Bruell Spearing Decoys

Made in Minnesota.  If you spear northern pike and lake trout, you are nobody without a Bruell in your bag of decoying tricks.   We have a few left in stock and after looking them up on the net, we are at about half price with ours!    Time to add a few or a bunch to your collection!  Click Here (Sold Out as of 1-21-2016)

Bruell Spearing Decoys

Bruell Spearing Decoys

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Polar Fire Vortex 40 – New Thermal Pop-up Ice Shelter

HT produced a new tent in their Polar Fire line called the Vortex 20 & 40.   It’s a really nice, affordable, roomy thermal tent.

I like HT products.  I would say most of their many lines are affordable and very reliable gear.  I use it myself all the time.  Sure they have some cheaper rods and reels as well as other products but they also have more premium products for less-than-premium prices.  And, they work great!

This is the Polar Fire Vortex 40, thermal, pop-up, ice shelter.  It is probably made in the same factory that a whole bunch of different brand pop-up shelters come from and those factories have really become good at making pop-ups.  We’ve sold literally thousands of pop-ups in many different brands.   When you start comparing them, a pop-up is a pop-up is a pop-up.  So, being stuck on a brand name is kind of worthless – but that doesn’t stop our customers from being hung up on a name.  In our long history, we’ve had the most trouble with the biggest name in the ice fishing industry and also with the most-unknown name as well.   They were equal as far as problems were concerned.   So, when I hear someone say, “I don’t know that brand of pop-up”, I’m quick to point out that I actually do.  As a retailer and fishing enthusiast, I actually spend a lot of time with gear and am usually quite pleased, but not always.  Brand name recognition in pop-ups and ice fishing suits usually means you are going to pay more and get a little less tent.  That is not always the case, but I could name names.  It’s the same way in mountain bikes and fishing tackle.  Just because you don’t recognize the name Giant or Tica doesn’t mean they don’t produce a great product.  In other words, do not succumb to only your scope of knowledge in brand recognition when shopping.  If you know the item because a “fishing great” on TV told you all about it, it may or may not be the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Always keep that in mind for everything you buy.

And that is my shopping two cents for this post.

Here’s a video on this new Polar Fire Tent.

Order Your Polar Fire Vortex  2 & 4 man pop up here – limited supply

50-50 Local Rewards

50/50 Local Rewards Program for Instore Shoppers

50-50 Local Rewards

For our in-store customers, we are offering Red Rock 50/50 Local Rewards!

It’s simple and it’s FREE:

  1. Next time you come in to the store, sign up and receive a Red Rock 50/50   Card.
  2. Then, run around the store like a drunken sailor on payday and shop with abandon.
  3. At check out, if you spent over $50 you get one of seven markers on your card.
  4. Repeat 6 more times for a total of 7 markers.
  5. We give you $50 in Red Rock Store Bucks for your next visit to Red Rock where you can apply it for essentially “FREE” shopping!

It’s not hard to do.   Just have to take a trip out to Red Rock on the Fernberg road during our business hours.

December:  Daily 9 AM to 5 PM  Closed Sundays

Jan-April:  Open Tuesday – Saturday 9-5 , Closed Sundays and Mondays

When in doubt, give us a call at 218-365-4512.  Or, send us an email:

The Fine Print
Red Rock Wilderness Store reserves the right to modify or discontinue this rewards program as deemed necessary and at it’s sole discretion.   Only in-store credit applies as a reward.  No cash in any form is granted.  Earned Red Rock Store Bucks credit must be used in one shopping event.  Red Rock Store Bucks not used by November 30 of each year will be null and void.  Earned rewards must be used within the calendar year beginning December 1 of each year.  In other words,  there is a time limit of one year to earn the rewards and use up the store credit.  Credits do not carry over from year to year.

Ht Polar Fire Auger – Unrecognizable Brand – who cares!

New! HT Polar Fire Ice Auger!  Smooth runner, affordable price, compact design!


Have you checked out the prices on ice augers lately?  They are insane to say the least when you consider that you are simply making a hole in the ice and you look at all the other brand-name augers out there.  There are 2-stroke gas mix, 4-stroke straight gas,  propane and electric augers.  They all do the same thing.  They make a hole in the ice.  If they turn super fast with a single chipper style blade, you are wet from the knees down no matter what you do.  If they turn more slowly, they get accused of being “slow” whatever the heck that means in ice fishing.  I mean, does 5 seconds more really mean anything for the average ice fisherman seeking to have a good time?  Sure, if you are a Swiss Cheeser running around on the ice drilling grids and chasing perch and crappies it makes sense that you would want fast and light in a power auger.  I’ve watched the youtube videos of people racing to drill holes to prove auger superiority and shake my head.

