VERSATILITY OF THE SMILE BLADE® The Mack’s Lure Smile Blade® is a critical component of every kokanee, trout, walleye and panfish arsenal.
areas already filled with other forage opportunities prompting active walleye to strike aggressively. While walleye love the Smile Blade®, the anglers love them even more. This is because the blades are simple to fish and allow for fine tuning to take place on the water rapidly. The Smile Blade® easily slides over a standard Double Surgeon knot, making for fast changes on the water and allowing anglers to quickly find the color and sizes the fish prefer that day.
BY NICK HARRINGTON
MW LIP RIPPERS
The versatility of the Smile Blade® makes it a critical part of every walleye angler’s arsenal. The small, Smile Blade® 0.8 makes for a perfect added attraction for a live bait rig without stealing the show. These blades excel when trolled slowly, as they require hardly any speed to make the blade turn correctly. This makes them a perfect early and late season option for waterbodies as big as the Missouri River reservoirs to a small slough or natural lake. As the forage availability increases throughout the summer, the larger sizes shine as they capture attention in
Another benefit is each individual Smile Blade® can be fished two ways. Utilize a wide blade angle for a slow, rolling wobble or utilize a narrow blade angle for a more aggressive shake and spin. Tuning these blades can be done with an angler’s fingers and can be adjusted in a matter of seconds.
As each day goes on, I pay attention to if the fish are favoring the bladed or plain setups. If they are in a passive mood, they often prefer the plain rods. If they are neutral to aggressive, they often prefer the Smile Blade®. On days they are favoring the bladed setups, I also pay attention to the top colors. Once I’ve determined the best colors for the day, I will fine tune blade angles from there. The ability to quickly slide the Smile Blade® on and off makes this a quick and efficient process. I generally keep the same snells on all day, but if coaxing bites proves to be difficult on all setups, I will begin to experiment with snell length as well.
a guide on the Missouri “ As River reservoirs, I deploy a set of Smile Blades® every time I hit the water.” NICK HARRINGTON | MIDWEST RIP LIPPERS
As a guide on the Missouri River reservoirs, I deploy a set of Smile Blades® every time I hit the water. I like to have half of the rods fish with only a single bead (no blade) set up while the others have a single bead and various colors of Smile Blades®. March through June, I favor the 0.8 before switching to larger sizes in July and continuing them through early September.
MORE ARTICLES FOR HARRINGTON
EP. 5: ICE FISHING + ELK RECAP
Mack’s Lure has teamed up with Harrod Outdoors to launch a new podcast called We Are Outdoorsmen. Hosted by Mack’s Lure Sale Director Bobby Loomis, Marketing Director Britton Ransford and The Northwest Outdoorsmen Producer Richy Harrod, the WAO Podcast is built by outdoorsmen, for outdoorsmen.
On Ep. 5 of the WAO Podcast pres. by Harrod Outdoors & Mack’s Lure, Richy, Bob and Britton talk about a recent trip jigging for late fall walleye in Washington state, then look ahead to ice fishing for kokanee and recap elk season, which ended with a couple successful hunts last month.
Our hosts bring with them over 80 years of experience in the hunting and fishing industry. Each new episode will focus on tips and tactics, feature interviews with experts across the United States and Canada, and provide strategies for outdoorsmen of all skill levels. Episodes drop on Wednesdays where we’ll talk all things hunting and fishing with the Pacific Northwest flavor. To subscribe and listen, search “We Are Outdoorsmen” on your favorite prodcast app, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and more, or simply go to linktr.ee/WAOPodcast for links. Be sure to follow the WAO Podcast on Facebook and Instagram, as well!
