man ice fishing with tent in background

Choosing Good Boots for Ice Fishing [And Popular Brands]

Ice fishing is not for the faint of heart. Braving the frozen waters in search of the perfect catch requires determination, skill, and, most importantly, the right gear.

You certainly need certain types of fishing gear and equipment for ice fishing, but among items, a pair of reliable ice fishing boots stands out as a critical piece that can make or break your experience on the ice.

duck walking on ice

In this guide, we’ll delve into the factors to consider when choosing the best boots for ice fishing, the various types available, and our top picks.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Ice Fishing Boots

fishing in a hole in the ice

1. Insulation

When venturing onto icy lakes where temperatures can plummet, proper insulation becomes paramount. Insulated boots help retain body heat, keeping your feet warm and comfortable throughout the day.

Look for boots that contain materials such as Thinsulate, wool, or neoprene, which are known for their excellent insulation properties. The amount of insulation needed can vary depending on your local climate and how long you plan to stay out on the ice.

2. Waterproofing

You can lose a lot of body heat through your feet. Given the nature of ice fishing, where you’re in constant contact with snow and ice, waterproof boots are a must. Wet feet can quickly lead to discomfort and even frostbite in extreme conditions. Boots made with waterproof materials like Gore-Tex, rubber, or PVC will keep moisture out, ensuring your feet stay dry and warm.

3. Traction

One slip on the ice can turn a great day of fishing into a painful one. That’s why traction is a crucial consideration when selecting ice fishing boots. Look for boots with aggressive treads, cleats, or studs that can grip slippery surfaces effectively. Some boots even come with removable cleats or built-in traction systems designed specifically for icy conditions.

4. Comfort

Ice fishing often involves long hours of standing or walking on hard, cold surfaces. Therefore, comfort is key when choosing ice fishing boots. Look for features such as ample cushioning, good arch support, and enough room to accommodate thick socks without feeling cramped. A comfortable pair of boots will keep you focused on the fish, not on your feet.

5. Durability

Ice fishing can be tough on gear, with boots subjected to harsh conditions like sharp ice edges and abrasive surfaces. Opt for boots made from durable materials such as leather or high-quality synthetic fabrics. Pay attention to the stitching and overall construction, ensuring that your boots can withstand the rigors of the ice fishing season.

Types of Ice Fishing Boots

1. Pac Boots

kenetrk pac boot

Insulation and Design of Pac Boots

One of the defining features of PAC boots is their innovative design that combines a removable inner felt liner with a sturdy outer shell. The removable liner, often made of thick felt material, serves as the primary source of insulation. This design allows you to adjust the warmth of the boots based on the weather conditions. In extremely cold temperatures, you can keep the liners in for maximum warmth. On milder days, you have the option to remove them for a lighter, more breathable feel.

Waterproofing and Protection

Pac boots are built to withstand wet and icy conditions, making them an excellent choice for ice fishing. The outer shell of these boots is typically made from waterproof materials such as rubber, PVC, or synthetic fabrics. This waterproofing not only keeps your feet dry, but also protects against slushy, wet snow and icy puddles commonly encountered on the ice.

Kenetrek 10" Rancher Insulated Pac Boot, 10 Medium
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Traction for Slippery Surfaces

One of the biggest challenges of ice fishing is navigating the slippery surfaces of frozen lakes. Pac boots address this concern with their rugged outsoles featuring deep treads or lugs. These aggressive treads provide exceptional traction on icy, snow-covered terrain, reducing the risk of slips and falls.

Ideal Conditions and Uses of Pac boots

Pac boots excel in extreme cold and deep snow conditions, making them a favorite among ice anglers who brave the coldest months of winter. So, whether you’re standing on the ice for hours waiting for the big catch or trekking through snowy landscapes to reach your fishing spot, Pac boots offer the warmth, waterproofing, and traction needed to tackle the elements.

Key Features of Pac Boots

Removable felt liners for added warmth, waterproof uppers, and rugged outsoles for traction.

Ideal Conditions For Pac Boots

Ideal for extremely cold temperatures and deep snow.

