Icing the Competition

In most parts of the country the water has yet to turn solid and draw the crowds that brave the cold for their chance at pulling a trophy fish through the ice. Ice fishing is growing in popularity, not only from the attention it is receiving by traditional consumer based media. Another reason for its growth in popularity is from the attention manufacturers are giving it and by the higher quality products they are producing for the anglers who live for the cold.

Before unheard of, today anglers travel the globe to partake in ice fishing. Gearing up those anglers has also grown in popularity amongst many fishing tackle retailers, and getting a leg up on your competition can be a great way to make your cash register continue to ring as the local waters grow thicker with ice and anglers.

To get a jump on your competition, now is the time to get your store iced out for the customers who will soon be coming in to gear themselves up for their time on the ice. While you do not need to turn your entire store into an ice fishing mecca, having a dedicated and well-stocked section with a nice selection of quality ice fishing equipment will set you apart from your competition.

Stocking your store with the proper selection of ice fishing equipment is much like gearing yourself up for a day on the ice. Think of what you would want with you and have a selection of those products in your store.

Ice fishing is still fishing and a rod is an integral part of the experience. Ice fishing rods come in three main actions: light, heavy and medium-heavy. They also come in varying lengths. Know what anglers in your locale prefer and be sure to stock up on those, but also have a few non-traditional choices as well.

Be sure your staff understands ice fishing rods and what each action is meant for. The non-traditional choices along with your staff’s knowledge will help distinguish your store from others in the eyes of your customers.

While some anglers still use their warm-weather reels for ice fishing, having a selection of quality ice-specific reels will be a welcome treat for many anglers. Again, educate your staff on the difference between these two reel styles and why anglers will be better off with a newer ice-specific reel.

While some anglers will hold their rods and reels while jigging, many more prefer to set up a series of tip-ups. Be sure to have something for everyone and every fishing style. Tip-ups and replacement parts will take up little space on your shelves and again prove to your customers that you are committed to their sport.

No matter how great an angler’s rod and reel is, if they cannot get through the ice to the fish it is a waste of money for them. Be sure to stock quality augers for them as well. If space is an issue, stock fewer options but be sure to have various price points for your customers. Not stocking augers is a tip-off to many anglers that you’re not as committed to supplying them with ice fishing equipment.

If any segment of ice fishing has advanced over the last few years, electronics is it. No matter which style or brand you stock, be sure to have a wide range of styles and price points for every angler. Quality equipment will quickly separate itself from the pack on the ice, so be sure to know what you’re selling and why.

While fresh bait is a must for many anglers, more and more are turning to artificial lures each year. Know what the local anglers prefer and stock the best quality you can find. Some anglers may only stop in to stock up on fresh bait, but that is a daily sale that will eventually lead to more if your customers know they can rely on your store. If you find that a certain color or style is selling quickly, make a mental note of it and get more in stock as soon as possible.

Beyond the Basics
Depending on your store’s location and how much floor space you can dedicate to ice fishing, having a selection of portable ice huts takes up valuable floor space, but again it shows your commitment to the sport.

Having a selection of smaller ice fishing equipment items though, will not only take up less space, but also help add to each sale. Having items like hole scoops, heaters, and batteries or gas for them, ice picks, shovels, stools and cold weather clothing will again help set your store apart. They will also remind your customers that going beyond the basics may make their day on the hard water that much more enjoyable.

How popular is ice fishing in your area? Are you already stocking the shelves to cash in on this popular winter sport? Share your plans or suggestions with your fellow fishing tackle retailers on our Facebook page or in our LinkedIn group.