We don’t talk about them often, but we use spoons daily. We cook and eat with spoons; we use them to take medicine. Ice Anglers even fish with a type of spoon. But the question is, do spoons work for ice fishing? The answer is a resounding yes. What would our lives be without them?
Spoons used for ice fishing are similar but different from those in your kitchen drawer. Just think of those spoons in various sizes and without handles. In this article, we’ll discuss what spoons are? How they attract fish, and finally, how you best maximize their effectiveness when ice fishing. To learn about all this and more, continue reading.
What Are Fishing Spoon Lures?
An ice fishing spoon is an elongated metal disk typically with an elliptical shape. Some spoons are thinner than others, and many shapes and styles are available. They have either a single hook or a treble hook (Three hooks in one) on one end and a hole to tie your line or attach a swivel on the other. Shapes and colors can vary wildly. Appropriate sizes for spoon lures will vary based on your target species; more on this later.
How Do Spoon Lures Attract Fish?
Spoons attract fish the same way as other lures by appearing to be a baitfish in your target species’ food chain. Many spoons use reflective surfaces that flash in the water, attracting a predator’s attention. The flutter or wobble of a spoon varies based on its shape.
Spoons have a wobbling motion when jigged, mimicking a wounded prey fish. A longer spoon moves with an exaggerated side-to-side flutter and spoons with deeply concave bodies result in a broad flutter when being jigged. Add to this the flash of a colorful, reflective surface catching a predator’s eye, and the promise of an easy meal draws the strike of a hungry game fish.
Are Spoons Good For Ice Fishing?
Yes, spoons are suitable for Ice fishing. Spoons work well with jigging, a widespread technique in ice fishing. To jig, you set your line at the target depth. Then with your rod tip about a foot over the water, begin to jig. Raise your lure 18-20 inches and let it drop and flutter to the bottom.
Bites often come when your spoon is dropping; however, fish are sluggish under the ice, so wait a few seconds to set the hook. The variety of jigs available varies widely in colors, sizes, and styles. What works on one lake might not work on another lake or stream.
Years ago, I fished for Steelhead Trout in the local rivers of Northern Ohio during Winter’s early ice. I would jig a 1/16th ounce black or chartreuse Marabou jig tipped with maggot, and I did pretty well, but out on Lake Erie, the Steelhead were taking Minnows on spoons.
My experience illustrates how no one lure or bait kills it in all fishing situations. When fishing a new lake or stream, take advantage of local bait shops and other ice anglers to clue you in on what works in their area.
What Fish Can You Catch With Spoons?
Many fish species will take a spoon, but the truth is, they are more successful with sizeable species like Walleye, Salmon, Muskie, Northern Pike, and even Largemouth Bass.
A general rule is the more substantial your target species, the bigger your spoon. Don’t be afraid to go big when targeting larger species. Many guys fish for winter Walleye on large lakes using 3-4 inch chubs or suckers; follow their example when choosing a spoon.
Knowing your species helps as well. Big Species like Steelhead or Lake trout have relatively small mouths for their size, so smaller hooks are best if you’re targeting these species. Smaller hooks also work best for Panfish like Bluegill or Sunfish. Because of their small mouth size, it’s challenging to get them to take a spoon. The hot ticket is small ball head jigs tipped with maggots or wax worms.
Conversely, if you’re fishing for crappies, you can scale up your spoon size to about a 1/8th ounce spoon. Even though they are members of the panfish family, Crappies are the big mouths of the panfish world, so a bigger hook or lure is needed. Add a minnow head before jigging your spoon to increase its effectiveness.
Tips And Strategies When Spoon Ice Fishing
The best investment you can make to your ice fishing arsenal is a Good sonar or flasher when ice fishing with spoon lures. Sonars’ ability to locate fish is an invaluable asset, but it does more than mark fish. It can also show you how fish respond to your baits and even show when a fish is going for your bait.
Vary the action of your spoon. Fish activity levels will change throughout the season, so you must change how you work your lure. Fish will be more active under the thin, clear early Winter ice or the thinning late Winter-Spring ice. Once again, a change in lure action is needed. Now it’s time to work your spoon a bit more aggressively.
Under the thick opaque ice of Mid-Winter, oxygen levels have dropped, and the fish are lethargic. At this time, slowing down your jigging action mimics both prey fish and their predator’s action.
Still, work the spoon up and down but lift slower and avoid lure freefall; lower it slowly. Watch the fish on your sonar and keep your spoon slightly above the depth they are marking. Many fish like Walleye prefer striking up, so keep your bait where they’re looking. Bites will be softer and slower, so give it a few seconds before setting the hook.
Using the correct size spoon is essential. Don’t be afraid to go big on larger lakes when targeting larger fish like Northern Pike or Walleye. For an in-depth discussion on hook sizes, read our post, What Size hook should I use for ice fishing?
When you’re targeting smaller fish like Yellow Perch or Panfish like Bluegill, try a Clam Leech flutter spoon tipped with maggots or wax worms. Sougayilang Sinking Metal Spoons are another good choice, and because they’re sold in a five-pack, they’re also a great value. If you don’t have these, pinch off a minnow behind the head, leave the guts trailing, and hook it through the back of the head out its mouth on a 1/32 ounce ball head jig.
Don’t work an unproductive spoon too long, change after 20-30 minutes. Using a swivel at the end of your line makes changing your lure easier and improves spoon action. If you’re fishing for toothier species like Muskie, a steel leader with a swivel will lower the possibility of your line being cut by teeth.
Stay mobile as much as possible so you can easily change holes. If the fish vanish from sonar or simply go dormant, pack up and move to another spot.
Wrapping It Up
We began with the question, do spoons work for ice fishing? Yes, spoons work for ice fishing. Nothing more than elongated, concave, metal discs of various widths, lengths, and colors. Spoons complement the ice fishing technique of jigging.
In truth, spoons are best used for larger game fish like Salmon, Northern Pike, or Walleye, but versions and sizes exist for most species including Panfish. The wide availability of spoon lures, ease of use, and effectiveness make them a must-have for any ice angler’s tackle box.