Ice Fishing Guru

Mastering the Art of Ice Fishing with the Right Rod

Winter is here, and that means it’s time to embrace the frozen frontier of ice fishing. But before you venture out onto the icy lakes and ponds, you need to make sure you have the right rod by your side.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve deep into the world of ice fishing rods, exploring the different types, features, and materials that can make or break your fishing experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned ice angler or a curious beginner, this article will equip you with the knowledge you need to master the art of ice fishing and make your next trip a success.

So grab a cup of hot cocoa and get ready to discover the secrets of the perfect ice fishing rod!

II. Unraveling the Ice Fishing Rod

When it comes to ice fishing, having the right equipment is essential. Among the key tools for success is the ice fishing rod. While similar in concept to traditional fishing rods, ice fishing rods have unique features that make them better suited for the specific challenges and conditions of ice fishing.

A. Unique features of Ice Fishing Rods compared to traditional fishing rods

Ice fishing rods are specifically designed to withstand the harsh conditions encountered on frozen bodies of water. They are typically shorter and more compact than traditional fishing rods, allowing for better maneuverability in tight spaces. The reduced length also provides increased sensitivity, crucial for detecting subtle bites and movements under the ice.

Ice fishing rods commonly feature a solid or tubular blank construction made of materials like fiberglass, graphite, or a combination of both. The sturdiness of these materials ensures the rod can withstand the extreme cold and the added pressure of fighting fish in icy waters.

Additionally, ice fishing rods often have smaller and lighter reel seats compared to their traditional counterparts. This design reduces weight and bulkiness, making it easier to handle the rod in freezing temperatures and with gloved hands.

B. Why Ice Fishing Rods are shorter and more compact?

The shorter length of ice fishing rods serves several purposes. Firstly, it allows anglers to fish through small ice holes without the rod hitting the sides. This is especially important when fishing in crowded areas where space is limited.

Secondly, shorter rods offer increased sensitivity. With less rod length, there is minimal flex, enabling anglers to detect even the slightest movements or nibbles on their bait. This heightened sensitivity is crucial for ice fishing, where fish tend to be less active and bites can be very subtle.

Furthermore, the compact size of ice fishing rods makes them easier to transport and store. When venturing onto the ice, it’s important to travel as light as possible. The shorter length and compact design of ice fishing rods facilitate their portability and allow anglers to carry multiple rods with ease.

C. Highlighting the material used and their role in durability

The materials used in ice fishing rods play a significant role in their durability and performance. Fiberglass and graphite are the most commonly used materials due to their strength and resilience.

Fiberglass rods are known for their toughness and flexibility. They can handle the rigors of ice fishing, including the pressure exerted by large fish and the occasional accidental impact on the ice. Fiberglass rods also tend to have slower actions, providing a forgiving bend that can prevent the line from breaking when a fish makes sudden movements under the ice.

On the other hand, graphite rods are favored for their lightweight and increased sensitivity. Graphite is stiffer than fiberglass, allowing for greater sensitivity to bites and movements. This material is also highly responsive, transmitting vibrations along the rod that enable anglers to detect subtle changes in the water.

Some ice fishing rods combine both fiberglass and graphite materials to strike a balance between durability and sensitivity. These hybrid rods offer the best of both worlds, making them versatile options for various ice fishing scenarios.

Understanding the unique features and materials used in ice fishing rods is essential for selecting the right rod to enhance your ice fishing experience. In the next section, we will dive into the optimal use of ice fishing rods and the key features to consider when purchasing one in “III. Optimal Use of Ice Fishing Rods”.

III. Optimal Use of Ice Fishing Rods

Now that you have a good understanding of ice fishing rods, it’s time to explore how to get the most out of them. We’ll cover everything from setting up and using an ice fishing rod to selecting the right bait and lures.

A. Properly Setting Up and Using an Ice Fishing Rod

Setting up an ice fishing rod is relatively simple, but it’s crucial to do it correctly for a successful fishing experience. Follow these steps:

  1. Attach the Reel: Use the provided screws or clips to secure the reel to the rod. Make sure it sits snugly in place.
  2. Thread the Line: Run the fishing line through the rod guides, starting from the tip and working your way down. Ensure the line is properly threaded and doesn’t get tangled.
  3. Add the Leader Line: Attach a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader line to the mainline using a strong knot like the improved clinch knot. This leader line helps prevent fish from seeing the mainline.
  4. Choose a Suitable Hook or Jig: Based on the target fish species and the fishing conditions, select an appropriate hook or jig. Attach it to the end of the leader line using a strong knot or snap.

