One of the secrets to late-season ice fishing success is being able to attract fish from greater distances than we did earlier in the winter. While you can often use a large, flashy lure to call fish into striking distance, these attractor baits are sometimes bigger than what the fish want to eat. To turn these lookers into biters, you need to add something smaller to the presentation.
Dropper rigs consisting of a small spoon positioned just above a tiny jig or fly are a common solution. To maximize the attraction, however, I like to add even more eye-appeal to the mix with a larger spoon like or even a salmon-style flasher.
Flashers have a long history on the open-water scene, primarily for trolling up trout and salmon. But they’re also deadly under the ice. I’ve had great luck for tullibees and crappies with a long, wide salmon flasher with a highly reflective metallic finish.
To fish a flasher, you’ll need an ice rod (http://store.13fishing.com/c/ice_rods_wicked) heavy enough to handle the additional weight. Upsizing from light to medium power usually does the trick. Spool up with the mainline of your choice, then attach the flasher to it with a swivel, to allow the flasher to freely rotate 360 degrees, producing the most flash possible.
Below the flasher, tie on a 12- to 24-inch leader of 3- to 4-pound BIONIC Fluorosilk (https://shop.northlandtackle.com/line/bionic-ice-fluorosilk/).Complete the setup with a Northland’s Helium Fly, Larva Fly or Bro Bug tipped with IMPULSE (https://shop.northlandtackle.com/soft-plastics/) plastic and/or live bait.
When fishing a flasher rig, avoid the temptation to jig aggressively. You want the flasher to rotate, not flip, flop and flutter. If you’re not marking anything on sonar, lift and drop the rig a few times, but otherwise keep jigging to a minimum.
For its part, the fly or light jig on the business end of the line will float around and sway like a pendulum below the flasher. Such subtle motions encourage fish that move in for a closer look to take the bait, and are another reason flasher rigs are so deadly for late-winter fishing.
By Chip Leer
Based in Walker, Minnesota, noted fishing authority and outdoor communicator Chip Leer operates Fishing the WildSide, which offers a full suite of promotional, product development and consultation services. For more information, call (218) 547-4714 or email Chip@fishingthewildside.net.