There comes a time when you just have to get demolished on the ice by a veteran angler to believe what they are telling you about a certain lure. My humble-pie was served to me last winter. I was out fishing bluegills with a couple of guys, one of them being an older, experienced ice fisherman. I was making fun of him for using bait, using a jigging spoon for bluegills, and sitting in one spot on a five gallon bucket while I was hole hopping around with jigs and plastics constantly searching for big aggressive fish. I thought I was doing pretty well with some quality fish until I looked into his bucket. Wow, was I wrong! Not only did he have more fish, he had much bigger fish than I had caught.
His weapon of choice was a 1/16th oz Lindy Rattl’N Flyer Spoon. After we were done fishing he took the time to explain to me why he was able to outfish me on the ice. The biggest thing was the rattles, he told me. While I was jumping around everywhere drilling a ton of holes and wearing myself out, he was able to sit in one spot and make the fish come to him with the sound of the rattles. The main reason for this is that sound is travelling four times faster underwater than it is above it, and with that added speed comes distance; the sound is able to travel much further because it won’t dissipate as quickly. So because the spoon has a rattle built into it, he was able to bring fish in from all over the area we were fishing.
I have never been a big fan of livebait for panfish. It has always seemed to attract smaller fish that only seem to sit and steal the bait off my hook. But he showed me a way to hook the bait on a jigging spoon so that it would not be succeptible to theft from little panfish. The trick is to put the head of a wax worm on one treble and the tail on another. Do this with two waxworms and then dangle a third. The bigger bluegills which aren’t afraid of the larger size of the spoon will grab the first waxie and then be forced to bring their mouth over the trebles to get the rest of them, while the sound of the smaller bluegills trying to get the dangling wax worm will bring in the bigger territorial fish.
He went on to explain to me that while rattles on a bait will call the fish in, you need more from a bait than just the ability to make noise. I was shown a few his top colors for attracting big bluegills and triggering them to bite. He preferred brighter colors such as the firetiger, rainbow, and orange perch patterns offered on the spoon. This has the added effect of a lot of flash to bring the fish in in stained water, but even in clearer lakes the holographic baitfish image on the spoons mimic what the fish are used to eating; so just a couple of colors in the 1/16th oz size can cover a variety of lakes.
Next time you run into one of those grizzled old outdoorsmen on the ice, don’t be afraid to ask for a little advice from them. They have seen gimmicks in baits come and go and they know what works and won’t be afraid to tell you their opinions about them. You will learn a lot in just a few minutes of talking, and you will become a better angler.