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While the majority of bass fishing is done on open water, in the northern regions of the United States and Canada you have the opportunity to ice fish for bass as well. Ice fishing for bass is done in the same areas as many other species on the ice making most ice fishing bass adventures a multi-species adventure.
Let’s take a look at some of the best bass fishing lures for use on the ice.
In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top Picks…
Our Top 5 Best Ice Fishing Lures for Bass
Starting off with quite possibly my personal favorite ice fishing lure of all time, the jigging rap by Rapala can be absolutely deadly on the ice.
While better known for catching species like perch, pike, and walleye, the jigging rap is equally as deadly for bass. The jigging rap imitates a swimming and darting minnow in the water column, and the fins on the tail swing the bait away from the hole in a darting motion coupled with the rise and fall of the lure.
Jigged with a more subtle cadence will have it making smaller darting motions while swimming in a circle, with the bait changing its direction of travel in a full 360 degrees.
Fish this lure in weed pockets or on weed edges and get ready for your rod to receive some serious jolts.
The live target golden shiner is the lure that put vertically jigged rattle style baits on the radar for use in ice fishing.
The golden shiner was a hit for anglers chasing walleye and pike, and they also crush giant bass through the ice.
The rattles in the golden shiner call in hungry bass from far and wide, and the tight wobbling action and fluttering fall get them to strike.
Despite the name, the golden shiner is available in a variety of colors, including chrome colorations mixed with blues, greens, and black.
The Chubby Darter has become incredibly popular for ice fishing a wide variety of predatory species, and bass are certainly keen to eat them as well.
The chubby darter has a great wobbling action on the fall coupled with a slow sink rate, great for catching winter fish with a slower metabolism due to the cold water temperatures.
The Unique shape and design of the chubby darter also allows it to slide and drift several feet on the fall, so it’s not just a static vertical fall with a wobble, it also imparts a swim as well.
The chubby darter comes in several sizes and has some deadly looking color patterns, some of which are incredibly realistic and natural looking presentations.
Bass love soft plastics under the ice too! And while crayfish imitating jigs aren’t really the choice bait to use on the ice, minnow imitation soft plastics that are used for open water fishing can have a place on the ice, all you need to do is think outside the box.
The Moxi is a great bait to use for hard water bass. The ribbed body section of the moxi adds a ton of natural vibration to the lure, and the curly tail does an excellent job of both creating a pulsing vibration along with giving the bait a natural visual presentation.
Add in some awesome two-tone color patterns and you have a winning combination. Hook it onto a small standard jig and work those bass until they eat.
No ice fishing lure list would be complete without at least one spoon. The Northland Tackle O-shot spoon is our pick for hardwater bass.
A newer offering in the Northland Tackle lineup. The O-spoon has a pretty unique shape and design compared to other ice fishing dedicated spoons, and is very different from their other offerings like the buckshot spoon.
One unique feature of the O-shot is the inline glow stick, charging the stick with a flashlight will create an enticing glow, but due to the nature of the spoons, having a colored metallic finish, the spoon simultaneously throws off a ton of flash due to the glow, particularly in low light.
The S-curve design of the spoon gives it an awesome and unique action, and the colors offered by Northland are awesome.
Ice Fishing Tips for Bass
Want some tips for catching bass through the ice? In this section, we will go over some time tested tactics and tips to help you catch Bass.
Fish the Green Stuff
Many weed beds consists of brown and dead weed growth as we come into the winter months. Some areas of submergent vegetation can remain green and healthy even after the lakes are covered in ice.
Finding these green weed pockets or beds is a sure fire way to find fish, as they prefer them over the dead weed growth which no longer give off oxygen.
One thing I love to do when ice fishing that I don’t see many anglers do is experiment. There are many lures on the market for open-water fishing that can be used in ice fishing.
Rattle baits, even those not dedicated to ice fishing can be awesome baits. Paddletail swimbaits, casting spoons, and believe it or not, even some sinking crankbaits can perform well in a jigging situation.
When you experiment and think outside of the box, you can find lures that work effectively and present lures that other anglers aren’t, thus giving you an advantage on the ice.
Lure and Live Bait Combo Meal
If you fish with live bait on tip-ups, you can add a little something extra to the presentation.
One method is to tie a spoon to the end of your line and hook a shiner through the back like you would normally. When the minnow swims around it wobbles the spoon creating extra flash.
Author Note: You can also tie on a spoon and add a short length of line to the treble, this will give you additional attraction, adding more flash and color to call fish in from larger distances.
A good way to get the attention of nearby cruising bass it to “rip jig.” Rip Jigging in fast pumping jigging motions covering several feet of the water column will not only put out a ton of flash or color, but also a ton of vibration.
This will call in any actively feeding bass from longer distances, and if you couple it with pounding the bottom and turning up the silt, you can contact more fish.
Fish Head Platter
When jigging spoons, take a dead minnow from your bucket and squeeze off its head with your finger nails and add it to the treble hook.
“Gross, why not just use a knife?” Squeezing the head off releases more fluids, which means more scent. Fish like bass are keen on scent, more so than other predators like pike, and the real fish head on the spoon creates a more realistic and enticing snack for the fish.
Switch up your Cadence
Fish can be very finicky from one day to the next, and to trigger their feeding reactors in their brains you have to adapt.
Start with a standard jigging cadence, and see how the fish respond, from their you can tailor it to see what they respond to the best.
It could be a rapid “jig, jig, pause.” Or it could be short and fast popping jigs until they eat. Finding out the cadence they respond to the best on any given day will result in more caught fish.
Flashers are Epic
When trying to change your cadence to trigger fish as mentioned above, using a flasher is a huge help.
Once you become an expert in using flasher sonar units, you can read the mood of the fish and its body language simply by viewing the little strobing light that is the fish.
Active fish will pulsate more on a flasher than neutral fishing with neutral to negative feeding moods. This pulsing is the fish moving its fins, and having a more aggressive body language.
It’s pretty crazy when you pick apart small details in fishing with a flasher, and it’s amazingly effective.
While overlooked by many ice anglers who fish for species like pike or walleye unless they are caught by accident, bass can be incredibly fun to catch through the ice, they are abundant in numbers, meaning you can catch alot in a single outing, and they fight hard.
Using the baits on this list will undoubtedly help you catch hard water bass, and couple with the tips and tricks in this article, you will be out smashing bucketmouths and bronzebacks in no time.