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Matt Johnson

Ice Fishing Set-ups...

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I've seen some chat about various ice fishing set-ups for panfish (rods/reels). Also receiving a lot of questions at the store. Thought its about time to start a topic slowing dabbling into the upcoming winter season smile

So, let's hear what you plan to use this upcoming winter for panfish? What are your set-ups? Or what's on your wish list even?

Here's what I plan to use this upcoming winter...

Thorne Bros 21-inch Finesse Plus with a Shimano AX-ULS and 3-pound P-Line

I like this set-up because of it's versatility for finesse fishing. The standard Finesse Plus comes in at 19-inches, which is a good length, but I like that extra 2 inches to help with deeper water situations and room for error. A great bluegill and finesse crappie set-up.

Thorne Bros 36-inch Panfish Sweetheart with a Tica Cetus SS500 and 3-pound P-Line

This rod is my work horse. 2-inch Power Minnows, 2-inch Mister Minos, Power Tubes, Size 4 Ratsos... this is my run and gun weapon. The 32-inch series is great, but the new addition of the 36-inch series is the way to go!

Thorne Bros Power Noodle and a Shimano AX-ULS with 2-pound P-Line

This is a great set-up when looking to bypass a spring bobber when looking for those light biting fish that like to barely grab the bait. A great rod for detecting the "up-bite." Was one of my go-to rods last winter.

Thorne Bros 19-inch Finesse Plus with a spring bobber and a Shimano AX-ULS with 2-pound test P-Line

This is my finesse baby. It allows me to have the most control over my presentation, yet I don't throw out a solid hookset with a quick tip. I can stay over the hole and really incorporate the action I want.

Thorne Bros 28-inch Panfish Sweetheart with a Tica Cetus LF500 and 3-pound P-Line

This is another versatile work horse rod. The 28-inch Panfish Sweetheart is great for both shallow and deep situations. Great for running and running too.

There are a lot of rod/reel choices out there. Several of which work for a variety of situations and presentations.

I plan on having a variety of rigs ready to go when the Portable Modification Get Together happens at the end of the month. A great opportunity to talk more on ice rods!

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I noticed nothing over 3lb test. You think a 4lb test is too much?

I plan on using a Jason Mitchell Perch rod with just a small guide series reel and a HT technologies spring bobber. spooled with 4lb trilene ice. Super Versital

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I tried out the Mitchell Rods and was pleasantly surprised by the Meatstick. Worked out very well as a noodle type rod.

I also have a couple Thorne Perch and Panfish Sweethearts, with and without outside guides and of varying lengths and with springs, as well as one Power Noodle. I'd like a Finesse Plus still smile Can't say enough good things about Thorne Bros rods!

I made the switch two years ago to P line copoly and never looked back. I may switch out of 2 and 3 pound line and try to get to 4 on a couple rods because I fish a few bull gill lakes that are loaded with pike and nice bass, and because I did try and horse a couple nice crappies up and broke them off at the top of the hole...more operator error than anything I suppose since you really can't be trying to lift them up when they weigh that much and have perfected the crappie flop.

I have a handful of Tica Cetuses and an Okuma Hardstone, as well as a few other cheap generic junk reels that need to be upgraded this year (although they have performed pretty well and won't get alltogether thrown out). This may be the year I don't go overboard on rods but instead get some nicer reels. Mitchell Avocet, Pflueger Trions, saw a thing in F&S about Wavemaker UL Reels? Lots of nice options.

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I have a sweet Pea, 28 inch panfish sweetheart, 2 st. croix legend ultra lites, and a power noodle. They all have Tica cetuses on them and this year they will all be spooled with Gamma copoly ice 2 pound. 4 pound is for my walleye rods.

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Started last year with a Jason Mitchell Meatstick, and a Thorne Bros. pearch sweetheart. Unfortuneately, I've been bitten by the bug, and will fish with nothing else now. I just have to figure out how to sneak a couple other Thorne Bros walleye rods into my rod bag.

Folke

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I like the way 3-pound hangs most of the jigs. It's all about presentation for me. 2-pound is too limp and 4-pound gets too stiff. Call me picky but I'm a firm believer that presenting the bait is the most important thing when it comes to pannies under the ice...

I do use 2-pound for some situations, but most of the time its with lighter jigs. 4-pound will find its place in my perch, catfish, walleye and occational crappie if the situation calls for it. Chubby Darters might be the only time for me. But I do like how 4-pound hangs 1/16 oz spoons...

