It seems to sneak in one night every autumn—you go to sleep with open lakes and wake up the next day to ice-covered waterways. For some anglers, this is a depressing day, but not for the ice fisherman. Ice fishing is not only a great way to spend a winter’s day, but also a great way to get on some fish. Now is the time to gear up for the season—the ice will be here before you know it!

Rods and reels

You can’t go fishing without a rod and reel! Ice fishing rods are pretty specialized. At first glance, they could be confused with open-water gear that’s a bit shorter. That’s not the case. Take, for example, the 13 Fishing Tickle Stick Ice Rods. The Tickle Stick rods, $49.99, are extremely sensitive, yet have enough backbone for fighting bigger fish. That added rigidity keeps the rod from rolling over on hookset, but gives you the feel to know when a fish is biting.

You need to pair your ice rod with a specialized ice reel, too. Take a look at the Eagle Claw In-Line Ice Reel. Ranging in price from $29.99 to $49.99, the In-Line Ice Reels feature a Teflon drag system that won’t freeze even on those brutally cold days. The reel has a smooth 4+1 ball-bearing drive and a durable, lightweight frame.

A combo makes a lot of sense too, especially when it blends a trusted name with the ice-specific design you need. Shakespeare’s $29.99 Ugly Stik ice combos combine the durability and feel you’d expect from an Ugly Stik with the features you’d need in an ice rod and reel. With models to cover everything from panfish to pike, you’re set with a Stik.

Cabela’s Fish Eagle 50 ice combo takes it up a notch with a 4+1 ball-bearing reel a solid Toray graphite blank and premium cork handle and reel seat. The Fish Eagle setup is perfectly balanced and extremely sensitive, with models to cover any fishing condition and bite. At $49.99, they are a steal for the serious angler.

Once you’ve picked the right rod andf reel for you, spool it up with Cabela’s RipCord Ice fishing line. The Ripcord line transmits the bite to you, yet resists abrasion and water absorption. Its super-small diameter means you can tie on even the smallest jig or hook. A 50-yard spool runs $6.99.

Lure them in

Jigging is a very effective form of fishing under ice. The erratic action of the jig triggers even lethargic fish to bite. One of the most trusted names in fishing is Rapala, and their Jigging Rap spins in tight circles when fished vertically, pulling fish from long distances and depths. Available in five sizes ranging from 1/8-ounce to 7/8-ounce and a multitude of colors, the Jigging Raps can be had for $5.79 to $7.99.

When a darting action jig is the bait for the day, try a Moonshine Shiver Minnow. Glow-in-the-dark paint and realistic motion make this a must-have bait. Available in 13 colors and in one-half and one-ounce sizes for $7.49 to $8.19, these baits can put fish on the ice for you when others can’t.

When conditions get tough, you sometimes have to pull out all the stops. Try a Rapala Rippin’ Rap. A large body and erratic action combine with an extremely loud rattle and bright colors to make this a big-fish catcher. Three sizes, a multitude of colors, and a price tag of only $6.49 make this a lure you really should own several of. Works on open water too!

Other essentials

If you’re going to fish through the ice, you’re going to have to drill some holes. How many times have you brought out the power auger, only to have it get temperamental or flooded, and not start? The $529.99 Ion 40V Electric Auger lets you drill holes without worrying about the auger. The 40v lithium ion battery gives you plenty of juice to power through the ice quickly and quietly. Better still, it stores and transports easily and cleanly. If you’re in the market for a new auger, this one is definitely worth a look!

After a long day on the ice, and hopefully a successful one, you’re going to have a lot of fish to clean. The $149.99 Skinzit Electric Fish Skinner makes cleaning a lot of fish a quick and easy task. It will quickly remove the skin and rib bones from your fillet in two simple steps. It’s simple and gives you more time to do the important stuff like eating your catch and sharing fish tales with your friends.

This article was produced in cooperation with Cabela’s.

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