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How to Select an Ice Fishing Rod

The majority of  ice fishing anglers today will choose a 28 inch jigging rod with medium action.There are many different options available to the ice fisherman and because of this, choosing the rod that is right for you can be a daunting task. By keeping in mind the species of fish you are after, plus the type of power you are looking for in an ice fishing rod and your lure selection, you will find it much simpler to reduce the amount of rods you need to choose from. By reducing the amount of rods you need to choose from you are now able to concentrate on the three most important factors when considering a new ice fishing rod, length, material and construction.

Begin by Selecting the Species You are interested In
"Species selection is always my number one factor when choosing an ice fishing rod," says Clint Gervais, from Stony Plain, Alberta. Very few companies will manufacture ice fishing rods based on species and for that reason alone you may need to preselect your ice fishing rods using rod power as the benchmark.
 Ultra-light, light, medium, and heavy are the most common classes. Use the same criteria you would use in selecting a rod for summer use. Target species vrs rod power.
Choose ultra-light rods for panfish. Light rods are good for perch, and light to medium rods are good for walleye, whitefish and  trout. Heavy rods are best for Northern Pike or lake trout. Try to keep in mind to keep your rod as light as possible for the species you are seeking. Sometimes it is better to lose a few of the big ones because of a lighter rod, than to give up that sense of feel you get from using a lighter rod. It really helps if you can feel the subtle action of your lure through the rod.

Choosing a Rod Based on Lure Selection and Species
The next step when choosing an ice fishing rod is figuring out what types of lures/bait are you going to be using and what methods you will utilize to ensure success. Different species and methods of ice fishing require different rods.
One method which seems to be on the rise is to bring about 5-6 different rods having different action characteristics loaded up with various test lines and rigs. Use a 5 gallon pail to carry them in and you will find yourself having more success this ice fishing season. As always it is important to remember that no one ice fishing rod will encompass all the species you are targeting this year.Give the multi ice-rod approach a try.

What is Rod Action
Action is always an important factor when choosing an ice fishing rod simply because it always influences your lure/bait presentation. It will also be a determining factor in the way you play the fish.
Rods which exhibit fast-action will flex at the tip. Flexing in the middle is a characteristic of medium action rods, while slow action rods bend to the bottom of the handle. Fast- and medium-action rods are used by most ice anglers because of their balance of strength and sensitivity. A slow-action rod is unable in most cases to transmit a nibble or light strike from your fish.
Fast-action graphite rods are your best bet when using jigging as your main method of ice fishing. These rods also exhibit a greater degree of backbone which will enable you to acquire a better initial setting of the hook.
Medium-action rods are a good choice if using smelts, shrimp or minnnows when jigging. If you are jigging more aggressively than normal, the rod's action will help to keep your bait on your hook.

Balancing Your Line and Lures
Creating the proper presentation requires you to choose a rod and lure that are properly balanced.
When you use an aggressive method of jigging your lure or bait,  your ice fishing rod will need minimum flex in your rod's tip. Aggressive jigging requires minimal flex in the rod tip from the lure's weight to allow you to properly work baits. Too much flex and your presentation will not look the way you want it to.
Generally speaking, when using a medium to heavy action rod you should be alright with any monofilament. if paired with superline, it is highly unlikely the rod will bend enough to absorb the shock of setting a hook hard, which could mean ripping the lure from the fish's mouth. When using braided line you should go with a lighter ice fishing rod then when using mono.

Rod Materials: Graphite vs. Fiberglass Which is Right For You?
Ice fishing anglers have an important decision to make when choosing the material their rod is made of. To put it simply you have 3 choices, graphite, fiberglass and composite.Graphite is the most expensive of the 3 but has many advantages over fiberglass or composite. Weight and sensitivity are graphite's two main advantages over the other two. Graphite rods give the angler interested in feeling strikes an advantage because of its sensitivity.
Fiberglass rods may give up a little in the sensitivity arena, but are generally more durable than the graphite rods. They also tend to be a little less expensive than the graphite rods. If you are interested in a rod that will stand up to even the most extreme temperatures and one that will have the strength to land the big ones, then a fiberglass rod is right up your alley.

Line Eyes
One aspect of choosing an ice fishing rod is the number of guides a rod has. Try to find a rod with a minimum of 4 guides. These guides will enhance bend in the rod giving it a more uniform bend. As always guides should lessen in size towards the tip of your rod.
Ensure your rod has large guides. Smaller eyes will ice up quickly. Larger eyes will pay off in the long run as you will spend less time cleaning line and more time fishing.

By spending some time to match your rod to the species or to your style of fishing you will go a long way to ensuring a successful day out ice fishing.

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