For several years now manufacturers such as Berkley, Custom Jigs and Spins, Nothland, Lindy and Little Atom have been producing micro-sized plastic baits designed specifically for the ice fishing angler. This past season we saw new bait releases from Clam, VMC and Trigger X. These baits are not simply a fad, they are here to stay because they work great. Sure, there are times when natural bait is all the fish are keying in on. Many anglers still start the day off jigging a live minnow or waxie, but for times when the bite is off, the appeal of finesse plastics can save the day.
Berkley’s PowerBait Micro Wigglers and Honey Worms are always popular baits for targeting panfish and trout through the ice and work well with a variety of jigs. The prerigged Atomic Fry and Atomic Mite offer a micro jig/plastic that is ready to tie on and fish. These baits all feature Berkley’s familiar PowerBait scent, which let’s face it – fish love. More recently Berkley’s line of Gulp! And Gulp! Alive! Baits have become favorites on the hard water. Classic leech, minnow and waxie patterns join more specialized baits such as minnow heads and fish fry.
From Northland comes their Impulse bait line-up which includes the Jig’n Tail Mayfly, Stone Fly and Perch Eye. These baits rely heavily on natural shapes and colors combined with Northlands Super Charge Impulse Instinctual Attractant.
Each package of Lindy’s Watsit Ice Jig contains two jig heads and four plastic bodies. These plastics feature a more suggestive “creature bait” design, mimicking everything from small crayfish to insects and minnows. These baits are available in a wide range of fish attracting colors.
Little Atom Nuggies and Mircro-Nuggies have been around for a few years now and are a staple for many ice anglers. The Nuggie design features a small, salmon egg shape with a thin tail. The slightest dip of the rod tip makes the bait dance, enticing bites from even the weariest of fish. The Little Atom Duppies and Skimpies also rely on a flexible tail design. Little Atom’s C-9 scent attractant is included on all baits.
The Custom Jigs & Spins Ratso Jigs have a cult-like following and are responsible for taking their fair share of panfish each season through the ice. The Ratso jig features the Custom Jigs & Spins Finesse Plastic body and tail for added attraction. These plastics feature great colors with a small segmented body and lifelike tail. The Custom Jigs & Spins Wedgie Plastics are simply a tail to add to your favorite jig. The extreme action of the Wedgie brings a new dimension to standard jigging techniques.
Trigger X made waves this season with their new series of ice fishing plastic. These baits include the Wax Tail, the Larvae, the Spike Worm and Mustache Worm, the Minnow and the Flap Tail Grub. These baits feature Trigger X’s signature scents along with textures designed to feel like real live bait. Fish are enticed to hold on longer for excellent hooksets. So far anglers have been reporting nothing but good things about the Trigger X plastics.
VMC offers their Wax Tail Jig and Larvae Jig. Each jig features and slicky sharp VMC painted jig prerigged with a Trigger X bait. These combos have been flying off the shelves since their arrival last fall.
Clam has widened their selection of ice fishing products by offering a fantastic new range of plastic baits. These plastics are hand poured and infused with worm particles and fish proteins in an anise-based formula. The popular Jamei features a shrimp/crappie bug design. The Spiiki is a slender worm shapped bait, perfect for tipping jigs and swimming in the water column or pounding the bottom. The Draggi features a very unique shape, with large wings and a long tail. This bait excels at quick drops which compact the baits profile and then a quick upward pause of the rod tip allows the “wings” to open – similar to a crawfish raising its claws. The Polli plastic features a fish egg shaped body with a long tail that has a small ball end. This added weight at the end of the tail gives the Polli a unique action that make it hard for fish to say no.
Ice Fishing with plastics is all about experimentation. Try different baits with different size and shape jigs to find the imitation that best suits what the fish are feeding on. A natural shaped bait in a subdued color may be killer on the days when the ‘gills are focusing in on insects near the bottom. A slender bait in a flashy color may indicate that small baitfish fry are hatched and in abundance up the water column. Make sure to try small plastics on jigging spoons and other ice lures for added color, attraction and scent. Finally, don’t put these baits away once the ice is gone. Be sure to try micro-sized plastics for open water fishing. A small jig and plastic bait under a slip float can be deadly for spring crappie.