Published on April 17th, 2018 | by The Iceman0
Carry a spud bar for safer ice fishing
A spud bar, or “ice chipper,” is an essential piece of ice fishing gear if you want to maximize your safety. You can definitely go ice fishing without a spud bar, but if you have one handy you can really maximize your chances to have a safe time on the hard water.
A spud bar is basically a long metal rod. You use it to tamp down on the ice and check the safety of the stuff before you walk on it. Some people use spud bars made for things like digging holes but those can be unduly heavy. Others use a piece of rebar. I don’t think those are heavy enough.
Don’t get me wrong. If you don’t have anything else a piece of rebar or other metal rod is better than nothing to be sure. It can even do the job completely in some cases. So don’t go out on the ice without a bar just because you can’t afford something out of a fishing catalog. On the other hand, if you can spare a few bucks to buy a purpose build spud bar for ice fishing you’ll usually find that it has a lot of features that make it good for hard water anglers.
First of all, most ice fishing specific spud bars are the perfect weight. They’re not to heavy to lug around but they’re not so light that you have to expend a lot of energy to check the ice in front of you. Like the soup Goldilocks slurped up, they’re just right.
Ice fishing spud bars usually have a lanyard around the holding end too. You put this cord around your arm and then you don’t have to worry about losing your spud bar when you’re checking the ice. Sometimes you spear into what you think is solid ice only to go all the way through with your spud bar. If you don’t have a cord connecting it to your body it might end up on the bottom of the lake!
Finally, a spud bar made specifically for ice fishing usually has a chisel end. While you can chisel through ice with something like the Berkley Ice Metal Scoop you’re limited by the length and size of the tool. With a real ice chisel you can actually bust out entire ice fishing holes. You might think you would never want to chisel out an entire ice fishing hole, but you never know.
What if your power auger runs out of steam, or gas, or battery? What if your holes freeze over in a sudden onset of heavy winds? What if you head out fishing over a slushy top onto have a cold front blow in and freeze everything, leaving your ice fishing shelter pins frozen solid? It’s good to have an ice chisel on hand.
The most important thing about a spud bar is that it helps you check the ice. You can start hitting the ice from shore before you step on it. Then you can keep checking it as you move out further on the ice. There are no hard and fast rules but generally if you give three good wacks of the spud bar onto the ice without it going through you are on solid hard water. If you get inches deep into the ice on a single spear, you better be careful. If you see water come up after just one drop of the spud bar on the ice it is probably not good at all.
A lot of the newer ice fishing spud bars are built with safety in mind. Some of them have things like hammer or claw ends which could actually be used to pull you or someone else out of a sticky situation. They are modern too. Some telescope out or have other features to make them easy to carry and use. So if you have the money to spend you can really improve your outings on the ice with a decent ice fishing spud bar.