Ice Fishing

A Spoon is Not Just a Spoon in Ice Fishing

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To say a spoon is just a spoon for ice fishing is as silly as saying that a wrench is used for putting in screws. Specific spoons, like most common tools, excel in specific situations. It’s not a matter of getting the perfect spoon; it’s a matter of getting the right spoon for the right situation.

The 3 main consideration when choosing ice fishing spoons are as follows:

  • Materials
  • Action
  • Shape

Materials

The materials that comprise a spoon should be considered first. Different materials will cause the spoon to fish heavy, light or make them much more compact in nature. Some spoons are made from brass and plated or painted over, while others are just poured from lead or stamped from thin metal.

Some examples would include the following:

  • Brass (heavy) — Acme Kastmaster, Acme Little Cleo and Bay de Noc Swedish Pimple
  • Stamped (light) — Bay de Noc Do-Jigger, Custom Jig and Spin Slender Spoon and Silver Streak Jr. Streak
  • Lead — Silver Streak Rattle Streak, Northland Buckshot and Clam Blade Spoon

Action

Anglers find action to be the meat and potatoes when it comes to ice fishing with spoons, and fish pay more attention to that than the other two aspects. Choose the action based on the conditions and fish mood. Many of the most popular ice fishing spoons arguably fit into several categories, and that’s likely why they are so effective.
A few hours looking at how they react in a pool or off a dock in open water can help teach you not only how they fish, but give you clues to when they will work best come hard water.

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Curved

This shape category can be fairly subjective as to what belongs in it, since nearly all spoons have some type of curve or cup to them. Depending on the amount of curvature or bend, their action can be from somewhat subtle to very erratic.

  • Cleo — More widely recognized as an open-water casting spoon for numerous species, it is also a widely used ice fishing spoon. The ability to be fished slowly for a somewhat subtle presentation or ripped for a very erratic rise and fall likely are what allow it to be so successful on fish with varied moods.
  • Swedish Pimple — Perhaps the granddaddy of all ice spoons. The Pimple also fishes well in a variety of circumstances. The brass blank allows it to be fished deep and/or in current, yet it doesn’t have a “rocket to the bottom” action like many slab spoons. A small attached red plastic flapper on the bottom split ring will move when the spoon is sitting motionless for added attraction.
  • Syclops — Much like the Cleo, the Syclops is much more revered for open water fishing unless you are in the know. The brass blank has a relatively slow fall, yet can fish heavy enough to be used in deep water or in current. As you go up in sizes the brass blank obviously gets heavier and can drastically reduce the action. Most popular sizes for ice fishing are 1/8- and 1/4-ounce.

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Slab

Slab spoons are popular with casting for species such as stripers and bass. They can be cast a mile and have an erratic action for a large spoon. This same nature makes them very effective when ice fishing on large lakes with current, such as the Great Lakes, or in river situations. When simply hitting bottom and still being able to see a lure on your flasher is the key, a slab spoon is the choice. In tough conditions, the treble hook can be replaced with a dropper chain for neutral to negative fish.

  • Hopkins Shorty — Forged from solid stainless steel, the Shorty can get down in nearly any condition. With only chrome or gold scale finish available, ice anglers often adorn them with prism tape or a little custom painting. The cousin to the Shorty is the Smoothie, which features the same type body but in a smooth finish with many different prism tape finishes. Consider replacing the large salt water style hook with a high quality thin wire premium treble to help increase the landing percentage.
  • Kastmaster — Much like most slab spoons, the Kastmaster fishes heavy, but it does have much more of a “kick out” action than most lures in its class. Smaller sizes will almost kick out ninety degrees as it flutters down. Many imitations have come to market to attempt to mimic the Kastmaster, make sure the one you choose has a brass blank for a comparable action.
  • Rattle Streak — A hybrid of most slab spoons, the Rattle Streak is flatter than most and comprised of lead and not brass or metal. This allows it to fish heavy, yet the pancake flat sides give it a unique fluttering action. Outfitted with a brass rattle chamber you can bring fish in by just shaking it, making it a threat in both clear and dirty water.

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Flutter

Easily the hottest lure category in ice fishing. As the word has spread about their effectiveness ice manufactures have come out with a multitude of new models. Primarily stamped from thin metal or brass, these lures have an ultra-slow flutter that seem to trigger fish that reject all other presentations. This is particularly the case in gin clear or shallow water. The most important part to consider with flutter spoons is to not weight them down too much with minnows or larger size hooks which effectively kills their action.

  • Do-Jigger — A go-to spoon for serious ice anglers that needs little introduction. Stamped from solid brass with a plated finish this lightweight spoon has a unique action that fish haven’t been able to stand for a long time. Experience has taught me that adding a little prism tape helps provide just enough added color and flash to outperform stock models most days. Much like its heavier cousin it is equipped with a red plastic flapper on the treble hook spilt ring that adds a little extra color and movement.
  • Slender Spoon — Originally developed by Reef Runner, this ultra-thin and compact model has been turning heads for the last few years. The extremely erratic action seems to get fish to commit that just work up and down with other lures. The plated finishes with a small prism tape strip have been the main offerings until last year when many custom style paint jobs were offered as stock. The 3/16 model is a thicker version and same profile of the popular 1/8oz model, allowing it to be fished deeper or in current.
  • Jr. Streak — For years using open water trolling spoons has been a wide kept secret, even known, few anglers have confidence in using them until recently. This open water walleye catching machine does just as much damage under the ice. Don’t be afraid to rip it hard to draw in fish. This is a bait that will get strikes from charging fish that come from a distance and are not marked on electronics.

You wouldn’t use a hammer to put in a screw, the same can be said for using the wrong spoon in the wrong conditions. Having a good idea of when each spoon in your ice fishing arsenal excels will give you an advantage over both your ice fishing buddies and the fish.

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