That’s right up there with the most ball bearings in a fishing reel which happens to be the #1 standard for determining if a reel is valuable or not.  You can hear them in the aisles of a big box retailer telling their buddy – “Look! This reel costs $29.95 and has 14 ball bearings in it.  It HAS to be a good reel!”

Really?  Are you going to take the reel apart and count the bearings?  Do you actually know how to take it apart and reassemble it, and do you know what a bearing really looks like?  This isn’t a hub on a utility trailer in the back yard.  The whole “reel bearing obsession” is absolutely ridiculous and today’s fishermen are falling deeper into this silly line of reasoning.

The same thing applies to ice augers.  How fast do you need to drill when you are in under 24 inches of ice?   Many of our ice fisherman across the country are on 12 inches of ice and less.  Is 20 seconds to drill a hole, too long?  Does shaving off 3 seconds warrant a $500+ auger when you just want to go fishing on the weekends?

So, if you don’t need the smokeless nature of propane and electricity, you can trim a bunch cost off of your auger.  You can also find abundant fuel and gas 2 strokes, when you use premium 91 octane or higher gas in them start reliably and have plenty of power.  I ten to run my gas augers a little rich.  Another trick to eliminate smoke is to run Amsoil Saber Two Stroke synthetic oil after your motor is broken in.  That runs at 75 to 1 and replaces the gas with your regular two stroke fuel mix.

This is a really nice, cleanly made auger with the one exception of the “Extra Fuel Lever” on top of the powerhead.  If you pay attention and don’t let the handle fly like 80% of the desk pilots of the world do when starting a small engine, you’ll be fine.  If you let the recoil fly, you might tear this little lever off.  It’s a minor detail that won’t amount to a hill of beans if you can refrain from being a bull in a china shop.  And, I’ve seen plenty of well know auger brands with all sorts of parts sticking out  that were broken off.   Like I said, this is a very minor detail to this auger.  The way it runs and the low cost is very much worth not letting the recoil fly.  The blades are simple straight blades and interchange with Eskimo 8″ blades.

The other detail is starting the motor.  It’s a very geared-down, 33 CC power head and it is really easy to turn over.    I’ll be using this one all winter long this season.  I’m expecting that it will do quite nicely.   Watch the video here.

Order Your HT Power Ice Auger Right Here

Note that I am running slightly richer fuel mix than 40:1 since it’s a brand new motor, hence the blue smoke on throttle up.  Also, the clutch will reach maximum grip after about 2 hours of drilling time.  Expect a little bit of slippage until that time and back off of pushing hard into the ice.  Every auger I have ever used has done this.  After a couple tanks of gas, the motor will be broken in and usually the idle will then slow down a bit while speed and power will increase.  Every motor needs to break in.

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Shappell Ice Fishing Shelter Sale

We all know winter is coming so you need to be ready!  These are amazing Ice Fishing Shelters total blackout!  Hurry before supplies are gone.

Shappell Ice  House

Shappell Wide House 5500 Ice Shelter, easy-up and highly portable shelter for up to 3 fishermen!

Reg $ 199.95 Now Only $169.95

With up to 65% more fishable area than comparably-sized, comparably-priced shelters, the Wide House delivers roomy comfort than can only be described as presidential. It’s ready to fish, in a portable, easy-up package!

The deal:

  • Measures 6’3″ x 6’3″ x 5’7″ h., plenty of room for up to 3
  • Extreme-duty 600-denier polyester fabric
  • Easy set-up hub-style frame
  • 2 large easy-entry oval doors
  • 2 tool holders and 2 storage pouches for extra gear
  • Reinforced corner anchor points for added durability
  • High-visibility reflectors for added safety
  • Includes 4 ice anchors, tie-downs and carry case. Weighs 23lbs

Click here to order your 5500 Ice Shelter

Shappell Ice Houses

Shappell Ice Houses

Shappell Wide House 6500 Ice Shelter, easy-up extra roomy for up to 4 anglers!

