Before you head out onto the ice stop by your favorite sporting goods store and pick up some gear.
Ice fishing is vertical fishing and that means jigging — getting your bait to dance and move to attract the fish.
There are lots and lots of different kinds of jigs but a beginning ice fisherman can start with just a few:
You'll need a whole handful of ice flies. Choose several different colors (I like red, white, black and chartreuse) and several different weights. The deeper you fish, the heavier you will want the fly to be. Some flies have rubber or fiber "fingers" tied around the eye of the hook to give the fly added movement.
Generally ice flies are tipped with a meal worm, wax worm, small piece of night crawler, salmon eggs or chub meat.
Ice flies are most effective when jigged up and down only a few inches. They don't need vigorous action to attract fish. Let the fish tell you what they want by experimenting with various actions. When you find one that works — use it.
Single Tail and Double Tail Grubs
By varying the weight of the lead head, grubs can be fished shallow or deep. They are moderate action jigs that can be jigged from a few inches to several feet vertically. They are effective fish getters just as they come from the package but for splake and lake trout they are best when tipped with chub or sucker meat.
Grubs come in all the colors of the rainbow and then some. Chartruese, smoke (with sparkle), black, white, and blue are good colors.
I like to jig grubs vertically between two and three feet. I let the jig sit between strokes for anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute or two.
Airplane jigs require lots of motion to get them to work effectively. I have jigged them as much as four or five feet vertically before they started to attract fish. The wings give the jig lots of horizontal movement as it falls from the top of the jigging stroke.
Many airplane jigs come with a hook on each wing, a tail hook and a stinger for a total of four hooks. The 1990 proclamation says on page 4 that it is illegal for a lure to have more than three hooks. That means you will have to remove at least one of the hooks before you start to fish. I generally remove the two hooks on the wings and leave the tail hook and the stinger.
Airplane jigs are effective with or without adding chub or sucker meat. For splake, lake trout and big browns, adding meat is recommended. The tail hook is usually a big thick thing that needs to be sharpened. If you will sharpen the tail hook you will catch more fish.