Every ice angler has a go-to lure they swear will out-fish anything. Whether you’re ice-fishing for panfish, walleye, bass, or trout, you have plenty of great baits to choose from. But with so many jigs, spoons, soft-plastics, and lipless crankbaits out there, it’s no easy task deciding which lures will catch the most fish. In order to pick the best ice-fishing lures available, we consulted with the top ice fishing guys around. With added input from other local sharpies, hard-water expert Lonney Goman will run through his favorites. Better make some extra room in your tackle boxes.
The Best Ice Fishing Lures
Salmo Chubby Darter
The Chubby Darter is an ice-fishing legend, and you won’t find a more effective vertical lure. Its slow sink rate and unique shape imparts a tantalizing swimming action that draws strikes. It has become a mainstay among ice anglers, and is equally effective for catching walleye, perch, bass, crappie, and pike. The Chubby Darter is available in 1 3/8- and 1 ¾-inch models in six detailed, lifelike patterns.
CLAM Leech Flutter Spoon
The highly reflective finishes of the Leech Flutter Spoon flicker light to give the image of fish scales. Coupled with a distinctive flutter that tumbles back-and-forth on the drop, the lure is a master at triggering fish with its irritating and enticing flare. The Leech Flutter Spoon is made from a zinc alloy that is lighter than metals used in other spoons, and the lightweight design slows the sink rate, keeping the Leech Flutter Spoon in the striker zone longer.
Rapala Jigging Rap
Few lures are more well-known among ice fishermen than the Jigging Rap. The lure excels at vertical fishing with a horizontal line-tie and has a solid construction that sinks fast. The Jigging Rap has a circular swimming pattern created by its perfect balance and a single rear lip. The Jigging Rap’s allure comes in a wide selection of sizes and colors, and is available in five lengths and more than two dozen patterns to cover just about every depth, water clarity, and species.
VMC Rattle Spoon
The VMC Rattle Spoon has a sound chamber made from brass that contains multiple beads. The sharp, loud resonance is unique compared to other rattle spoons, and produces strikes when other lures won’t. With four sizes, the Rattle Spoon can be used to target a variety of species. Finishes range from natural to UV and glow patterns. The UV patterns reflect more light and are more visible, and glow models keep their charge for up to 15 minutes.
Rapala Rippin’ Rap
Lipless crankbaits are favored by ice angers because of their horizontal hook tie, smooth swimming motion when jigged, and the attention-grabbing vibration of their internal rattles. The Rapala Rippin’ Rap is one of a handful of lipless cranks that are mainstays for ice fishermen. It has an oversized profile that generates a ton of flash with sharp jerks of the rod tips and flutters like dying prey as it sinks. The distinctive BB rattle system gives off ample sound with the shortest jerks and pulls.
CLAM Dave Genz Drop-Kick
Designed by Dave Genz himself, the Drop-Kick was designed to have the most tantalizing cadence possible to dupe panfish. It has a 90-degree XL hook with an enlarged eye for easier rigging and is made from heavy wire with a wide gap. This configuration of the Drop-Kick translates into a higher hook-up percentage. The Drop-Kick gets its name from a distinctive kick it displays when jigged correctly. The lure was also created with a flat top that can be more easily seen on a sonar unit.
Northland Tackle Buckshot Rattle Spoon
The Buckshot Rattle Spoon is one of the most popular jigging spoons for imitating minnows and other small forage. Its highly reflective, Baitfish-Image body and sharp brass rattle are incredibly effective at calling attention to itself over a wide area. The Buckshot Rattle Spoon can be used in any type of water clarity for any species with its wide selection of sizes and colors.
Rapala Jigging Shad Rap
With a similar design to the original Jigging Rap, the Jigging Shad Rap offers a more pronounced movement and a seductive slow spiral on its descent. By snapping the rod upward, the action can be altered to create a faster circling motion. The beefier profile of the Jigging Shad Rap is pronounced in the water, making it highly visible to nearby fish. It comes in three sizes and 14 patterns, including UV and glow colors.
Bay De Noc Lure Co. Do-Jigger
Bay De Noc Lure Co. has put out a few famous fishing lures, and the Do-Jigger is one of them. The Do-Jigger has a distinct and unique shimmering effect, and it is effective for catching multiple species, including walleye, northern pike, big trout, and bass. Three sizes are available, and all are offered in seven color patterns.
Acme Tackle Company Kastmaster Rattle Master
With one of the loudest rattle chambers you’ll find in a jigging lure, the Acme Kastmaster Rattle Master is another favorite among the ice crowd. The Rattle Master is a well-balanced spoon that produces a wild action on both the rise and fall. The combination of a loud rattle and frantic action is something you won’t find in other jigging spoons.
Live Target Golden Shiner
Live Target’s Golden Shiner has the most intricate, lifelike pattern you’ll find in a lipless crankbait. The horizontal hook-tie of the Golden Shiner makes it a perfect choice for jigging and open-water fishing. It is designed to have the profile and anatomical details of juvenile baitfish, matching the hatch. The heavy Golden shiner sinks quickly in the water column, also providing anglers with incredible control of the jigging motion. It weighs ½-ounce, measures 2 7/8 inches long, and is available in four natural patterns.
We hope this overview of the top ice fishing lures has helped you navigate the endless options to choose from. Trophy Ice Fish has guided and provided helpful information to anglers in and around Door County. We are some of the most experienced ice fishing guides in Green Bay and pride ourselves on being experts on everything related to fishing in the area.