Reg $299.95 Now Only $219.95

Packing 65% more fishable area than comparably-sized, comparably-priced shelters, the Wide House 6500 delivers roomy comfort that can only be described as presidential. It’s ready to fish, in a portable, easy-up package!

The deal:

  • Measures 8’6″ x 8’6″ x 6’8″ h., plenty of room for up to 4
  • Extreme-duty 600-denier polyester fabric
  • Easy set-up hub-style frame
  • 2 large easy-entry oval doors
  • 2 tool holders and 2 storage pouches for extra gear
  • Reinforced corner anchor points for added durability
  • High-visibility reflectors for added safety
  • Includes 4 ice anchors, tie-downs and carry case. Weighs 27 lbs.

Click here to order your 6500

K-Drill Auger vs. Nils Cordless Auger: The differences explained

Please give us a “like” and share this article with other interested parties.  It would be much appreciated. Thanks!

For the past several years now, many of those committed to making holes in the ice have been using various contraptions like the Nimrod to attach their hand auger to their cordless drill.  I swear that everybody and his brother has a cordless drill somewhere in their pile of tools.  It’s like a staple item in the must-haves of the tool world.

Some have had OK luck using hand augers for such drilling, but I have not. many years ago, I stuck the Nimrod attachment to a hand auger and it danced around on the ice making me take a much wider stance so as not to slice and dice my boots and toes.  I decided right then and there that we would not sell this particular device and despite competitor big boxes providing the world with less serious, but similar devices.  They really did no seem all that serious as an ice fishing tool.

Nils Cordless  (sold out for winter 2016)
Move forward from that time and Nils, the master auger maker of the world,  came out with the Nils USA Cordless Drill.  Nils’ cordless model is a really slick, simple unit that you stick into your drill and make a hole.  To prevent it from falling through the ice, Nils added a disk to the top of the auger that is bigger than the hole diameter because if you’ve ever used a cordless drill, you know how the chucks loosen up.  The cutting head on the Nils Cordless is colored black and the shaft is orange.  It is slightly less aggressive than the Nils hand auger (which is teal green with a red cutting head).  Incidentally, the teal/red Nils is the EXACT, SAME unit that is teamed up with the Tanaka 27 or 35 CC motor.  (When on the motor, despite all the misinformation out there, you do NOT need a Power Point to drill a hole when using the motor and there is no speed or any other difference offered by a Power Point, period.  But that is a different blog post.)canvas_0cb29828-3dc1-4b93-84fa-84da9f244310_1024x1024
Now here is the critical part about the Nils Cordless Auger:  
When your battery conks out on your drill due to subzero temps or if it is an older battery, you simply wingnut the included Nils auger handle and drill your holes with ease by hand.  If you’ve never used a Nils hand auger, you have no idea about how easy it is to drill relative to all other hand augers made.  Absolutely none compare to this auger.  They try, but they don’t even come close.  An 8″ Nils feels like a 5″ Strikemaster Lazer hand auger in the ice.  A 6″ Nils feels like a 3″ Strikemaster Lazer in the ice.  (for fishing smelt and eels – no such size, actually – merely illustrating)

How does a Nils (teal/red) auger compare to a Nils Cordless (orange/black) auger when used by hand?  We’ve tried them side by side and could not discern a difference.  If there was a difference in cutting speed in northern Minnesota ice on Jasper Lake, we didn’t see it.  In the 6″ size, both are blazing fast in 20 inches of ice.  The only difference it the length.  Nils Cordless only come in 42″ versions and the Nils hand (teal/red) is usually in 48″ lengths.  They have some 42″ shafts but they are harder to find.

Another difference between the Nils Cordless vs. the regular hand is that you CANNOT put the Nils Cordless on to a Tanaka engine. It has a drill-bit end where the Tanaka adapter would normally go.  Now if your Tanaka engine has a 1/2″ Jacobs chuck on it (they are gas powered drills after all), then you could used the Nils Cordless, but then in that case, not the Nils Regular hand auger.  In all cases, all Nils augers can be used with the included handle in case you run out of gas or your battery craps out.  To my knowledge, Nils is the only company who makes anything at all like this.

To sharpen a Nils, you remove the cutting head and send it to Frank Deluca to sharpen (get to this page and scroll down for his contact info).  It’s going to cost you about $25 at this writing.  If you don’t hit a reef, use your blade guard, or do dumb stuff like knock the ice off with a skimmer, a Nils blade will last a long time.  When you have Deluca re-sharpen it, you cut like a hot knife through butter.

