Gear that enables us to fish smarter and longer helps us have more fun and catch more fish, making our winter obsession even more exciting. This explains why so many hardwater warriors are passionate about keeping up with the latest gear and gadgets.
To feed that fire and help outfit you for your best winter yet, we've scoured the Ice Belt for new and noteworthy products that deserve a look as you prep for the season ahead. Here's a look at some noteworthy ice fishing gear for 2018...
Padded Trunk and Boat Seat
Frabill offers a pair of high-capacity, lightweight, and mobile storage options that double as comfortable seats. Unveiled last winter as two of six seating options on the company's flip-over shelters, the Padded Trunk and Boat Seat On Trunk received such a warm welcome from ice fans they're now available for individual purchase as well.
A 68-quart, impact-resistant, molded plastic trunk serves as the foundation for both models, providing storage for rods, reels, heaters, propane cylinders, bait containers, electronics, and more. Durable latches, lockable hasps, and integral tie-down brackets are standard, as is a lid with molded reinforcing grid that supports hefty ice anglers.
Designed for posterior comfort, the Padded Trunk features a cordura-covered, thickly padded bench-style seating surface, while the Boat Seat On Trunk raises the bar with a padded, folding, swiveling seat perfect for marathon jigging sessions.
Frabill three-part Weigh Bag System
In a nod to competitive anglers and anyone else in need of a portable livewell, Frabill also gives us the three-part Weigh Bag System. It consists of a soft, reinforced weigh bag, removable inner mesh bag, and compact, portable aerator. Components are sold separately or as an assembled system.
The weigh bag shell is constructed of reinforced PVC tarpaulin; notably, the flat-bottom, duffel bag design with internal reinforcements stands upright on its own. Oversized, padded handles wrap around the bag to support its contents, even when filled with up to 11¼ gallons of water and fish. An internal zippered pocket inside the lid holds G-Juice or other weigh-in supplies. The durable mesh bag fits inside the weigh bag and features a raindrop shape, ergonomic carry handles, and top Velcro enclosure. It can be quickly transferred from weigh bag to a staging tub or bump tanks when the angler arrives at weigh-in. When not on tournament duty, the mesh bag is a handy stuff-bag for bulky gear and apparel.
Frabill also introduces a Universal Bait Can. The quarter-turn, easy-grip lid is watertight and easy to open, even with gloved hands, thanks to a rounded edge with aggressive texturing and center ridge. A lid on each end lets you segregate baits in one of two insulated compartments. frabill.com
Pro LED Shelter Light
Otter lights up the darkest winter night with its new Pro LED Shelter Light. With two 600-lumen, rubber-encased LED light strips, it yields a total of 1,200 lumens at maximum brightness setting. Features include an in-line on/off dimmer dial that lets you adjust the light level; hook-and-loop cam buckle attachments for unlimited light angles and placement; an 18-foot, 12-volt power cord (7 feet from alligator clips to the dimmer switch, 11 feet from switch for first LED light); 54 inches of additional connecting wire; and a 16-inch center wire. Perfect for all flip-over shelters. otteroutdoors.com
Clam debuts a fistful of handy new items for the coming freeze, including a Rod Locker that holds up to six ice combos and keeps them in working order no matter how arduous your wintertime travels may be. Compartmentalized for maximum organization, the locker features a rigid frame wrapped in a durable 600-denier outer shell, hook-resistant interior lining, Velcro inserts to hold combos in place, and outer tie-downs for easy attachment to snowmobile and ATV racks.
Clam also introduces the battery-powered, 160-lumen Rechargeable Deluxe Fan/Light Combo, which brightens nocturnal fishing adventures while quietly circulating air for more efficient heating. It offers three brightness settings and two fan settings. Rechargeable with a USB charger, it runs 8 to 24 hours depending on setting selected.
