We have come a long way since the Paleolithic days of the caveman where holes were made in the crudest of ways. In the past man had an extremely laborious and time-consuming task when there was a need for a hole, whether it be in the earth or through the ice. Thankfully, thousands of years later, someone finally realized that there had to be a better way.
Now, gas and battery-powered ice augers can make drilling your fishing holes a snap; however, in this article, we are going to discuss the perks of using a manual ice auger and give you a few tips to make your job easier.
Tips for Saving Your Strength...and Your Back When Drilling an Ice Fishing Hole
Let’s face it, using a manual auger requires physical exertion. If you wish to avoid overexerting yourself before you even get to drop your line then check out these potentially helpful tips.
Ice Auger Sharpness Counts
Would you shave your face with a dull razor? No, so why the heck would you try to drill through 6-12” of ice with a dull auger blade?
To ensure your blades stay sharp while you are on the ice, you can bring this cool handheld multi-purpose fishing knife along with your other gear. It is small and can fit inside a pocket so you don’t have to worry about lugging any extra heavy gear.
Think Small When Choosing a Manual Ice Auger
They say that you shouldn’t bite off more than you can chew, well the same goes for manual ice augers. Don’t get an auger that cuts a hole big enough to pull a whale through if you are trying to catch a Bass.
In most cases, a smaller hole will produce just as much as a large one and you don’t have to expel as much energy to drill a small hole. The only time you really need to have a larger hole is if you plan on going after some big fish such as Northern Pike or Walleye.
Think small and efficient; most holes don’t need to be more than 6” in diameter. Why make a bigger hole if you don’t need to. Here are a couple of examples of manual augers that are efficiently designed and easy to transport.
The OOKU Ice Fishing Manual Hand Auger Set is super handy because it folds in half and can be carried easily. It drills 6” holes and is ergonomically designed. This auger also has adjustable height options. It will fit great in your ice fishing sled.
The NISUS Iceberg Siberia Power Hand Ice Auger is another great option with good reviews. Its handle folds down for a more compact way of carrying and storing it. This particular model can drill either 4” or 5” holes so it’s great for catching smaller fish.
Skip the Guesswork – Know Where the Fish are Biting
When you get to the ice, don’t get all excited and just start drilling a bunch of random holes. There is a bit of science involved when it comes to drilling your holes and picking the right spot.
It’s no different than if you are open water fishing. You have to find the honey holes and tap them in the right spot or you will find yourself drilling a lot of unnecessary holes and wasting precious energy and time that you could have used to actually fish.
Learn the lay of the land, or in this case what the bottom of the lake looks like. Find the rocky spots, drop-off points, and weedy areas that fish like to hang out in. Knowing where the fish hang out will greatly increase your chances of actually catching them.
Sweat Can Quickly Ruin Your Ice Fishing Trip
You may not be thinking of this now but getting sweaty can be a big problem when you are out on the ice. Once you get out on that ice with all of your warm winter layers and start manually drilling multiple ice holes, you are going to sweat!
What happens when it is cold out and you are wet? You end up freezing your butt off and depending upon where you are you can run the risk of hypothermia or at the very least catch a bad cold.
Before you get all worked up, remove some of those layers. Yes, you may be chilly for a brief moment, but once you get crankin’ on that auger you will not feel the cold anymore. Once your holes are drilled, cool off for a moment before layering back up.
Keep the Ice Fishing Hole Clear
As you are drilling ice chunks and slush will accumulate. It is helpful to stop every so often and clear the debris from the hole. This will make it easier for you to continue drilling and also keep your blade from becoming dull as quickly.
It is also helpful to keep a shovel with you to clear any snow away from the drilling area. You can clear the ice hole with your skimmer as you are going along to keep your hands warm and dry.
Ice Drilling Is All About Posture and Stance
To get the best results while using a manual ice auger you must have the proper form and technique down.
If you are not standing correctly and applying your weight in the right way it will be very difficult and time-consuming for you to drill holes and most likely you will get frustrated and give up.
When you pick a spot to drill, stand straight up with your auger at chest height. Make any adjustments if necessary at this time.
Be sure that you have a strong footing and apply steady pressure as you drill down and do your best to avoid hunching over. Let your arms and the blade do the work.
How to Use a Manual Ice Auger
The Benefits of a Spud Bar
A spud bar can be a very helpful tool when you are ice fishing. Keeping one of these close by can save your life and make things easier. Before even getting on the ice it is a really good idea to check its thickness and durability with your spud bar.
You can use it as you are walking to be sure you are not going to fall through any unexpectedly thin areas. You can use a spud bar to help you walk across ice that has no snow covering. It can be used to rough up the ice around where you are using your manual auger to give you better traction as you drill and it can help poke through ice holes.
As an added safety measure get a spud bar that has a loop at the end where you can tie a rope. In the event that someone falls in you can throw them the rope and pull them in.
Here is an example of what a spud bar looks like. A spud bar is just another word for an ice chisel. They are typically between 4-6 feet long.
Manual Ice Augers Have Many Merits
Now that you have learned some helpful tips to make manually drilling ice holes easier you are ready to get out there and catch some fish. The other advantages of using a manual ice auger are that you don’t have to worry about carrying a super heavy gas or battery-powered one and there is no loud noise to scare the fish or ruin the peace and quiet that you are enjoying as you fish.
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