K-Drill  (sold out for winter 2016 – they made like 4 of them, I figure)
This is a new system that has been in development for a number of years now and they finally brought them to market.  For a while, they needed a 36 volt Milwaukee cordless ($500+!!!!) to use this drill, but have perfected their blade system and the design.

This unit is made up of plastic flights (fins, flutes), an aluminum housing with highly specialized blades bolted on with two bolts each.  While I’m certain that they will do a good job in the ice, they do look a bit fragile as they are long and “wedge-like”.   As one who has professionally sharpened all sorts of regular auger blades from chippers to lazers and regular-straight (no Nils), I can see how these blades “could” be resharpened by me, but I really do not have the correct equipment to do them and I’m guessing that neither do you.  K-Drill offers “lifetime” blade sharpening on their blades – but don’t start jumping for joy just yet.  Turnaround time is three(3) weeks and for some of my readers that is all of ice fishing season for them.  They also sell replacement blades and at this writing I do not know how much they cost.

Some see the plastic flights as an issue, but I see them as abler to be replaced and allowing ice to be cracked off.  In order for the K-Drill not to be lost to the depths due to a cordless drill chuck loosening up, they use a foam float.

K-Drill has a vastly superior blade guard system over the Nils augers.

Comparisons – finally!
When you battery conks out with a K-Drill, you need to produce another battery or go home.  There is no handle option and I highly doubt there will ever be one based on the cutting head design of this unit.  There’s a lot of junk that needs to be pushed around to make a hole with this drill unlike the Nils which will do a stellar job at both.  Nils comes with a handle that you should bring along as a back up to the battery.

Both the K-Drill and the Nils drill a bunch of holes and both are available in 6″ and 8″ diameter.  Nils also has a 4.5″ diameter.  Nils recommends a 24 volt or higher drill for the 8″ but I’ve had a BUNCH of customers use it with an 18 volt drill.  Obviously you get less holes and if you keep drilling continually, you may smoke your battery.  To prevent smoking your battery, K-drill says to run no more than 5 seconds at a time.  Nils doesn’t really mention this.  I don’t know of anybody who has smoked a battery with a Nils among the hundreds we’ve sold of this model.  Now, I don’t talk to them all, so….

I weighed a 6″ K-Drill and a Nils Cordless.  K-Drill is 4 lbs, 8 ounces and the Nils Cordless is 5 lbs, 2 ounces.  K-Drill is an aluminum/plastic/ steel composite and the Nils is all steel.

As for comparative cutting speed, I know that a 6″ Nils cordless will cut a big bunch of holes in 20″ of ice depending on the drill.  Our customers are reporting 40-60 holes in many cases.   I don’t know about the K-Drill unfortunately.  The nice folks at Vexilar/K-Drill say it will do a bunch like  40 or so.   I don’t doubt that but in both drills, many factors come into play regarding drilling including but not limited to, ice depth, hardness, wetness, and ambient air temps.

Last year, my Craftsman 19.2 volt drill fit on the Nils Cordless.  THIS YEAR they improved the end of the Cordless by putting a substantial, formed, fluted bit on it.  Now, when you lock on with a drill, there will probably not be any rounding off of the bit from a loose chuck.  It looks really good!

In the K-Drill, they also put a substantial bit on the end and it, too, looks very good.

I would have tested them on the ice but for one problem:  I don’t have a cordless 1/2 drill!   My drill fits neither of them!  Glad I tested it out in the store here first before lugging everything down to the lake.

In Summary

You’re going to have to find footage of videos out this winter because I am not going out to buy a new drill for one demo.   That being said, draw your conclusions from this.

