Big Larry to the Rescue – as a gift for buying early

It’s Winter Pre-Buy Season at  and this year, we are doing it a little different.  First, so you know, this sale is scheduled to end October 23, 2015.  If you are in the market for an ice auger, ice fishing suit, ice fishing shelter, or ice fishing electronics you’ll get free shipping plus a selection from a list of 4 four goodies (choose one) for shopping early and waiting for your gear to arrive.

What?  You order and pay now?  It ships later?  Why not just wait until when you want it?  Well, many of our great customers do just that, but depending on the weather and just how crazy everybody goes at the first smell of hardwater, we may run out and not be able to get that particular item.  In today’s new world, companies are making less product with all the uncertainties in the world and when they run out, that is IT for the winter.  So, the early bird gets the worm and everybody else gets the air where the worm used to be.

For this reason, we do our Winter Pre-Buy Sale in October.  We hate running out of stuff, but the reality is that it does run out, so we give you incentives to buy now and secure your gear.  Hey, what’s not to like with FREE shipping and a FREE Gift?   Our FREE Gifts are not just run-o’-the-mill cheap crap, either.  It’s all useful stuff that you can use and enjoy yourself, or re-gift it as nice present for someone like-minded.  That is assuming the size is correct, obviously.  But, I’d be selfish and get a Big Larry for myself or a warm pair of Woolpower Sock as well.  Plus, there’s the online gift card good for a future online purchase or a great pair of neoprene gloves good for keeping your hands dry and warm when grabbing fish out of the hole.

Here’s what are in the Price Packages.  Hit that range, pick one of the following prizes:

Silver $200-299.99

  1. $15 Gift Card for future online purchase, or
  2. Hand-Painted Wine Glass or Mug, or
  3. Up North Hoodie, or
  4. Fisherman’s Clip Kit
Palladium $300-399.99

  1. $25 Gift Card for future online purchase, or
  2. 400 gm Woolpower Sox, or
  3. Big Larry Flashlight, or
  4. Waterproof Neoprene Gloves
Platinum $400-499.99

  1. $40 Gift Card for future online purchase, or
  2. 800 gm Woolpower Sox, or
  3. 600 Lumen LED Lantern, or
  4. Hand-painted Mug Set – 4 mugs
Gold  $500 and up

  1. $65 Gift Card for future online purchase, or
  2. 800 gm Woolpower Sox w/ Neoprene
    Waterproof Gloves, or
  3. Lithium 12 v Powerpack Multi function, or
  4. Flasher Gear Bag

How it Works

You go online at our catalog HERE.  Look in the categories of Ice Shelters, Ice Fishing Suits, Ice Fishing Electronics, and Ice Augers.   Click On the Pre-Buy Button on that product.  If you don’t see a Pre-Buy Button, that item is not available on Pre-Buy.  If you think we made a mistake about an item from the above categories by not listing it, send us an email and ask about it:

If this wasn’t enough info about our Winter Pre-Buy Sale for big-ticket ice fishing stuff, your can visit our catalog blog as well.

Red Rock Rewards – Don’t forget to sign up for an account in our catalog!  They cost NOTHING and we’ll give you 200 points just for signing up!  After that, every dollar you spend becomes another point.  When you hit various discount thresholds of Red Rock Rewards Points, it’s like double-dipping without the “hell to pay” for doing so!  Go ahead and dip away!  It’s like finding some extra cash on the ground and WHO doesn’t need that?   

Jiffy PRO 4™ Lite PROPANE Powered Ice Drill

Jiffy PRO 4™ Lite PROPANE Powered Ice Drill – Review

Jiffy PRO 4™ Lite PROPANE Powered Ice Drill.  This auger is available in the 8″ diameter or 6″.   We only stock the 8″   It weighs in at 26 lbs which is pretty light for a combustion engine power ice auger.  It runs on the little green, 1 lb. propane tanks.  It has a chipper blade.  The blade on the Pro 4  Lite is a Chipper Blade with a drilling point in the center.  On the Pro4 regular model it has a Jiffy Stealth blade which is painted yellow and has two little claw teeth where the drilling point is on the “Lite” model.   If you blow your blade on a reef and it is the Stealth package, it’ll cost you over $100 to replace.  On the Pro4 Lite, the chipper blade replacement is only in the $40 price range.  Note that I can sharpen all of these blades for a for a fraction o the cost.  Click here for ice auger blade sharpening

Jiffy was the first to introduce propane powered, 4-stroke power ice augers.  We had the first ones that they introduced years ago and since that time they have really tweaked a lot of things such as the weight and overall design.  The old models used to have gas lines in exposed positions and some other minor issues.  IF you remembered to transport them all the time with the “sprak plug up” you would have very few problems.  If not, your very smokeless auger would become very smokeful.

In today’s new line of Jiffy propane augers, they have engineered out those old issues and you can now set the auger down in the spark-plug-up and carburetor-up positions which allows for better transporting in the back of your vehicle.  As per usual, they drill fast with fairly high RPM’s because the single chipper blade has to go around twice as fast as a two-bladed auger.  So, as a result, a whole bunch of fishermen “think” that because it is spinning fast that “you’ve really got something great there”.   OK, sure, it may be a tad faster, but I do know that the individual chipper blade with the steel plate on the bottom literally blasts water all over the place when you do break through.  When you use a Jiffy, you are going to want to use it with less RPM’s in your Ice Castle, I would guess.  That is the biggest drawback of Jiffy augers.  You get pretty wet when using them due to the bottom plate and the high RPM’s.    As for drilling a hole, they tear through the ice just like every other auger on the planet.

