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Deadstick ice fishing is a well-known technique, but it is not always looked upon in the same light as jigging would be. However, it can be one of the most effective ways to get fish to bite when they don’t seem to want the fake stuff.
Deadstick ice fishing is just lowering your bait in the water and letting it just sit there until a fish takes it. It’s essentially the type of fishing that we all started off with. It can be seen as boring, or something that only a beginner would use, or someone who doesn’t have the skills to actually use a jig. But really that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Many fishermen don’t like this technique because it seems boring or because there is little to no skill involved. But on some days, you’ll find the fish are a little more lethargic than usual and they’re just not interested in eating your fake jig bouncing up and down. Instead they’re drawn in by the small erratic action of a live minnow tied to a hook, and those are the days you need a deadstick.
How Does the Deadstick Method Work
Deadstick ice fishing is traditionally done with a plain hook, or jig head with a minnow hooked just under the dorsal fin underneath a bobber. You then set it a foot or so off of the bottom, and that’s it. Pretty easy and simple set up and that almost any angler can use.
But there is always room for creativity when it comes to how you present you lure or bait to a fish. Using the set up above you can do the same thing except now raise 3-4 feet off the bottom. Walleyes are comfortable coming up in the water column to hit on a minnow and sometimes this is the ticket when the bite is slow.
You can also change the color of your hook. In stained water you can try out gold, glowing, or bright colored hooks, while silver and natural colors look best in clear. Feel free to also change up what bait you’re using. Somedays a shiner will work, on others a fathead minnow. The key here is to bring a few different types of bait.
Do You Need a Special Rod for Deadsticking
A deadstick rod will look similar to your normal ice fishing rod; short in stature. However, these have a strong backbone with a very soft action and limber tip. This is because the minnow below the rod needs to have the freedom to move around and struggle in order to entice the larger fish.
The back end of the rod will be significantly stronger than the. This is because the soft the tip could easily break on a big fish. So you’ll need something with backbone that can actually bring the fish off the bottom of the lake or river. A good example of this type of rod is the 13 Fishing “Widow Maker” Special Edition with Carbon Handle.
Best Bait for Deadstick Ice Fishing
The most well-known dead sticking bait is the minnow on a live bait hook. It proves time and time again that it can be used successfully to catch fish. However, if you want to switch it up there are a few other options you can try.
You can use several different types of jig heads including the, Jig-o-Bit, the demon, or even the Danlure jig. The Danlure is an interesting one because it has a normal jig head on it, but then is attached to a swivel which is attached to a hook. That gives you minnow a slightly different action when it is swimming around and can entice some fish to come in.
You can also try out different types of live bait, such as small rainbow’s, or even dead minnows. You’ll just need to experiment to see what the fish are keying on, as each day or even each hour could bring a different bite.
Are There Rules and Regulations for Deadsticking
As with all fishing there are rules and regulations that all anglers need to comply by. This all depends on the state, or even the county that you will be fishing in. Some areas will only allow you to us dead bait, while some won’t. Same with which type of bait you can use.
Many areas strictly enforce that you cannot bring other species into a lake that does not currently have them, even as bait. So, if you want to fish with rainbows one day but the lake your fishing in does not have that species then you may be out of luck.
As always though you need to check out your local department of game wildlife and fisheries regulations before you hit the water to ensure you are staying within the law and not breaking any rules. If you do you could be slapped with heavy fines and penalties, and even have your license revoked for the season, or even multiple seasons.
Deadsticking is a highly effective way to ice fish. It’s not just something for beginners or for the casual fisherman. Anyone can do it, and if your finding out that the fish are not enjoying your selection of fake jigs then it might time to break out the ole’ deadstick, slap on a minnow. While it may not be looked at with as much excitement as jigging, it can be really effective when the fish just don’t seem to want to bite.