When it comes down to finding an auger that suits your personal fishing needs, size really does matter. Every company out there offers a selection of sizes that will fill the needs of individual anglers, the question is, what size works for you. Full disclosure, as most readers out there already know, I work to promote Jiffy ice augers. I run strictly propane due to the harm ethanol inflicts on engines, specially small engines like those mounted on augers.
Hand augers are nice at first ice, but when you drill 30 to 150 holes a day, they get old really quick. So for the sake of this article, going to talk strictly about what power augers have to offer. While the drill operated augers are cute, I haven’t seen one where the batteries last longer than a season or two of steady ice fishing, so again, for the sake of this piece, going to stick with the traditional style power auger.
Six, 8 or 10 inch? Since most companies offer these three sizes, I am going to make the discussion centered on these options. They are good ones, and will suit the needs of just about every angler that loves to ice fish. Each one has a niche, or a purpose when considering the type of fishing and fish you are going to be pursuing.
First size for discussion is the 6 inch. For panfish, there is not a better size when it comes to cutting holes. Bluegill, crappie and perch will fit through the hole with ease. In those rare cases where the fish is bigger than the hole, they can be worked up to the surface with a little effort. If you want to get involved in tournaments that are dedicated to panfish, no other size readily available for the consumer, will go through the ice as fast as a 6 inch cutting system. With my Pro4 propane auger, equipped with the STX blades, there isn’t a standard auger on the market that will drill as fast as me while keeping on top of the panfish during a tourney.
The 8 inch auger is the catch-all size, a hole size for all applications….sort of. For the “Average Joe”, the 8″ will do everything you want it too for just about all applications. Lets say you are the weekend warrior type, you drill a few holes for panfish, maybe chase a few inland lake walleye, or set some tip-ups for 35 inch or smaller pike. As good as the “8″ sounds, it does have its limitations and also a bonus for a specialized tourney tactic.
The 8 inch hole will allow you to bring walleye up to the surface on any body of water, but depending on the tactic, it can be undersized. On big bodies of water, the fish can be much bigger, and getting a 30+ inch walleye turned around can be difficult. Difficulties often lead to losing fish right at the bottom of your hole. You can see the size, you get teased, then it is off the hook and swimming away. Also, if you are using an oversized bait, or heavy one because you are fishing in deep water, you have to be extremely careful not to get the lure caught on the edge of the hole. Nothing is worse than seeing your fish pinned against the ice and you have little chance of getting it free without losing it.
The 8 inch does have a place in my panfish approach under a specialized approach to catching them. Sight fishing is the one time I want an 8″, doesn’t matter if I am fishing for fun, or tourney fishing, it makes the right sized hole for this method of fishing clean water lakes. If you haven’t been sight fishing, there is nothing like it unless you are using a camera. Inside a dark shanty, the water below the hole lights up like a TV screen, allowing you to watch your jig, the fish and even lets you adjust your approach to fit the mood of the fish. The eight inch hole just gives me a bigger television screen to look through. Often you pull your shanty from spot to spot, this is where my Pro4 Lite shines. Because the auger is lighter in weight, the combination of auger and dragging my coop around, doesn’t lead to any type of fatigue during a tourney, and I can keep on top of the fish during the allotted time slot. Would a bigger auger work even better, you bet, BUT the panfish purists/diehards will raise a fuss and you do have the extra weight to consider.
The BIG TEN INCH, ok as a kid…loved this Aerosmith song, and the reference could not be helped. When chasing the pigs; walleye, northerns, lakers or salmon, the 10 inch auger is a must. Just based on the size of the fish alone, begs that you use an auger that drills a hole big enough to get it on the ice with least amount of complications possible. Any such instance could lead to a fish coming unhooked, which means you either lost that wall mount or picture of a lifetime. Talking a little to home, when hitting Lake Erie, or taking that 2.5 hour trip to Saginaw Bay, the possibility of getting a bigger walleye is not out of the question. If you are using a #5 or #7 Jigging Rap, and a lot of fish were caught on them last year, they can get caught on the ice at the bottom of the hole. The 10 inch allows you some wiggle room to get that hog turned and heading up the hole.
Now that the discussion is coming to a close, don’t feel like you have to go out and buy three different augers. Like I mentioned, the 8 inch auger will get the job done for most of the ice fishing populations, but you still have some options if you want to specialize your approach a little bit. For an example, you go out and get a Pro4, 8 inch auger this year. Most companies will allow you to purchase the lower units/different sized augers after the initial purchase, I am not telling you which brand to buy, but I do love my propane augers ;) So staying with the example, you have some buddies who want to plan a couple of big water trips for walleye. You can order the 10 inch lower drill assembly direct from them, and now you have two augers in one. And because of Jiffy’s unique E-Z Connect Collar, switching the assemblies is a snap.
The second possible scenario could start with the 8″ again, or possibly the 10 inch. So you start with one of the bigger holes sizes, but you love your panfishing. Chasing or staying on top of panish is often the key to catching a limit and speed cutting through the holes is a must, you can order the 6 inch assembly with STX blades for this approach.
Point is you can have more than one auger if you wish, but you can have one auger to accomplish three different types of fishing, and cover all your bases and save yourself some coin in the process. It doesn’t hurt to have two augers at some point, but if you want one to do everything imaginable, there is your solution. Most importantly, have the equipment to fit your needs, and have fun catching some fish this winter through the ice. It really is a great sport and it offers some great chances for anglers to catch their fish of a lifetime.