The fine art of the fast drop
By Chip Leer
Few feelings in ice fishing are as frustrating as the disappointment of spotting fish on sonar—then watching them swim away before your lure reaches the strike zone.
Thankfully, you can put an end to these missed opportunities. The key is choosing lures that fall straight down—fast.
While there are times for fishing a flutter spoon, swimming jig, gliding spoon, super-sized tube or jig-and-minnow combination, this isn’t one of them. All of these presentations tend to fall slightly off to the side on the drop. The greater the depth and horizontal drift, the farther away they land from your target.
In fact, a bent-bodied spoon that strays just six inches sideways for every five feet of descent will land three feet from the fish in 30 feet of water. In low-vis conditions or when inactive fish won’t swim that far to eat, even a near miss is as good as a mile.
My favorite fast droppers for walleyes include the Northland Fishing Tackle Buck-Shot Rattle Spoon, Macho Minnow, Sliver Spoon and Glo-Shot Jig.
While it’s tempting to fish heavier lures to reach deep fish fast, be careful not to turn fish off by over-sizing your presentation. In typical walleye depths, 1/8-ounce spoons are my first choice, though I do beef up to ¼-ounce options if necessary. When fishing a relatively small spoon in deep water, upgrading the treble for a larger, stouter option can boost your hookups.
Also keep in mind heavy, kinky lines are like underwater brakes that slow your lure’s fall. I favor a smooth operator like Northland’s Bionic Ice Fluorosilk. Its nylon copolymer core and slick fluorocarbon coating combine to help spoons and other lures fall faster and straighter, yet still provides the muscle for solid hooksets.
On the tipping front, I like plastic trailers because they hang on for the ride better than natural baits, and are perfect for triggering reaction strikes at the end of a fast drop. Naturally, smaller tippings produce less water resistance and thus fall faster than larger plastics.
Collectively, these tips can help you fine-tune your game to put fast-dropping lures in front of your quarry’s face before the fish swims off into oblivion. Use them anytime a slow fall prevents you from getting to the strike zone on time.
Based in Walker, Minnesota, noted fishing authority and outdoor communicator Chip Leer operates Fishing the WildSide, an outdoor sports marketing and communications company. For more information look to www.fishingthewildside.net