HARDWATER FISHIN’ 101 BY MIKE HALL
I picked up the mail the other day and was excited to see this year’s ice catalogs. Cooler weather and new stuff is what fuels my soul for winter fun on the hard deck. Ice brings many friends with that shared passion for good times and adventures. I hope these few words will help bring you the cure for the cabin fever this winter. Now, let’s get started with the nuts, bolts and knowledge to make your ice fishing season a success. Above all else, safety on the ice is paramount. Time in the outdoors on ice is always a risky business, at best. Although, being prepared and wellinformed can make the difference between disaster or cold water memory. Number one is reading the ice. You
need to know the quality and thicknes of the ice to determine when it’s safe to venture on the water. Clear ice is stronger than cloudy or grey colored ice. Two inches of clear, solid ice on small bodies of water will support one person, but four inches is really what is needed to be safe. Ice with cracks, open spots or pressure ridges is not safe and these areas should be avoided. On larger bodies of water, six inches of clear or 12 inches of cloudy ice is a safe standard. Ice varies in thickness on all waters as currents, warm springs, or physical formation as ice freezes impacts quality and thickness. Other options should include a first aid kit and a length of rope. These are must for cut fingers, fish hooks and resuce tactics should someone fall through the ice. Dress in layers and buy a quality ice suit that will make life comfy out there in cold weather. There are several outerwear products to keep you toasty, but ice suits float and help maintain body temperatures should an accident happen. Don’t be sorry, be safe. Essential equipment begins with an ice auger to drill holes and a dipper to remove ice slush. The list continues with a fish finder, for sure, a rod holder, heater, fishing rod and reel, ice shelter, a good selection of your favorite lures, a trash bag and, of course, a 5 gallon bucket or a sled for transport. Oh, yes, and a chair to sit on is always handy. A snowmobile is the pinnacle of transportation on ice. Ice fishing is a family and friends outing, so snacks or hot meals are always a delight. The idea is that you balance your fun with enough gear to be comfortable and prepared for this outdoor winter adventure.
We live in the information age with the internet and social media front and center. Hot spots are announced hourly and pictures of and for sucess are everywhere. Smart phone apps show you detailed maps of nearly all water and GPS will plot the places to try. On top of that, a fish finder and underwater camera will show you the fish. Here are a few tips that have produced many dinner friends on my adventures.
real keys (to ice fishing) “ The are temperature of the water, currents and preferred food resources. Be versatile. MIKE HALL | MACK’S LURE PRO STAFF
Panfish, such as crappie, blue gill and yellow perch, are a favorite. They’re social fish and tend to school in numbers. Crappie and yellow perch can be found in the main lake basin during winter months, suspended or close to the bottom and tend to move around. Try areas around the edges of the main lake basin with underwater drop-offs or points. Particularly, look for hard bottom underwater springs, trees or rock piles, which can all be bonanzas. Crappie will often chart on the finder as clutter or clouds of fish, but perch will show up as single fish or in small groups. Both crappie and yellow perch are found from 10to 50-feet of water as a rule.
Kokanee are near the edge of main current line and suspended wheras walleye are more versatile predators and can be found in water from shore to center of the lake. The real keys here are temperature of the water, currents and preferred food resources. Be versatile in your serach and move if you do not see fish on the finder. Early season fish are likely in or near the inflows of lakes because the temperature is stable. Late season fish tend to be toward the main lake basin and deeper because water at that depth is generally warmer. Search different depths and structure types until a pattern can be determined. Drill holes in a line from shallow to deep and try different depths. Compare the structure where you see fish to other similar places on your GPS maps. Decipher the graph or inspect in the hole for minnows, current, weeds, insect life or microbiology. All fish inhabit an area or depth for a reason. Find that reason and you will be more successful. Lures have five group types: spinners, jigs, crank baits, spoons and
top water. Point out the obvious, top water lures are paramount for ice fishing. Although, the other groups have offerings that are commonly used for ice fishing as a vertical pursuit.
Size is both detrimental and relative for success. Small lures are offerings are very popular, but are not always the answer. Using a small tear drop when fish are actively feeding on three-inch minnows can have its drawbacks. Try matching the lure to both the activity levels and the feeding behavior. Fish bite a lure for sevearl reasons: anger, hunger, instinct, territory or spawn, to mention just a few.
Bluegills are found in less than 20feet of water and near or in weed beds. Generally, they will stay in an area for several days or weeks. These fish like weed edges, holes in the vegetation and submerged trees or bushes. Trout can be found suspended in open water near underwater river channels and often visit weed lines and underwater points to feed. Trophy trout are generally single fish, but will inhabit areas that hold other trout. Feed types are the deciding factor. For example, minnows or insect life.
EXPERIENCE THE ULTIMATE ICE FISHING RIG The Mack’s Lure Ice Rig Value Pack includes a Sling Blade™ 4” and a Hum Dinger® or Glo® Hooks — a deadly combination for jigging on ice for trout, kokanee or panfish. Simply attach your Hum Dinger® or Glo® Hook to the Sling Blade® with a short leader and start catching through the hard stuff. It’s that easy. Click here to shop the Mack’s Lure Ice Rig Value Pack.