Once your ice fishing rod is set up, it’s time to start using it. Here are a few tips:

  • Hold the rod with a firm grip but allow some flexibility to detect subtle movements and bites.
  • Practice patience and give the fish enough time to fully take the bait before setting the hook.
  • Use short, controlled movements to jig the bait up and down. Experiment with the speed and rhythm to find what works best for the fish you’re targeting.

B. Essential Features to Look for When Purchasing an Ice Fishing Rod

Choosing the right ice fishing rod is crucial for a successful and enjoyable ice fishing experience. Here are some essential features to consider:

  • Length: Opt for a shorter ice fishing rod, typically between 24 and 36 inches, as they provide better control and sensitivity.
  • Power and Action: Match the rod’s power and action to the fish species you intend to catch. Light power rods work well for panfish, while medium power rods are more suitable for larger fish like walleye or pike.
  • Material: Look for ice fishing rods made from durable and lightweight materials like fiberglass or carbon fiber composite.
  • Reel Type: Choose between a spinning reel or an inline reel, considering your personal preference and fishing style.

C. The Art of Jigging with an Ice Fishing Rod

Jigging is a popular technique in ice fishing that involves imparting movement to the bait to attract fish. Here’s how to master the art of jigging with an ice fishing rod:

  • Start with small jigging motions, lifting the rod tip and then letting it fall back down.
  • Vary the speed and depth of your jigging to entice different fish species.
  • Observe the fish’s response to your jigging and adjust your technique accordingly.
  • Pay attention to any subtle nibbles or changes in tension on the line, as these may indicate a fish biting.

D. Pairing the Right Bait and Lures with Ice Fishing Rods

Choosing the right bait and lures can significantly increase your chances of success in ice fishing. Consider the following factors:

  • Fish Species: Research the preferred bait for the specific fish species you’re targeting. For example, maggots or waxworms work well for panfish, while minnows are often favored by walleye and pike.
  • Fishing Conditions: Adjust your bait selection based on the water clarity, temperature, and time of year. Experiment with different colors, sizes, and shapes to find what works best on any given day.
  • Technique: Different baits and lures are effective for different jigging techniques. For example, small jigs tipped with soft plastics or live bait are popular choices for vertical jigging.

By understanding how to set up and use your ice fishing rod, selecting the right bait and lures, and considering key features when purchasing a rod, you’ll be well-equipped to make the most of your ice fishing experience. In the next section, we’ll delve into the importance of sensitivity, adjustability, and adaptability in ice fishing rods.

IV. Sensitivity, Adjustability & Adaptability in Ice Fishing Rods

Ice fishing requires a unique set of skills and equipment due to the challenging conditions anglers face when fishing on frozen lakes and rivers. In this section, we will explore the importance of sensitivity, adjustability, and adaptability in ice fishing rods and how they contribute to a successful ice fishing experience.

A. The Role of Sensitivity in Ice Fishing Rods

Sensitivity is a crucial factor in ice fishing rods as it allows anglers to detect even the slightest nibbles or bites from fish below the ice. Unlike traditional fishing rods, ice fishing rods are specifically designed to enhance sensitivity, enabling anglers to feel the most delicate movements underwater. This heightened sensitivity ensures that anglers can respond quickly and set the hook at the right moment, increasing the chances of a successful catch.

When choosing an ice fishing rod, look for models that are known for their exceptional sensitivity. Rods made from graphite or carbon fiber materials are typically more sensitive compared to those made from fiberglass. Additionally, opting for a rod with a sensitive tip can further enhance your ability to detect subtle movements.

B. How Adjustable Lengths Aid in Catching Different Species

Ice fishing rods often come with adjustable lengths to accommodate various fishing conditions and target different fish species. The ability to adjust the length of your rod allows you to fish at different depths, ensuring you can effectively target specific fish species.

