January 02, 2018
By Tom Gruenwald
Some of the most versatile systems in fishing have been 2-in-1 designs combining multiple functions. One of my favorite "two-fors" is the HT Ice Rigger, a dead-stick system combining an adjustable rod holder with a classic tip-up-style signal flag. There's no automatic hook-set mechanism or automated jigging motion so it's legal everywhere.
Place your rod-reel combo in the holder, set the reel to free spool, and position your line within the trip. When a fish strikes, the trip bar rises, releasing the flag just as your line slips from the clip and begins flowing off the spool. Simply lift your combo, and when the timing is right, set the hook.
The Ice Rigger features two flag-post location options and a two-sided trip bar to accommodate reels with right- or left-hand retrieves, and the trip-clip grips now have a slicker coating, creating smoother releases. Tight fitting "drag" rings are positioned on the trip bar, too. Slid against the outer brackets, they permit adjustable trip tension to suit your presentation and the activity level of fish. When more tension is necessary, you can position your line deeper in the trip and more vertically to increase surface area between line and clip.
Running your line from a rod guide down to the trip — as opposed to directly from the reel spool — provides the best trip angle. For lighter trips, use slick braided line and position line more horizontally nearer the edge of the trip clip. Spraying a shot of Ice Stopper liquid, Reel Magic, or silicone spray onto the line and trip clip provides the lightest, almost frictionless releases.
When setting the trip, looping the line under one end of the clip helps lift the flag in a more fluid, uniform manner. Tilting your reels slightly away from the flag assembly when positioning them within the holder allows extra room for tripped flags to clear the reel handle upon release.
Other tips: Incorporate an Ice Stopper System, so even if the hole freezes, line continues flowing freely when a fish strikes. You also can place an Omni Strike Tip-Up light on the flag wire to create an ideal "night bite" dead-stick system. When you're done fishing, free one end of the trip bar from an eyelet, slide the flag wire underneath, then reposition the bar. Your flag is now securely locked down for transport and storage.
Another clever 2-in-1 is HT's Little Jigger Tip Down. This tip-down works like any other, but rather than revealing strikes by simply tipping down and requiring the user to bring in fish hand-over-hand, it also accommodates spinning combos, so when a fish strikes, just raise your combo, set the hook, and fight the fish.
The Wind Jigger Rod Holder is another 2-in-1 that supports your rod-reel combo while using wind (or manual manipulation) to add action to your presentation. It consists of a length of strip steel extending from the wood base to a rod holder at the tip. A sturdy adjustment bracket permits various settings, depending on the length and weight of the combo, wind speed, presentation, and amount of motion desired. Once set, the wind does all the work.
The Wind Jigger also can be manually activated to achieve varying degrees of controlled movement. When working finesse presentations, for example, lightly tapping on the spring steel creates vibrations that can trigger fish. Use varied bobbing motions to attain a wide spectrum of increasingly aggressive jigging motions. Strikes are revealed as the rod is lowered and the strip steel is noticeably bobbing. When fish are biting lightly you see irregular movements in the established motion.
*Tom Gruenwald, Campbellsport, Wisconsin, produces Tom Gruenwald Outdoors, All Ice Fishing, All the Time.