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The best way I know of to beat the winter blahs is the Schaumburg Fishing Show each January, and this year the show was terrific. I spent the entire day – six hours – wandering the aisles of the Convention Center. The new equipment the manufacturers are coming out with is very specialized. Not that long ago, the choice was a bait casting rod or a spinning rod. Now fishermen can choose from many different bait casting rods alone, depending on the type of lure they are using. There are worm rods, frog rods, swimbait rods, deep cranking rods, drop-shot rods, tube rods, and on and on. Spinning rods are just as confusing and varied. Now match all that with the different reels for different approaches, and it can make a fisherman’s head spin.

The first question that usually arises after seeing all this is “Do I really need all of these different rods and reels?” The simple answer is no. It is still possible to catch fish on a bamboo rod tied with line, a float, and a hook. All the different options are to a fisherman what a toolbox is to a mechanic: the different tools can sometimes make the job easier and more efficient.

Some of the rods have a light tip to be more sensitive to detecting bites; some have more backbone to allow longer casts with bigger crankbaits and enough backbone to set hooks when the strike occurs 30-40 yards down the lake. In a future article we will go over a couple of different rod/reel selections that are worth having in a tackle locker.

Ice fishing has really been a rollercoaster ride this season. The temperature has been going back and forth from the 50s to zero, and what with the late arrival of ice, ice fishing has been a challenge. The many cracks in the ice and soft spots from the warm days have made getting vehicles other than ATVs on the ice very, very difficult. The dangerous areas are the major cracks where, with a few cold days, an inch or two of ice can form and make the ice appear safe. Do not be fooled.

Well, stay warm, and when ice fishing, be careful and do not go alone.

Until next time…keep a tight line.

Contact Dick at hookedonfishing@comcast.net.