This seems to be the big debate the last few years in the ice fishing world, so this is my take on it.
As far as spinning reels, love my Daiwa’s but when it comes to fishing for panfish through the ice they pull limited duty in the arsenal. For myself, these get used in deep water while targeting crappie. I want to get the jig down to where the fish are as fast as possible, sometimes they are hugging the bottom, sometimes they are suspended six or seven foot from the bottom. That’s it, only application for me that fits in my methods.
That said, I would tell a new person to the sport, that they are ok for one or two fish at the start of fishing, after that the line becomes too twisted….unless. Don’t you just love these little stipulations that get thrown into my articles? Its just because there almost always exceptions to the rules and I like to try to be fair and balanced without insulting folks. OK, back to the unless….Unless, you pull the line out of your rod tip while fishing in shallow water bites, and for this point, I would call shallow water twelve foot or less. Pulling out your line is a good idea for several reasons, for line twist which I think is on everyone’s mind, it helps the jig unwind the twist while slowly going down the hole. After a while it wont matter, the line is always going to spin your jig. Another good reason for doing it is that the slow approach to where the fish are won’t be as likely to spook the fish. Wind, that natural breath of ice, not only will will it make your neck cold, but will also blow light line off your reel and make a mess.
The Schooley Reel, made in Michigan and will cost you at the most six bucks. Add in a simple modification to make this hidden gem more functional (Schooley Modification) and it might cost you $2 for the Fuji eye and a buck for some crazy glue. Read it, you will understand. Now, to get away from that shameless plug, back to the reel. The original tightline reel, and might add, the first choice of numerous tourney champions. Again, I am using the method of pulling the line out through the rod tip, or if you prefer, spring bobber. You can actually “undwind” a Schooley to let the line out, but when using really light jigs, the line can get wrapped around…well you name it. The spring, the reel itself or even the fuzz coming off your woolen gloves. This does work for deeper water with a heavier jig, or when fishing inside a shanty.
Sidenote: You can remove the spring if you really want a “free-fall reel”, but it will take some practice setting the hook, a bass fishing exaggerated hookset will be a catastrophe!
Am I biased in my addiction to these nylon reels, you bet. There are less parts to screw around with, they work in any condition Mother Nature can throw at you and most importantly, they don’t add twist to your line. Let all the fish do that for you! There is a side bonus, you can get 15 to 20 reels for the cost of one of these new fab contraptions 🙂