Top Ice-Fishing Tools


Fish’N’Tales author Dan Galusha’s top ice-fishing tools

Through the years, many questions about what I use at the end of the line for ice-fishing have crossed my desk. It’s time to talk about “My Ice Picks,” the top ice-fishing tools I use to get the job done. I don’t use all that many different things. Basically, it is all Custom Jigs & Spins products for jigs, TTI products for hooks, and Berkley for prepared baits, with Kick’N’Bass as an additive for live bait.

I started using Custom Jigs & Spins’ black Ratfinkee, when fishing for bluegills in open water, long before I started ice-fishing. Once I got into hard-water fishing, I started changing my selection to what would work for different situations. There are vertical and horizontal presentations. Each has a time and place.

Going vertical

With vertical presentations, I use four jigs—Demon, Rocker, VertiGlo Frizbee and Slender Spoon. For panfish, I use the Demon, Rocker and Frizbee the most. I like two colors for the Demon and Rocker—lime/glow and green/chartreuse—and three for the Frizbee: lime/chartreuse, clown and Froggie. Sizes range from No. 12 to No. 4 hooks; I deploy No. 10 and 8 most often. For larger crappies and bass, the Slender Spoon is a favorite. Blue Glow-Tiger, Green Glow-Purple Tiger, and Green Glow-Parrot are the primary colors I use.

Vertical presentations for the Demon and Rocker are done with a lift-and-drop so that the spoon-type lure wobbles downward. Same with the Slender Spoon, but I add a pronounced darting action on an “up jerk.” Another thing for which the Demon and Rocker can be used is “dead sticking”. Use a waxworm on smaller sizes, or a minnow on the larger jigs.

Horizontally jigging up fish

Most of the time, I prefer to start with the horizontal jig, especially if I want a slower presentation at a certain depth. For these, I go with the Ratfinkee, Diamond Jig and Gill Pill. Sizes and colors for these three are the same for the Demon and Rocker.

When working the horizontal jig, I lightly bob it in place at various depths where I see the fish on my Vexilar. In fact, the best way to draw active fish into striking is when a good concentration appears on the flasher. I lightly jig the lure above the fish, with brief drops of the jig into and below the fish, before jigging it back upward.

Get ’em hooked

Hooks for deadsticking or drifting are Daiichi Bleeding Bait salmon egg hooks in Size 8 and 10. The drifting is with only a hook, which slowly drifts downward with the weight of the bait, then slowly lifted back up for another drop. In deadsticking, I’ll use BB shot.

You can be among the first to get the latest info on where to go, what to use and how to use it!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

For bait to dress the hooks, I use two things: live waxworms and Berkley Power or Gulp Crappie Nibbles. There are others – minnows, maggots, spikes, mealworms, and a ton of different prepared designs, but the two mentioned have done 98 percent of the catching for me.

One other item related to bait, is Kick’N Bass Attractants’ Kick’N Crappie. I use other scents from the company, but, during ice season, the Crappie scent is one of my top ice-fishing tools for all panfish and bass.

The pick of the kit

I’ve been asked if I use other tackle. Yes, I do. However, this article covers my main “go-to” items. If I were to go out on the ice with a small assortment, this would be it. All of these jigs, hooks and weights fit neatly into a small lure box. With a couple of jars of prepared bait, container of wax worms, and a bottle of Kick’N Crappie, I’m ready to go. It all fits easily into my Frabill Soft Side Bag with plenty of room for other items.

Hope this has given some of you who have asked through the years a good idea of a basic, fish-catching selection of top ice-fishing tools that are “My Ice Picks.”

If you have further questions about this or any other fishing subject, drop Dan Galusha a line through the Dan’s Fish ‘N’ Tales Tales® website at, the Facebook page at or

When spring rolls around, it will be walleye time, big time, on Lake Erie!