If you are thinking about getting into ice fishing in a bigger way this season, it is high time you start thinking about the modern way of ice fishing. To most anglers, the goal is to catch more fish, plain and simple. The modern way of ice fishing is a style of fishing designed to improve your ice fishing success by catching more fishIF you want to that is. Please understand it is NOT based on the moon phase or some new brand of fishing line.
This being said, there will be no easy shortcuts or magic pill to suddenly put fish in your bucket. Todays modern ice anglers relay on a systematic and very logical way to improve theyre overall ice fishing success by 50% or more! Sound interesting? Sounds like something worth trying? You bet! Heres how it works.
The Modern ice fishing revolution comes from a new perspective of the sport, and new way of looking at a day on the ice. For some anglers who take to the ice, the tip-up is the tool of choice for catching fish through the ice. In many pockets of the ice belt, the tip-up defines the sport of ice fishing. For many generations of ice anglers, the art of placing a series of set lines in holes and watching for the flag is what ice fishing is all about.
The modern way of ice fishing is a more involved, aggressive approach to fishing when you compare it to the traditional tip-up tactics. If you understand the winter wonderland that exists under a frozen lake, you soon realize that if you plan on the fish coming to you, it can be a long wait, but by going to the fish, your odds greatly increase. This is the basis for the modern fishing tactics youre going to learn about.
The primary tool for this modern day way of ice fishing is the Vexilar three-color, flasher sonar system. A Vexilar sonar system allows you to do more than just tell you how deep the water is and this was the real breakthrough for winter anglers. With any of the Vexilar Ice Pack Systems, you can seek-out fish or fish holding structures and not stop until you actually find yourself over a school of fish. Vexilar makes four models of three-color sonar, the classic FL8, which is the worlds most popular and best selling flasher for both summer and winter use. The FL-12, which is basically the next generation to the FL-8, but with a unique flat panel screen and some other small performance differences. The FL-18 was a real breakthrough to winter fishermen since it was the first flasher sonar with the ability to zoom in and display just the bottom six feet of the water column. This made for unbelievable resolution. Then you have the top of the line, the Vexilar FL-20.
Like the FL-12 is to the FL-8, the FL-20 is the next generation of the FL-18. The FL-20 has multiple zoom zones and much more. This being said, it comes down to performance features to make your sonar system easier to use in different or special fishing situations. The way I look at it is that the higher the FL number, the more features you get. So it really comes down to asking yourself how and what you fish and finding a Vexilar to get fit your style of fishing. If you only one species of fish on one lake, then it is best to select the unit with the features that fits your needs. This being said, I will tell you there is little doubt that if you a sonar to perform in any ice fishing environment for any species, then the FL-20 is the one unit that does it all!
Using a sonar depth finder for ice fishing is nothing new, anglers have been using them since the 1960s, but never understood what the sonar systems were capable of giving the fishermen the detail needed to see fish, weeds and changes in bottom content. The first sonar systems for fishing were design here in the United States. When engineers asked the fishermen what they wanted, they said We want to know how deep the water is. Sonar systems are capable of many things, so if you ask the right questions, you can literally make the sonar tell you anything you wish. Nearly all sonar on the market today is designed for summer use. Finding depth is still the key sonar requirement 40 years later. For this reason, the sonar display you see is not nearly as detailed or exact as you would like or need for use while ice fishing. It takes a very demanding type of sonar technology to enable you to see three tiny split-shot one inch apart in 30 feet of water. The demands of winter fishing is where Vexilar excels, since their three-color flasher sonar display is not affected by temperature, and can display even the smallest of objects suspended below you while watching things move around in real-time.
The ice angler will use a Vexilar unit to look at the water blow their feet. This tool is capable of telling you if there are fish below, plus you will be able to see evidence of bottom content to give you clues to places that may or may not be holding fish. This is where it really gets hard for some people to understand the modern way of thinking about ice fishing. Traditional ice fishing methods and for sure the image given to the ice fishing experience by Hollywood movies shows grumpy old men looking at a hole in the ice waiting for a fish to show up. In their world, its a big deal to drill or chop one hole in the ice. This thinking is WRONG in so many ways, but mostly the old way of ice fishing relies on the fish to coming to you in order to catch them. The goal with a Vexilar is to find the fish, THEN figure out how to catch them.
The Modern Ice Angler MUST accept what the Vexilar is telling you and use this information to help you catch more of those fish below or it also tells you to keep looking if no fish are found. A Vexilar has become the ultimate fish finding AND catching tool for any winter angler.