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I run two pound on my sight rod for pannies and three on the rest of the panfish combos. My walleye sticks run 3 or 4 depending on the situation. Like Matt, I like the way 3 lb line feels, 4 seems just a bit too stiff for me for most applications.

There are some guys out there using sewing thread, those dudes are HARDCORE!

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I've seen 1lb diameter, that's extreme.

I have one o two spools of 2lb, but my mainstay is 4, but our store didn't get 3 in until late in the season, so I never tried it. Sounds like that might be my line of choice this year though!

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The 36-inch Panfish Sweethearts generally come with the outside set of guides... meaning they are made of a different material and are slightly larger... which doesn't allow for a spring bobber. However, you can certainly have one made with the inside guides and a spring bobber will fit... probably even a hair cheaper too...

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I run lots of different options based on presentations and the fuish I'm targeting. Some of my favorite rods are...

Thorne Bros 36 panfish sweetheart with a Abu Garcia 100U and 4 lb test P-Line. This is my bigger plastics and small spoon rod. It sees action for crappies, perch and channel cats. Although I think I'm going to switch out one of my Tica SB500 from another set up as the Abu Garcia drag is not as smooth.

Thorne Bros. 24" Sweet Thing with a Tica LF 500 and 2 lb P-Line. This is my go to small plastics rod. I've caught everthing from 5" sunfish to 36" pike on this setup. Got to like that! It's just got such a nice balance and feel.

Thorne Bros. 28" Perch Sweetheart with Tica SB500 reels and 3 lb P-Line or Micro Ice. These are my do everything rods. From Perch, crappies to walleyes I work bigger plastics and 1/4 oz or smaller spoons on these. The smaller chubby darters get time on these as well.

Jason Mitchell 28" Perch rod paired with 4 lb Crystal Ice. Very nice rods and they work well with the braided line and a short Flourocarbon leader. Plastics, spoons and darters see time on this set up for perch and crappie.

Scotty's Custom Rods 32" Deadstick paired an Abu Garcia 300U reels with 4 lb Micro Ice. This is my wife's favorite float rod. I prefer to use it w/o the float and let the tip do the work. Either way it's a very nice set up with a small spoon and a lively minnow, especially when your jigging nearby.

Finally a new rod I just picke dup this weekend is one I'm excited to try based on a number of folks that I know who swear by the rod.

Thorne Bros 19" Finesse Plus paired with an Abu Garcia 300U and 2 lb P-Line. With or without the spring bobber this is gonna be a nice multi purpse rod that will get some serious sight fishing time this winter for crappies, gills or whatever is there ready to eat.

Honorable mention goes to the Jason Mitchell Panfish rods paired with a Tica SB500 and 2 lb Micro Ice. Again a nice option for smaller finness plastics. I've caught a lot of crappies and gills on this set up as well.

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This year I plan to run the following...

Thorne Bros Power noodle with 2lb Gamma

Jason Mitchell panfish spring bobber rod with 2lb Gamma

Jason Mitchell 28" walleye stick with 6lb Gamma

Thorne Bros Meat stick with 4lb Gamma for deadsticking

Jason Mitchell sight fishing rod with 2lb Gamma

All rods will have Ticas. Haven't bought the Meat Stick yet, and I do plan on picking up an extra reel this year too.

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I also like 3# line for crappies and gills/perch. I find I cant tie 2# like I once could. Eyes are getting old. 4 # is ok when I also get some eyes mixed in or Im using bigger spoons.

I also like 4# or 6# superlines when fishing deep. I then tie on a mono shocker leader with a back to back uni knot.

I ran a meatstick last year and really liked the way it performed. Only drawback was the small eyes when it was cold out. Inside or on warmer days it was awesome.

I also ran the Mitchel spring bobber rod and I liked it but not as much as the meatstick.

I ahve some of the 1st big eyed Genz rods that I still like for crappies.

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my primary 'gill and crappie rod is a 24ul croix premier with 2lb berkley micro ice...use it with smaller jigs like size 8-12 usually. Use a tica reel with that.

also use some genz stix, ul with 3lb with slightly bigger jigs.

and lastly for jigging spoons around 1/8 oz and such I have a 26" mitchel light(?) that I'll throw 4lb on cause I use it for walleye a lot too.

I use berkley micro ice on about all my rods. I personally don't like superlines icefishing at all except when I'm in deeper water like 20 something plus at least or jigging for pike. Superlines seem to freeze up way faster for me and get stiffer way faster if your outside much.

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