Picture sweet little cherries dangling enticingly on low-hanging vines. Coveting eyes watch the juicy fruits intently, insatiably. Now swap the cherries for phosphorescent ice jigs hovering motionlessly beneath a ‘vine’ of arrow straight monofilament. Line from the machined circular spool peels off in smooth, coil-free ribbons. The connection between ice angler and lure is distinctly direct—like manipulating a marionette.

The method known as “tightlining” has for years garnered a sort of cult  following among select practitioners—particularly anglers from Michigan’s inland lake regions. A simple reel—essentially no more than a spool with a handle—coupled with an appropriate rod allows premium line to feed straight off the spool, which eliminates the line coils that otherwise cause wildly spinning lures and botched opportunities.

NEWS FLASH #1: Tightlining is radically effective, triggering and detecting bites from extraordinarily picky panfish brutes.

NEWS FLASH #2: A premium quality tightline rod and reel combo has never been built... until now.

Working in concert with panfish savant Brian “Bro” Brosdahl, the ice insiders at Frabill have developed the Straight Line Ice Series—the first advanced tactic-specific rod and reel combo to grace the ice in some time. The pro-grade Straight Line reel resembles and functions like an elite-class fly reel, except it won’t wimp out when the thermometer cracks zero. Its wide  aluminum spool design manages the lightest lines with precision, all but eliminating coils and twists for the ultimate in tightlining control. A liquid-smooth drag protects wispy lines, while an oversized reel handle yields positive control.

An all aluminum reel body minimizes weight, perfectly pairing it to one of three technique-centered rods. Each solid graphite rod blank (24-inch Ultra-Light, 27-inch Quick Tip, 32-inch Quick Tip) sports fine-tuned aluminum oxide guides, a deluxe hook keeper and solid cork handle. The Straight Line Combos were matched and made in ice fishing heaven, bestowing on their fans a sort of magician to wand relationship.

“Tightlining is an art,” said Frabill’s Bro. “It’s likely the finest means of presenting small baits to panfish ever developed. I think of it almost like ‘hand-feeding’ the fish. Line no longer serves as a disconnect with the fish. You’re 100-percent locked into presentation, detecting subtle takes never realized with spinning gear. Clearly, Frabill’s new Straight Line Combos are poised to change the game. I can’t hide this trick in the dark corners of my rod locker anymore. It’s much too deadly. And so are these combos.

“Now where I’ll be using them? That’s a secret I’m going to keep.”