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Advantages Of Pac Boots

  • Excellent insulation with removable felt liners.
  • Superior waterproofing to keep feet dry and warm.
  • Rugged outsoles with aggressive treads for traction.
  • Versatility in adjusting warmth with removable liners.
  • Durable construction to withstand harsh winter conditions.

Cons of Pac boots

  • Slightly heavier compared to other types of ice fishing boots.
  • May require occasional maintenance such as cleaning and drying the liners.
  • Sorel Caribou Pac Boots
  • Kamik Men’s Hunter Pac Boots
  • Baffin Men’s Impact Insulated Boots

2. Rubber Boots

man ice fishing with rubber boots

Rubber boots are a classic choice for ice fishing, valued for their simplicity, waterproofing capabilities, and ease of use. These boots have stood the test of time as a reliable option for anglers venturing onto frozen lakes and snowy landscapes.

Ideal Uses and Scenarios

Rubber boots shine in early and late ice conditions, where waterproofing is crucial. They are perfect for quick outings, easy trips to and from your fishing spot, and scenarios where you expect to encounter wet or slushy surfaces.

Key Features

  • 100% Waterproof: Made of rubber or waterproof materials to keep feet dry.
  • Simple Design: Slip-on style for easy wearing and removal.
  • Easy to Clean: Rinse off mud, snow, and debris with ease.
  • Quick Drying: Interior tends to dry relatively quickly.

Waterproofing and Design of Rubber Boots

The hallmark feature of rubber boots is their 100% waterproof construction. Made entirely of rubber or rubber-like materials, these boots are impervious to water, making them ideal for wading through slushy ice, wet snow, and icy puddles without a second thought. The seamless design of rubber boots ensures that no moisture seeps in, keeping your feet dry and comfortable throughout your fishing expedition.

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Advantages of Rubber Boots For Ice Fishing

  • Waterproof Protection: The primary advantage of rubber boots is their ability to keep your feet completely dry. This feature is invaluable when dealing with the wet and icy conditions commonly encountered during ice fishing.
  • Easy to Clean: Rubber boots are a breeze to clean after a day out on the ice. Simply rinse off any mud, snow, or debris, and they’re ready for your next adventure. This low-maintenance aspect makes them a convenient choice for anglers.
  • Quick Drying: Should your boots get wet on the inside, whether from sweat or moisture seeping in, rubber boots tend to dry relatively quickly. This feature is particularly beneficial when you need to reuse them soon after a wet outing.
  • Simple and Reliable: Rubber boots are known for their straightforward design and reliable performance. They are often slip-on, with no laces or complicated closures, making them easy to put on and take off, especially when you’re bundled up in layers.

Cons of Rubber Boots

  • Less Insulation: Compared to pac boots or insulated hiking boots, rubber boots generally offer less insulation. While they provide excellent waterproofing, they may not keep your feet as warm in extremely cold conditions without additional thermal socks.
  • Limited Breathability: The waterproofing that makes rubber boots so effective can also lead to limited breathability. This means your feet might get sweaty and uncomfortable during extended periods of wear.
  • Muck Boot Arctic Sport Rubber Men’s Winter Boot
  • Bogs Classic High Waterproof Insulated Rain Boot
  • LaCrosse Men’s Alpha Range Waterproof Rubber Boot

3. Insulated Winter Hiking Boots

insulated winter hiking boot for ice fishing

Key Features

  • Insulation: Thinsulate, wool, or synthetic materials for warmth.
  • Versatile Design: Suitable for hiking and ice fishing.
  • Good Traction: Sturdy outsoles with moderate to aggressive treads.
  • Breathability: Allows for better airflow to prevent sweaty feet.
  • Comfortable Fit: Designed for extended wear without discomfort.

Ideal Uses and Scenarios

Insulated winter hiking boots are perfect for ice anglers who want warmth without sacrificing mobility. They shine in situations where you need to hike to your fishing spot, trek through snowy terrain, or enjoy a mix of hiking and ice fishing activities. These boots are also excellent for anglers who prefer a more streamlined and lightweight option compared to bulky pac boots.

Insulation and Design

The defining feature of insulated winter hiking boots is their combination of warmth and agility. These boots typically feature insulation in the form of Thinsulate, wool, or synthetic materials, providing a cozy barrier against the cold. Unlike the bulkier pac boots, winter hiking boots offer a more streamlined design, allowing for greater freedom of movement.

