Ice Fishing Methods ice fishing lures in open water

Published on April 11th, 2018 | by The Iceman


Using ice fishing lures for open water fishing

By now the ice fishing season has ended for everyone with the possible exception of some in the arctic circle. Even though unseasonable snow continues to roll in on some parts of the United States, the water is basically open everywhere now. That doesn’t mean you have to put all your ice fishing gear away until next year though. In fact, some ice fishing lures work just as well in the open water as they do under the ice!

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Rat Finkee

Rat Finkee

The Rat Finkee by Custom Jigs and Spins works very well when fished through the open water. It’s basically a microjig that comes in a wide variety of colors. The best part is, the lure isn’t expensive at all.

The Rat Finkee catches bluegill, crappie and trout all through the year. It works especially well now early in the open water season when the fish might not be energetic enough to hunt down a large meal. Even a tight lipped ice out crappie can be coaxed into sucking down a small pink micro jig.

The Rat Finkee is too light to cast with most rods. But if you rig up correctly, it’s not difficult to fish this little ice fishing jig in open water at all.

First of all you should be using clear light line such as two or four pound test Berkley Trilene XL. Next you affix a small float like the EZ Trout Float on your line. After that you pinch on one or two micro split shot. Then you just tie your Rat Finkee on. That’s it!

This rig works for panfish and trout in moving and still water. In moving water you just cast upstream and let the rig float back down through likely spots. You watch the float the entire time and set the hook if there is any hesitation. On still waters like lakes and ponds you can cast out then give the rig a wiggle every once in a while. This gets the attention of fish that then come over and bite. If your bobber starts moving or goes under water, set the hook!

The Rat Finkee isn’t scented or flavored. That means you can use it in artificial lures only waterways. If you’re fishing in a place without special regulations, you can put a maggot or two on the hook to add a little flavor and movement.

Tungsten Larva Fly

VMC tungsten larva fly

The Tungsten Larva Fly is a relatively new lure from the famed Northland fishing company. While this tungsten jig was really made for ice fishing, it works just as well in open water.

The tungsten bead on this jig lets it get down deep fast. It also gives it some casting weight. At the same time, the jig is small enough to entice slow moving fish into biting. The body of the jig is tied just like a fishing fly complete with a hackled feather collar. It also comes in a wide variety of colors.

The Tungsten Larva Fly works well on panfish and trout, but I’ve even caught early season bass on the Tungsten Larva Fly. I fish it the same way I fish the above mentioned Rat Finkees. That is, on a light line and under a small float.

VMC Nymph Jig

VMC nymph jig

The Nymph Jig by the well known VMC company is another soft plastic and jig head combo. The Nymph Jigs are a lot larger than the Rat Finkees. They’re on size eight hooks that are appropriate for larger panfish and trout, but also fit for fish like bass and walleye.

The Nymph Jig can be fished under a float, jigged on the bottom, or cast out and retrieved to mimic aquatic creatures like nymphs, larvae and crayfish. You can fish it slow or fast.

The Nymph Jig comes in a variety of color combinations. They are all good in particular situations. Standard colors like pink, white and black work in the widest range of conditions. The similar but more simplistic VMC Wax Tail Jig is also good in open water.


SteelShad blade bait

The SteelShad is a blade bait that comes in a lot of different colors. While not strictly an ice fishing lure, many people do consider the Steel Shad and other similar blade baits to be mainly for fishing vertically under the ice.

The reality is that blade baits can also work very well in the open water. They can be fished vertically under a boat or off a pier or dock, but they can also be cast out and retrieved. You can cast them a country mile with little effort. You can fish the SteelShad with an up and down jigging motion, a slow and steady retrieve, a rip and pause jerk bait style retrieve or just mix things up. In the right situation it can all catch fish.

All of the SteelShad colors are probably effective at times. In my experience, rainbow trout, fire tiger and gold are the best all around colors.


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