One of angling’s great mysteries is why we can’t launch our boats in the open-water season without bringing a mountain of tackle with us, but when we pack the toboggan for a day on the ice, we can usually fit most of what we need into a medium-sized tacklebag. It’s like preparing for a fly-in fishing trip, when weight restrictions require you to carefully consider what items you really need to bring.
I spend as many days ice fishing each winter as I spend fishing from my boat during the open-water season. Even still, I’m confident I can cover every hardwater situation and catch fish using just a small number of judiciously selected baits. Here are the top six lures I never hit the ice without, along with tips on how to fish them most effectively.