The advantage to propane is that it doesn’t spill gasoline all over your vehicle.  It doesn’t smoke up the fish house.  It is readily available in most places.  You can drill about 60 holes per tank in 20″ of ice.   Once, with a Jiffy 10″,  I once drilled 15 holes in 24″ of ice with a half tank of gas and didn’t really make a dent in the propane.

The drawbacks to propane are that it too,  can leak.  A cylinder can malfunction which can be very bad in an enclosed space.  Cold weather can affect half empty tanks.  You have those empty green tanks laying around once they are empty.

In winter, March 2015, I had the top of a Coleman 1 pound cylinder blow off while still attached to the regulator on the Eskimo HC 40 auger I was using.  I figured it was metal fatigue from bouncing in the back of the cargo sled all winter.  It blew off and the regulator on the long hose that Eskimo uses, hit me in my right side ribs and the contents of the one pound cylinder BLEW into those same ribs and turned me into Frosty the propane man.  The auger was still running while this happened and I panicked as I let off the throttle and searched for the OFF switch frantically as I stood covered in white propane frost and a cloud of gas.  All I could think of was that the propane was going to light up and there wasn’t any snow on the ice to roll in.  In retrospect, I should have simply walked away from the auger and let it conk out on it’s own.  Panic makes you not think of the easy solution.

Blown Propane Cylinder

Thar She Blows!

After the whole “POOF!!!” experience, I thought of what would have happened inside of a wheel house had this occurred.  I made this list of doubts and considerations:

  1. I questioned the safety of propane augers in general.
  2. I realized that I did the exact opposite of what Jiffy and Eskimo advise users to do:  remove the tank when transporting & not in use.
  3. I considered that lithium batteries in lithium battery augers can explode if handled incorrectly.
  4. I noted that the majority of male ice fishermen seldom follow the rules or instructions of anything, ever.
  5. I remembered that leaking gasoline is also a big problem in the back of a minivan or SUV.
  6. Exhaust fumes from regular gas engines in the fish house take forever to get out.
  7. Lithium batteries conk out in cold weather. (0° F and colder.)
  8. A full propane cylinder does pretty well in cold weather.

After my analysis, I concluded that propane augers are fine.  Nothing was wrong with that last auger and the propane cylinder was damaged most likely because it was bouncing against my Keeper Deluxe chair all winter long.  The regulator with attached tank would touch that chair as I developed my “system” for transporting the auger “spark plug up”.   I was supposed to remove the tank during transport, so I do believe it was my fault that the tank blew.  I’m sure an attorney would see differently, but maybe not.  Nonetheless, will I be hauling a propane auger with the tank still attached to the regulator this winter?  Probably.

If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger.

Summary regarding Jiffy Pro4 Lite augers

I saw some dude online reviewing this ice drill and he said it took him “two months” to decide which friggin’ ice auger to buy.    No disrespect intended, but anybody should be able to determine which auger they need in about  15 minutes.  It’s an ice auger to make a hole in the ice.  Either the motor runs and it drill or it does not.

If you are drilling outside, a gas auger will do the job nicely.    If you will be inside, propane maybe better.  Transporting in a car – propane requires less care other than spark-plug up or, in Jiffy’s case, carburetor up.   If you want a propane auger, SHOULD you buy a 26 lb. Jiffy Pro4 Lite auger?  Unlike other augers, Jiffys come with a quick attach lower unit.  They cut holes really fast.  They start reliably.  I heard a concern about the Pro4 Lite “being underpowered”.    I constantly hear this “under-powered” discussion like we’re talking about tree skidders and Nascar racing so I have purposely taken supposed under-powered ice augers out and drilled tons of holes with them.   OMG what an ordeal I endured – not.   I’ve concluded with all this meaningless “under-powered” talk is usually based in completely no knowledge whatsoever.   What exactly does “under-powered” mean if you are going to drill 4-6 holes that day?   The Pro4 Lite is anything but under-powered, but who gives a crap if it was?   Are you in a race?  Does drilling a hole 2 seconds faster make the difference between catching as many fish?   This is right up there with the whole ball-bearing in fishing reels argument, but that is for a different post.  The only time I’d give a crap about having ample power is if I was always drilling in 36″ of ice all winter long.  In that case, get the Pro4.  For all the rest of us, there is probably no good reason to waste two months researching augers “to make the right choice” .   Heck, the $20 you are might save after all that angst, you’ll waste on a case of cheap beer.

These are good augers.  Doesn’t take that long to make a decision.  It’s not a car or a house.  If you don’t like it – and I can’t see why that would be the case- sell it and try something else.  It need not be a lifetime decision.  You’re drilling a hole in the ice and that is all.

Order your Jiffy PRO 4™ Lite PROPANE Powered 8″ Ice Drill here

marcum rt-9 sonar/gps

NEW, NEW UPDATE: Marcum RT-9 Fish Finder


NEW, NEW UPDATE  (10-12-2015 @ 11:15 AM):  Well, about 5 minutes after I wrote the below “update” regarding the Marcum RT-9,  the phone rang and a friend of mine from Marcum, Jon Marshall, called me up and gave me the new low-down on the RT-9.

Turns out they are going through the government paperwork with the FCC regarding A & B transmission wireless signals.  It sounds confusing as all get out but could be best summed up by saying that they have to be licensed by the FCC to prove that the RT-9 doesn’t accidentally start somebody’s microwave oven, or open the neighbors garage door by accident, or bring down an Airbus that is flying overhead at 35,000 feet.  According to Jon, Marcum actually has inventory in stock and is waiting for approval.  They intend to be shipping these puppies out this winter yet.  He gave me actual targeted months,but I’m not giving you that until I actually see “some pudding”.  No offense to Marcum, but this is not my first rodeo with announcing Marcum product arrivals.  I’m going to need tangible proof which I believe to be coming, but then, I have ALWAYS believed that product was going to arrive when they said it was.  Fool me once, fool me twice, fool me three times, fool me four times – apparently I’m a slow learner, but not this time.