For example, when fishing shallower waters, you may prefer a shorter rod for better control and maneuverability. On the other hand, when targeting fish in deeper waters, a longer rod can be beneficial as it provides greater casting distance and helps combat line resistance from the ice hole.

Consider the fishing conditions and the species you are targeting when selecting an ice fishing rod. Research the recommended lengths for the specific fish species you want to catch, as different fish may require rods of varying lengths for optimal results.

C. Adapting Ice Fishing Rod Setup Depending on Fishing Conditions

Fishing conditions can vary significantly in ice fishing, and being able to adapt your rod setup accordingly is essential. Factors such as wind, temperature, and ice thickness can impact the performance of your ice fishing rod.

In windy conditions, for example, a shorter and stiffer rod may be preferable as it offers better control and reduces the chance of the rod bending excessively, leading to a lost fish. On the other hand, when fishing in extreme cold temperatures, a more flexible rod can help prevent the line from freezing and enhance sensitivity.

Additionally, adjusting the position of your reel seat along the rod can also affect the balance and performance of the rod. Experiment with different setups and be prepared to make adjustments based on the specific fishing conditions you encounter.

By understanding the role of sensitivity, adjustability, and adaptability in ice fishing rods, you can make informed decisions when choosing the right equipment for your ice fishing adventures. In the next section, “V. Caring for Your Ice Fishing Rod,” we will discuss specific care and maintenance tips to prolong the lifespan of your ice fishing rod and ensure optimal performance.

V. Caring for Your Ice Fishing Rod

Just like any other piece of fishing equipment, your ice fishing rod requires proper care and maintenance to ensure optimal performance and longevity. By following these care tips, you can keep your ice fishing rod in top condition for many successful ice fishing trips to come.

A. Specific Care and Maintenance Tips for Ice Fishing Rods

Ice fishing rods are built to withstand the harsh conditions of frozen lakes and extreme temperatures. However, they still need regular attention and care to stay in prime fishing condition. Here are some specific tips to keep your ice fishing rod in tip-top shape:

  1. Keep it Clean: After each ice fishing outing, make sure to clean your rod thoroughly. Wipe off any dirt, debris, or moisture using a soft cloth. This helps prevent corrosion and ensures your rod stays in good condition.
  2. Protect the Guides: The guides, or the small rings along the length of the rod, are crucial for smooth line movement. Inspect them regularly for any signs of damage or wear. If you notice cracks or loose guides, get them repaired or replaced promptly to avoid further damage.
  3. Store Properly: When not in use, store your ice fishing rod in a secure location. Avoid placing heavy objects on top of it or leaning it against sharp surfaces that could damage the rod or its guides. Consider using a rod case or sleeve for added protection during transportation and storage.
  4. Check the Reel: Inspect your reel regularly for any signs of damage or rust. Keep the reel clean and lubricated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This ensures smooth operation and prolongs the lifespan of your reel.

B. Identifying Signs of Wear and Tear on Your Ice Fishing Rod

Regular inspection and maintenance allow you to identify potential issues with your ice fishing rod before they become major problems. Keep an eye out for the following signs of wear and tear:

  • Visible cracks or fractures in the rod blank
  • Loose or damaged guides
  • Worn-out or damaged reel seat
  • Excessive bending or warping of the rod

If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to address them promptly. Small repairs can often prevent further damage and save you from needing to replace the entire rod.

C. Maximizing the Performance and Lifespan of Ice Fishing Rods

To get the most out of your ice fishing rod, follow these additional tips:

  • Use the right line and tackle for the specific fishing conditions and target species. Using inappropriate line weights or lures can put unnecessary strain on your rod.
  • Avoid exposing your rod to extreme temperature changes, such as leaving it in a hot car or subjecting it to rapid temperature fluctuations. These conditions can weaken the rod’s structure over time.
  • Regularly inspect the rod’s ferrules (the sections where the rod pieces connect). Ensure they are securely fastened and not coming loose. Loose ferrules can affect the rod’s performance and may lead to breakage.

By caring for your ice fishing rod and addressing any issues promptly, you can enjoy reliable performance and maximize its lifespan. In the next section, we’ll discuss the different types of ice fishing rods available and how to choose the right one for your specific needs.