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Pros of Insulated Winter Hiking Boots:

  • Versatility: Insulated hiking boots are not just for the trail—they also excel as ice fishing boots. Their versatile design makes them suitable for both hiking through snowy landscapes and standing on the ice for long periods.
  • Warmth with Mobility: These boots strike a balance between warmth and agility, providing sufficient insulation without the bulkiness of traditional pac boots. This makes them ideal for anglers who need to move around or hike to their fishing spot.
  • Good Traction: Winter hiking boots often feature sturdy outsoles with moderate to aggressive treads, offering reliable traction on icy surfaces. This traction is essential for stability and safety while navigating frozen lakes.
  • Breathability: Compared to rubber boots, winter hiking boots typically offer better breathability. This means your feet are less likely to get sweaty and uncomfortable during prolonged wear.

Cons of Insulated Winter Hiking Boots:

  • Less Insulation Than Pac Boots: While they offer good warmth, insulated hiking boots may not provide the same level of insulation as dedicated pac boots. Anglers fishing in extremely cold conditions may need additional layers of thermal socks.
  • Not as Waterproof as Rubber Boots: While many winter hiking boots are water-resistant, they may not offer the same level of waterproofing as rubber boots. Standing water or slushy conditions can still lead to moisture seeping in over time.
  • Columbia Bugaboot Plus IV Omni-Heat Winter Boot
  • KEEN Durand Polar Waterproof Winter Boot
  • Salomon X Ultra Winter CS Waterproof Hiking Boot

4. Ice Fishing Specific Boots

man holding fish from ice fishing

Key Features

  • Built-in Ice Cleats: One of the standout features of ice fishing boots is the incorporation of built-in ice cleats or studs. These cleats provide exceptional traction on slick, icy surfaces, ensuring stability and safety while walking or standing on the ice.
  • Specialized Lacing Systems: Many ice fishing boots come with specialized lacing systems designed to provide a snug and secure fit. These systems help prevent snow and moisture from entering the boots while offering customizable tightness for comfort.
  • Exceptional Insulation: Ice fishing boots prioritize warmth with advanced insulation technologies. These boots often feature multiple layers of insulation, such as Thinsulate, to trap heat and keep feet warm even in frigid temperatures.
  • Waterproof and Windproof Materials: To combat the elements, ice fishing boots are constructed with waterproof and windproof materials. This ensures that feet stay dry and protected from the biting cold wind that often accompanies ice fishing expeditions.

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Pros Of Ice Fishing Boots

  • Unmatched Traction: The built-in ice cleats provide superior grip on icy surfaces, reducing the risk of slips and falls.
  • Maximum Warmth: Advanced insulation keeps feet warm in even the coldest conditions, allowing anglers to fish comfortably for hours.
  • Durable Construction: Ice fishing boots are built to last, with rugged materials that can withstand sharp ice edges and abrasive surfaces.
  • Specialized Features: From specialized lacing systems to reinforced toe caps, these boots are designed with the needs of ice anglers in mind.

Cons Of Ice Fishing Boots

  • Higher Price Point: Ice fishing specific boots often come with a higher price tag due to their advanced features and specialized design.
  • Heavier Weight: The robust construction and added features can make these boots heavier compared to other options.
  • Striker Ice Combat Boot
  • Clam IceArmor Edge Cold Weather Boot
  • Korkers

Nordic Legend Explorer Ice Shelter 5 Sides Wide Bottom Insulated 6-8 Person Ice Fishing Tent
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Maintenance and Care Tips For Ice Fishing Boots

To ensure your ice fishing boots last for many seasons, follow these maintenance tips:

  • Regular Cleaning: Remove dirt, salt, and debris after each use to prevent damage.
  • Proper Storage: Store boots in a cool, dry place to prevent mold and mildew.
  • Conditioning: Treat leather boots with appropriate conditioners to maintain suppleness.
  • Inspect for Damage: Check for wear and tear, and repair or replace as needed.