So, you can read all about it below and then below that.  Jon says it’s coming.  Inventory is in stock.  I just want to see the pudding because they tell me the proof is in it.  More when they send me a unit to test out and review.  (Hint to Marcum)

Check out our WINTER Pre-Buy Sale Online – Winter Big Ticket Items and FREE Stuff – Ends Oct. 23, 2015


Order Your Striker Ice Winter Suits from Red Rock – Earn Red Rock Rewards, get FREE stuff

NEW UPDATE:  This thing is dead.  The Marcum RT-9 is never going to be developed and it’s now a figment of your imagination.  It was neat, but Marcum couldn’t get the licensing for -I don’t fully know- Android platforms, and this, and that, and etc.   One would think they’d have had all their ducks in a row BEFORE they pulled the trigger and gave me a demonstration of the unit.  But, that is how Marcum has consistently operated for 12 years.  You should have seen the problems we had with their 560 underwater viewing system when it first came out!  Fortunately, their camera tech improved dramatically over time and they ended up with some truly great cameras like the 485 VS and the  825 VS.  To Marcum’s credit, as far as I’m concerned, they make the best underwater viewing systems and their current line of flashers and LX 6, LX 7, and LX 9 are pretty hard to beat in reliability and performance.     (See Marcum’s flashers & cameras listed here)

So, given that the RT-9  project is floating belly-up,  you can stop looking.  It does not exist other than in prototype and from what I can tell after talking with various reps from Rapala, it’s not going anywhere soon.    Update: Oct-12-2015

Check out our WINTER Pre-Buy Sale Online – Winter Big Ticket Items and FREE Stuff – Ends Oct. 23, 2015

If the MARCUM RT-9 did exist, this is what you would have:

September 18, 2014 – I just got back from a buying show and literally walked in the door grabbing for may laptop.  Steve Hanson, the expert at Marcum regarding equipment operation  just showed me the mind-blowing demo regarding the new Marcum RT-9.  I will try to impart that information in this here blog post.

The RT-9 IS ridiculously awesome.   First, it is a plenty-big tablet built for brutal conditions.  It does EVERYTHING a tablet does with an Android system and a really zippy processor under the hood.   To impress my socks off,  when Steve saw me coming, he found and had  our website up and running in clear-as-a-bell splendor.  The screen resolution is sharp as a razor blade and quite stunning.    The top of the thick, protective edge that surrounds the sides of the tablet pops open and has a slot for a Navionics (only) micro-SD card, plus a slot for up to 32 GB chip to increase the onboard memory capacity of 8 GB.  Why would you want to do that?  If you shoot underwater video, that will burn up the chip space quickly.   There is also an HDMI slot so you can run a gargantuan flat-screen on the wall if you happen to be lugging one of these around.  There is also a USB port and I’m, pretty sure you could run a keyboard on this unit even though it is completely controlled by a touch screen.  I asked Steve how this gadget works in exposed cold weather and he said just like it works in front of us at room temperature.  Apparently, cold temps do not affect it – which is a good thing given that it was made for ice fishing.  There are no moving parts, so…

Check out our WINTER Pre-Buy Sale Online – Winter Big Ticket Items and FREE Stuff – Ends Oct. 23, 2015

Then, we moved on to the actual operation of the unit.  For the initial price, you get an ice ducer, the tablet, the tablet holder on a RAM type mount and the 9 amp Hour 12 V battery.  The battery, depending on what you are doing, will run the unit for about 7 hours.  It does use some juice to run that big screen, the GPS, the wireless doohickey, and the fish locator.   Oh, and you can convert your own smartphone to be a wireless hot spot so you can surf the net if you need to check the stock prices and state of the world while ice fishing.  (You ought to disconnect that part)

If you down load the Marcum PanCam app like we did which was a piece of cake under Steve’s expert guidance, you can make this RT-9 actually show up on your smartphone and everybody around the unit for about 150 feet away would be able to see the fish-finders, camera, and etc.  The app is free and I honestly can’t can quite remember how we got the big picture to show up on the little smartphone, but it can be done.

You can buy a camera for this unit.  Included along with the optional underwater camera is  Marcum Camera panner with an electronic fitting specific to the back of the tablet.  What is really incredible there is that the camera can be controlled by swiping your finger across the screen.  You simply drag your finger across the picture and stop it where you want the camera to stop.  You don’t push a directional button or anything – swipe your finger to where you want to look.

You can also put down a second transducer with the Marcum RT-9 (you’d need to buy the second one) and this unit will actually run TWO transducers independent of each other!!!!!  That means that your buddy could be in one hole with his ducer and you in your’s and neither of you would be experiencing anything but what is happening below.  No interference.  Now, what the RT-9 does to any other fish-finder remains to be seen.

Check out our WINTER Pre-Buy Sale Online – Winter Big Ticket Items and FREE Stuff – Ends Oct. 23, 2015

Along with running both transducers, you can also run a camera and overlay the flasher screens or showdown screens over the top of the image like the LX-9.  Then, if that isn’t enough stuff to do, you can always take a video-out cable ( you probably have one laying in a drawer – yellow ends) and plug it into a Marcum PanCam and send the signal to your smartphones as well.  The big cheese (first guy who turns on his phone – I think) is the one who can control the built in camera panner.   All the rest of you guys/girls have to watch whatever he aims the camera at but it’s still pretty great.

