No matter what we did, the bluegill wouldn’t bite. We could see them. We were peering down the hole in the three-foot, ultra-clear water but the bluegills were circling the wagon’sx’Er the ice jigs.
"Can you see them, Poppee", I yelled. "Yeah and they don’t want to bite", he yelled back. We tried everything that day and had only managed a few for the pan. If you’ve never peered down the hole in ultra-clear water, you haven’t lived,...’Er fished. You’ll need a good dark tent to see clearly. We like the Frabill Trekker series, the black Arctic Armor of the Trekker shields you from all light penetration and the flip-over design, lets you change spots and move easily.
Later on the drive home, the cell phone rang. It was my buddy, Mr. Bluegill, an outstanding ice-fishing guide from Oshkosh Wisconsin. We lamented our problem and he had a solution. It was a double rig.
There are many variations of the double rig so lets go over a few, since they will help you catch more fish this winter. The simplest double rig consists of a jig on the bottom with a tight lined hook up above, this is also called a dropshot rig.
It’s a good idea to have some rigs tied and ready as well as a few rigs on different rod and reel combos. We’ll use our new favorite rod and reel combos that we help designed for Frabill the 26" Quick Tip Ice Hunter Combo has everything we need in a rod and reel for the panfish and is perfect for shallow or deep water presentations. We like to add their spring bobber to the tip, it snaps on easily and a line feeder (to get line through the tip) is included.
Let’s check out some of our favorite double rigs.
Our heavy combo is a dopshot double rig and it consists of a heavier jig tied to the mainline with a smaller size hook about 6-8 inches above tied with a palomer knot so that the hook rides out horizontally. We’ll use a size 16 or a size 18 hook. We like the wide gap fly hood with a straight eye and a longer hook shank, since it is easy to remove from a fish. We’ll put a Custom Jigs & Spins Wedgee on this hook. It floats freely on the hook and panfish can’t resist it.
Our heavyweight jig is a Custom Jigs & Spins Gill Pill, Diamond Jig, Ratso or Shrimpo. These are heavier headed jigs for their size than traditional teardrops and this helps to keep your line tight. This jig is used instead of a dropshot weight and it gives you double action.
If the bite is really off and the fish suck the lure in and spit it out before you can react, you can tie a 1-2" length or dropper line and use that in place of the tight-lined fly and Wedgee hook. With this in use, the fish will suck the Wedgee in and set the hook on themselves. It is best to use 3-4 lb. on the dropper and 2 lb. on the main line. The heavier line will keep the hook away from the mainline and also keeps it from tangling.
This is the rig that Mr. Bluegill told us that we needed on our tough day.
You can use heavy jigs for the aforementioned method or you can go light. Our lightweight combo consists of that same Wegee/fly hook but with a Demon, Poppee or 2-Spot (which are Custom Jigs & Spins traditional teardrops) as the bottom jig. This combo is really effective on big bluegill.
The last double rig technique is to use a two to three inch length of 3 to 4 lb. test line tied to the head of your jig. You can mix it up and use waxworms or spikes on the jig and plastic on the hook or visa versa.
This is a very effective combo to use in the weeds since a heavier jig will allow you to "pound it down" through the weeds and then fish will have two offerings once it gets into the strike zone, which is at the open area in the bottom of the weed stalks.
Double rigging is a very effective technique for panfish though the ice. Use it this winter and you just might catch a few more fish each time out. Tie up a few rigs and experiment, you might just develop of great double rig of your own!
Walt & Poppee Matan have developed dozens of styles of jigs for Custom Jigs & Spins over the years. Custom Jigs & Spins is the largest manufacturer of ice jigs in the world; chances are you’ve got a few in your tackle box!