One of the first lessons I teach new anglers and those looking to increase their catch is how to properly match your rod and reel to your line and lure. A properly matched setup allows you to get the most out of the equipment you are using, maximizes the potential of your equipment, and allows you to get the most out of it. Will you catch fish with an improperly matched setup? Sure you will, but you’ll catch more fish, feel your lure, detect more bites, and ultimately become a better angler if your gear is well-balanced.
Selecting line for use in cold weather presents a unique challenge. Even the best monofilament line has memory, especially when it gets cold. When your line comes off the spool it is going to want to coil. These coils act a springs and can dampen the action you are attempting to produce with your lure. Line coils also prevent you from detecting bites. Your line should be light enough that the lure you’re using can straighten it out. Small tungsten drop jigs like the Clam Epoxy Drop work best with 2-4 pound test line. Increase the size of your lure and you should increase the size of your line.
Rod construction is very specific. Every rod is built to certain specifications based on power and action. Power (light to heavy) refers to how much pressure it takes to flex a rod, and action (slow to fast) is determined by where the rod flexes. To take the end of a 6 or 7 foot rod that was built for a 1 ounce lure and 12 pound test line, and use it with 2 pound test line and a size 12 tungsten jig can put an angler at a disadvantage because it isn’t properly matched for most of the lures used for ice fishing.
There is such a thing as overkill when it comes to rod selection. Too heavy and you lose sensitivity. Too light and you lose lure control. Your rod should match the lure and line you are using. Think of it as a theme. If you’re fishing with a light lure and line, fish with a light rod.
Having a rod that is matched to the line and lure you are using means better sensitivity, better lure control, and more success. When you decrease the size of your lure, make sure you make the necessary adjustments to the rest of your gear. If you’re goal is to catch more fish through the ice, then make sure you have a correctly matched setup. First choose your lure, then choose a rod and line accordingly. The right match is going to mean more fish through the ice.
Tim Moore is a professional fishing guide in New Hampshire. He owns and operates Tim Moore Outdoors, LLC and guides ice fishing trips on Lake Winnipesaukee. He is a member of the New England Outdoors Writers Association and the producer of Tim Moore Outdoors TV. Visit www.TimMooreOutdoors.com for more information.