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Why Jig Color Matters While Ice Fishing

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Year-in and year-out, ice fishing anglers always have their trusted jigs at the ready.

When ice fishing, you're stationary above the fish you're targeting. All you have to do is get your lure in front of the fish, which means finding the right depth. That's why jigs are so popular. No matter the depth of the fish you're after, a jig allows you to get there.

Jigs also pair well with live bait, especially while ice fishing. Once you've got your live bait selected, you're just a color choice and style away from the perfect presentation.

If you've got the right color of jig tied to the other end of your line, then you are much more likely to have a successful ice fishing outing that will make your fishing buddies want to know your secrets.

Pick jig colors fish love.

Why does color matter so much? Because when you're out there trying to catch more fish than the next guy three shacks down (and all the other people in between), you've got to take every advantage you can get.

Share the Outdoors has a very thorough post that covers six factors for selecting what jigs to throw in your tackle box that can make or break an ice fishing outing.

To summarize, those factors are:

  1. Water color: Go with primary colors and natural colors in clear water. Share the Outdoors recommends white, black, brown, gray, olive and beige.
  2. Snow cover: Basically, the more snow cover there is, the brighter colors you can choose. A glow orange is popular with lots of snow and thick ice. Glow blue and glow chartreuse could work well, too.
  3. Water depth: Natural colors are best in shallow water. Pick a bright-colored jig when the water is deeper. Although, duller colors could do well even if the water is deep if the sun is shining or if the ice is trending a little thinner.
  4. Time of day: Before and after sunrise or sunset, pick a glow color. During the day, you may want to select your color based on the other factors here.
  5. Fish mood: If the fish are aggressive and are ready to bite anything that crosses their path, go with bright, highly visible colors. Or, if the fish are leaning more lethargic, you will probably want duller, more natural colors.

Share the Outdoors goes into a lot more detail on how to best pick colors. Consider checking out their post on ice jig colors.

Consider the fish you're trying to catch.

When choosing a jig color for ice fishing, you should also consider what type of fish you're looking to catch.

Are you angling for crappie? Crappiefisher.com suggests bringing a bright-colored jig (i.e. orange, white, pink), a more natural color (i.e. darker hue of green, brown, black) and a chartreuse jig.

Perhaps you're looking to land walleye. Well, according to In-Fisherman, then you may want to consider carrying green, orange and red colors. Walleyes actually see these colors best, specifically when it's light outside. In clearer water, because walleyes don't see as much color unless there's a lot of light, pick up a green or chartreuse jig for walleyes. In somewhat clear water, go with red or orange.

However, as In-Fisherman notes, walleyes don't really see color well unless there's lots of light. If there's not much light out, In-Fisherman recommends going with gold and something silver to match possible bait fish that could be present.

Look to Hennings Tackle to stock up on jigs.

Hennings Tackle has a perfect selection of ice fishing jigs. We carry many of the colors mentioned above, too, so you're good to go on that front.

Our partners over at Crystaleyes Fishing out of southwest Minnesota also have a great variety of high-quality, individually created jigs. Make sure to tell them Hennings Tackle sent you in the "special instructions for seller" section of the shopper cart on their website.

Before you go, know your ice fishing basics.

If you're new to ice fishing, then find a friend who can show you the ropes. There's some specific equipment needed to have a successful - and somewhat warm - ice fishing outing, so it's best to see what you can borrow from friends your first time out.

TakeMeFishing.org has a detailed beginner's guide that you can reference to make sure you have a good first ice fishing experience.

Stay safe on the ice.

Keep in mind that the ice thickness is going to play a large role in whether or not you can even head out on the lake. Before you go, make sure you know how thick the ice is.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, it's not recommended to go out on frozen lakes on foot until the ice is 4 inches thick or thicker. Once the ice is 5 to 7 inches thick, you can take snowmobiles and ATVs on the lake. The ice should be at least 8 to 12 inches thick for small cars and small pickup trucks and at least 12 to 15 inches thick for lager pickup trucks.

Here are some other ice safety tips from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, including:

  • New ice is normally safer than old ice.
  • There's safety in numbers. Other people can get help should an emergency occur.
  • Snow on the lake ice slows insulates the surface and slows down freezing.

Contact Hennings Tackle for your fishing needs.

No matter the time of year, reach out to us at Hennings Tackle for your fishing tackle needs. Our story started with the Mini Walley Spins we created eight years ago, but we've got some great ice fishing jigs and colors available, too.

You can also see if our jigs and other products are available at fishing tackle dealers near you. Look for Hennings Tackle products at dealers in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

If there's no dealer listed near you - don't worry. We encourage you to browse our catalog (PDF) and order online.