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An ice-fisherman’s Frabill tackle bag is likely loaded with a plethora of lures and offerings – all of which hint at impending success on the hard water.

A lure style likely found in just about every angler’s repertoire is the jigging spoon, a lure as productive through the ice as in open water. As popular as spoons are, many anglers still struggle with when and how to use them, and which type to use where.

“Too many people simply use spoons as a bait-delivery-method, but there’s a ton of nuance and action to each spoon type,” said ICE FORCE pro Joel Nelson. Many anglers fish spoons too erratically, moving them too much and too far. “They never quit moving them,” said ICE FORCE pro and Freshwater Fishing Hall of Famer Tom Neustrom. “The bite will happen and they don’t even know they had a bite.”

Nelson, Neustrom and fellow ICE FORCE pro James Holst favor three VMC spoons, the Tingler , Tumbler and Flash Champ . They tip them with minnow heads, wax worms or Euro Larvae. “Minnow heads for larger species and Euros primarily for bluegills,” Nelson says. Nelson slowly lifts a Tingler, drops it just above a fish, and then lightly shakes it. Neustrom cautions not to jig a Tingler much higher than two feet. Also, “don’t let it fall with a loop in the line,” he instructs. And don’t jiggle the spoon continuously. Let it rest a bit between jiggles.

More on ice fishing: Ice fishing news from around the state | Your ice fishing photos | Build a map | Read ice fishing reports

While the Tingler is a flutter-type spoon, the Tumbler is “more of a drop spoon,” Neustrom says. He usually fishes the latter in water 25 feet and deeper. “As soon as I drop it down to a fish, I’ll lift it about a foot and a half to two feet, bring it back down, bring it up, bring it back down, and then I’ll just jiggle it until he bites it.” He shakes it about four to six inches off the bottom – not right on the bottom. “Because walleyes are not going to go down after a bait,” he explains.

Also try banging the Tumbler into the bottom a few times. “A lot of times, that’s really a good triggering mechanism,” Neustrom says. The Flash Champ Spoon is designed to get down quickly to deep-dwelling fish. Beveled edges and a tapered design give it an erratic, fluttering fall. “That tight wobble makes it easier to fish in deeper water,” Neustrom says. Nelson jigs Flash Champs in place, and more aggressively than he does Tinglers and Tumblers.

If you haven’t added jigging spoons to your ice fishing arsenal, 2014 just might be the time to do so! I’ll see you on the water…

Read more from Joel DeBoer.

Joel DeBoer is owner of Wisconsin Angling Adventures Guide Service, www.wisconsinanglingadventures.com.

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