Monday, November 14, 2011

The Long and Short of It....Rod Length Discussion!

Ice fishing rods have come a long way in a very short time. They have become specialized tools in the anglers hands. However, some are better than others. One question to explore is, whats better, long rods or short ones?

I'm not discussing true long rods here, the 48” plus tools of the long rodder. That is a specialized technique. I want to discuss rod lengths for standard panfish presentation and how my views have changed in the last 2 seasons.

A few years ago, ice fishing rods truly underwent a transformation. They became highly sensitive instruments, with designed load points to cushion light line. However, many of the early premium rods were on the long side, at 26 inches or so and more. My first 'good' ice rod was a 28 inch Berkeley Lightning Genz series rod. It was sensitive and effectively protected 2# test line.

However, over the last couple years and my introduction to tournament fishing, I've become a fan of shorter rods. New rods are now engineered to offer the same advantages as the longer rod in a smaller package. Short rods pack easier into a case and weigh less. When actively fishing for panfish, I spend a lot of time on my knees next to the hole. The short rod allows me to sit closer to my electronics to offer a better view. It also keeps me closer to my line and strike indicator(s) allowing better strike detection.

Short rods also offer the advantage of being able to double as sight fishing rods. In this technique, you must look down the hole. Try that with a longer rod and see how long your arm lasts! Along with sight fishing is fishing in a shelter. Again, the short rod shines by not hitting the roof as easy when working fish.

In the end, rod length comes down to personal preference and fishing style. But I have definitely become a believer in shorter rods. Check out the vast selection offered by HT Enterprises and give them a shot this year on the ice. You may become a believer in the saying 'longer isn't necessarily better'.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Support the Home State- WI

I am one of the most fortunate ice fishermen I know,  it’s true. I am so lucky to be able to work with so many great companies in the outdoor industry, more specifically the fishing industry. Many of the companies I have the pleasure of representing are from our wonderful home state of Wisconsin. We not only have the most dominant football team, we have the most dominant industry leaders as well.

Jiffy Ice Drills, Sheboygan Falls, WI has been manufacturing ice drills for over 60 years. Last year, they revolutionized the industry with creating the first alternative fuel powered drill. The new Pro4,  4-stroke propane auger! It is the coolest auger I have ever seen, and I love using mine. Jiffy’s drills are easily recognized by anglers being that they are bright yellow. They are a great family owned company with deep roots in Wisconsin and look to continue for many years to come.

J and S Custom Jigs and Plastics, La Valle, Wisconsin. A relative newcomer to the fishing world, J and S is making a big splash with the ice fishermen. Ice fishing plastics have come a long way in just 5 or 6 years and J and S is quickly growing into a powerhouse being featured in the annual In-Fishermen Ice Guide for 2012. J and S offers some for the most unique designs and I would be willing to say the brightest glowing plastics available.  They can be found online only at this time. If you don’t have any in your box yet, after watching the pictures roll in on my blog this season, you will!

The Automatic Fisherman, Kewaunee, WI. Kerry Paulson and I met in 2007 in Green Bay, he handed a single unit to me at that time, I used it the following week and was immediately a huge fan.  I fish for Brown Trout and Rainbows quite often in the harbors of Lake Michigan, the common occurrence for these trout is to drag and drop the baits from a standard tip-up. The Automatic Fisherman is fully adjustable to allow only inches of line out before IT SETS THE HOOK FOR YOU! I am not kidding when I say it works. Many of the fishing guides up and down the Lake Michigan shoreline swear by this devise and I do too.  It works great on inland lakes for Northern as well. I have even set it up with ultra-light rods and caught gills and crappies on small fatheads.

HT Enterprises, Cambellsport, WI. It’s amazing how large HT Enterprises is in the ice fishing world, yet few realize it. HT remained relatively low key for many years, providing the essentials for ice fishermen all over the world. This year HT is busting out and introducing some fantastic new state of the art products. From competition ice rods to tungsten jigs and fully redesigned ice fishing clothing, HT Enterprises looks to take over as number one! HT is another company with a long standing tradition in Wisconsin and the Grahl family and the great Tom Gruenwald leading the way. Look for many HT products to be featured on the ice and my website this season.

Thee Fishermen’s Soap, Eagle, WI. It’s a part of the fishing most don’t think about I guess. The clean up, the smell, it’s not exactly the things we dream about, it is reality though. Fishermen’s Soap is a fantastic product with a ton of uses around the home beyond cleaning up after your fishing trip. I was first introduced to Fishermen’s Soap last year before the North American Ice Fishing Circuit Championship. I had spilled gas from filling the auger on my hands and used this soap with the help from a snow bank to wash the smell off. I went on to win the “Big Fish” award that day. Was it the soap? Pick some up and see for yourself!

Rod-Bobb’s Inc.- Eau Clair, WI. This is the first year the Rod-N-Bobb’s and I are working together. I know most have used a Rod-N-Bobb’s product in the summer, but you must try theMr. Ice floats for winter fishing. Whether it’s a dead stick or jigging the Mr. Ice is a no-brainer to attach to the rod. Rod-N-Bobb’s is another great family owned company with multiple products available everywhere. One of my open water favorites is the Lucky Jack Lighted bobbers for catfish, try it, you will love it.,  Waukesha, WI.  I know, I know, not a physical product company, but was founded here in Wisconsin but Don Kaldunski. Don had an idea that he wanted to find out about ice fishing contests around him without having to watch the wall in the bathroom in the local pub. He created a web based company that now stretches all 50 states listing thousands of fishing contests, freshwater, saltwater, ice, carp, you name it, he has it. It is a great place to promote your own event to. If you have a fisheree, tournament or jamboree coming up this winter contact today. Don may even attend your event and help to promote further.

So many great companies in this state. I love Wisconsin, the weather, the people and certainly the companies with roots right here. Shop local, buy local and enjoy!

To find more info on ice fishing log onto Follow me on FacebookTwitter or Google +. Also listen to Dan Small and I every week on Outdoors Radio right HERE!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Outdoors Radio with Dan Small (Nov.2-10th)

Watch Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2011 Nov. 3 on Public TV and Nov. 10 on the Fox Sports Network. The rut is on, and you can score on a buck. Rechargeable light for outdoor activities and emergencies. Lots to do in Mercer this fall and winter. Jeff rattles in a nice buck. 

Special guests: Exclusive to podcast and FM 100.5 ESPN broadcast: Gene Dellinger, proprietor of D&S Bait on Northport Drive in Madison, reports turnover is complete and anglers are catching muskies and walleyes on the Madison chain. ( Ron Bice, communications director for Wildlife Research Center, shares some tips for bowhunting big bucks during the rut using Special Golden Estrus deer scent. ( Steve Nagel, inventor of the Paqlite, explains the technology behind this innovative light and its many applications for outdoorsmen. ( Vic Ouimette, president of the Mercer, Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce, reports on the great fall hunting and winter sports activities in the Mercer area. ( To enter this weeks drawing for a Supercharged Scent Killer Combo Pack from Wildlife Research (, call 414-297-7554 and leave your name and telephone number, or email

To begin listening click on the player in the upper left hand side of the page. Thanks and enjoy!