Ice Fishing Tips -Check your local regulations! > Smelt

Smelt Jigging Board Build


AT Grimaldi:
I have been smelt fishing for a few years now and have found, hands down, the most effective and easiest way of jigging for smelt for me  is with a smelt board.  I posted about this topic a few years ago, but am building a new 7'4" board and thought I'd share what I have learned with the community.  Please bear in mind that nothing here is my own.  I have learned it all on

What you will need for materials:

1 x 1"x6"x7'4" select pine with no knots from Lowes
8 x Schooley reels - red in my case from Dag's Bait
8 x UL spring bobbers from Kittery Trading Post
8 x 10" pieces of spring metal from 40UP tip up parts from AJ's Bait
8 x brass electrical crimp sleeves from Center Hardware
8 x 10" sections of 1/4" red heat shrink tubing from You-Do-It Electronics
8 x 3/4" sections of 1/4" red heat shrink tubing from You-Do-It Electronics
24 x 1/4" plastic cable straps from Center Hardware
16 x #6 x 1/2" stainless steel screws from Lowes
3 x stainless eye bolts
1 x 6" 550 paracord pull handle
2 x 4' bungie cords with hooks on ends - homemade
wood stain from Center Hardware
spray polyurethane from Center Hardware

Step 1:  Cut wood to desired length.  The first thing I did was take a piece of select pine with no knots and cut it to 7'4".  Why that length?  Most 4 man smelt shacks are 8' outside width.  7'4" will allow me to maximize the entire length of the raceway.

Step 2:  Place reels on wood where you want them to be attached.  In my case, I put them abutting each end of the board then at 12" apart from each other for a total of 8 reels on the board.  I may consider putting other reels on the board later, but felt that the reels being so close would only cause tangles and stop me from fishing.  12" seems to be a good distance of separation.

Step 3:  Measure the center of the screws for the top and bottom of each reel and square them to the bottom of the board such that each reel will be mounted perfectly vertically.  I then screw them into the board to make sure the screw holes will line up properly before staining.

Step 4:  1.5" down from the top of the board, I make a line along the entire length of the board.  At each 1" mark on that line, drill a hole through the board then countersink those holes for a finished touch.  These are the holes you can use to screw the board to the side of the shack.  Since each camp's shacks are constructed differently, having holes along the entire length of the board insures you will always be able to screw right into a stud on the wall of the shack.

Step 5:  8" in from each end, on the top edge of the board, drill a pilot hole for the screw eyes.  This is where you will hook the bungies and bungie the board to the shack so you can jig all 8 lines at once.  You will attach the board to the shack via the screws or the bungies, but not both.

Step 6:  In the center of the board, on the bottom edge of the board, drill a pilot hole for a screw eye.  This is where you will attach the 550 paracord handle.

Step 7:  Clean off board with a dry cloth and stain or paint the color of your choice.  Allow to dry over night.

Step 8:  Spray polyurethane the entire board, front, back and all edges.  a few light coats is better than one heavy coat which will drip on you.  Allow to dry over night.

Step 9:  Once dry, screw in the reels and the screw eyes.

Step 10:  Insert the spring metal into the 10" sections of heat shrink tubing and heat with a heat gun to tightly shrink the tubing to the spring metal.  Bend the metal, at a right angle, 4" from one end.  Place the brass crimp sleeves at the end of the spring metal which is 6" long and attached with fly tying thread.  Then take the 1" section of heat shrink tubing and slide over both the crimp sleeve and the spring metal and shrink it to cover up the thread and secure the brass crimp sleeve to the end of the spring metal.  This will be the eye of your spring metal through which goes the fluorocarbon line.  Now slide the spring bobber into the brass crimp sleeve and attach with the heat shrink tubing which came with the spring bobber.  If done properly, you should be able to slide in and out the spring bobber through the brass crimp sleeve.

Step 11:  Turn the board over so the back is facing up.  Line up each spring assembly from Step 10 over the center of each reel.  Now affix in place with the 3 plastic cable straps equally spaces out.

Step 12:  Load each reel with 40' or so of 6# Seagar fluorocarbon line.  Tie on Hali jigs of various sizes and colors.

You are now done.  Yeah!!!!

To fish the board, you can either do it by screwing the board into the side of the shack and "pluck" each line to give it motion or you can hook the board with the bungies and attach to the house lines above.  The second method is the way I do it, as with a simple pull of the 550 paracord handle, you jig all 8 lines at once.  Be sure to tip the jigs with a 1/4" section of seaworm and keep it fresh.

I usually stagger the depth of the lines in 5' increments.  I measure this distance by pulling the line between my arms and 5' is the approximate distance of my arms apart.  Once I keep getting hits on a certain line, I move them all to that depth. 

Other jigs I have found work well are Hali jigs, Rat Finkees, Swedish Pimples and sabikis cut in half.  I generally think there is no need for the sabikis as this will only lead to tangles which have to be cut out and re-rigged at the precise moment fish are hitting.

I hope this helps someone the way others' posts have helped me so much.

That is awesome, post up some action pictures sometime would love to see them. We don't have smelt here.

P Meyette:
looks intresting and good details in the making of it

this looks great. just gathered up materials to make a prototype.
Question: let's say you get a fish on line 2. You pull it up like handlining, I assume. While pulling up line2, you get another hit on line 3. While pulling in line 3, might you not start to get tangled with line 2?


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