Neutral fish generally respond to smaller lures and active fish respond to larger lures. Address both the size of lures (small to large) and the colors when stocking your inventory of offerings. Colors should include or incorporate silver, brass, copper, pink, orange, chartreuse, white and, especially, glow in the dark. Target neutral and metallic patterns on clear water, painted lures in murky water and glow for dark water (use a Glo® Hook). Now, let’s talk attractors. They are generally tied in-line, 6- to 14-inches above the lure and aid the fish in finding your offering and enticing a strike. They come in all sizes. Small attractors, wuch as the Smile Blade® 0.8 or large attractors, such as the Sling Blade™ 4”. Thinking outside the box, attractors can also be used effectively by themselves on a separate line in an adjacent ice hole. These are extremely productive for attracting especially large or schooling fishing to a certain location. Again, size plays a large role in success. Smaller, more subtle attractors like the Flash Lite® Troll or the larger Sling Blade™ 6” with a weight added to the bottom and jigged slowly are fish magnets. These can also be suspended at any depth to attract walleye, perch, crappie, trout or salmon. Jigging spoons are my favorite lure for ice fishing, as they will catch anything that swims. At the top of that list is, of course, the Sonic BaitFish™ because of the range in sizes from small to large, and its success with bass, crappie, yellow perch, rainbow trout, burbot, lake trout, kokanee and many more. This lure will work right out of the box with no tuning require. There are 12 different ways to rig this amazing spoon and endless applicaiton to catch whatever swims.
Ice fishing is a vertical presentation of a lure, commonly termed jigging. These jigging presentations can be used on the ice and are also effective in open water for year round success on your favorite waters. The basic rule is to keep your line as vertical as possible. Allowing the line to drift to the side will aid in attracting fish, but for perfect presentations, pause and hold the rod still and allow the line to again become vertical. This gives the angler absolute control over the rise and fall rate, as well as the lure action. This is important because once you find an effective wiggle, you need to repeat the presentation.
with intention will. Remember, the strikes are often very soft and your full attention is absolutely necessary. Most strikes are felt and some are indicated by the lure stopping or the line becoming slack. 3) Gently pumping the rod with small lifts and drops. Remember to add long or short pauses to the pumping action to incite fish to strike. This imparts action not only to the lure but to the bait on your hook, making the lure appear alive. Again,
Here are four simple methods of presentation to make you a master at ice fishing and jigging with any lure, but especially jigging spoons: 1) Lower the lure to the desired depth and simply hold it still. The trick is to watch the fish finder as the lure falls and stop where the fish are. Small bits of your favorite bait are just as effective as a plain lure. Be sure not to add too much bait to the lure, as this tends to restrict the action. Another tip is to use scents, such as Mack’s Lure UV Bait Scents by Pro Cure, Inc., in place of bait, as they won’t affect the action of lures. Try using un-baited lures if the water is clear, but remember the thickness or snow covered ice restricts the light levels and fish may not be able to see an offering. Perhaps this is the reason the glow in the dark lures are the most popular. 2) Waving the flag. Lift and drop the rod, allowing the lure to free fall backwards. The lift and drop can vary from a few inches to several feet. Different waves are also effective. For example, slow up, slow down; fast up, down; or mix them. This action allows the lure to roll and flutter with full action. Don’t be a tourist. Jerking or waving without purpose may make you seem friendly with others, but won’t catch dinner. However, moving the lure
pay attention to the finder as fish attracted to this action show up. Simply pause and wait for the strike. If the fish seem disinterested then very slowly lift the lure, as this often incites a strike. Adding a small blade or a glow bead to the hook is a tremendous way to increase catches with this presentation. Pounding the bottom, lifting the lure and pausing is another dynamic way to be effective. This is a big aid in attracting fish to the offering. 4) Swim or drag the lure side to side. Make sure to slightly pump the lure when moving it. This brings reaction strikes and lifelike attraction to the lure. Keep in mind, using the zoom feature on your fish finder will help you to see fish and the lure better. Most often, fish swim upward to bite a lure so presenting the lure above the fish will be the most effective method. An exception to this, though, is pounding the bottom and leaving the lure to rest on the bottom. I’ve found that this produces walleye and lake trout quite often. These four presentations can be varied or mixed and matched to fine tune any catch. Watch your fish finder to see which presentation is effective in attracting fish and exciting a strike, then repeat it. The ticket here is (as is the case with all fishing) to become versatile. Information is everywhere, but it doesn’t work if you don’t use it. Move if you’re not seeing fish on the locator, try a different presentation or lure but, above all else, be flexible in your approach. Beginners only have a few ways to catch fish, but the pros have thousands of ways. A great fisherman is one that learns to climb the informational ladder to the top. The payoff is more fish, more fun and an increased interest in this sport that we all pursue.
