It’s a friendly competition among artisans of the short rod. In recent years, ice fishing equipment has evolved from rudimentary rods – hardly more than a stick and a string – to highly specialized tools. A cottage industry of skilled builders has emerged to put functional masterpieces into the hands of the ever-growing population of hardwater anglers, and the Northeast Ice Fishing Custom Rod Builder Challenge creates a new opportunity for them to show off their handiwork.

The nature of the challenge is to raise awareness for custom ice rod building by challenging builders to create their best interpretation of the ultimate crappie and bluegill rod.

“Panfish reign supreme as quarry among ice anglers,” said Nathan Krusko of North East Ice Fishing. “Beginning and expert anglers pursue panfish across the Ice Belt, and my passion is introducing beginners. Successful anglers encourage growth of the sport, and I hope to see families doing healthy outdoor activities together.”

The proceeds from this challenge will go to Recycled Fish, a national non-profit organization of “anglers living a Lifestyle of Stewardship both on and off the water, because our lifestyle runs downstream.” The organization promotes practices that improve our waters and the fish populations that live within them.

Completed rods will be judged on the following categories: Artistry, Guide Wrapping, Paint Quality, Tip Sensitivity, Handle Selection and Design, and Guide Selection and Alignment. Each of these categories will be judged on a scale of 1 to 10. These rods will be judged by a panel of judges from across the ice industry. Everyday ice anglers get to weigh in as well – see the rods and cast a vote for at

The first chance to see these rods and cast a vote is at the St. Paul Ice Fishing & Winter Sports Expo, November 30 – December 2, inside the Recycled Fish booth. At the conclusion of the public voting period the Americas Choice rod will go to one lucky voter while the Judges choice rods will be auctioned off after the winners are announced in February.
To learn more, see the builders who are competing and get a look at the rods visit

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