Ice-fishing Friday: The 6 all-time best ice lures (and how to fish ’em)

The Six

Canada’s top ice-fishing lures, and how they can help you catch more winter walleye, trout, whitefish, pike, panfish and burbot

#5 WILLIAMS WABLER

I have been ice fishing with Williams spoons for more than 50 years. In the early days, it was the first lure I dropped down a hole when I was targeting lake trout. Today, it shares top billing with tubes. Now, this may surprise you, but lakers aren’t the only fish I target with these spoons.

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I had my single best day’s catch of giant crappies, for example, fishing a one-inch, 1/16-ounce hammered silver Williams Wabler. The humongous slabs were suspended 15 feet off the bottom, and the second the spoon cleared my hole, they would streak up as though shot from a cannon and engulf it. When you catch 40 or 50 crappies in the 13- to 15-inch-plus range and leave them screaming for more, it’s easy to fall in love with a lure.

Then there were the two biggest brook trout I ever iced—they were caught on a set line anchored by a Wabler Lite. I had removed its treblehook and added 18 inches of six-pound-test monofilament line, a single #4 Gamakatsu octopus hook and a minnow.

Brook trout are suckers for small Wablers

For this set-up, hook the minnow through the skin parallel to the spine, with the hook point facing forward. Rigged that way, the minnow will try desperately to swim up toward the underside of the ice, making the spoon flutter and sparkle in the process—the resulting subtle flash from the spoon’s gold and silver finish is impossible to duplicate by hand. Eventually, of course, the minnow will tire and the feather light spoon will tow it gently back down into the waiting mouth of a hooked-jawed brook trout. It’s the deadliest winter brookie presentation I’ve ever use.

Here’s another spoon secret to try this winter for crappies, yellow perch, walleye, sauger, brook trout, rainbow trout, splake, lake trout and northern pike. Remove the treblehook from an appropriately sized Williams Wabler or Wabler Lite and slide a Fastach clip to the O-ring. Next, envelope the hook with the head of an emerald shiner (as explained in the Jigging Rap section). Then attach the hook to the clip and fish the spoon subtly on its own, or as one of the options in a two-timing rig. This simple set-up has accounted for a disproportionate number of the biggest and most memorable walleye I’ve pulled through the ice.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE WILLIAMS WABLER

  • Acme Little Cleo
  • Luhr-Jensen Krocodile
  • PK Flutter Fish
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