  • K-Drill recommends the drill you need to buy; Nils says 18 volt or higher, better quality drill for the 4.5″ & 6″.  24 Volt and up for the 8″
  • Many of our own customers have used the 18v on an 8″ Nils but now with the new bit end, that will most likely not be occurring as a 1/2 inch chuck is needed on both.
  • K-Drill has a bunch of plastic parts that look easy enough to change but that is an added expense.  Nils is all steel construction.
  • K-Drill has spare blades available.  Nils Cutting heads are quite expensive.
  • K-Drill has no handle.  When your battery craps out, you go home.  Nils – stick the handle on and continue with the day.
  • All Nils augers come with handles except for the 10″ and you don’t want a handle for the 10″, I don’t care how strong you are.
  • K-Drills have a substantially better blade guard system.  Nils is OK on the 4.5 and 6 inch, but the 8″ is a crap system until you figure it out – and there is a way.  Nils still could have done better after all these years.
  • K-Drills cost a lot more than Nils Cordless Augers.  The extra cost would buy an extra cutting head in the case of the 6″ cordless Nils!
  • K-Drills offer FREE blade sharpening for life with a 3 week turnaround.   Great, but not fast by a long shot.
  • Nils cutting heads get sharpened when they need it by a guy named Frank Deluca and cost about $25 with a few-days turnaround.  When Frank retires or croaks, we’re SOL, but he appeared healthy to me and is too young to retire, yet – I think.
  • K-Drill plastic flighting (flutes) allows you to crack off ice more easily.  Ice sticks to a Nils like glue.  Do not beat on the auger with a skimmer EVER!  Just touch that blade edge lightly with anything that is not ice and you will be done for that day and calling Frank Deluca.
  • If you fall on a K-Drill auger blade, you’ll most likely live.  If you fall on a Nils Auger Cutting Head, have somebody call a mortician.  Always put the blade guard on after every use.  Keep it away from dogs and don’t play Frisbee football with the dog and an exposed Nils cutting head.  I have true stories and there was a lot of blood.
  • We sell both augers at  The  K-Drill costs substantially more than the  Nils Cordless and has many more parts and pieces.
  • The Nils is really simple in design and built substantially.
  • When neither auger fits my drill, I can still easily run out onto the ice and drill a hole with a Nils Cordless.  When I say easily, I mean easily to the point of “what do we need the drill for, again?”

Will you be happy with a K-Drill?  Sure.  Ice cracks off more easily, spare blades have to cost substantially less, and  it weighs a little less than the Nils.

Ultimately, they both do the exact same thing in the ice.

I predict that the K-Drill will attract more of that “gadget loving” attention that seems to be in big box retail stores.  It  “looks” cool.  It is like the “assault-style” ice drill.  Scarier looking but still the exact same result.  Will you be disappointed with a K-Drill as far as drilling a hole is concerned?  I don’t believe so.


The Winner:  

Nils Cordless –    No cordless drill?  No problem with the handle!  Less Money.  Same hole.  No moving parts. 


Was this article helpful to you?  If so, give us a “like” (below), share it with your friends, and check out our online catalog.  Unlike a big box retailer or Amazon, we actually know all about ice fishing and how to use the gear.   Click Here for our Catalog 


Customer Loyalty vs. Saving $5 bucks – which is better?

Back in the day of only about 6 years ago and longer, we were on fire in sales. was the goto place for gear and everybody far and wide was buying from us.  From Maine to Montana, Canada and Nebraska, was the ice fishing and outdoor gear supplier.   There were days when the phone would ring so hard with people trying to order we couldn’t handle it all.  Those same customers would tell us three days later that they kept trying for three days to reach us.  We wondered why they simply didn’t order online, but back then about half of them refused to use the internet other than as an information source.

Today, everybody and his brother is an online seller and our market has dried up considerably and a relative almost nothing.  In our ordering files, many of our customers would order 10-14 times in one winter to our amazement.  What did they do with all of that stuff?  We don’t know.  Our sales of ice fishing suits made us heroes with sale reps and distributors.  We were considered giants in the industry.   The great cash flow made paying bills pretty easy.  One would think that we would never run out of business because our following appeared very loyal and enthusiastic.

But, then the real economy hit.  The one where things are going great in large metro areas because all during our powerful sales, people who couldn’t find work were running out of money and moving to the cities for crappy/good jobs.  We began to feel it rather quickly and knew that something was up, but the busy parts of the winter fogged our view.   Forecasting sales was rather tough plus we learned that if we didn’t order heavy during buying shows, when product ran out, we’d be sitting with nothing to sell later in the winter.   How does a little company with four  people running around like rats on fire predict the future of the business?  I still don’t know.

