December 14, 2020
On the ice, just as on open water, depth control of lures is the primary concern. Secondly, we must consider speed control, which, in the case of spoons, is influenced by how we work them and their "cycle time," or inherent fall rate.
Slab spoons like the classic Acme Kastmaster have a quick cycle time, the opposite of broader, usually thinner designs like the Custom Jigs & Spins Slender Spoon. Spoons like that fall into the “flutter” category. Our top choices aren’t listed in order of preference. But we have to start somewhere.
#1 Custom Jigs & Spins Slender Spoon—The Slender Spoon is a bonafide classic, with a narrower bent butt, and broad shoulders at the top end. On the lift it wobbles a bit, but the key is the fall, at which point it immediately lays on its side and shimmies and shakes and wobbles—slow cycle time. Lots of flickering flash and vibration.
Deadly, deadly, deadly often times. But that’s true of all the spoons in this list, albeit in slightly different ways given the design of each spoon—in smaller sizes for perch, crappies, whitefish, and sometimes walleyes and smallmouths; in medium and larger sizes mainly for walleyes, but also at times for pike.
We might interject before digging further into our list that a spoon is an illusion. Often the illusion is little more than a subtle delivery device for a tasty, aromatic morsel of something fishy, like a minnow head or a whole minnow. A little flash, a little vibration, a hint of color. It's something injured, something struggling (on the lift-fall). And then it hangs vertically, for all purposes disappearing on the pause, except for whatever you tipped the spoon with, which can be critical.
With a spoon, the idea is to hint subtly at this and subtly at that by lifting and letting it fall. The illusion continues as the fish draws near. The fish is reacting to a set of straight-forward cues. Something flickered and flashed, wiggled and jiggled, and fell. Fish are predisposed from past experience to think food. We need to continue the ruse long enough to get the fish to sample.
With the Slender Spoon, 3 of the 4 available sizes are stamped thin, but the absolute must-have one for walleyes is the 5/16-ounce version, which is stamped thicker than the others, still offering lots of flash and vibration, but with a quicker cycle time. And it comes to rest and finishes spinning on its axis much more quickly than the thinner spoons, which in itself often helps to trigger fish drawn close—customjigs.com
#2 Bay De Noc Do-Jigger—The second flutter option is one of the first of all the flutterers to hit the market. Stamped of medium-thick metal, the Bay De Noc Do-Jigger is narrow at the head and tail, broader and bent in the middle. A slight bend in the lead lip allows the lure to track true on the lift as the spoon shimmies, then falls in the characteristic fashion already described for the flutter category.
The middle-sized option at 1/3 ounce and 2.25 inches is by far the most popular choice for walleyes. A smaller option fishes well at times for walleyes and also perch and crappies, while the 1/2-ouncer does well on bigger waters like Lake Winnipeg and the western basin of Lake Erie. Most anglers fish the Do-Jigger with a split ring at the head of the lure, but it also works well with a small loop knot in place of the split ring—baydenoclure.com
#3 PK Spoon—The PK Spoon is a bit of an anomaly, a compact teardrop-shaped slab spoon with a smooth mirror-plated finish on one side, and dimpling like a golf ball on the reverse side. The body is biased in the butt end with a slight bulge on the mirror side that adds weight so it settles butt-first. The head of the spoon, which is slightly thinner than the butt, gives off a subtle pulsing wobble on the lift. So the PK is technically a slab design, but it’s unique construction of makes it tip on its side and shimmy and shake as it drifts down through the first half of the fall, at which point the butt takes control and it settles like a rock, with only a little swing back into position from where it first settles. So we have a compact spoon that fishes precisely yet crosses over into the world of flutterspoon.
The PK is one of the most beautiful spoons on the market, with incredible paint jobs and finishes. Gold and orange is must-have for walleyes and perch, and Pink Pearl Glow fishes well in low-light. Red Dot Glow with a silver back is deadly on walleyes and burbot. Check 17 color options in four sizes, from 1/8- to 1/2 ounce. We fish the 1/4-ounce most often for walleyes, while the 1/2-ounce size pounds bottom well for burbot—pklure.com
#4 PK Lures Flutter Fish—The PK Flutter Fish is a true flutter design, shaped like a flattened peanut, with a drawn-in waistline midway between each end, the stamped metal relatively thick and bent into a slight concaving arch. The thick stamping allows the spoon to fish heavy for its size and shape. The unique concave elongated shape with the pinched middle makes the spoon lay on its side throughout the fall, shimmying, flashing, flickering, with the mirror side up, the divot-side down, as it also rocks left-right, right-left like a falling leaf.