The only reason for mentioning the RT-9 to PanCam conversion is to emphasize that there is a lot of cross-over capability through Marcum’s current product line.  If you have a more current Marcum camera laying around, chances are good that it can be stuck onto a PamCam and utilized to send a signal to your smartphone after you download the app and assign the wireless part thing-y after going to your settings.  It wasn’t hard but I simply can’t remember all the details.  You’ll figure it out.

The one other option for this unit is that you can attach your high-speed Marcum transducer to your boat transom, plug it in and use it all summer long.

So, to sum up, there are 2 transducer marine plug-ins with like 5 pins in each of them on the back of the tablet.  There is a plug-in for a camera, and also a marine plug-in for the camera panner.  Under the watertight hood are two slots – one for a map chip (navionics) and one for extra memory, up to 32 GB’s which you would also need to buy additionally.  The tablet does comes with 8 GB of memory on board.  Also included is the 12V 9 AH battery, the mounting housing that holds the tablet securely and in an infinite number of angles, the case, and one ice transducer (bell style).  The GPS does everything that an advanced GPS would do.  You can marks spots, track the waypoints to guide you to the “secret hump” in the middle of the lake, etc.    There is an HDMI cable output jack available that would allow you to come home and relive the video footage you shot with the camera to figure out exactly what you did to scare off that 43 pound northern from biting your lure.  And, if you want to listen to say, the radio over the internet, Pandora, your own mp3’s, etc, it has two external speakers built in as well.

The Marcum RT-9 is really advanced as far as fishfinders are concerned.   It has almost unbelievable capabilities being integrated in with the internet and your smartphone.  It offers unparalleled  flexiblity between Marcum electronics and pretty much any camera that has a video out (yellow) jack.  If you are not a Luddite like me, you will be able to do a ton of stuff with this unit and will become rather proficient at it.

There is nothing else like this in ice fishing electronics from what I could see.  Vexilar has a system that you can put together with a waterproof case that would sort of be similar but you have to bring your own tablet to the game and it would not be a rugged tablet unless that is what you own.  I don’t think there are as many fishfinder options available with it this system and I don’t believe there is the same level of integration.  That’s a review for another day.

It is amazing where the world of fish locators is going these days.

dark flexible, adhesive markers with a lot of safety uses

Trail Blazers – Find the trail in the dark

Everybody knows that sneaking out to the deer stand under cover of morning darkness means bringing along a flash light and blowing your cover as you travel through the brush.  What if you could just follow the markers on the trees or brush with, say, a piece of marker that indicates that you need to duck under that big, low branch?  You could do it easily with these.

These are a rubbery glowstrip with an aggressive 3M adhesive backing.  When you hit them with a bright light or daylight, they pick up a charge that lasts for a long time.  Now, will they light up the ground like fog lights on an old Chevy pick up?  No.  But they do maintain a glow for several hours that is quite visible in the darkness.  Mark a trail, indicate where a path is, go through the brush.  These would do very nicely.

Here’s how they glow in the 4″ strip after charging them in the sunlight for 4 hours:

After 2 hours in the dark, you can still see them about 60 yards away.  4 hours in the dark: 50 yards away.  6 hrs in the dark: 40 yards away.

So, after 6 hours of sitting in darkness, you still can see these strips 120 feet away!  That means that after 10 hours, it will be closer, but you’ll still be able to see them.  So, if you are going to leave them out all night to find your way in the early morning, put them closer together along the trail.

dark flexible, adhesive markers with a lot of safety uses

Trail Blazers – Glow in the dark, flexible, adhesive markers with a lot of safety uses

Order Your Trail Blazers and other Glow ’em Products here

Another use for these or the 46″ X 1/2 ” strip is to put them at the top or bottom of the stairs or the end of a dock.  We have docks that have big pipes sticking out of them where the wheels are attached.  A strip on each would identify where they are in the dark to prevent stubbed toes and serve as guides showing the dock edge.  Everybody knows where a dark hazard is on their property.  Lighting it up just makes it more manageable.

Glow 'em adhesive strips

Glow ’em strips – Snip off a length and stick it on for safety

Order Your Glow ’em Strip  and other Glow ’em Products here

And don’t forget the tent guy markers.   They velcro on to your tent guy lines and let you know where they are in the dark.  Who hasn’t stumbled on a tent line in the dark?  They are reusable as well!

Glow 'em Tent Markers

No more crashing around the campsite or anywhere there are “strings-attached” in the dark.

Order Your Tent Markers and other Glow ’em Products here

Want a cool place to stay next season?  Stay at our resort in northern Minnesota!  Northwind Lodge – Click Here

Eskimo® HC40 Propane Auger

Eskimo Propane Ice Auger – HC-40 in thick ice

Much to my surprise (not really), I am getting requests by people who are “hemming and hawing” on whether or not to make the once in a lifetime investment in a propane powered ice auger.  You read correctly.  A “once in a lifetime purchase” for an ice auger.  I didn’t realize that in the time when one has a $500 iPhone and trades it in at the drop of a hat because iPhone 6’s are so much more worthy to own, that lifetime ownership of all equipment is now the new normal.

Order Your Eskimo Propane HC 40 Here

It’s a small engine on an ice auger for well under $500.  It’s not a home or the house that your kids will grow up in.  It’s an auger for ice fishing.  I’m shaking my head at how much “research” is needed (spent) to buy an ice auger these days and wondering what goes into the consumer mental effort of buying a $188 lawnmower at Home Depot.   Rhetorically, how does one buy a car anymore these days without endless research and assurances that it is the absolute perfect vehicle that will serve every single need that the road ahead presents?  It’s an ice auger.  If you don’t like it, man up, sell it, and get a different one!  No wonder why the economy is in the tank in a world full of ice fishermen fraught with rampant indecision.