Also, based on past experiences of abysmal sales such as 1991 and 1996 and 2001, they usually bounced back in about two years or less.  Recessions meant that people would have time to fish and put food on the table in doing so.  But the “staycations” of 2008 and 2009 really changed everything as we watched sales plummet.   Everything began to drop rapidly from our unbelievable kevlar canoe sales to fishing tackle.  Sure, there were still people out there with money, but there were far fewer.  And, wouldn’t you know it?  Our competitors decided that to bolster lackluster sales, they would go online a compete with us.  That is exactly what they did.  Big box retailers with a minor presence online, decided that they would use their comparatively vast resources to become a major presence online.  That, and companies who knew absolutely nothing about ice fishing decided to join the fray and soon, we were competing against a really large monster with less and less shoppers who had disposable income.  Add to that the new obsession with iPhones, apps, and the wave of completely unnecessary distractions that burned up limited disposable income and we have 1996 all over again.  That was the time when everybody fell the need to spend $1800+ on a new computer and join America On Line to do that “email” thing.  Only, this time is much worse.

Instead of paying attention to the lagging economy outside of the all-important metro areas of the US, our president played with Solyndra, global warming, saving everybody, and adding restrictions to restrictions.  Congress sat on their hands and worried about lining their own pockets.   That just made the economies outside of the metro areas dwindle some more and in a much bigger way this time.  It also shored up many big box retailers positioned in those metro economies to catch every disposable income dollar that came their way.   Iphones added a new way to shop and check prices right in the store.  If you are small business, the need for all the social media talk and attention is more than you can handle – at least it is for me.  The big dudes have teams of online marketers.  We have me and Jackie.

So, what was our response to this looming economic disaster?   On the internet, the expert youngin’s who have the spiky hair, sleeve tatts and skinny jeans all say “More information!!!!!!”  We could win back our old familiar customer loyalty by giving of ourselves in a deep, highly-detailed way.”   All we had to do is produce hundreds of videos, write tons of online articles, and link, link, link!  We’d be seen as the true experts and everybody would then re-love us and shop with us once again.  So that is what I did.  [Insert snort of derision here.]

Fortunately, I like writing and I like making videos.  For the past 17 years online, writing product reviews and product analysis was my forte.  I liked blunt, easy to read write-ups of products that I like to use myself.  Unlike the politically correct and nauseating corporate big box retailers, I like to say it like I see it.  Everything is not all good.  Some products or aspects of said products, suck.  For my product attitude, I’m pretty sure I would not be admitted in the corporate “suits” world.   Plus those skinny jeans guys are offended by butterflies that pass too closely overhead, so I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t/couldn’t last there.  I’d offend some wussie in my first five minutes there.   Plus, I have no blotchy, or at least, blotchy-to-be tatts and one of those flat-brimmed caps that I can stick my ears under.   Oh, aside from rudimentary usage as a radio and a phone, I hate my iPhone, too.  Nope – I can’t be in either the suits or the skinny jeans.

So write up a new storm of articles I did in the new web-responsive format which required changing everything around from old familiar webpages into what I would call “chaos on a stick”. And here I am reviewing and sharing freely.  At this writing, has been viewed by people who can’t find this info anywhere else on the web about 120,000 times.  That’s in in less than 18 months.   Therein lies the rub.

My video reviews of all that stuff along with my free articles are now seeing about 400 people per day and this whopper is going to go substantially higher in December.  Then it will peak at even higher numbers of readers in January and drop down slightly in February to a sudden drop off for March.   That means 10’s of thousands will be looking at my stuff to learn, to understand, to make decisions!  Hooray!  (We all know that spending $49.95  these days requires about 3 days of study, reviewing customer reviews, and maybe some meditation.)   In relative terms, the numbers of people who will actually shop with the company who gives the plethora of knowledge will be zip, zilch, doo diddly, diddly squat, etc.   The thought of being used makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

How can that be, you ask?  Well, it all comes down to dollar attitude.  Essentially, I’m beginning to view them all as “users”.  My work has become the mainstay for those big box retailers who laugh all the way to the bank because Red Rock just sold the product for them.   I know this to be true because we’ve had many people in the store who said that they used our website for information and then bought the ice auger from Amazon or Fleet Farm because it was “on sale” and they could get it the next day for free.  (Does anyone need an ice auger in October the very next day?  Are you going to test it in your living room? What’s the frickin’ hurry? )   99.998% of these people don’t even realize how offensive and insulting this  is to me.   In effect, I do all of their work, eliminate all of their risk, and I am rewarded with nothing but a smile and hearing what an awesome website I have.     How cool is that?

