SMALL FILE — MAX. WIDTH FOR PRINT: 5.8 INCHES — Undated courtesy photo, circa November 2023, of Holdersonice.com tip-down ice fishing rod holders, which react to the slightest bite of any fish, and helped catch this mess of perch and walleye, said inventor and owner Dwight Kurz, of Hackensack, Minn. (Courtesy of Holdersonice.com / Forum News Service)
HACKENSACK, Minn. — In a sport that has exploded with expensive technology in recent decades, like $400 battery-operated augers, $4,000 electronic fish-finding video-like sonar systems and $40,000 wheelhouse shelters, Dwight Kurz is hoping to sell you something far more basic: a better ice fishing rod holder for $23.99.
Readers may remember a Duluth News Tribune story on Kurz’s rod holders from 2019. This year, he received a U.S. patent on one of his holders, with patents for the others scheduled to be final in December.
“Now I’m more willing to invest the time and effort and money to make this go … to not have to worry as much about the pirates charging something by 10% and pushing me out,” Kurz said.
Kurz will be one of nearly 200 exhibitors — offering things to buy and places to go — at the Arrowhead Ice Fishing and Winter Show set for Dec. 8-10 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. He’ll also be at the St. Paul Ice Fishing and Winter Sports Show on Dec. 2-4. Kurz now has a new website, holdersonice.com, a Facebook page and someone handling his marketing.
“I’m still shipping them out of my garage,” Kurz said with a laugh.
The steel wire rod holders are zinc-plated, so they will never rust. They’re made at a factory in Elk River, Minn., and two models are intended for different applications.
This first is a “tip-down” model that holds the rod in a cradle easily tilted down by the slightest nibble of any fish. Then, anglers can grab the rod from the holder and set the hook.
The second model is more stable and intended to hold the rod no matter what pulls on the other end of the line.
“That one is perfect for kids because they can pick up the rod and the holder at once and reel it in. … They never have to take the rod out of the holder all day,” Kurz said.
The coil model, which easily locks the rod in so it can’t be lost down the hole, also comes with a wall-mount adapter for wheelhouse fishing shelters.
Kurz, 70, a retired banking and finance executive, is having fun trying to make Holdersonice.com (formerly called Tip-Down LLC) a player in the multimillion-dollar ice fishing industry.
“It really is amazing how much disposable income people are willing to put toward ice fishing, assuming we get cooperation from the weather,” Kurz said.
If you don’t make it to the ice fishing shows or don’t want to order online, Holdersonice.com rod holders are available at Marine General Sporting Goods in Duluth, Reeds in Walker and Joe’s in St. Paul, as well as at bait shops from Baudette to the Twin Cities.
What’s new in ice fishing this year?
It would have been hard to believe 30 years ago how far ice fishing has evolved and advanced today. Yet new stuff is constantly being thrown into the mix.
We asked Duluth News Tribune fishing columnist and gonzo ice angler and guide Jarrid Houston to fill us in on what’s new this winter for ice fishing gear with the companies that he reps for, including Clam Outdoors, JT rods and Northland tackle.
Clam has introduced a couple of new lures. Tikka Flash is a small minnow-style bait with a flashy spoon on the back that comes in three sizes and new color schemes. The Rattlin6′ PT spoon has a Pyrex glass chamber with loud BBs. The bait is a spoon-type lure and has painted vinyl hooks.
Northland Fishing Tackle has additions to tackle this year as well, including spoons in new colors. For the panfish enthusiast, Northland has introduced a new tungsten lateral type jig called “Tungsten Flat Fry.” It hangs horizontally to help with sonar pick-up and mimics a small forage fry. It also has a holographic 3-D eye to entice bites.
Tip-ups and gear
Clam has introduced the new Predator Tip Up created in part by fellow Northlander Caleb Wistad, of Spooner, Wis., that has either an automatic hook set retrieve (illegal in Minnesota, legal in Wisconsin) or a traditional flag setup.
Clam also has a battery-operated rechargeable hand warmer that lasts up to 15 hours on a single charge.
Popular companies like St. Croix, Thorne Brothers and JT Outdoors continue to develop new products, including the 44-inch hole-hopping JT Outdoors “Shiver Stick” for both panfish and walleyes.
By now, most people are familiar with forward-facing sonar technology. Machines like Garmin’s Panoptics/Livescope, Humminbird’s Mega Live and Lowrance’s ActiveTarget have made a giant impact on the market. In fact, they may be so good that they attract some legal restrictions in the future to limit the catch.
But there is still a place for regular sonar technology, like Vexilar. A few years ago, Vexilar came out with broadband technology and units like the FLX28 and FLX-30 are still great for seeing where fish are and how they react.
If you go
What: St. Paul Ice Fishing and Winter Sports Show
Where: St. Paul RiverCentre, 175 Kellogg Blvd.
When: Dec. 1-3
More info: stpaulicefishingshow.com