Let me go back to “It’s an ice auger for cripes sake!”  It is not a life changing decision no matter how one looks at it.  You start the motor, squeeze the throttle, drill the hole.  It is not a highly advanced operation.  Well, I think the HC-40 motor is pretty impressive for how small it is and the fact that I have yet to hear it bog down -ever- when using it which adds to its impressiveness.  It doesn’t strain.  It won’t win any races but that is not the motor’s fault.  The auger blades are basic, but they get the job down nicely.  I honestly do not know what else anyone needs to know about this propane ice auger.

Take a frikkin’ chance already!  Order one and be done with it.  Just remember to check the oil and “spark plug up”.  Keep the propane tank warm.  That’s all you gotta do with this auger.  It’s neither difficult nor complicated.

You can order your HC-40 right here if my cynical attitude didn’t manage to insult all of today’s gentler, PC, ice fishermen.  But, “Sheesh!” already!

Ice Auger Blade Sharpening Service from Red Rock

Ice Auger Blade Sharpening – What to NOT do

Don’t be dull.

If you are like me, your auger is cutting fine.  It’s been drilling holes in the ice just fine.  You only need to push down on it a little more these days, and you seem to be burning a bit more gas.  You haven’t started cussing about it yet so all is good, right?  Wrong.  If your blades are more than two seasons old, they are probably more dull than you would think.  Get them re-sharpened.  We re-sharpen LOTS of ice auger blades for hand and power augers.

What you need to know.

These are ice blades for cutting ice.  We’re not cutting meat or fabric, or foam, or celery.  We’re cutting ice.  Only one side of the ice auger blade gets ground to produce a sharp edge, period.  Over and over I see the “home sharpening” of ice blades where they sharpened the top of the blade to restore the edge on the bottom of the blade – the part that digs into the ice.  But that is not good enough!  When you only sharpen the top of the blade, you WILL leave a burr on the bottom edge.  Everybody who has every sharpened a pocket knife KNOWS that leaving a burr that can fold over and not expose the sharp edge is a bad thing.  This is true for a knife blade which is evenly ground on each side of the edge using finer and finer grit.  Then, the blade is stropped (rubbed back and forth on a leather belt on each side of the blade to effectively fold off the thin metal burr to the point that it falls off leaving just the razor sharp edge).   This technique that I’ve described is what many think of when they hear sharpening  and apply it to everything from hunting knives to axes.  But, we are NOT sharpening knife blades – these are ice blades and they are sharpened more closely to wood chisels and hand plane blades.  But those, too, require finer edges because it’s a LOT harder to cut wood than it is to cut ice.  Don’t get all obsessive about applying what you know about regular blades to ice auger blades.

Ice Auger Blade Sharpening Prices – Click Here

The whopping mistake that many make is that they correctly sharpen the top of the ice auger blade but then they lose it when they discover the burr that forms on the edge.  Somewhere along the way, the general ice fishing populace has learned that a burr is bad and for blades (regular knife blades, axes, machetes, etc.)  that require grinding on both sides.  I would agree just like I described above.  But, contrary to popular belief, that burr in ice auger blades is meaningless.  In fact, it probably helps the blade cut faster and it definite wears off quickly.

When I first sharpened a set of Lazer hand auger blades (curved, pie-shaped, Strikemaster blades), I did it as I was taught but the tool and die maker who trained me on the machine he built.  I sharpened the top, ignored the burr and gave it back tot he customer who paide me $14.95.  The customer took them home and was back in 5 days with a different set of dull Lazer blades in his pocket.  He told me that initially with the first set of blades I sharpened, that he was really concerned about the burr that I left on the bottom of the blade edges but kept an open mind and decided to try them first.   He quickly found out that that they sliced ice like butter and that is what compelled him to bring me a second set.   Good enough for me, or so I thought.  But, an endless stream of my other customers (many of whom know just enough about knife sharpening to make them sound skilled) would panic about that burr.  I got SO sick of explaining to customers who looked at me like I was running a con (for $14.95 and they know where I live – some con, eh?) in ice auger blade sharpening and what is going on on the ice, that I simply make my sharpening a two-grit process which thins out the burr even more.  Then I strop the edge, the burr falls away, and everybody’s happy.  It’s entirely not needed at all, but the “male ice fisherman blade-edge ego” can burn up a lot of time on verbal blade analysis and explanations.  It’s just easier to make it shiny and take off the burr.  There is no difference in the cutting – at least none that a big clunky, less-than-accurate power ice auger is going to notice.   The shiny edge is all just for show.

Along that male ice fisherman blade-edge ego, most of the really screwed up blades that I get have been home-sharpened and the problem stems particularly from when they are compelled by unseen forces to grind off the burr from the bottom of the blade.  You can’t do this, period.   If you touch the bottom side of the blade edge, the part that touches the ice, you will mess it all up, period.  I have seen numerous blades when the owner lightly ground the bottom side of the blade s to take off the dreaded burr and then, they topped it off by polishing it.  NONE of this is good for your blades.  The only way the burr can be removed is by grinding the top-side with increasingly finer grits and then stropping the fine ribbon of metal that forms the burr.  If you touch the bottom of the blade with anything else, you will screw it up.  I guarantee it.  The edge that comes in contact with the ice is all that matters and it has to be flat.  Don’t turn it into a microscopic ski to spin around on ice while not digging in.