A Modern ice fisherman continues to drill hole after hole LOOKING for fish targets below. Only a Vexilar can give you this type of 100% reliability of spotting fish targets. Some might think that an underwater camera is a great asset for this purpose, but its not. Underwater Cameras, while a fun toy for the kids to play with, has some serious limitations. For example, the camera cannot check the entire water column at one time. Cameras do not work in low light conditions like dawn and dusk or at night. Forget about using them in dirty or stained water lakes and a camera with 50 feet of cable can be a tangled mess if you try to move from hole to hole.
Once you identify fish holding areas, now is when the fun begins since a Vexilar is the ultimate tool for putting more fish on the ice once you have found them.
With the Ice-Ducer transducer of the Vexilar suspended in your fishing hole, you are able to get a real-time signal of what is going on below. Green signal lights on your Vexilar display tells you there are weak targets in the area directly below you. As the targets get stronger, the signals on your display will change from Green to Orange. The strongest signal, like bottom will be shown in red. With this three-color technology, you will be able to see how a fish say five feet away from your lure turns and approaches your bait as the signals will turn from green, to orange and then to red. Knowing what the different color lights are telling you is a very exciting and important part of using your Vexilar.
It is critical to set your gain level so your lure or bait is displayed as a green signal. If the gain is set too high, the ultra powerful receivers of the Vexilar unit will make everything suspended below you look like one big flashing mass of colored lights. When set properly, you clearly know where your lure is, and where it is in relation to all the other targets you also see on your display. The ideal scenario is that when you drop your lure down to a fish target, you see the fish signal move upward to meet your falling lure. You see it all in real-time as it happens, and it is VERY exciting to see and experience for the first time. When you see this happen, you will never go back to fishing with a tip-up again.
To support this active approach to winter angling, a good gas auger is important. How big of a hole do you need to drill? Most feel the larger the hole the better, but experience has shown you can actually land larger fish in much smaller holes than you might think if you take some time as the fish approaches the bottom of the hole. Panfish can often be caught in 4 and 6 inch holes, walleye an 8 inch hole and of course monster pike will require 12 inch holes, but most of the time anglers are after panfish or walleye and a 6 or 8 inch hole can handle most of the fish you will ever catch. It is just common sense, the smaller the hole, the easier and quicker you can punch a hole in the ice, and thus making it a lot less effort if you need to drill a lot of holes to explore a new body of water.
Knowing that a Vexilar can show you a tiny target or any fish swimming below you, it is now time we look at your fishing technique. For one, you dont need a bobber on your line any more due to the fact that now you may need to adjust your bait offerings to fish swimming anywhere in the water column and not just the bottom. For this reason, it is very logical to get one of those new style short ice fishing rods with a spinning reel. No reason to hand over your line or get your line tangled in the ice around your hole. With a miniature version of a summertime fishing outfit, you will be able to get your lures up and down quickly and easily. A Vexilar makes this type of fishing rig possible, and adds a great deal more fun to the sport since you dont have to sit and stare at a bobber any more.
There are thousands of ice flies and jigging spoons that can possibly make-up the lures for winter angler. Remember, it is not some secret lure that catches you more fish, it is the knowledge of knowing how the fish responds to the offerings you present them; that is the real secret to success and a Vexilar makes that possible. Will one lure catch more fish than other? Possibly. Will all lures work the same for catching fish? No way, but now you are able to eliminate unproductive lures, colors and baits to reap amazing results.
The pro-active approach to winter fishing extends to how you are organized as well. Remember, the goal is to move from hole to hole looking for fish. You want to make it easy to move from hole to hole. It is only human nature to want to sit back and not find fish if none are shown on your Vexilar. That is why the small portable shelters like the Dave Genz Fish Traps are so popular with avid winter anglers looking for a simple but effective way to stay warm on those winter days. These portable houses are mounted on small plastic sleds and have a canvas cover that can be pulled over the fishermans head in about two seconds. To move, you simply flip back the cover and now you have a small compact plastic tub to put your gear into and be ready to drag to the next hole. It is a practical and logical outcome of using a Vexilar and to find ways to stay comfortable once you find them.
I hope that by now you start to see a trend in what makes a Modern Ice fisherman more productive than a traditional ice angler. With the use of a Vexilar you can make the best of every moment you have on the ice. You seek-out and find fish, then you find ways to catch as many of the fish you see as possible. Will it double your ice fishing success? In a recent survey of 500 ice anglers, an amazing 80% of them said their ice fishing success doubled when they started using aVexilar. The day of the modern ice angler is here, they know now that with a Vexilar, and a little work, they can catch the fish faster and with more consistency than ever before. This is your time to take ice fishing to the next level give it a try!