Published on March 30th, 2020 | by The Iceman0
Review of the Northland Impulse Helium Mayfly
Summary: A nice soft plastic imitation of one of the main food sources fish find in the wild. It's effective, but not perfect.
The Northland Impulse Helium Mayfly is a small scented soft plastic imitation of a mayfly nymph that comes pre-rigged on a hook with a bead for weight and hackle for movement and attraction. They also have a version without the hackle. These lures started showing up in stores a few years ago. Now you can find them all over.
Overall the Northland Impulse Helium Mayfly is a good lure for both trout and big panfish. It does a great job at catching all species of trout and big crappie and bluegill. So it’s a nice lure to keep with your ice fishing gear. Of course there are a few downsides to this little lure. I will get into those too.
I do want to note that Northland also makes a Helium Stone Fly. I have used those too. The mayfly is pretty similar to the stonefly. The only different that I can see is the shape. So this review would apply equally to the Northland Stonefly and Northland Mayfly lures.
The best thing about the Northland Mayfly is that it looks like an actual mayfly nymph! There are all sorts of ice fishing lures out that painted to look like everything from big eye balls to colorful clowns or miniature bags of wonder bread. It is nice to finally see some lures that actually look like the things fish see and eat on a regular basis.
I was really glad when this lure first came out. It allows me to finally “match the hatch” and present something that looks like what the fish are already encountering on a regular basis. If you have even cleaned a fish and examined the contents of its stomach you will find a lot of nymphs. Fish see them all the time and they eat them too.
The second best thing about the Northland Mayfly is that the lure is sized just right. You can catch trout and panfish on the same lure without changing up sizes all the time. Other fish will hit this lure too. I have caught many on the natural colors like black and brown. And I have even hooked fish on the other weirder colors like red when nothing else would work.
There are two major and one minor downsides to the Northland Helium Mayfly that I see. The first is the lure is actually a little too light. Having a slow vertical fall can be good at times, especially when ice fishing for picky fish in cold water. But you also need enough weight to get down to where the fish are and straighten out the coils in your line. That’s why tungsten jigs have become so popular. Sure you can put some micro split shot on the line above the Mayfly, but that takes some of the sensitivity out of your rig. It would been much better if they would have used a heavier tungsten bead like we see on the VMC Fly Jig.
The second major fault of the Northland Mayfly is that it isn’t very durable. The soft plastic mayfly body is just sort of sitting there on a jig hook with a bead. It can slide down the hook pretty easy. In my experience this is exactly what happens once you catch a fish or two. That might not be so bad on a cheap bag of soft plastics. But when you’re paying a couple of bucks each you want the lure to last longer if at all possible.
The minor problem I have with the Northland Mayfly is that it is impregnated with scent. I think it would have been better to leave it scent free. That way it could also be used in places that have regulations against scented bait. Then if we wanted to scent the bait ourselves we could spray something on or do what most ice fisherman do and tip the hook with a maggot.
Alternatives to the Northland Mayfly
Although the Northland Mayfly is a good lure, there are times when you might want to go with something else. Alternatives will let you get around some of the cons that I have mentioned above. It helps to carry at least a small variety of lures when ice fishing anyway, though you don’t have to over do it and lug out giant tackle boxes.
The first alternative to the pre-rigged Impulse Helium Mayfly is simply a 20 Pack Bag of Northland Mayfly lures. You can rig these however you want. I use them on lead and tungsten jigs. I sometimes put a drop of glue on the hook and rig them at home before I go ice fishing. Then they stay on the hook better in the water.
Other alternatives include the various scent-free soft plastic mayfly nymphs and stonefly nymphs custom made by smaller manufacturers. You can sometimes find these in regional bait shops, but they’re a lot easier to get online. So I stock up before I head out on the ice.
Finally, you can actually use some of the more modern flies out there that are tied on jig style hooks like you find in this Fly Crate Tungsten Bead Barbless Nymph Fly assortment. They work pretty well and they look an awful lot like the actual nymphs you are trying to replicate.