Choosing the right boots for ice fishing is a decision that can significantly impact your comfort and safety on the frozen lakes. Consider factors such as insulation, waterproofing, traction, comfort, and durability when making your choice.

man ice fishing pulling out small fish

Whether you opt for pac boots, rubber boots, insulated hiking boots, or specialized ice fishing boots, investing in quality footwear will enhance your ice fishing experience. Stay warm, stay dry, and most importantly, stay safe out on the ice!

fishing on gunnison river in colorado

Mountain State Angling | Why Colorado Is An Ideal Winter Destination for Fishing Enthusiasts

Outdoor sports gained immense popularity amid the COVID pandemic when sporting venues were closed and people were apprehensive about crowded spaces.

Of course, even before the virus hit the world, Americans were keen on outdoor activities. 

Fishing is among the hottest favorites, with 54.5 million Americans flocking to the nation’s waterways in 2022 alone. This number was nearly two million more than the previous year, and one of the highest participation rates in over a decade.

colorado river

When it comes to top fishing destinations, Americans are spoiled for choice. As an ardent angler, you can go fishing to Thousand Islands in New York, Lake Tahoe in California, Lake Austin in Texas, or the famous Florida Keys. 

The best part is that the fishing in Colorado goes beyond the conventional seasons like Spring and Fall. You can try your luck with the rod and reel in the Colorado winter and go home with a big catch.

In this article, we will explain what makes Colorado a perfect winter destination for fishing enthusiasts.

Diverse Fishing Opportunities In Colorado

Colorado is heaven for outdoor lovers, offering a year-round opportunity to have fun amid nature.

The state boasts a diverse range of fishing opportunities even during winter. According to the recently released annual list of best ice fishing destinations in the US, Colorado is among the top names. The state’s remote 11 Mile Reservoir got a special mention in this context.

While July to October is the peak season for the San Miguel river fishing, you can also enjoy the winter experience here.

winter trout in hand

According to RIGS Fly Shop & Guide Service, guided fly fishing is the best option for anglers looking to explore Colorado in winter.

A seasoned guide can help you explore popular destinations such as Blue Mesa Reservoir, Steamboat Lake, and more. They may also share valuable tips to reel in a big catch from the icy waters. 

Crystal Clear Waters

Colorado’s rivers and streams feature crystal clear waters in winters, making it easy for anglers to maximize their catch. Enhanced visibility is an added advantage as it enables you to identify fish-holding spots and track your fly’s path through the rapid current. You will also witness the beauty of the underwater world.

You may worry about the chill of the icy water, but Colorado’s vast network of tailwaters addresses the concern. Tailwaters are the rivers below dams releasing controlled flows. They maintain consistent temperatures, regardless of the winter chill. It prevents ice formation and ensures abundant fishing opportunities even during the coldest months. 

Scenic Winter Landscapes

Besides experiencing the thrill of guided fly fishing in Colorado during winter, anglers can relish the unmatched scenic beauty of its landscapes. Winter brings heavy snowfall in the state, blanketing the landscapes in snow and enhancing the allure of fishing expeditions.

colorado mountains road

Fishing enthusiasts can witness the panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, serene forests, and frozen waterways. The tranquility of Colorado’s scenery takes the fishing experience a notch higher. You need not worry about wading through crowds, with fewer adventure lovers battling for prime fishing spots. 

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Trophy Fish Potential In Colorado

With the competition being less intense, you have a better chance of landing a trophy-sized catch during a winter fishing expedition in Colorado. The trout population has focused feeding patterns and heightened aggressiveness at this time of the year. It enhances the probability of encountering a big one lazily patrolling a sun-dappled stretch or lurking in a deep run.

cutthrout trout

All you have to do is be in the right place at the right time, prepare your gear, and master your techniques.

Besides the pride of grabbing a big catch, you feel good about standing against the elements with courage and resilience. The thrill of drilling through thick ice and setting up portable ice shelters creates memorable moments. 

Final Thoughts On Colorado Winter Fishing

In conclusion, Colorado makes an excellent winter fishing destination, combining diverse fishing opportunities with scenic landscapes and unique winter experiences.

icefishing at sunrise

You will love every moment here, from casting lines in frozen lakes to digging deep into ice-covered reservoirs. A fishing expedition at Colorado’s winter wonderland promises an unforgettable adventure.