Other Clam introductions include the Magnetic Tool Holder, which mounts to a shelter tub or other tool-worthy surfaces, and the light, compact, 2-in-1 Aluminum Scoop Shovel. The latter extends to 32 inches with the push of a button and features an 8½- X 11-inch removable shovelhead that's great for clearing snow from your fishing area and banking shelters. clamoutdoors.com
Winning the Best Boating Accessory award at the 2017 ICAST show, the Yeti LoadOut is touted as the last bucket you'll ever need. This absurdly strong 5-gallon injection-molded bucket has a HeftyHauler handle for comfort and easy carrying, and the Bearfoot non-slip ring prevents sliding and is non-marking. Also features a Lipgrip handle, Anchorpoint tiedown slots, and four color choices. yeti.com
Built to brighten the company's Glo-Shot Spoons without affecting lure action, Northland Fishing Tackle's compact, lightweight Glo-Shot Sticks also illuminate bobbers, hooks, and jigs. The 1½-inch sticks are non-toxic, easy to activate, and radiate colors for 8 hours. Available in red, green, and chartreuse. northlandtackle.com
HT Enterprises' new Nero takes hand augering to new heights. Designed and tested by Russian competitors in European ice tournaments, the Nero features rugged, non-chip, ultra-sharp, 60G-rated hardened steel blades that effortlessly open old holes and even blaze through sand-laced ice without losing their edge.
The 62-inch offset handles increase torque and cutting power and have secondary adjustable height settings of 53 and 44 inches. The handle also folds down to 25 inches for transport and storage. Nero augers come in 5-, 6-, and 7-inch diameters, and are available in kits with a shaft extension to conquer exceptionally thick ice. As a bonus, a universal adaptor featuring a select "side-handle" system eliminates twisting and boosts stability when using the auger with a rechargeable cordless drill.
Among a blizzard of other promising new products, HT also created the PFTC-100 Polar Fire Ice Gear Storage Case. Light but sturdy, it features rigid sidewalls and a reinforced, water-resistant oxford outer lining. Felt padded, adjustable divider strips allow customization. At 37 inches long and 5 inches deep, the case cradles rods up to 3 feet, along with other gear. It also includes a riveted handle and padded shoulder strap. htent.com
Cold Snap Outdoors unleashes the single biggest release of new auger covers in the company's 15-year history. New for 2017-18 are updated Eskimo 8-inch and ION 8-inch Blade Protectors, along with new K-Drill 6- and 8-inch covers. These models join existing offerings including StrikeMaster 6- through 10-inch, Clam 6-, 8-, and 10-inch, Jiffy 8- and 9-inch, and Nils Master USA 6-, 8-, and 10-inch covers. They snap onto the auger in less than a second, and you don't have to remove your gloves in the process. To remove the cap, hold the auger upright with weight on the cover, open the cover with your boot, lift the auger, and start drilling. coldsnapcover.com
Cordless Drill Adaptor
Auger magnate StrikeMaster presents a new Cordless Drill Adapter that turns any professional-grade, 18-volt cordless electric drill into a portable, lightweight, and efficient ice auger. It's available in 3/8- and 1/2-inch options.
StrikeMaster also adds a new Drill Flange for the Cordless Drill Adapter, which serves as a safety shield in the rare instance that your drill's chuck loses its grip on your auger. It's 8 inches in diameter, made of lightweight polyethylene, and compatible only with the 1/2-inch Cordless Drill Adapter. strikemaster.com
Aqua-Vu's new micro Revolution solves the problem of tangled camera cords with a built-in cable reel mechanism, which makes it easier to deploy and retrieve the camera. Its Integrated Camera Reel System stores and manages cable with the turn of a reel handle. Plus, the new progressive color LCD screen features the same color and clarity as your smartphone or tablet, with the added benefit of superior screen brightness.
It's available in two options, the micro Revolution 5.0 and 5.0 Pro. Both have a waterproof, extra-bright 5-inch LCD screen, 60 feet of cable with depth indication, on-screen zoom and camera direction display, removable fins and positioning clips for open-water use, adjustable IR lighting, sunshield screen protector, and rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The Pro version adds a built-in DVR for recording video and still photos, plus on-screen water temperature.
Aqua-Vu also offers an AV Connect Universal WiFi Adapter, which transforms your underwater camera into a WiFi-enabled device. The system interfaces with your smartphone or tablet, so you can instantly view, record, and share the action beneath the ice. It's compatible with any RCA-video enabled camera, and includes a free app for Apple and Android devices. Also, because the adapter creates its own WiFi hotspot, it's perfect for use in remote destinations. aquavu.com
Part of Milwaukee Tool's recently revamped M12 Heated Gear lineup, the M12 Heated Jacket reduces the need for bulky layers, utilizing carbon-fiber heating elements to generate and trap heat across core body areas including the chest, back, and pockets. Plus, adjustable heat technology lets you toggle between three settings to match changing conditions. It's powered by M12 REDLITHIUM Batteries that provide up to 8 hours of runtime and are compatible with more than 90 power tools, including cordless drills.
