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blodngoods

Your Top Three "Go To" Rod/Reel Combos

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Thanks for the overwhelming responses to my first post about fishing without a shanty. Makes me want to try another post. In all the reading I've done in past threads on this forum and others, I have a pretty good idea what's out there, and I get the impression that most of you have quite an arsenal of rods and reels. I have to believe, though, that even you guys with tons of experience, find yourselves reaching for the same 2 or 3 rods the vast majority of the time. I'd like to read about your 2 or 3 most used combos, so I can get some sort of consensus on what will best suit my needs, as there is no way I can spring for a dozen combos. I should say, I'll be fishing outside of a shelter most of the time on small inland lakes in eastern Wisconsin for bluegills and crappies, with hopefully a handful of trips to northern Wisconsin to tap into their panfish resources, as well as perch and generally smaller walleyes. Thanks again in advance.

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My favorite combo for pans is nothing too flashy. Its A St.Croix Avid ice ul with a Tica. But I'm thinkin this winter I'm going to check out some of the custom built ice rods to get combos for pans then one for walleyes.

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A lot depends on the type of fishing you want to do. Because you are planning to mainly fish outside, you are going to want rods that have larger diameter guides so they don't ice up as you reel in the fish. Outside fishing also allows you to use some longer rods that help you control the fish better during the fight. Take a look at the Jason Mitchell Rods, the Meat Stick would probably suit you very well. The Thorne Bros rods are awesome, but they are kinda pricey. There is a reason though, they are all built by hand in their Fridley, Minnesota shop with nothing but the best components. A panfish sweethart is pretty much impossible to beat, a 32" outside would fit your needs exactly. The Deadstick from Thorne is a great rod to use as your second rod with a minnow rig. Check em out, not the cheapest, but definitely the best hands down.

I would highly suggest Tica reels no matter what rod you choose. I got my first one last year and it is easily the best ice reel I have ever used. And when you pick your reels, get decent line, both P-Line and Gamma have some really good co-poly line for ice fishing and Trilene Ice is the old standby. Fishing outside you are going to want to stay away from braided lines as they tend to ice up rather easy. I use 2 or 3 lb test on most of my rigs. Three lb line seems to hang the jigs the best and allow you to impart the most action.

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Great info Polar.

I would definitly recommend having a rod with a spring bobber - the will detect the lightest bites. Stay away from the type that uses a coiled spring (ice up bad). I've been using St. Croix Legend system and love it. Outfished my brothers friend who was using a bobber 10-1 during an outing - next day he when out and bought 2 for himself. My list would be:

(1) St Croix Legend Spring bobber rod (UL-L)

(2) Thorn Bros dead stick rod

(3) Any good 32" ML-M graphite ice rod for walleye/pike, or 28" if using in a portable.

I am not picky on reel - most reels in the $25-35 range will work for panfish. Get a nice reel if targeting walleyes/pike. Use the money you save and invest in a nice flasher with zoom capabilities or a portable. Don't for get to buy a decent case to protect the rods.

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For the situations you're describing .....

I'd go with a deadstick rod (I've been using the Jason Mitchell MeatSticks and have been happy with them). I almost never use a slip bobber any more, I have become a die-hard jigger with one line and deadsticker with my other line.

I also like a spring bobber rod for small jigs and plastics. Great for hole hopping.

I also like a light action jigging rod that can handle spoons up to 1/8 ounce or so. Not at all uncommon to pick up some perch or walleyes or pike while working a jigging spoon near your crappie and bluegill spots.

I have a wide variety of ice reels and don't really have any clear favorites or any that I really don't like. In fact they all seem so much the same to me that I'd even have to dig them out and look at them to let you know what they all are.

Most of my ice fishing is with Gamma or P-Line FlouroIce. I use Fireline Crystal a little but it will freeze up quickly if you're not in a house. 2-4 lb test is usually what I go with on my light rods, maybe 1 lb if the fish are really finnicky or 5-6 lb if I think there'll be walleyes or pike biting.

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Tough to pick just three... but here's what I plan to use this upcoming winter for pannies...

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 have yet to buy a Thorne Bros rod, but have handled them before and they are very impressive. I currently have a St Croix, Jig-A-Whopper, GM Guide Series and a couple others. The Jig-A-Whopper combo is a great combo, and they aren't made anymore, but I got mine last fall at Sportsmens Warehouse, and I think they bought a huge stock, and can still be found. The Jig-A-Whopper is on the far right in the pic, its a short rod, but has a great feel to it:

Picture029.jpg

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I own two thorn bro rods. A 32" walleye and a 28" panfish. Both are mirrored with the pflueger trion ul reel. Nice combination for the ice. I use GLoomis in the summer fishing and the TB rods are very comparable in quality and feel. I also have a bunch of other sticks ranging from st croix to cabelas XML. I also hear good things about Austin rods. They are custom made and range from 19-35 dollars.

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For outside panfish the rods I use are a Thorne 28" perch sweetheart and another TB sweetheart (I don't remember exacty which one it is, but it's a little lighter then the perch) that's 32" long with outside (larger) guides. All of my ice rods have Tica Cetus reels on them. The perch sweetheart is my absolute go to rod for everything from sunnies to jumbo perch to small walleyes. This rod is the shizzle!

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