We’ve come a long way from those wooden jiggle sticks your grandpappy used to use in the darkhouse…hand-lining in panfish next to a wood-burning stove. Nothing wrong with that [!] unless you’re looking to up your game….
There’s a time and place for everything, but IMO the longer the ice rod = the better.
First, here’s the 2 times I’d argue shorter sticks shine:
1. If you’re fishing inside a smaller portable shack where you physically can’t use longer rods because they’ll hit the roof on a hookset.
2. And when you’re “tightlining” finicky fish. A style of detecting bites by watching the coils in your line as you pound the jig — hunched over the hole as close as you can be, watching as far down the hole as you can see. When you think you have a bite, drop the tip of the rod to see if the line floats…if it does, you set the hook.
Okay, so why is longer more better?
1. Longer rods flat-out give you better hooksets. You’re simply moving that much more line on your sweep. Ever been working/jigging a fish up on your flasher and run out of room to set the hook? If you’re not constantly choking up, you can get caught in a bad position to set the hook — sometimes up over your head — and then you’ve gotta crank like a crazy person to try and catch up to the fish. Longer rods can overall keep you in a better position to whack ’em.
2. Also have waaaay more control over that fish once it’s hooked. There’s a lot more rod to help absorb the fight of the fish (instead of tearing hooks out) and also keep your line tight when they thrash or make runs (instead of getting enough slack to throw the hook).
3. On windy days, it’s super important to keep your rod tip as close to the water line as possible. The farther the distance between your rod tip and the ice, the more the wind is going to take away your feel for what’s going on below. So unless you want to hunch over all day (your chiropractor might not mind lol) a longer ice rod is going to let you keep wind out of the equation while still letting you stretch out.
For you visual learners, this AWESOME graphic from Elliott Rods does a way better job of describing that than I can:
4. There’s times when I’m fishing shallow panfish — or say late-ice crappies riding right under the ice — where I literally don’t even touch my reel handle. With a longer rod, I can walk from hole to hole with the right amount of line out (sometimes that’s 4′, other times that may be 8′) and drop right down to the fish’s level…set the hook and swing ’em right in like I’m using a cane pole. Talk about efficient hole-hopping!
And it’s tough to explain, but once you fish with a longer rod (whether it’s open water or ice) it’s hard to go back to shorter sticks. It legit just feels better [!!!] aside from the benefits I chatted about above that can help you catch more fish.
If you’re a diehard hole-hopper you know it’s been a nightmare to find loooong ice sticks in the past. So I was super pumped to find out that Elliott Rods released a trio of 42-44″ hardwater sticks for this season called the Evolution Ice Series. High-end, ultra-sensitive, with Syncork handles and all:
Few details on the 3 new models:
> The ES44UL-XF is a solid glass 44″ rod with an extra-fast ultralight tip action to detect lite biters that smoothly transforms into a stiffer midsection and powerful enough to handle most fish that dare meet the challenge.
> The ES44L-F is a 44″ solid carbon fast-action blank that excels at small spoon presentations or light-line presentations. It weighs nothing in your hand and fishes with both finesse and authority.
> Rounding out the series is the ES42M-F, a 42″ solid carbon blank that is a master at working rattle spoons, Jigging Raps or any reaction lure presentation. The fast-action tip section parlays into a perfectly structured mid and butt section for the best hook sets and fish fighting performance.
They’re in stock right now on Elliott’s website and shipping Nov 9, but judging by how fast the rest of their stuff flies off the online shelf, you better be a fast clicker.