VI. Ice Fishing Rods: Catering to Different Anglers and Conditions

Ice fishing rods come in various designs and configurations to cater to different anglers and fishing conditions. Understanding the specific needs and demands of ice fishing allows manufacturers to produce specialized ice fishing rods that optimize performance and enhance the angling experience.

A. Ice Fishing Rod Designs Based on the Type of Fish an Angler is Targeting

Ice fishing rods are designed with specific fishing targets in mind. Different fish species require different techniques, presentations, and rod characteristics for successful ice fishing. Here are a few examples of ice fishing rod designs tailored to specific fish species:

  1. Panfish Rods: Panfish, such as bluegill and crappie, typically require lighter tackle and more sensitive rods for detecting subtle bites. Panfish rods are often designed to have ultra-light or light power ratings and fast or extra-fast action to provide better sensitivity and quick hooksets.
  2. Walleye Rods: Walleye fishing often involves jigging or deadsticking techniques. Ice fishing rods for walleye are usually medium to medium-light power with moderate to fast action. These rods offer a balance of sensitivity and enough backbone to handle larger walleye.
  3. Northern Pike Rods: Northern pike are aggressive predators that require sturdy rods to handle their strong strikes and powerful runs. Pike rods are often medium-heavy to heavy power with a fast action. These rods offer the strength and backbone needed to handle bigger fish.
  4. Trout and Salmon Rods: Ice fishing for trout and salmon often involves targeting larger fish in deeper waters. Rods designed for trout and salmon are usually longer and have medium to medium-heavy power ratings to handle larger baits and provide better control when fighting fish.

Choosing an ice fishing rod specifically designed for the target species can greatly improve your chances of success and ensure a more enjoyable fishing experience.

B. Impact of Severe Winter Conditions on the Performance of Ice Fishing Rods

Ice fishing takes place in extreme winter conditions, which can significantly impact the performance of fishing rods. Understanding the effects of severe weather conditions can help anglers make informed decisions when selecting ice fishing rods:

Extreme Cold: Extremely low temperatures can cause rod materials to become brittle, leading to increased susceptibility to breakage. It is important to choose rods made from durable, cold-resistant materials such as fiberglass, carbon fiber, or graphite composite to withstand the harsh conditions.

Ice Build-Up: Ice build-up on the guides of the rod can affect the rod’s sensitivity and casting ability. Some ice fishing rods are designed with larger guides to prevent ice from accumulating and impeding line movement.

Strong Winds: Windy conditions can create a challenge when it comes to rod control and detecting subtle bites. Ice fishing rods with shorter lengths and fast action are often preferred in windy conditions, as they offer better control and sensitivity in challenging weather.

Heavy Snow: Heavy snowfall can make it difficult to detect light bites and affect the sensitivity of the rod. Opting for rods with highly sensitive tips or using bite indicators can help overcome the challenges posed by heavy snow.

Awareness of the impact of severe winter conditions on ice fishing rods allows anglers to choose the right equipment that can withstand the challenges and ensure a successful outing.

C. Specialized Ice Fishing Rods for Children or Novice Anglers

Ice fishing is a popular activity for children and novice anglers, providing an opportunity to learn the sport and enjoy the winter outdoors. Specialized ice fishing rods are available to cater to the specific needs of these individuals:

Shorter and Lighter Rods: Ice fishing rods designed for children or novice anglers are often shorter and lighter, making them easier to handle and control. These rods promote a positive fishing experience by reducing fatigue and allowing for better maneuverability.

Increased Sensitivity: Ice fishing rods for beginners often have increased sensitivity, making it easier for inexperienced anglers to detect bites. This enhances the learning process and builds confidence in their angling skills.

Simplified Setup: Specialized ice fishing rods for children or novice anglers often feature simplified setups, with pre-spooled reels and easy-to-use features. This makes it more convenient for beginners to get started without the complexities of assembling and rigging their own equipment.

Using specialized ice fishing rods designed for children or novice anglers ensures a positive and enjoyable fishing experience, fostering a love for the sport and encouraging continued participation.

D. Using the Right Ice Fishing Rod in Extremely Low Temperatures

Ice fishing often takes place in frigid temperatures, requiring anglers to use equipment that can withstand the extreme cold. When fishing in extremely low temperatures, consider the following factors when selecting an ice fishing rod:

Material and Construction: Choose ice fishing rods made from materials that are less susceptible to temperature changes and contraction, such as fiberglass or graphite composites. These materials are more resistant to breakage in extreme cold.