So, stay warm and Happy fishing!

ice fishing 101 header image

Ice fishing 101 | A beginner’s guide to ice fishing

So, you’d love to ice fish, but aren’t quite sure how to do it?

Well, I’m going to cover the basics of ice fishing – an Ice Fishing 101 – so you can get out, safely fish, and share moments on the ice with your family and friends.

Ice Fishing For Beginners

You can navigate to any part of the article more quickly by clicking the links below:

  1. Locate an ice fishing spot
  2. Be sure ice is safe
  3. Ice fishing clothing
  4. Ice fishing gear
  5. Drill hole in ice
  6. Bait the jig
  7. Jig the lure

Step 1: Locate your ice fishing spot

man at ice fishing spot
Once you locate a good spot, it’s best to fish 50 to 100 yards from shore.

Now, the first step to getting on ice fishing is to find a good place to ice fish. Once you do that, you’re going to want to start to fish in the first 50 to 100 yards from shore.

You’re going to typically target 10 to 15 feet in depth and that will allow you to catch panfish, crappie, bluegill as well as pike and hopefully largemouth bass as well.

If you are ice fishing for the first time in a particular location and don’t know exactly where to fish, a good move is to get started right next to some other shelters. There are great communities out on the ice and everyone is fighting the cold and usually love fishing next to each other.

Step 2: Check for safe ice conditions

man making sure ice is safe for ice fishing
Always be sure the ice you are planning to fish is safe before drilling.

You should always be sure that the ice conditions are safe before attempting to fish a certain location. I highly recommend that you call or stop into your local bait and tackle store and make sure that the lake you picked out has safe ice conditions.

You can typically see where other people are safely fishing as well as sticking to the foot paths that they’ve already created, so you know it’s generally safe ice.

I highly recommend drilling holes (we’ll get to that further down) every 10 to 20 yards to double check the ice thickness.

I don’t recommend going out on any water that has under 5 inches of ice. If you have 5 inches, you’re going to be good, but you want to keep checking to make sure that there’s no variation in thickness.

If you do get to an unsafe spot, get off that lake. Five inches is the minimum.

Step 3: Wear appropriate clothing

man wearing ice fishing clothing
Be sure to layer up in the appropriate clothing: coat, mittens, hat, snow pants and snow boots.

Before you go ice fishing, be sure to gear up with warm winter clothing. It’s a good idea to dress in multiple layers as well as a coat, mittens, hat, snow pants and snow boots.

Safety gear is an essential part of your clothing

Safety spikes and ice cleats and floating bibs are very important components of proper ice fishing clothing.

The cleats help you walk on the ice without slipping and the safety spikes allow you to pull yourself up out of the water in the event that you fall in.

The floating bib has material in it that will allow you to bob back to the surface if you were to fall through the ice.

Now, if you don’t have higher end ice fishing bibs that can float, I highly recommend taking some sort of floatation device with you, most notably, an inflatable life preserver that’s easy to carry and lightweight.

man holding ice fishing safety spikes
Safety spikes are an essential part of your ice fishing safety clothing.
man holding ice cleats
Ice cleats help you walk on the ice without slipping and falling.

Step 4: Ice Fishing Gear Inventory

Once you get your winter clothing taken care of, you need to get your ice gear taken care of.

ice fishing gear and tackle

There are a few pieces of gear that are rudimentary and essential to getting out on the ice to fish.

Sled: First, because you will likely need to drag your gear and equipment with you for long distances, you will need a sled.

ice fishing sled
You’ll need an ice fishing sled to hold all your tackle and gear.

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Auger: Secondly, you will need an auger. An auger is a drill that will cut through the ice. It goes from 6 inches to 10 inches, and some even go up to 12. If you’re just getting started, I highly recommend just having a 6-inch hand auger.

ice fishing auger
You’ll need an auger to drill a hole in the ice.

Bucket: Another important thing to have is a bucket. This bucket is going to carry all of your tackle, your bait, all in one thing. And it also serves as a stool so you have a place to sit when you’re out on the ice.

ice fishing bucket
Your bucket holds your tackle and also gives you a place to sit.

