CNC Fabricated Ice Fishing Cusk Rigs

The Long Winter Months

CNC Fabricated Ice Fishing Cusk rigs is our topic today. So what do you do in those long cold winter months ? Stuck inside staring at the TV set ? Bored Yet ? Why not get out there and try something a little different for a change ? Let’s go ice fishing !

This past time is one of my favorites and comes for only a few short weeks out of each year. It’s a great opportunity to meet others and show off your shack you built. Everything from politics to golf and sports is discussed out on the ice. Why not strike up a conversation about who you are, what you do and the fact that you own a fabrication shop. This will work to your advantage.

CNC Fabricated Ice Fishing Cusk Rigs

These CNC Fabricated Ice Fishing Cusk Rigs are simple to fabricate. You don’t need a cnc machine but we’ll be programming ours in three different styles for you to choose from. You can make them as fancy as you’d like but I need to make them so they comply with my State laws.

The State of New Hampshire requires each Cusk device has your name and address on it. A 3/0 hook is required with a 1 ounce weighted sinker that’s lead free. The hook to the sinker is no more then 6″ so we use a premeasured wire leader. The line has to be hand wound not mechanically wound. Make sure you have enough line on your rig, the sinker has to sit on the bottom. A reflective device is added to alert ATV’s so your equipment doesn’t get damaged.

Ice Fishing Setups

CNC Fabricated Ice Fishing Cusk Rigs are one of three ways to ice fish. I’ll discuss the other two set ups that are used for ice fishing. Cusk set ups are a passive way to ice fish. This allows for other opportunities out on the ice. Visiting with others, playing a game of cards in the shanty or just plain old relaxing. Let’s discuss the other two ways we ice fish below.

Tip up

photo by Paul VanDerWerf

This is what I most think of when ice fishing comes to mind. Tip ups are devices that break down for easy transport. Similar to a cush setup but with a flag that “tips up” to indicate a bite or a strike. This makes periodic checking of the bait less frequent. These devices are generally purchased and cost more than a fabricated Cusk setup. They simply unfold to open up, are baited with live or chum type bait. The lower assembly is placed down into the hole that you drilled with your ice auger. Slack is taken up, the flag is set and now it’s a waiting game. Please look to see what your laws are in your home state or area that you’ll be ice fishing in.

Jigging Pole

photo by igrishkoff

This is another terrific way to ice fish for any species.The use of a jigging pole or rod offers constant entertainment for the ice fisherman or woman. A jigging pole is nothing more than miniature fishing rod thats main purpose is to be save space inside a shanty. Live baits, chum bait, spoons, jigs, rubber baits, artificial bait is all used on a jigging rod. The cost of these rods can range from a couple of bucks to hundreds of dollars  for high end rods and reels.

What is a Cusk ?

photo by NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

So, what is a cusk exactly ? Why do we go after them in the first place ? Cusk have been referred to as Burbot, Ling, Lawyer’s, eelpout, coney-fish and lingcod. They’re a member of the genus Lota and are the only freshwater species of the cod family. They resemble the head of a hornpout and the body of an eel.

Cusk are caught during the summer months but winter is where the action is. This species of fish spawns under the ice late season and flourishes in cold water. They like rocky bottoms and feed on many food sources but crayfish are their favorite. Being nocturnal is what make fishing for these so much fun. Trout and salmon species are fished for during daylight hours but not cusk.

The average size cush for my state are 1.5-3 pounds in size but 4-6 pounders aren’t unheard of. They put up a great fight and prized by some as the best eating freshwater fish there is. Deep fried for fish & chips , baked, broiled or a chowder, you won’t be disappointed.

Design & Fabrication

CNC Fabricated Ice Fishing Cusk Rigs are a snap to design. I’ll include for you 3 different designs for you to choose from. They will cover the basic requirements for my state laws, be lightweight and easily portable. No special material is needed, these are built from scrap materials around the shop. The thickness for mine is 1/2 inch to keep weight down. After assembly they’re stored in 5 gallon buckets with marker sticks.


CNC Fabricated Ice Fishing Cusk Rigs are built with reclaimed,repurposed or purchased materials. Hardwood, softwood and composite are all acceptable. Want to turn this into production and make these for resale? Purchase sheets of materials and nest all the pieces together in CAD. Requiring only a couple of mills, this project would cut out quickly.


Don’t want to sit on the sofa this winter ? Tired of the short days and long dark days ? Why not consider trying some cush fishing ? This is an incredible past time for young and old, man or woman. The cost out of pocket is minimal and the reward is fun and food. Please just check with your local laws to make sure you comply with them and prevent any misunderstanding.

Thank You for taking the time to read

~An Engraver in The Wwoods



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