Handle Design: Look for ice fishing rods with handles designed for comfortable grip and insulation. Handles with foam or cork grips provide better insulation and prevent your hands from freezing when exposed to extreme temperatures.

Reel Performance: Cold temperatures can affect the performance of fishing reels, resulting in stiff or frozen parts. Opt for ice fishing rods with reels specifically designed for cold weather use. These reels typically have oversized handles and specialized lubricants to ensure smooth operation in freezing conditions.

Using the right ice fishing rod specifically designed for extremely low temperatures ensures both the performance of the equipment and the comfort of the angler in harsh winter conditions.

VII. Evolution and Future of Ice Fishing Rods

Ice fishing has come a long way since its humble beginnings, and so too have the ice fishing rods used by anglers. Over the years, advancements in technology and design have transformed these essential tools, making them more efficient and effective for catching fish in the frozen wilderness.

A. Evolution of technology and design of Ice Fishing Rods over time

The earliest ice fishing rods were simple and rudimentary, consisting of a short wooden stick with fishing line wrapped around it. As the sport gained popularity, manufacturers began to recognize the need for specialized equipment that could withstand the harsh conditions of ice fishing. This led to the development of ice fishing rods with more durable materials and improved features.

One of the most significant advancements in ice fishing rod technology was the introduction of graphite and fiberglass composite materials. These materials not only enhanced the strength and durability of the rods but also made them lighter and more sensitive. Anglers could now feel even the slightest nibble or movement beneath the icy surface.

Another notable innovation in ice fishing rod design was the inclusion of spring bobbers. Spring bobbers are small, sensitive wire loops attached to the tip of the rod. They provide additional visual and tactile cues to the angler, indicating when a fish is biting. This feature greatly improved the catch rate for ice anglers and became a standard feature in many ice fishing rod designs.

In recent years, ice fishing rod manufacturers have incorporated even more advanced technologies into their designs. For example, some rods now feature electronic bite indicators that use sensors to detect fish activity and alert the angler when a bite occurs. This technology has revolutionized ice fishing by providing real-time feedback and increasing the angler’s chances of success.

B. Innovative features or designs in the latest Ice Fishing Rods

Modern ice fishing rods boast an array of innovative features and designs that cater to the specific needs of ice anglers. One such feature is the inclusion of interchangeable rod tips. These tips allow anglers to easily switch between different actions or sensitivities, depending on the fishing conditions and target species.

Many ice fishing rods now also come with built-in reel seats that accommodate various reel types, including spinning reels and inline reels. This versatility allows anglers to choose the reel that best suits their fishing style and preferences.

Additionally, some ice fishing rod models feature adjustable lengths, giving anglers the flexibility to fish at various depths. This adaptability is especially useful when targeting different species of fish that may inhabit different parts of the water column.

Furthermore, advancements in materials have led to the development of ultra-light ice fishing rods that provide exceptional sensitivity without compromising strength. These lightweight rods enable anglers to detect the most delicate bites and make precise movements, resulting in more successful hook sets.

C. The future of Ice Fishing Rod technology and design

The future of ice fishing rod technology and design is promising, with manufacturers constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more advanced features and materials being incorporated into ice fishing rods.

One area that may see significant development is the integration of smart technology into ice fishing rods. Imagine rods equipped with sensors that can monitor water temperature, depth, and GPS coordinates. Anglers could receive real-time data on their smartphones, allowing them to make informed decisions about where and how to fish.

Additionally, advancements in materials science may lead to the development of even lighter and stronger ice fishing rods. Carbon nanotubes and other advanced composites could provide unparalleled sensitivity and durability, further enhancing the angler’s ability to detect and catch fish.

Ultimately, the future of ice fishing rod technology and design holds endless possibilities. Anglers can look forward to exciting innovations that will continue to enhance their ice fishing experience and increase their chances of success on the frozen frontier.