Here, too, there are 17 colors, but in five sizes from 1/8 to 1 ounce—pklure.com
#5 Williams Nipigon—The Williams lineup of spoons offers beautiful 24K gold and silver plating. The Nipigon caught In-Fisherman Editor In Chief Doug Stange’s eye about 10 years ago and has a been a near-secret walleye weapon for him and a few others ever since. The one size available measures 2.5 inches and weighs 1/3 ounce. The thin cut of the spoon gives it a lot of flash on the lift and fall, but it's just heavy enough to provide a medium cycle time, a nice compromised between the slab and flutter categories.
Stange says this one is made more deadly by removing the factory hook, adding a #0 or #1 Stringease Fastach clip (Mustad also offers them), and replacing the hook with one of his favorite replacement hooks for larger predators, the 4X strong Lazer Sharp L774. The 2X hooks that are on most factory spoons (and lipless lures) often bend on the hook-set, allowing them to slide across flesh and roll free as the fish arches its head up and swings it back and forth as the mouth opens. The L774 won't bend, bite's quickly, and won't let go.
The Fastach clip gets the hook to hang just far enough away from the spoon to provide a pronounced "pivot point," allowing the hook to move easier into a fish's mouth when it inhales the baited hook. Stange’s favorite platings are gold; half-and-half gold and silver; and orange-gold. Take this one to Lake Erie or Lake Winnipeg, or any other water with big walleyes, and watch the 10-pounders roll. But most of the time we use it close to home when a walleye dinner's on the line—williams.ca
And Two More—The VMC Tingler has even broader shoulders than the Slender Spoon and a thinner butt end, so it offers even more extreme vibration and flash. Three sizes range from a tiny 1-inch 1/16-ouncer to a 2-inch 3/16-ouncer. The larger lure is a wonderful options for walleyes in almost any situation—rapala.com
And, finally, the Snyders Lures Flutter Shaker, a new one on the market this season, is the only noise maker in our flutter crowd. The spoon body actually is two thin spoons held together with split rings, which tinkle-and-dinkle on the lift-fall, along with plenty of flutter-flash from the multiple tiny spinner blades also in play. It weighs 1/8-ounce and tends to fish best in water less than about 25 feet deep.
We fished prototypes a year ago, but this one also has a big brother of sorts in the Snyders Big Shaker, a similar double-spoon design which has proven one of the hottest options on the ice at Upper Red Lake and Lake of the Woods the last several years—snyderslures.com
Working Options with Flutterspoons—Flutterspoons do most of the work for you with their inherent actions. Use a sharp lift of 1.5 to 2 feet when you’re calling fish in, then tone things down when you have a fish on screen, lifting a bit more gently a foot or so and letting the spoon fall. Fish often swim right in and eat as the spoon settles into place.
Other times, if fish are more hesitant, and presuming you’ve tipped with a minnow head or a Gulp! Minnow Head, gently nod the rod tip once the spoon settles to make the minnow head move subtly. Often it also helps to raise the spoon slight as you do this. If you can get fish to move up a bit too they often commit.
Lighter lines are the norm these days, typically 6-pound for walleyes with the bigger flutter options, but 5-pound is a great choice, too. (You might try the P-Line Floroice in that break strength.) And we always have two rods rigged, one with a bigger flutter spoon and another with a smaller choice, that one typically rigged with 3-pound line. We landed plenty of big fish on 3-pound, but, of course, 5 or 6 is better when you can get away with it. For bigger waters like Lake Winnipeg, where options like the William Nipigon are a standout, we rig with 8- or 10-pound line most of the time.
From smallmouths to walleyes and panfish, the flickering flash and vibration plus the slow cycle time of flutter spoons is a natural for putting fish on the ice.