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Finesse on the Ice

Finesse on the Ice

In winter it happens that perch under certain conditions are taking lures very delicately. Even using an ultra light ice fishing rod it's almost impossible to detect the moment when they are mouthing your bait. They are lazy, just touching and smelling your lure but not taking. There are plenty of winter lures on the market.

Most of them are beautiful. They are catching the eye of the anglers while shopping for ice fishing lures. Your Christmas tree will accept them but not winter perch. Especially when you are hunting for big ones.

If you are straggling on the ice trying to catch some winter perch try mormyshka. This will be your last hope. Russians are saying that mormyska was invented far east behind the Ural Mountains many years ago. Mormyshka imitates freshwater shrimp which exist in many rivers and lakes in Siberia and is a food source for many fish species. Somebody looked under water, observed the feeding behavior of fish and created the first small lead or copper lure. Later named it mormyshka. Till now Russians are real experts in catching fish on mormyshka. Later everybody got crazy about mormyshka. Mormyshka became very popular in Scandinavia and now in North America. In Canada it was introduced by emigrant anglers from eastern Europe. In many European countries it is illegal to use live minnows during ice fishing. That pushed anglers to improve their skills and to find the right techniques and lures.

Ice fishing for crappie with mormyshka

Ice fishing for crappie with mormyshka

For years none of the really good mormyshkas were available on the North American market. Finesse mormyshkas where still brought by European anglers from visits to their home countries. The ice fishing market was dominated by colorful imitations of mormyshka with Aztecs paintings.

There is no doubt that the best mormyshkas are from Europe. They come in countless shapes. They have different angles, cuts, sizes and materials that they are made of. Try to play with moromyshka in the clear tall container full of water (for example bottle) and you will understand why mormyshka is so fascinating. Now look at your lure with perch eyes...

Almost every mormyshka needs different amplitude and different strike indicators for the best performance.

After many years experimenting with hundreds of ice fishing lures I can say that if perch are not taking, the only lure which will be successful will be the mormyshka. You can use many lures and catch perch when you locate big hungry schools. But it is really an art to catch them while nobody else on the ice does it.

The main destination for perch during ice fishing season is Lake Simcoe. Usually perch are easy to catch. But there are dead days when you will find that fish are difficult to come by. This is usually after periods of heavy fishing pressure. Schools of perch may have moved to deeper parts of the lake and to catch them with lead or copper mormyshka will be more difficult. To drop your mormyshka to more than 35 feet of water you will lose time. It will sink slowly... There is a solution for using micro lures like mormyshka in deep water.

Take tungsten mormyshka which is much heavier but still small. Tungsten is a heavy metal. It is also known as wolfram or wolframite. To learn more about tungsten follow this link.

The main difference between tungsten mormyshka is that it plummets faster than the ones made out lead. This is due to the higher density of the material the tungsten mormyshka.

This means first of all that the tungsten mormyshka - plummet reaches the required depth quicker. Just this one quality justifies its use, especially for fishing in deep water. Under those circumstances the rate that it drops is crucial.

Tungsten mormyshka quickly become number 1 in your perch arsenal. There are also available in many shapes and colours. Some of them are epoxy coated and the most important thing they go down like bullet putting you in the strike zone faster.

Mormyshka knot - how to tie mormyshka

  • Click to enlarge image mormyshka-knots.jpg

Ice fishing gives you opportunity for experiments. You can try different set ups and rig combinations. For example you can use two mormyshkas on one line. One tied and one sliding free on your line. Usually I tie the heavier one to the bottom of my rig and the smallest I leave "playing free" on the line. The small one will sink much slower. If you like to keep a certain distance between your mormyshka's use stopper or the smallest split shot. This combination will alllow you to fish different depths at one time. I have also found very effective another combinations: mormyshka and a fly. Mormyshka on the bottom and fly higher. Both rigs are often producing double headers. Is not uncommon that you will be catching jumbos on mormyshka or fly.

In Europe mormyshka is used with blood worms on the hook. Blood worms are impossible to find in Ontario. To make your mormyshka more attractive use maggots, wax worms or just tiny piece of soft plastic or rubber. Mormyshka also works with a minnow. Perch and crappie can't refuse it.

Fishing with mormyshka requires strike indicators attached to the tip of a rod. Strike indicators are made from many different materials. In the past the most sensitive indicators used be made of the hair from a wild bore. Nowadays good strike indicators are easier to find in the fishing tackle stores. Even the most sensitive rod with the ultra light tip will not replace a good strike indicator for finesse fishing with mormyshka.

For the best under water mormyshka action use thin lines. Don't go too thin. On windy days your line will tangle all the time. For example for Lake Simcoe winter perch you don't have to go with extremely thin line like 0.008mm diamater line. 0.10-0.14 diameter line are optimum choice for most available mormyshkas on the market.

Around the world during ice fishing tournaments mormyshka has always proved effective under bad conditons and very heavy fishing pressure.

Mormyshka Ice Fishing Rods

This type of ice fishing rod is also known as a palm rod, balalaika or mormyshka rod and is used across Europe for competition fishing. These short and finesse rods are supplied with a reel. However, the reel is used as a line storage only. You have to feel the line with your fingers and pull the line to land a fish.

Mormyshka Rods

Mormyshka Rod on Ice

Mormyshka rod setup

Mormyshka Rod Setup

Strike Indicators Selection

Fishing with mormyshka requires strike indicators attached to the tip of the rod. Strike indicators are made from many different materials.

Five most common strike indicators:

  1. Made of thin spring wire. Use: vertical jigging light spoons or heavy mormyshka. Good for perch.
  2. Stiff plastic hair style strike indicator. Use: jigging spoons or heavy mormyshka. Good for perch and whitefish.
  3. Needle shaped plastic, very good sensitivity.
  4. Made of x-ray film, very easy to make. Extremely sensitive. These are probably the best strike indicators. Not recomended for jigging spoons.
  5. Made of hair from wild boar. Super sensitive but breaks very easily.

Strike Indicators Types

Mormyshka Rod Balalaika Style

Mormyshka Rod Balalaika Style

Last modified onTuesday, 22 October 2013 18:13