northland Tackle “UV Buck-Shot Spoon” - It’s the famed “Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon” with a little extra attractant and that’s the highly visible, UV enhanced, optical-brightened finish that calls fish in from a wide radius.
This might sound like a lot of ad hype but when I witnessed it firsthand during an Upper Red Lake walleye outing I was sold. I didn’t have any on that fateful day but you can bet your life I now have more than my fair share.
Available in the brightest, fish attracting UV colors, it also comes in a wide variety of sizes, 1/16 oz., 1/8 oz., and 1/4 oz., making it a great spoon for everything from panfish to walleye and more.
• Clam Outdoors “Blade Spoon” - This new spoon impressed me as well on that inaugural first ice outing on Upper Red Lake. HSM Outdoors pro staffer Ray Welle could do no wrong with this spoon and caught a lot of nice walleye with it.
Although it’s described as being able to cover a swath of horizontal territory, with it’s slicing, random fluttering action, it was the color, here too, that I believe made the difference.
Available in glitter and glow combinations, it too also comes in the preferred sizes of 1/16 oz., 1/8 oz., and 1/4 oz.
• Clam Outdoors “Drop Jig” - My fishing partner, Blake Liend, schooled me the other day while using this creation. First off, I must say, he was using the “glow red” version, which has been a mainstay of his fishing success over the last several years. If it’s glow red, Blake will be using it and more-than-likely catching fish.
Clam describes it as the “centerpiece” of it’s tungsten series, available in five sizes and six colors. Tungsten, by the way, is 30% heavier than lead so a small, finesse type jig such as this can quickly get down to those finicky, fussy biters and get them to eat. All you have to do is stick a maggot, waxworm, or piece of plastic on the end of it and you’re in business.
• Northland Tackle “Forage Minnow Spoon” - This lure has been around for a while and has caught thousands of fish but this year it is available in the tiny, little 1/32 oz. size and let me tell you it has been really tearing ‘em up. This has been my favorite new lure of the year.
Tipped with a waxworm or two, depending on the bite, I’ve caught so many nice panfish that it’s the first, and usually the last, lure that I use on each outing. Many days I never switch and use it all day long.
• Vexilar FLX-28 - I started using Vexilar nearly 30 years ago and have tried most every other available brand out there. I guess you can say that I’ve come full circle because I am back to using Vexilar and honestly believe it’s the best thing going when it comes to fishing electronics. That’s why I use Vexilar.
The features found in the FLX-28 read like the wish list of avid anglers. Although there are too many to list here, a few of them are digital depth, auto range, two zoom zones, battery status, five color palettes, 5’ depth range adjustments starting at 10’, maximum range of 300’, day and night display settings, low power options for fishing in shallow water, a unique weed mode for better performance while fishing in weeds, and MORE. This is truly a fantastic unit and if you see me out on the ice, ask for a demo.
• Clam Outdoors - This one has really impressed me and made my ice fishing excursions just a tad easier to deal with (I use a Clam X-1 Thermal shelter) and that is the ease at which poles can be folded back into place before leaving the lake or moving on to another location. There is now a tab that can be operated while using gloves. No more taking your mitts off and uncomfortably pushing down a small button during freezing temps. These things work slick.
For the life of me, I couldn’t find the proper terminology so a call was made to Mr. Dave Genz himself, who just happened to be in Montana for an ice fishing tournament. Dave said “it’s called an RPSX, which is short for “rapid pole slide extreme.” I couldn’t have gone to a better source for this one. Thanks Dave!