Or, just send them to me.  I sharpen everything but Nils blades and I’m really affordable compared to a lot of other options like a new set of blades.  I get a lot of blades from the US Geological Survey stations around the country.  Those blades are from lots of various augers and they are usually used extensively in terrible conditions like drilling in rocks where a river was supposed to be.   If your blade edge on the bottom side is rounded upward  for more that 3/32 of an inch where it should be digging in to the ice instead of riding around on top, or if there are big chunks broken out that go deeper than 3/32″ of an inch, you are going to need  to get new blades.  Those are pretty shot.  I had some USGS blades the other day that I sent back and refunded because they looked like they were used in a blender to chop up rocks.  There was no edge anywhere and I don’t know how they could have even drilled a hole with them, unless the rock was the last thing the blade met and they then put those blades away.

I once had a guy send me a Strikemaster Ultra Mag, three-blade set that were so rounded off it took me about 45 minutes and several belts to get past the up turned part of the bottom side of the three blades.  You can’t buy those anymore and the guy called me to ask something after I sent them back with a new edge.  I asked him why they were SO dull and up-turned – it looked like he was drilling in rocks.  Knowing that one cannot buy these blades anymore as he mentioned, he told me that he decided to see if his ice auger could be used to drill post holes in gravel.  That is correct – you read right – he used his auger as a post hole drill – with blades that he could no longer purchase anywhere.   Then, he decided he wanted to use the auger for the ice, but it wouldn’t cut anymore.  Go figure!  The crazy, ridiculous things people will do with their stuff!  And a fairly high percentage of them will later come in seeking a warranty claim after flat-out, knowingly, misusing  their equipment.  It’s just wrong.   Them’s balls, man.

Click Here for Ice Blade Sharpening Prices

So, in ice auger blades, if you detect a burr on the edge after they’ve been sharpened, don’t worry about it.   If you are in a pinch at home, sharpen the blades from the top side only – NOTE – Jiffy and Strikermaster Chipper blades need to be sharpened from the bottom side only and the angle must be matched.   Do not touch the bottom of the blade edge with anything.  You’ll be much happier.  Make sure that you don’t remove 1/8 inch off of one blade and not the same off the other.  They have to be the same size or really, close otherwise you auger will try to walk sideways when you are drilling.  Or you can just go to our web link and read the instruction on how to ship the blades to me.   I’ll sharpen them and send them back.

Ice is coming.  Make life easier for your ice auger engine.  Burn less gas.  Save the dolphins.  All that good stuff.

Go Here to See How to Get your blades to us for sharpening.

Email Change at Red Rock Wilderness Store

After about 6 hours of confusion, pandemonium, and aggravation, we just gave up.  Phone calls to tech supports in in all directions finally concluded for us that we can’t have our current website which is newly located at (this page that you are visiting now) AND our email address at our domain doohickey thing/place or what ever they heck it’s called.

So, instead of spending MORE money because it grows on trees up here in northern Minnesota, we set up a relatively simple, Gmail address for the business.

It is

There, that was simple enough.  We can still send out on our old email address but can’t receive on it (

Our goal is to use the gmail account more anyway and phase out the old one.

SO if you have a question and a quick email will convey it to us, this is our new address:

Used Kevlar Canoes Now Selling Out

Looking for a good, used kevlar canoe at about a $1000 savings or more?   Below is just one example of a steal of a deal in a great, used, Souris River Kevlar Canoe!  This is a three seater, weighs about 53 lbs. and has a max payload of 1300 lbs.    Working payload would be three 200 lb. paddlers and 300 lbs. of  gear.  (That would be overkill in gear, but this canoe will haul it AND with a good deal of freeboard left sticking out of the water.)  The Q-18.5 is a very stable canoe and handles very nicely.  Excellent canoe if little kids are coming along for the ride and start jumping around.  In the canoe world, there are no other canoes like this as it is an epoxy resin, Souris River.  Immensely tougher than other-brand kevlar canoes and more user friendly.  The black strip is an integrated skid plate that is built in to all Souris River Canoes.  Visit our page in Souris River Dealer Here

This is a refinished Souris River Quetico 18.5 three seater

This is a refinished Souris River Quetico 18.5 three seater.

Here’s Something You Actually Need – Kelly Kettle for Boiling Water

What is this funny looking thing?

I don’t care where you go or what the season, you need hot water.  You need hot water for everything.  Making hot water when you are out in the brush in -35 below F or 70 above,  you will want hot water for re-hydrating food, washing a booboo, doing the dishes, etc.  When you are away from modern plumbing and if you’ve ever camped before, making hot water is not an easy task.  Using wood, requires a fireplace, some way to prop up a pot, and fuel.  In an open air fire, usually, you need a lot of wood and therein lies the difficulty.  If it’s raining, a time when you’d need the hot water more so, your available wood supply might be soaking wet.  You get around that by using smaller twigs to bigger twigs so they will dry out quickly when you set them on a flame like a match.  That’s still not that easy to do.  In northern MN from where I hail, I’d go find some birch bark because it can be peeled like an onion and the thin layers dry out and ignite quickly.  Add them to fine balsam twigs from around the dry, dead base branches of any balsam tree or assorted pines, etc., and you can make a fire with one sheltered flame.  That’s the easy part and you can’t boil water on twigs unless you have a lot of them.  Gathering a ton of twigs, while possible, takes time that could be used for something that advances your cause in a more meaningful way, plus you never get your hot water.

