Ice fishing for panfish like crappies, bluegills, and perch requires tackle that lies at the extreme side of the “finesse” spectrum. Professional guide, Tony Roach, walks through 4 of his top rod setups that match the ideal power and action to the chosen presentation — usually small jigs, spoons, and lipless crankbaits that range between 1/16- to 1/64th-ounce.
A balanced setup requires that the line and rod power and action be matched to the weight of the bait. For example, a tiny 1/64th-ounce jig fishes best when using a 1- to 2-pound line. The rod tip needs to load ever so slightly under the bait’s weight to detect bites — in this scenario, a tiny bit of downward pressure (the take) moves the rod tip. Similarly, a lift bite (fish bites the bait and swims up) removes pressure and straightens the rod tip indicating the take.
The ideal rod translates seamlessly from a bite detection tool to a stiffer midsection that drives hooks home. Simultaneously, the backbone provides lifting power for controlling big panfish and the common bonus predator fish like bass, walleye, and pike.
ROD SETUPS & BAITS
- St. Croix Custom Ice Rod “Pan Finesse”
- VMC Tungsten Tubby Jig, 1/64-ounce
- Sufix Advance Ice Mono, 2- to 3-pound
- St. Croix Custom Ice Rod “Tungsten Tamer”
- Sufix Inviline Ice Fluorocarbon, 3- to 4-pound
- VMC Tungsten Mustache Jig, 1/32-ounce
- St. Croix Custom Ice Rod “Pan Dancer”
- Sufix Advance Ice Monofilament, 3- to 4-pound
- VMC Tungsten Probe Jig, 1/16-ounce
- St. Croix Custom Ice Rod “Perch Seeker”
- Sufix Invisiline Ice Fluorocarbon, 4- to 5-pound
- VMC Flash Champ Spoon, 1/32-ounce
- Rapala Jigging Rap, sizes 2 & 3 (1/8 and 3/16-ounce respectively)
- Rapala Ultra Light Rippin Rap