For less than what I spent last summer on a 7' carbon-fiber rod and baitcast reel I got enough gear to cut a hole in the ice and catch fish.
- 24" Clam brand Ultra-Light rod and reel combo
- 26" Clam brand Light rod and reel combo
- Northland 2# test Ice line
- An assortment of spilt-shot sinkers
- 5-Gallon bucket
- 5-Gallon bucket gear caddy
- A pair of ice cleats (you CAN walk on ice without snow without them but you'll fall down a lot more often)
- A pair of needle-nose pliers for the ice gear bucket. (I have one in my tackle bag and my wading chest-bag)
- Frabill spring-bobber set (more on those later)
- A pair of depth finder weights (more on these later too)
- An 8" Lazer hand auger
- And a jig-box which I filled (not exactly full mind you) with jigs, and plastics
The spring bobber is a strike indicator. Instead of floating on the surface this "bobber" is a spring that the line passes through at the very tip of the rod. When a fish takes your jig the orange tip at the very end of the spring bends down. It seemed foreign to me until I saw it then it made perfect sense; the tip stays pretty much straight while you jig then it noticeably bends when the load of a fish is applied. It's a very sensitive way to tell you should raise your rod and reel in a fish.
Depth finder weights are a simple clamp-on weight that clamps to your jig. You lower the weight through the hole in the ice until it hits bottom. Now you can reel the rod down to the surface of the water and slowly lift up. You can measure how much line is out by comparing where the weight is with your height. If it's not out of the water yet carefully reel down to the surface and stand back up again.
Like I said from the beginning, ice gear doesn't have to be expensive. I have enough now to make a nice hole in the ice, then locate, and catch fish.
I got off cheap.