Scooper: Next, you need a scooper. This is going to allow you to hold the ice out of your hole, clean it up and fish that hole consistently without having the ice interrupt your fishing or the fish coming through the hole.

ice fishing scooper
You’ll need a scooper to clean the ice out of the hole you drilled.

Ice Fishing Rod: When you’re ice fishing over a hole that’s right in front of you, you don’t want a long freshwater fishing rod, because it will put you too far away from the hole. You won’t be able to fish with it inside of a shelter. Plus, they have very low sensitivity. I recommend a 28″ ice fishing rod.

man holding bent ice fishing rod catching fish
The size of the ice fishing rod is important. It needs to be small. 28″ is recommended.

Jigs: Next, you need some jigs. The Tailored Tackle Multispecies Ice Combo allows you to jig or deadstick for a multitude of species. It includes micro jigs, tungsten jigs and others that you’re typically going to be using.

tailored tackle jigs
You’ll need jigs to put your bait on.

Bait: Lastly, you’re going to need some bait. Spikes are maggots that are used in ice fishing. You tip two to three of them on your jig and you jig them up and down to catch all sorts of species; primarily panfish, like perch and crappie.

spike maggots for ice fishing
Spike are a great bait for ice fishing that can attract a variety of species to bite.

Step 5: Drill A hole in the ice

Once you arrive at your spot, you’ll need to drill a hole in the ice. You will need to take the safety device on top of the bottom of the auger and remove it. Drill down into the ice by moving it clockwise.

man holding ice fishing auger
Make a hole in the ice with your auger by moving it clockwise. Once you have drilled your hole, pump the auger up and down three to four times to remove all of the big bunch of slush out of the hole.

Once you have drilled your hole, remove the excess slush with your boots.

man removing slush from ice fishing hole
Once you have drilled a hole in the ice, kick the sides of the slush off the side. Be sure to cover up the auger blade with the safety guard so that while it’s standing there, nobody trips and falls on it.

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Scoop the hole

After drilling the hole, you’ll need to scoop it, using your scooper. Dip the scooper slowly into the hole and pause.

man scooping ice slush out of ice fishing hole
When scooping the hole, wait for all of the ice and slowly lift it up. Don’t do it quickly, or you’ll just push the ice around. Do that until the hole is nice and clean.

Step 6: Bait the jig

Once you have drilled the hole and scooped out all the ice, it’s time to bait the jigs.

a hand holding jig head for ice fishing
A jig head, like these from Tailored Tackle, are great for baiting your hook with spike maggots.
baiting a jig head with spike maggots
Spike maggots are great for ice fishing and can attract a bite from many species of fish.

Once you have baited your jig, lower the lure down into the hole. Open the bale on the reel and let the line out. Fishing one to two feet off the bottom is very effective.

man letting out line ice fishing
Set your drag loosely and pull out your line until your lure is on the bottom. This helps get any kinks out of the line. Then crank the reel a few times so that your lure is one to two feet off the bottom.

Step 7: Jig the lure

man jigging ice fishing lure

The next step after lowering you lure and getting it off the bottom is to jig.

Lift your rod tim up and back down and then pause 2 to 3 seconds. That’s just a basic jig. Lift up. Drop it down. Pause 2 to 3 seconds.

You can even last a couple of seconds longer, maybe 5, 6 seconds for the pause. The bites are going to happen on the pause. So, the jigging is calling in fish and the pause is letting them come up and take a bite.

Another jigging cadence you can try is to softly jiggle it in place or work it upwards in little blips upwards just like that. So mix your jigging cadences. Try different techniques, big swoops, lift-ups, jiggling in place, or just the regular jig. Pause.

man holding bream caught while ice fishing
Wait until you feel that tap, tap, tap. Then, set the hook lightly, by lifting the rod tip up 3 to 4 inches and then reel the fish in.

Now, when a fish comes through and is interested in the bait, you’ll feel a tap, tap, tap.

It will be easier to handle the fish by taking off your mittens and using your bare hands.

When releasing the fish, kneel down and drop it into the hole. Sometimes a bigger fish will need a tail wag in the water and it will be on its way for someone else to catch!

Good luck ice fishing!

Ed Hitchcock of Tailored Tackle
Ed Hitchcock of Tailored Tackle.

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