High quality and reliable knots are essential in your ice fishing set-ups. Whether your utilizing tip-ups or jig rods to hook up with your select target species, quality knots are essential to ensure a biting fish becomes a caught fish.
More and more serious anglers are joining lines together to increase their bites on the ice. On tip-ups Dacron line is being joined to fluorocarbon leaders to remedy fishing pressure and overcome clear water conditions. When jigging, anglers are moving towards fishing with ice superlines (i.e. Fireline and PowerPro) to increase sensitivity to overcome negative bites, and convert reluctant biters.
I suppose an angler could tie a variety of line-to-line knots such as a Blood Knot, Uni-Knot, or an Alberto Knot as they would in open water fishing. However, nothing weakens a knot faster and increases tension on line more rapidly than line twist.
There are a few causes of damaging line twist in ice fishing. The type of lure plays a large role in the amount of twist created by an ice anglers presentation. A spoon is the number one lure for creating the most severe twist as it tumbles and glides in an enticing manner through the water column. Jigging Rapalas are another lure that promotes twisting as it circles back to the bottom after a fish-calling ‘rip’ up through the water column.
The worst enemy, however, when it comes to line twist is the fish themselves! As fish bob, weave, dive, and resist coming up the hole, they put a ton of twist in your line. When you get on the magic spot, and fish are coming one after another, undo tension on your line will ultimately result in a failed knot or line breakage.
A barrel swivel eliminates line twist and serves as an ice fishermen’s greatest asset. It’s a fastening devise the allows two lines to rotate independent of each other, in multiple, full circles, while maintaining the original attitude of the line. It also makes retying while out in the winter weather elements much easier.
There are 3 styles of barrel swivels I utilize in my ice equipment set-ups with confidence:
Spro Power Barrel Swivel: I utilize Spro Power Barrel Swivels on all of my tip-up fishing. I’m a big proponent of using Mason Brand Dacron line on all of my tip-ups because it will not kink (placing slack in the line) and it’s highly resistant to freezing. Additional confidence in this system is gained by joining this line to my 20-25# fluorocarbon leaders for Northern Pike and 6-10# fluorocarbon leaders for Walleyes by using the Spro Power Barrel Swivels in the Size 10/35lb test class. There are two things I like about this product.
The gunmetal black finish does not appear as “gaudy” under the ice as other brands that have a brass visual quality about them.
The price point is also outstanding as you can easily find packs of 10 and rig a majority of your tip ups for $3.99.
Aquateko InvisaSwivels: These are my secret recipe for walleye jigging success! Not only do they eliminate line twist, but they will out fish any barrel swivel in your set-up when confronted by a body of water with ultra clear waters or a lot of angler pressure. The swivels are extremely subtle in size yet durable (i.e. 12# swivel is only 15 mm long and 4 mm wide) which is perfect for joining 10# superline to 4-8# fluorocarbon. The added benefit to using Aquateko’s product is that due to it’s refractive properties the swivel is virtually invisible underwater. If you’ve ever chased walleyes through the ice, you know that finicky fish will remain that way if there is anything unnatural about your presentation. InvisaSwivel eliminate visual deterrants while eliminating an artificial lure that spins unnaturally in the water column.
Micro barrel swivel: In the ice fishing world, anglers are constantly innovating from season-to-season. Generally, the ultimate goal is to put more fish on the ice. Therefore, anglers are continuing to down-size their presentations for panfish in order to fool these increasingly savvy fish. Micro swivels keep tear-drop jig presentations from spinning throughout the water column thus allowing for a perfectly horizontal bait presentation when required. Fighting bluegills, crappies and other panfish that are notorious for turning on their sides to fight in a circular fashion are no longer capable of putting a significant amount of twist in your line when using Micro barrel swivels as well.
I highly encourage you to place an emphasis on barrel swivels in your ice fishing set-ups this winter...With increasingly shorter ice fishing seasons you'll want to hook up as much as possible!
Chad Leton's blog is an extension of his youth guide service HookedUp101 Fishing Academywhich serves Southeastern and Central Wisconsin.