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I never thought I would need a product to keep my ice fishing hole open, but when I first saw the Ice Defence Pro in action on In-Depth Outdoors TV I just had to have one. For $140 CAD it kind of feels like a frivolous accessory, especially when you can buy an ice scoop for $5, but honestly, once you get out and use it while hole hopping in the cold you will not go back!
So, what is it?
The Ice Defense is a pretty simple concept – the pump draws water up from just below the surface and pushes it out at the top creating a recirculating loop in the hole. We all know that as water freezes it floats to the top, so the act of recirculating the water helps to keep that water from stratifying and forming ice. Given a bit of time, the process is efficient enough to even melt slush and ice that is already in the hole. The only caveat is that the magic takes a few minutes – if you are rapidly hole hopping the Ice Defense won’t make too much difference, but if you are stationary for more than 5 minutes at a time you will definitely appreciate a slush-free fishing hole.
In the field
Pulling the Ice Defense from the box, you can tell it’s a well-built product. Cold Nation Outdoors spent over 10 years developing the system and I’m convinced the wrinkles are ironed out. The pump housing feels durable and has so far been impact resistant. During my first use, I pulled the pump from the water and I noticed that the water drained out from the bottom immediately. I was relieved to see that because it means water won’t freeze inside the pump and crack the housing when hopping from hole to hole.
Another great feature of the Ice Defense that isn’t discussed in the brochure is the built-in interference rejection. The motor speed control housing has interference rejection circuitry that ensures the pump will not cause noise on your sonar unit. It’s also stated that the built-in circuitry will prevent noise from other sonar units as well – bonus!
In use, I found that the water outflow from the pump would push my light line and finesse lures around. If you are used to watching your line to detect light bites it will definitely throw off your game. To help combat this, I aimed the two water outflow ports to either side of the hole and kept my line in the less turbulent middle area. If it was a particularly tough bite I might be convinced to turn the flow off, but keeping that flow up helps prevent ice from building up on your line – it even works to prevent ice build-up on braided line!
I’ve used the Ice Defense for a few trips and always while fishing outside. The constant water circulation keeps holes open well below -20°C and all the components are rated down to -50°C. Ice shavings, blowing snow or freezing temperatures don’t stand a chance against the Ice Defense. If you are one of those anglers that are constantly picking the ice out of your hole, it’s an easy product to recommend.