January 12, 2018
In last year's Ice Fishing Guide, In-Fisherman Editor In Chief Doug Stange picked his Top 10 Ice Lures of All Time. He focused on lures for larger predatory fish: walleyes, pike, bass, lake trout. His choices were (in no particular order of preference) the Acme Kastmaster, Custom Jigs & Spins Slender Spoon, Jig-A-Whopper Rocker Minnow, Northland Forage Minnow, PK Flutter Fish & PK Spoon, Nils USA Hali, Williams Nipigon, Rapala Jigging Rap, Nils Master Jigging Shad, and Livetarget Golden Shiner. That's actually 11 top choices, but he included the two PK items together as one.
We asked three noteworthy members of the ice community to make their choices. Cory Schmidt has been writing about ice fishing for decades and is a longtime In-Fisherman field editor. Tom Gruenwald also is a longtime writer on ice topics and a TV host, who has for many years worked in various capacities with HT Enterprises, a well-known ice-industry company. Jason Mitchell also is a well-known writer and TV host, who has been instrumental in designing ice equipment. Their picks are offered in no particular order.
Cory Schmidt's Top Ten
Sebile Vibrato — I love the horizontal posture and vibration. It's an overlooked option in most ice locales.
Rapala Jigging Rap — The #7 and #9 are big-fish hero lures.
Bay de Noc Lures Do-Jigger — My favorite flutter-style spoon of all time gives off subtle, baitfish-like flashes on the upstroke and has a beautiful shimmy on the fall.
Salmo Chubby Darter — In-Fisherman Digital Editor Jeff Simpson's creation is the best predator "fish call" ever made.
Custom Jigs & Spins Slender Spoon — Another exceptional light flutterspoon.
Northland Tackle Macho Minnow — Catches pressured fish like few other spoons.
Reel Bait Flasher Jig — I love this jig in dark water, tipped with a lively fathead or shiner, worked within a foot of the bottom. Works deadsticked on or near bottom, as well.
PK Lures Flutter Fish — Every time I fish this spoon, I wonder why I don't fish it more. Always catches fish.
Jig-A-Whopper Lazer Rocker Minnow — First offered by Gary Snyder's Jig-A-Whopper brand, HT Enterprises now markets this aggressive-working spoon — another all-time great.
Lucky John Maiko — After one season, I think this one could become another classic. It's a swimming minnow with a wobbling action you have to see to believe. A great fish caller, and they eat the heck out of it when they get there.
Schmidt: "There's something satisfying about still being able to tie on the same magical silver-blue Do-Jigger I used 25 years ago to catch walleyes. And even after all this time, walleyes in most icy environs still also react aggressively to a #7 Jigging Rap. Indeed, last winter, I broke out an old orange-and-gold foil pattern Jigging Rap I purchased from Dave Cook's Sporting Goods in Denver, Colorado, around 1979, and caught my biggest walleye of the season.
"My wish for new entries in the swimming lure category were granted this year. As I held Berkley's Snap Jig in my hand, even in the heat of Orlando's July 2017 ICAST show, my mind immediately pined for first ice. It has a tail resembling the Jigging Rap, giving it a wide gliding action. It also has a barbed keeper for rigging with your favorite softbait. Small flukes come to mind. Z-Man's Slim SwimZ has been a recent favorite. The new Berkley PowerBait MaxScent Flat Nose Minnow is another good option. This, along with some of the new walleye-sized tungsten jigs, such as Fiskas XL Walleye Jig, give anglers hope that good things are happening on the ice lure scene. And yet, we know our favorite old Do-Jiggers, Swedish Pimples, Rocker Minnows, and Kastmasters can just as easily emerge from the box when a fish needs catching."
Tom Gruenwald's Top Ten
Acme Little Cleo — The erratic action generated by this little dynamo makes it versatile, a powerful flurry of attraction and strike production.
Jig-A-Whopper Lazer Rocker Minnow — This original Jig-A-Whopper design, especially when tipped with an action softbait, has been remarkably consistent for tempting fish.
Nils Master Jigging Shad — This little powerhouse closely resembles a plethora of natural forage. It has a beautiful glide that draws fish in and makes them bite
Bait Rigs Willow Spoon — With a hop and a fall on slack line, this one flips broadside and flutters, a terrific option when fishing shallow, over thick cover, or attempting to trigger tentative fish.
Snyder Lures Big Shaker — Whether aggressively ripped or gently quivered, this double-bladed, dimpled gadget with secondary fins creates a loose, fluttering mass of flash and vibration.
Rapala Jigging Rap — Perhaps the single best ice fishing lure of all time — a classic.
Jig-A-Whopper Hawger Rattle Spoon — Especially good in stained water and low-light conditions. The slightest wiggle generates strike-agitating commotion.
PK Lures Flutter Fish — Flashing, flickering, rocking, it's a winner that emulates dying baitfish to perfection.
Bill Lewis Rattle Trap — Not considered an ice fishing lure by most, this noisy, high-profile crank works wonders at times.
Len Thompson Five O' Diamonds — Somehow, even when nothing else seems to be doing well, this little gem produces action.
Jason Mitchell's Top Ten
Rapala Jigging Rap — It's hard to disagree with so many who observe that this might be the best ice lure of all time. The Northland Puppet Minnow also deserves mention among this class of lures.
Clam Leech Flutter Spoon — My go-to spoon the last year, especially for walleyes, but it's also a fireball for trout, perch, and crappies.
Acme Kastmaster — An angler could tie one on a rod and never take it off the season long.
Northland Tackle Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon — The same with this classic fish-producer.
Clam Rattlin' Blade Spoon — Tinkle-tinkle, flash and dash, attracts fish and gets them to bite big time, especially active fish. Sports the loudest rattle that barely requires any movement.
Salmo Chubby Darter — This silent wobbler rides beautifully on a horizontal plane. It's my choice in so many situation for big walleyes, pike, and lake trout.
Livetarget Golden Shiner — The one that started it all, or at least revitalized the use of lipless lures for big walleyes and lake trout.
Salmo Zipper — Another sweet lipless option. It was the smallest size (#5) that helped bring the lipless craze back into focus for me.
Bay de Noc Swedish Pimple — Perhaps the best spoon design of all time, having stood the test of time for more than 50 years.
Clam Blade Spoon — Gets the call when I'm looking for a silent spoon that fishes subtly. Produces a deadly treble-hook bounce on a tight quiver.