So, it was the Irish who developed this water jacket boiler.    With sparse fuels, they developed a way to make hot water in relatively no time and with very little fuel.  These are the coolest dang things since sliced bread as far as I’m concerned.  With mere dry grass, twigs and pine cones, you can make hot water.  Plus, you can use the focused heat out of the top to cook.  This is not som TV gimmick thing.  You put a Kelly Kettle in your pack with some fire wood up the middle, and you are set with the most essential piece of equipment in your cookware arsenal.  Plus, on top of this, you are set for a power outage in you home.  So long as you have a wooden chair in your basement that you can smash up for chips, you can boil water quickly.  Yes, I know it sounds nuts – but is it really?

My buddy Dave bought the large Kelly Kettle in stainless steel from me.  One winter day trip that he was on, he thought he’d give the new Kelly Kettle out for a try.  It was about -35 F (real temp in northern Minnesota – not that phony windchill crap that comes out of the Twin Cities so they can feel equal to the rest of the state – “cold temp envy”, I guess…).  Out in the woods, Dave quickly gathered a big pile of balsam sticks, some birch bark, and pine cones, and bigger wood.  He said he made a big stack of woods and bits so he could produce some hot water in serious temps.  He filled the kettle, lit the fire in the base with some birch bark and twigs, put a pine cone on it to help it along, and then set the water-laden jacket on the  base.   He then dropped a few pine cones down the chimney and disappeared for some more wood.  He was back in 5 minutes with another armload and the water in the Kelly Kettle was already boiling.  He set down the armload of overkill on top of the other big armload of unnecessary sticks and poured himself and the rest of the group a cup of hot chocolate.  Dave told me he could not believe how fast that thing produced hot water.  The other cool part is that it all stores in a a bag and  the sooty parts are inside.   Nothing gets dirty or grimy due to this design.

Yeah – it was that fast and essentially needed about 4 pine cones and some twigs to boil water.  That’s the WHOLE point of a Kelly Kettle.  You won’t run out of fuel making operation very cheap as well.

Now, stop and think about when something like this would be useful to you.  For some folks, that would be all the time; for others less so.   But, if that Kelly Kettle was sitting on the shelf just waiting there, not rotting or falling apart, and ready to go when you needed some boiled water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, etc., when there is no power or during a catastrophe, how happy would you be having that  one simple, particular arrow in your quiver?  I do a lot of wood working and remodeling being in the resort business with 10 cabins.  When I have that one tool that I don’t use a lot but no other tool will do and when I need to use it – it becomes the greatest thing since sliced bread.   A little bit of preparedness can go a really long way.   Now, I know this isn’t a high-speed, vegetable chopper, or a hair burner-off tool, or a polishing system that clears up the headlights on your car.   However,  if you could add one serious thing to your tool box that you really could use a lot when it’s really important, a Kelly Kettle is it.

HOW IT WORKS:  The base (bottom piece with a hole in it) separates from the tea-pot-looking part that rests on top.  The top part is a water jacket which means you poor water into it in the pour spout (where the red plug is).  You build a fire in the base and set the water-filled top part on the burning base.  The top part is build like a chimney and the smoke and flames from the fire below comes out the top after it heats the heck out of the internal walls of the water jacket on it’s way out the top.  Basically, it focuses the heat and makes FAR better use of the energy than an open campfire which takes 10 times the wood to generate the heat to boil water.  Works in extreme cold and any other time as well.

Find out more about the Kelly Kettle here


The Kelly family in Ireland pioneered the development of the Kelly Kettle camping kettle and now, for over 100 years, the unique Kelly Kettle has made boiling water in the outdoors quick and easy – even in extreme weather conditions. Any natural fuel can be used to burn and create the fire which will quickly bring the water in the kettle to a roiling boil. Since only natural fuel is used you don’t have to worry about carrying gas or batteries or other types of fuel with you. Safe and easy to use, the Kelly Kettle will be one of your most used and valued pieces of camping gear. Now with the new Hobo Stove, the Kelly Kettle is a great little camp stove, too.

Our Kelly Kettles have become popular for a variety of reasons with different groups of outdoor enthusiasts.

  • Camping: If you are camping and just want a convenient quick way to heat up your water for hydrating food, a cup of coffee or for personal use, the Base Camp Large Kelly Kettle is great. It will deliver about 7 cups of hot water in just a few minutes. Your camping gear will not be complete without a Kelly Kettle.
  • Back Packing and Hiking: Backpackers and hikers love the Trekker Small Kelly Kettle for its light weight and natural fuel burning ability. Never worry about carrying heavy fuel in your backpack again. The Trekker Kettle holds a little over 2 cups of water which is enough to hydrate your dehydrated evening meal and extra for a cup of hot chocolate or coffee. You will never go on a backpacking trip again without your Trekker Kelly Kettle.
  • Kayaking:Kayaking is another outdoor sport where you don’t want to have to carry any more than necessary. Once again, the Trekker Kelly Kettle is ideal because of its light weight, use of natural fuel and how fast it will boil water when you are exhausted from kayaking all day.
  • Scouts:Scouting is a terrific youth activity and what better way to teach scouts how to camp, cook and purify water than to teach them how to use the Kelly Kettle. The Base Camp Large Kettle and the Scout Medium Kettle are both perfect for scouting activities, competitions and campouts. A scout troop with kettles for each patrol is well set up to provide purified water for use in cooking and personal hygiene for each member of the patrol. — Not that scouts necessarily worry about the latter but at least they have the option.
  • Fishing and Hunting:The Kelly Kettle was created to quickly produce hot water for coffee and other hot drinks while fishing on the beautiful lakes of Ireland. The same is still true today. All three sizes of kettles are well suited for the fisherman or hunter depending on the size of the group and whether you are backpacking into a remote area to catch the big fish or bag the trophy deer or elk or just setting up camp for a leisurely outing.
  • Emergency Preparedness and Survival Use:The Kelly Kettles are an essential element of any emergency preparedness plan since in an emergency or disaster situation the most important part of survival is being able to obtain pure water. Without access to other types of fuel such as gas or propane, it may be difficult to get pure water. Since the Kelly Kettle uses only natural fuels, in a disaster you most likely will still have access to ample natural fuel in order to boil and purify water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene.