Every purchase today is down to the dollar and clicking on the best deal for literally $10 or less sometimes.  There is no customer loyalty anymore.  Just take the info you need and find it somewhere where it is the cheapest.  Well, remember – if you didn’t buy it from us, I’m not helping you with your warranty issues.  Lets see what Amazon does when you have problems 4 months out and the manufacturer won’t return your phone calls or reply to your emails.  It’s not my first rodeo, so I just can’t wait to hear the stories of how you sat all winter with no functioning Marcum-Vexilar-Strikemaster that you paid $650 for.    Oh yeah – roll your eyes and think it won’t happen….it happens ALL the time.  We’ve gone to bat for more customers than I can count over the years.  Lets see how that big robot handles your problem.  I can’t wait…

If I sound a little irritated, it’s because I am.   My website and efforts to be the best are resulting in no sales for my company.   There is no customer loyalty and saving a buck online is all that matters.

Perhaps it is time we go the other way and shut everything down as far as our web articles and videos are concerned.  Then you can watch some dude on youtube talking about his 7 year old Jiffy power auger with the bungee cord holding on the gas tank.   Maybe we need to sell skinny jeans, lattes, and iphones since that appears to be all that matter these days.    We need cash flow and can’t keep spending our  time and effort making everybody feel warm and cuddly about a lousy $300 fish locator or an ice auger.   People spend far less time making car buying decisions.

Customer loyalty ends with the almighty $5 dollar savings.  Sadly, it has come to that.

Thanks for listening to me whine.

Straightline Reels – WHY?

Frabill 261 Straight Line Reel

Frabill 261 Straight Line Reel

What is a fishing reel, really?  It’s just a device that spools your line up so it doesn’t lie on the floor of the fishhouse getting tangled in your boot laces.  When I was a kid, I developed boot-lace-eyelet/fishing line tangling into an artform.  It was special.  Clear mono line in white snow on a grey, cloudy day.  “Hey, why is that minnow crawling around on the ice searching for water?”

When little spinning reels came out in the early 80’s we were still using the flat wooden lathe sticks with line wrapped around the notched ends.  The reels  with little fishing rods were a huge improvement and probably didn’t really catch on until the very late 90’s.  At least, that was the case for me because 2001 was the ice fishing renaissance as far as I’m concerned.  That’s when all the Fish Traps appeared and nobody even knew what a pop-up shelter was yet.  Then Clam bought out Fish Trap, Eskimo charged forth with cheaper stuff, and the competition went crazy bring all sorts of gidgets and gazmos to the forefront of ice fishing.  I really got into it then as well.

I used spinning reels -still do- for years on end.  But, no matter what they say about “anti-twist” design, the rotor on the reel still twists the line far faster than the swivel on the far end can handle, not to mention the friction from the water itself which inhibits a lines ability to spin straight quickly in water.  If you add a lure that spins or swims, you add twist  to the rotor twist.  Before you know it, after 50 retrieves of your lure down deep,  you have added enough twist to your line to power a balsa rubber-band plane around the county without stopping.  As long as you know this, you are OK.  If you don’t understand what I just wrote, which appears to be the case for about 50% of all fisherman (I have explained line twist ad nauseum),  you will be cussing at the particular brand of line on your reel.  That is not to say that some line just twists up more easily than others, but in my own observations, most mono’s do as well as all the other mono’s out there.  With only a few exceptions, I can’t tell the difference and I try a lot of different line.  Now, I have customers whom, after a volatile experience with twisting, will argue much differently, but the reality is that the line isn’t crappy and neither is the reel most of the time.  The circumstance is the crappy part.  Spinning reels spin things a lot.

That being said, straight line reels came out and have changed many aspects of ice fishing for me. First, if you are fishing in clear water, you jig might spin for a minute, but it doesn’t sit there and spin forever.  Spinning jig syndrome, is never good and very frustrating with rainbow trout and ‘gills.  I assume this applies to crappie as well, but crappie water is too dark to see anything and they are usually deeper.   You can see the flasher flicker as your jig spins though.  If it is changing colors a lot and you aren’t moving, something is spinning and it’s not you.

Straightline reels came out with one company who was a real innovator.  They hang off of spinning rods and work with drag, plus the ability to drop down a #14 tungsten pelkie (jig) on it’s own weight.  If you’ve never seen a #14 tungsten pelkie, they are small enough to inhale through your nostril and get stuck in your lung with out you feeling it.  Now, don’t get liquored up one day in the fish house, start a video camera and attempt this.  You will most likely die or come really close to croaking after racking up a $100 K hospital bill.   I’m just illustrating a point regarding tiny size and weight.  Everybody jumped on the straight line wagon and Frabill did as well.  From what I can see, they’ve pretty much perfected copying the original straight line reel down to the really easy spin and decent drag.

