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Veteran fishing guide, Tom Neustrom, Believes We Can All Go Heavier

While it seems like ice anglers are generally going lighter in line test whether they using braid, mono, or fluoro, veteran fishing guide and National Freshwater Hall of Famer, Tom Neustrom hums a different tune.

“I really don’t think upsizing in line test has as big an impact on catch rates as we’ve been led to believe. I don’t think walleyes are that line-shy on most waters,” offers Neustrom.

 “If you fish 6 pound mono or fluoro, try 8; if you fish 8, try 10. You don’t get as much stretch in the mono, but for some reason, I think you get more bites. I started using 10-pound last season in areas where I used to use 6- and 8-pound test and it never hurt me in any way at all, in terms of the numbers of walleyes I caught.”

Neustrom fishes 28”-32” St. Croix CCI walleye technique-specific ice rods and 500 to 1000 size reels for his typical jigging spoon and glide bait set-up, two key walleye approaches he utilizes through most of the season.

Jigging Spoon Set-Up

“I just like 10 pound fluorocarbon or mono for fishing jigging spoons and mid- to larger-size ice baits tipped with whole live minnows, their head, or tail. In the places I fish, walleyes don’t come up and look at the bait. They smash it regardless of heavier line. The nice thing about up-sizing line is you’ve got some muscle. If you hook into a bigger fish your chances of losing it are very slim when you’re running 10-pound. You also don’t get as many pike bite-offs. I land almost all the pike I hook while fishing walleyes,” offers Neustrom.

Glide Bait Set-Up

On a second walleye ice stick, Neustrom keeps a glide bait on-the-ready, either a Northland Puppet Minnow or Jigging Rap. For glide baits, he keeps his reel spooled with 10-pound braid attached to a tiny barrel swivel and a section of 10-pound fluorocarbon leader. The swivel is critical if you’re fishing glide baits to prevent line twist.  

Don’t Make This Mistake

“I think a lot of ice anglers make the mistake of stripping all the line off their reels and re-spooling. It’s really not necessary. You’re wasting countless yards of line. All you need to strip off is 20- to 30 yards of line, which makes the line you buy go a lot farther. Attach the new line to the old line as backing with a slim line-to-line knot like the double-uni and you’re in business,” advises Neustrom.

This practice allows changing fresh line every couple weeks of ice fishing possible several times off one retail spool.

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