Features include the ToughShell Stretch Polyester soft-shell exterior, which improves wind resistance and durability. A drop-tail extended back, adjustable waist and cuffs, and integrated battery pocket accessible from the outside are standard. Available in women's sizes small through 2X and men's small through 3X. milwaukeetool.com
Venom Outdoors' Nite Lite UV LED Flashlight charges glow tackle fast from up to 10 feet away. Its single SMD LED can be refocused to zap glow gear near or far—meaning jigs can stay at the surface for on-the-fly recharging. Produces 395 to 400 nm of light on 1 AA battery. venomfloats.com
Few things sap your will to fish like slipping your hands or feet into cold wet gloves or boots. DryGuy's forced air drying technology dries soggy apparel faster than conventional convection systems, without damaging fabrics. An internal fan pushes warm air through footwear and garments, flushing out trapped moisture in the process.
The company makes a variety of dryers, warmers, and accessories. Two that fit the needs of ice anglers are the DryGuy Force Dry and Force Dry DX. The Force Dry dries a pair of shoes, boots, or gloves in about an hour. Features include a 3-hour timer, 105°F maximum temperature, and articulating ports that rotate 180 degrees and extend to reach deep into taller footwear. The Force Dry DX doubles that capacity and features a 3-hour timer with heat/no heat switch for overnight drying. Both are portable and powered by a 120-volt AC outlet. dryguy.com
Bait Up, with its Dual-Lid/Floating Basket design, provides a convenient way to carry and choose livebaits without reaching into icy water. Turn the Bait-Up over and the floating basket brings bait to your fingertips. Its design also allows replenishment of low-oxygen water without loss of bait. Available in 17- and 30-ounce sizes. bait-up.com
Pinch Tool Combos
Available in two versions, Rapala's new stainless-steel Pinch Tool Combos make fast work of chores like trimming line, cleaning out jig eyes, and changing hooks. Lightweight and tough, each set boasts the right tools for the task at hand. One combo contains a stainless-steel nipper, split-ring tool, and jig-eye buster. The other combo contains a stainless-steel line nipper and jig-eye buster, with an LED UV light and neck lanyard. rapala.com
IFISH Pro Tip-Up
The iFish Pro Tip-Up blends the benefits of tip-up fishing with a chance to fight fish with a rod. Features include a sturdy, 12-inch black base that absorbs sunlight and fits over any hole, a wind deflector for fewer false flags and reduced snow buildup, and extendable rod holder with stabilizer that accommodates rods to 46 inches.
The tip-up's three-setting trigger mechanism quickly adjusts for use with species from walleyes and pike to perch and bluegills, while innovative slip-stops let you adjust depths without moving the tip-up. Sold with two slip-stops, two triggers, and a double-sided 14-inch flag. ifishpro.com
Cordless Folding Auger
Nils Master USA adds the Cordless Convertible Folding Auger to its hole-punching lineup. Available in 4½- and 6-inch hole sizes, it can be used old-school-style with the traditional handle or with a battery-powered cordless drill. Features include a welded disk to prevent the auger from taking a dive, and Nils' handmade, double-bladed cutting head for less resistance when cutting. nilsmaster.com
JT Outdoors' innovative Snare Rods, in Panfish and Walleye models, are 36 inches long and have premium fiberglass blanks. The slow-action Panfish Snare's first guide is a Fuji Alconite, followed by Recoil guides, and it has a Fuji screw-on reel seat; the medium-action Walleye Snare features Recoil guides with a choice between a 6-inch cork handle or Fuji screw-on reel seat. jtodp.com
Billed as the world's first U.S. Coast Guard-approved, inflatable throwable personal flotation device, the ThrowRaft TD2401 is a compact and easy-to-deploy option for surviving accidental dunkings. Five times smaller than a square cushion, the device inflates manually or when submerged. Its compact size allows it to be thrown more than 40 feet, and it's easily repacked and recharged with a PFD re-arming kit that comes with the product. Added benefits include SOLAS reflective tape for visibility in search-and-rescue situations. throwraft.com