The Frabill 261 is the cheaper one and for the money, it’s going to be a great reel.  Now, when you pick it up, it has that cheapo plastic feel because it’s made out of plastic -go figure.  It doesn’t feel weak or flimsy, but it is light weight and your first impression is that it is going to be a piece of crap.  But, remember the mono line wrapped around a stick?   This is light years better than that and it stores your line neatly.  It also has a decent drag. The stick had a “hand” or “arm” drag.    Will this 261 reel survive fishing 8-10 lb. lakers every day.  No.    That’s not what it is made for.  How about 2 lb. walleyes?   Sure.  Repeatedly, every weekend?  That remains to be seen.  It just might.  Someone is going to have to take the challenge and test it out.   It spins forever when you push the release button on the side and the star drag feels pretty good.   How well will it spin after it has had several large fishing pulling on the drag – we’d don’t know just yet.  The intent of this reel is panfish.

Eagle Claw, also an expert in knocking off designs of others has a similar reel  and I have one.  It works pretty well but it has the drag of a cheap reel.  You have to carefully adjust it and if you turn it 1/8 inch too much, it is locked up tight or goes super loose.  The Frabill 261 drag is much easier to adjust and does not appear to be as touchy.  I may have to make a switch.

Frabill 371  Straight Line Reel

Frabill 371 Straight Line Reel


The Frabil 371 is the spendier version.  It is built a little differently than the 261 and feels a bit beefier with more metal parts.  Good drag.   This reel would be capable of dragging in several big fish on a regular basis.  It is built nicely with a metal, enclosed spool and you can literally hold the 371 by its housing while cranking.  Don’t know why you would want to do this, but you could.  You can’t do that with the 261.  The spool is exposed and spinning.

There is an advantage to an exposed spool when it comes to line loops and tangles, but being straight line reels, such maladies are not too commonplace.  That’s the whole point: to reduce the twists that cause the loops and the cussing out in the blackout HT insulated pop-up where you can’t see your hand in front of your face.

I highly recommend getting one of these reels for your collection.  How to decide?   If you fish on the weekends and sometimes skip a weekend to do something foolish like watch a football game or hockey, get the 261.  If you fish ever weekend and after work sometimes during the week, get the 371.  It’s that simple.  Can you break all the rules and interchange parameters for buying?  Sure, just know that they vary in heavy duty-ness.  The heavier duty will be fine in all situations compared to the lighter 261.  The 261 may (or may not)  develop issues with heavier usage.  You could probably find a break-even analysis app to determine which will give you the ultimate satisfaction like so many of our millennials are doing today, or you could just pick one depending on how much money you have in your pocket, like us old farts would do in making this “major” decision.

The main thing is to get a straigthline reel and fish with it. I feel that even the cheaper ones are worth it for some species of fish and improving your  catch.   I use straightlines for almost everything now.  They work well and my jigs don’t spin.

And, that right there is the point.



Ugly Duckling Super 40 Pack

Regular Retail Price is $419.60.   Going here for less than half price!

This is a Super 40 Pack of our really popular, highly effective Ugly Ducklings priced to hit the water and start producing fish!  We have too many in stock and our overstock is your gain!  Ugly Duckling enthusiasts all know how difficult these are to find worldwide, so now is your chance to stock up on several popular colors and sizes for fishing unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.  We hear it all the time about how our customers “threw everything in the tackle box at ’em” and when they clipped on an Ugly Duckling, they almost sank the boat with fish fighting to bite!  Ok, I may have embellished a bit about the sinking the boat, but, we do have tons of customers who know what I’m talking about with Ugly Ducklings!  The key to using them correctly is to use a crankbait or duolock type snap.  Do not tie them on as they will come through the water like a stick.  You need a duolock type, crankbait snap, period.  Use that same snap on all of your other tackle and watch their action improve, but nothing will do it like these Ugly Ducklings.

This is a nice lure mix for a broad species attraction from crappies and gills to rainbows and walleyes to large northern pike and lake trout.  Give it a try and then rent them to your buddies!

Buy/See it here on Ebay!