SBF TIPS & TECHNIQUES
BAIT & THE SONIC BAITFISH BY PETE ROSKO
SBF TECH GUIDE
Question: Is bait ever added to the Sonic BaitFish™ (SBF)? Personally, I almost never attach bait to the SBF in fresh or saltwater. Here’s some reasons for not adding bait to the SBF: 1) Some states, such as Washington state, prohibit the use of live bait; 2) Many times, natural bait attracts nuisance fish and smaller fish; 3) Adding bait reduces the balance and action of the SBF; 4) Eliminates handling of mess (odors and blood); 5) Eliminates needlessly killing of bait fish; 6) Eliminates extra costs of buying and handling live and dead bait; 7) Eliminates need for using a bait knife and cutting one’s self; 8) The most effective strike-triggering feature in a fishing lure is the downward flutter! No other type of lure comes close to matching this critical action. This is the concept, and principle action, of the SBF, which duplicates action of crippled and injured bait fish. This is why, so many times, a SBF will outfish a live bait fish, attached to a hook, that often-times will swim laterally instead of fluttering vertically. I consider vertical jigging on a slow drift to be without peer in consistently catching fish. This combination of a slow, natural drift, and the downward flutter of a SBF, is an unbeatable presentation! The reasons for tipping (adding bait) to the SBF is to add scent: 1)
When ice-jigging; 2) For certain conditions that cause fish to stop biting a bare SBF, such as: muddy water, increased tidal or river flow, abnormally cold or warm water, too fast of a drift, rapid barometer and wind changes. Examples of tipping include: nightcrawler pieces for walleye (Lake Erie or Columbia River); shrimp, squid, octopus or cutbait (Gulf of Mexico snapper, grouper and other bottom-related species. Note: These are very rare examples of when I had to tip the SBF. Advantages of fishing with a tipped SBF instead of tipped jigheads and weighted hooks (hooks attached to lines that are weighted with a variety of sinkers) include: even in very little water movement, the SBF is designed to move without any rod movement. Because of their natural appearance, and swimming action, fish will still-strike the SBF, after the bait has been removed. In comparison, the bare jigheads and weighted hooks will be “dead in the water.” The flash and flutter of the SBF still striggers strikes long after the tipped bait is gone. Critical tip: always jig the smallest SBF that can easily reach your target species when drifting or at anchor. Why? Because a lightweight SBF fluttesr, and suspends, better than a heavier SBF. Thank you for susbcribing to the Mack Attac Magazine. Please join us next month for the January issue. Happy New Year. — Capt. Pete
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HOT DEAL : USE CODE GLOX20
OF THE MONTH
Have a questions you want answered? Send your inquiry to us and yours may be featured! Simply send an email to email@example.com or reach out to us on social media.
Q: I’ve heard a lot about Glo® Hooks, especially for ice fishing. How would you recommend rigging them?
PHOTO OF THE MONTH Mack’s Lure Pro Staff Jaime Rodriguez’s son, Mason, shows off a dandy of a walleye caught while jigging Sonic BaitFish™ on Banks Lake with Pro Staffer Eric Braaten.
A: That’s a good question! And the Glo® Hooks are an awesome ice fishing tool that an be used in conjunction with other products or as a standalone lure for various panfish. Attach a Glo® Hook with a 2-inch leader to the tail of a Sonic BaitFish™ or rig a Glo® Hook with a Double D™ Dodger or Sling Blade™ to increase your attraction. Be sure to rig your dodger backwards, however, as this will provide the Glo® Hook with more action on the rise and fall. Simply attach a 14- to 16-inch leader toa Glo® Hook in the color of your choosing. In between the dodger and the hook, attach a couple of split shot weights to help keep the presentation vertical, then slowly jig up 4- to 6-inches, then drop and repeat until your rod starts dancing.
VIDEO OF THE MONTH Learn advanced deep water trolling techniques with Joe Heinlen & Mark Lippincott of Lake Chelan Adventures and Bob Loomis of Mack’s Lure on Angler West TV.
SHOP ICE RIGS Follow Mack’s Lure on Facebook and Instagram and tag us with #MacksLure. Facebook.com/MacksLure @macks_lure To submit your catch, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or tag us on social media using #MacksLure.