The Kelly Kettles are available in three (3) sizes made from aluminum or stainless steel.

  • Base Camp Large Kettle: This kettle holds 54 oz or about 7 cups of water and comes in aluminum or stainless steel.
  • Scout Medium Kettle: This kettle holds 44 oz or about 5 ½ cups and is available in aluminum or stainless steel.
  • Trekker Small Kettle: This kettle holds 17oz or about 2 cups and is available in aluminum and stainless steel.
  • Also available for use with the Kettles is the Cook Set made of stainless steel. This accessory is great for heating food over the top of the kettle and for cooking some foods over the fire in the base.

Be Wet – then Dry- And Don’t Stink – Striker Elements Shorelander Portage Shoes

Rugged Country or the Beach?

If you own a more delicate model of kevlar canoe or maybe a wooden home-built canoe or kayak, you may be somewhat obsessed with never touching the shore with that watercraft for several good reasons.   You dread putting a scratch in it or worse, a hole through the side.   Whatever the reason you feel compelled to jump over the side into neck deep water to then carry your canoe to shore  over your head like an M-16, we have the NEW shoe for you.  Why?  Because jumping into the lake and landing on a sharp rock is far less good, particularly when out in the woods and far from home.

Wet Feet in Summer Good (as long as they can dry)

Jumping in the water for wading or whatever with tennis/running shoes on can work sort of, but for the rest of the day, you’ll have squishy shoes.   Not only that, many running shoes are simply not made to be submersed and they can and do lose their support, bend all up on rocky terrain, and become even hazardous to wear.  When you enter a store in civilization, your squishy feet are heard and can sometimes attract the “stink-eye” of the business owner.   Eventually, those wet shoes will turn into real stinkers and end up outside on the porch next to the door because the wife won’t let them back in the building due to the insidious and strengthening rotting goat smell.   You need something better and we have it.

Striker Elements Shorelander Portage Shoes

I have one on my right foot while I type and the first thing I noticed is the breathe-ability compared to my left foot which has a worn out Saucony running shoe on it.  The room temp is 67.3 degrees in here and my right foot actually feels a tad cold.  Turns out that  Shorelanders have mesh sides and tops.  They breathe like a window screen.   They are also nice looking shoes as well.   Not too loud in flashy colors as to draw attention to your feet by passersby as some footwear can be, either.   This Striker Elements Shorelander  lace up model looks a lot like my Saucony running shoe (I only run when I’m being chased, incidentally)

The differences between the Shorelander Portage shoe is that not only does it have a decent, protective sole designed for walking in rocky, slippery, under water terrain, it also has openings under the perforated, closed-cell, insole.  There are numerous stainless steel screens under the insole that allow your foot to drain instantly when you leave the water.   If you’ve ever submerged your running shoes, you know how much water comes out of the lake with you when you set foot on the beach.  It doesn’t want to drain because those shoes aren’t made for getting wet.  Shorelanders, on the other hand, are designed specifically for that task and if Striker designed them, they are going to be not just good , but instead, excellent.  We’ve sold Striker Brand Ice fishing clothing for years now and their designer Shawn is a genius in simplicity and practical design.  From what I  have witnessed in every product that he builds, it blows even the “big-name” designers out of the water.  And, they know it as we, as an independent retailer,  watch competing product lines change with “new” features and improvements to try to compete/match/counter with Striker Brands.  You know they are doing something right when everybody else is trying hard to follow.  (I should be getting paid for these glowing words of approval, but I’m speaking from a lot of experience and learning the product lines we sell.  They are all good.  Striker, however,  is always 2-3 steps better than the rest of them.)

Need more info?  Below is a video review of what they are like inside and out.  The big question is not “will they perform”?  That’s pretty obvious that they will.  The real question is “will they last”?  They are brand new, so I can’t answer that.  From what I can see, they are made very well with a great deal of attention paid to workmanship.  There is no excessive glue sticking out at seams, everything is made using closed cell foam of varying densities to improve traction while maintaining comfort and durability.  The stitching is very neat and precise.  Plus, they say Striker on them.  I’m going to conclude that for most people they will hold up very nicely for several enjoyable summers providing you don’t cut one with an ax while fooling around in a Boundary Waters campsite in Minnesota.  Leave the ax at home.  Bring these shoes instead.  After that great canoe trip, head down to Florida and go cast for some blues off of Cocoa Beach for me in your Striker Elements Shorelanders.  ORDER HERE

From Striker’s Page – It’s to-the-point, but “yawwwwnnnnn”.

Shorelander Portage Shoes are far more than the name implies. Constructed with mesh uppers with draining insoles and side release ports in the soles, these ultra-light shoes can be worn with or without socks. Shorelander shoes are perfect for boating, beach hikes, portaging, river floating, kayaking, wetland trekking, shore fishing and for casual use. Drains in the footbed lead to side drain ports in the sole so any water getting in drains back out. With side drain ports, you can walk in wet grass while your feet stay dry! Available in lace or slip-on styles.

  • Mesh Uppers
  • Removable EVA Insole
  • Screen Drains in Footbed
  • Side Port Drains in Sole

Just think – You could vacationing right here at Northwind Lodge – Click to visit our website!