After getting caught a little unprepared for my first trip onto the ice last week, it was time to get the rest of the gear prepped and ready to go for the season. This meant taking an evening to spool and attach all my reels and rods together for the year. In past years, I would normally take all my spools that I wanted to get new line on down to Cabela's to have them put the line on with the line winding machines they have in the fishing department.
When I worked there, it was so easy to get line on a lot of reels quickly and evenly with those machines. I was kind of a hassle sometimes, especially if I had everything I need to do it at home, but putting line on required two people to hold the line and reel it on. But last year, my wife got me the Berkley's Portable Line Spooler kit to make it easier to put line on at home.
It worked great last season and still worked great this year, though you might want to remember which direction to spool the line on when using a drill to wind the line. I messed up on the first two spools and had to redo both, which is a pain to do and just eats up more time.
After solving the line direction issue, I finished spooling up the rest of the reels with 3# and 4# Berkley Fluorocarbon Ice line and 8# FireLine Ice. I've used Berkley line for a number of years and both the open water and ice lines have rarely ever let me down. Most people don't use fluorocarbon line on an entire spool, but I've found that the line will last all season, sometimes two, provided it receives some attention once in a while.
I don't have many issues with memory, the line is tough for fish to see in the water due to the invisibility properties of fluorocarbon, and I get good hook sets, thanks to little stretch in the line. There are other good lines out there and plenty of debate to go around with what's the best. It just comes down to personal preference and my preference is Berkley line.
After the spooling was finished, most of my rods do not have reel seats, so they have to be attached to the rods. Electrical tape used to the standard for attaching reels to rods, but it leaves a gooey mess on the handle at the end of the season, plus it can rip pieces of cork off those with cork handles.
If you've invested a lot of money in quality ice rods like I have, you want to protect your investment while securing the reel to the rod. I started using Cold Snap Wraps from Cold Snap Outdoors several years ago to attach the reels and they are a purchase I make every year now, no questions asked.
The wraps keep the reels secure where I put them, they don't snap in the bitter cold, and I've found that they transmit light bites very well to my hand when I pistol-grip a rod. Plus, one tube has enough wraps for four combos, which is a great deal for $5 a tube. If you're tired of the gooey mess from tape or don't want your expensive rods to get damaged, be sure to check out Cold Snap's website and pick a color from their wraps. You won't regret going to them.
After a full evening, I'm happy to say that all ice preparations are now complete and I am fully ready for the rest of the season. The great cold weather that has descended across most of the ice belt has lakes freezing and adding inches of ice as we speak.
Be sure to find out about ice conditions in your area before you go out and bring out the spud bar and other safety equipment if you venture onto the first ice. No fish is worth falling through the ice for. So enjoy the preparations and be safe as we hit the ice in force.