Just when we thought ice tackle had reached its hiatus, a new generation of innovative ice fishing rods and reels rock the hardwater world. Two years ago, the fly-reel/in-line revolution attracted attention by eliminating line twist. That ushered development of multiplying reels and new spool designs that pick up a foot or more of line with every turn of the handle. Instead of relying on your palm to slow a big fish, these round reels have state-of-the-art drag systems, too. And enter the upside-down baitcaster concept, “floating blanks,” long-stem spinning reels designed for ice, and more. Rods keep getting lighter, more sensitive, and more tactic-specific. Ergonomic designs focus vibration against the palm. Spring bobbers of the past decade are being replaced with strike indicators built into the blank. And as braided ice lines gain in popularity, rods are getting lighter and longer to make up for the lack of stretch. This year’s offerings cover the spectrum from ultralight panfish to long lake trout sticks. The trend is toward longer, lighter rods to accommodate ice-specific braids and fluorocarbons. Long rods hold onto fish better when line has less stretch, and they accentuate the fight dramatically.
- stcroixrods.com - St. Croix introduces Legend Gold and Legend Silver Series rods. The Gold Series ($90) includes five 24-inch rods ranging from ultralight to medium-heavy. The neoprene-skin handles and Fuji SK2 seats are warm, water-repellent, and provide a lock-tight grip. The solid graphite blanks are durable and sensitive. Built-in spring bobbers can be adjusted to the weight of the lure and the aggressiveness of the presentation.
The Legend Silver Series ($60 to $70) provides an even wider scope with 10 models, from a 17-inch ultralight to a 48-inch medium-heavy laker stick. The computer-tapered, solid graphite blanks with stainless-steel coiled spring bobber are sensitive. Locking reel seats and Pac Bay Minima stainless-steel guides finish them nicely.