VIII. Making the Right Choice: A Comprehensive Guide

A. Choosing the right Ice Fishing Rod for specific needs

Choosing the right ice fishing rod is crucial for a successful ice fishing experience. There are several factors to consider when making your selection, including the type of fish you are targeting, the fishing technique you prefer, and your personal preferences. Here are the pros and cons of different ice fishing rod options to help you make an informed decision:

1. Spinning Rods

Spinning rods are the most versatile and widely used ice fishing rods. They are suitable for various species of fish and fishing techniques. Spinning rods provide excellent sensitivity, allowing you to feel even the slightest nibble. They also offer good casting distance and control. However, they may not provide the same level of precision or sensitivity as specialized ice fishing rods.

2. Inline Ice Fishing Rods

Inline ice fishing rods, also known as straight-line ice fishing rods, have gained popularity in recent years. These rods feature a unique design with the reel positioned in line with the rod, reducing line twist and providing a direct connection to the fish. Inline rods offer exceptional sensitivity and control, making them ideal for targeting finicky fish species. However, they may have limited casting distance compared to spinning rods.

3. Telescopic Ice Fishing Rods

Telescopic ice fishing rods are compact and portable, making them convenient for travel and storage. These rods can be extended or collapsed, allowing for easy transportation and adjustment of length. Telescopic rods are suitable for anglers who prioritize portability. However, they may sacrifice some sensitivity and durability compared to one-piece rods.

4. Noodle Ice Fishing Rods

Noodle ice fishing rods, also known as spring bobbers, are ultra-sensitive rods designed for detecting the subtlest fish bites. They have a soft and flexible tip section that enhances your ability to detect and react to bites, making them popular for targeting panfish. However, noodle rods may lack the power and strength required for handling larger fish species.

B. Top-rated Ice Fishing Rods available in the market

When it comes to choosing an ice fishing rod, there are several top-rated options available in the market. These rods have proven their performance and reliability among ice fishing enthusiasts. Here are a few highly recommended ice fishing rods:

1. St. Croix Legend Ice Fishing Rods

St. Croix Legend Ice Fishing Rods are renowned for their superior craftsmanship and exceptional performance. They are constructed using high-quality materials and advanced technologies to provide excellent sensitivity and durability. St. Croix offers a wide range of ice fishing rod models designed for different fishing techniques and target species, ensuring there is a rod suitable for every angler’s needs.

2. Fenwick Elite Tech Ice Fishing Rods

Fenwick Elite Tech Ice Fishing Rods are known for their lightweight design and sensitive tips. These rods utilize advanced carbon fiber construction to enhance sensitivity and responsiveness. Fenwick offers a variety of models with different lengths and actions, ensuring anglers can find the perfect rod for their specific needs.

3. Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Rods

The Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Rods have gained a reputation for their durability and affordability. These rods feature a strong and resilient design, making them suitable for aggressive fish species. Ugly Stik rods are known for their toughness and ability to withstand harsh fishing conditions without compromising performance.

C. Is it worth investing in a high-end Ice Fishing Rod?

Investing in a high-end ice fishing rod can provide several advantages, but whether it is worth it depends on your fishing preferences and budget. Here are the pros and cons to consider:


  1. Enhanced performance: High-end ice fishing rods often incorporate advanced materials and technologies that enhance sensitivity, strength, and overall performance. These rods can provide greater accuracy and control, allowing you to detect subtle bites and land fish more effectively.
  2. Durability: High-end ice fishing rods are typically built to withstand rigorous use and harsh fishing conditions. They are constructed with premium materials and undergo stringent quality control processes, ensuring they can handle the demands of ice fishing season after season.
  3. Craftsmanship: High-end rods are often meticulously crafted with attention to detail, resulting in rods that are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing. The craftsmanship and quality of these rods can enhance your overall fishing experience.


  1. Higher cost: High-end ice fishing rods are generally more expensive than entry-level or mid-range options. If you are on a tight budget or are just starting with ice fishing, investing in a high-end rod may not be a priority.
  2. Overkill for casual anglers: If you only ice fish occasionally or do not target specific species that require specialized rods, a high-end rod may be unnecessary. For casual anglers, a mid-range rod that suits their needs and preferences may be more cost-effective.

In the end, the decision to invest in a high-end ice fishing rod depends on the importance you place on performance, durability, and craftsmanship, as well as your budget. Assess your fishing goals, frequency of ice fishing trips, and personal preferences to determine if a high-end rod is the right choice for you.<

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