By Brian “Bro” Brosdahl
With the holidays just around the corner, you may be looking for a gift for the ice angler on your shopping list. As a fishing guide, I spend many days on the ice and know just what anglers need to make their ice fishing experience the best ever. And there are plenty of ice fishing gift ideas for every budget. Here are my top ten favorite ice fishing gifts:
1. Ice Picks. Safety is always #1. Ice conditions can be unpredictable and ice picks could be a life-saver. Look for ice picks with a retractable guard. You might even consider a complete safety kit with ice picks, creepers and a whistle.
2. Ice Scoop. An ice scoop is one of the first items you’ll reach for on the ice. Look for a large scoop to effectively clear out slush from the ice hole. I like the Frabill Ice Scoop, which is 30″ long (my back appreciates this feature!) with an engraved ruler on the handle to measure fish.
3. Shelter Lights. Lights are essential for early morning or evening fishing; unfortunately, many anglers don’t think about that until they’re fumbling around in the dark. Look for shelter lights that easily attach to the shelter frame for a snug fit with fully directional light that you control. If you pick a good shelter light, you will find that it comes in handy for many things outside of ice fishing as well!
4. Tip-Ups. There are LOTS of options in tip-ups! My favorite is the round Pro-Thermal, which is insulated to prevent holes from freezing up. Many states allow multiple lines on the ice so a bucket of Pro-Thermals would be a hit under the tree!
5. Tip-Up Lights. Your ice angler may have all the tip-ups needed, but what about tip-up lights for the night bite? The Lil’ Shiner Tip-Up Light simply clips on any tip-up flag and the flashing LED lights up when a fish bites. Smart!
6. Ice Fishing Rod. You can never have enough rods in your arsenal. A rod and spinning reel combo is a great idea. Or for a new twist – look at the no-twist Bro Series Straightline 371 reel that I designed with Frabill. Line feeds straight off the spool, eliminating line coiling that spooks fish.
7. Tackle Bag. Give the gift of organization – this helps to make any angler more successful! Look for a tackle bag designed specifically for ice fishing; my favorite is the Frabill Softbag. The impact-resistant, waterproof base is a big deal for setting on the ice in snow and slush. Plus, it includes four tackle boxes and plenty of tool holders and storage pockets to keep me ready for anything.
8. Bait Storage. Managing live bait on the ice can be a challenge. In summer, the goal is to keep bait cool, but during the winter there is a new goal to keep your bait from freezing! Definitely look for an insulated option – that’s a given. I also like a bait box with an aerator to keep my minnows lively, a lid latch to prevent spilling, and a compact size with big carrying capacity.
9. Ice Shelter. Maybe the ice angler at the top of your list needs a house upgrade – something easy to transport and quick to set up. Look at a pop-up shelter. Frabill and I designed the Bro Series Hub Shelter which is extremely portable – it folds up into a carrying bag that fits behind the seat in my truck – with 44 square feet of fishable space and upgraded strength and durability. The insulated roof and walls keep me fishing on the harshest days!
10. Ice Fishing Clothing. Don’t forget about dressing appropriately for a day on the ice. From gloves to complete suits, look for something that will keep your favorite ice angler comfortable and protected. My go-to gear is the Frabill I-Series, but think about these three tips when choosing the best ice fishing suit.