Where to even begin.
I cruised nearly every aisle at the ICAST today, and found a pile of new products that I felt were noteworthy. Two and a half days is hardly enough time to adequately cover the show, and it'll literally take months to generate a content schedule to bring the latest and greatest to Bassmaster.com.
But we're going to try.
One of my favorites was Humminbird's new Ice Helix 7.
Yes, a set of ice fishing electronics. I'm from the great Northland, and I grew up spending my frozen winters drilling holes in hardwater. (Don't knock it until you've tried it.) A common misconception is that bass are pretty inactive when the water is that cold, but nothing could be further from the truth. There is plenty of exciting bass fishing to be had once the lakes freeze over, I promise.
In fact, you want to talk about fun? Try battling a 6-pounder on a 24-inch ultra-light rod and 4-pound test -- then squeeze that fat sucker through an 8-inch hole. Trust me, it's a good time.
For years, we used traditional flashers to aid in catching fish through the ice. Recently, northern wintertime anglers have been implementing 2D sonar as their eyes beneath the surface, and it's proven to be a ground-breaking technique in being successful on the hard water. Maybe "ice breaking" is a better term ... I digress.
The Helix 7 offers the hardcore ice bass fanatic a dual-screen option where you can watch both a tradional (digital) flasher and adjacent to 2D sonar. The power of the sonar is the history the screen provides, which further adds to determining the fishs' mood and isolating a pattern. You can literally see a fish come in, look at your bait and eat it if he's interested, or swim away if not.
It's a very powerful tool for ice fishermen.
To further the value of this new unit, the company figured out a way to greatly reduce, if not eliminate interference that occurs when multiple units are pinging at the same time in a close location. For example, if you and buddy are in a Frabill ice house, and you're both using electronics, sonar interference is a common problem. It doesn't necessarily make the fishing impossible, but it is an irritating factor that I've always accepted as normal in the ice-fishing game.
Humminbird eliminated the festering frustration, and made plucking big bass through a small hole even more comfortable atop a frozen sheet of lake water.
Factor in full usage of GPS, LakeMaster mapping, CHIRP and other "cool" features, it's safe to say this is the most technologically advanced ice-fishing unit on the market.
The Helix 5 runs $499.99 and the 7 goes for $649.99.
Next time I'm home in Minnesota, I hope it's during winter. I plan on laying the smack down with a Helix 7.