The Best Ice Fishing Rod and Reels

October 29, 2020

For any experienced angler, one of the most important pieces of equipment in your ice fishing arsenal is a quality ice fishing rod and reel. In this article we’ll take a look at a range of ice fishing rod and reel‘s from price, quality, targeted species, and what technical specific ice rod reel you need to catch a variety of fish. 

What species of fish are you targeting?

This is the primary deciding factor of what type of rod you need to bring. Do not overestimate the amount of power your rods need during the winter months, the fish are much more lethargic during ice season because of the cold water. You do not need to bring out a giant heavy action rod just because you’re trying to catch some bigger fish.

Our recommendations for what rods to use when targeting certain types of fish:

Ultra-light action rods- Great for panfish.

Light action rods- Great choice for perch & larger panfish.

Medium action rods- Great for walleye, pike, and trout.

Heavy action rods- Great for big pike, musky, and lake trout.

Rod Blank Materials Graphite vs. Fiberglass

Choosing blank material is a big decision. Graphite, fiberglass, and composite blends are the main options to choose from. Graphite is more expensive than fiberglass, but it is also lighter and more sensitive. Solid graphite blanks offer more sensitivity than tubular or composite blanks. Properly engineered graphite blanks feature fast, sensitive tips, and the backbone needed to set hooks and play larger fish. A fast-action graphite rod provides the stiffness and the limber tip needed to let anglers quiver jigs-a critical presentation on ice to master if enticing lighter biters. Fiberglass blanks are not as sensitive as graphite, but high-end glass blanks give graphite a run for its money. Fiberglass bends more along the blank than graphite, which equates to smooth hooksets, and premium blanks will have the backbone to play big fish. Fiberglass is more durable than graphite, which gets fragile in freezing temperatures, making glass the preferred choice for anglers uninterested in coddling gear. Whether you want to feel or see fish strikes is another factor to consider when selecting blank materials. If using a spring bobber or strike indicator to indicate hits, you don’t need graphite’s extreme sensitivity and a fiberglass rod will suffice. Solid fiberglass blanks are also preferred for deadsticking rods. The limber tip lets anglers see the minnow’s action and signals light hits. Plus, the blank’s forgiving bend gives little resistance during the take. Anglers interested in feeling hits should go graphite because of its superior sensitivity.

Ice Fishing Rod Length

Rod length is somewhat dependent on your fishing conditions. Longer rods tend to be more forgiving. They absorb headshakes, hard hooksets, and give anglers leverage when fighting fish. The downside to longer rods is that they’re difficult to fish in closed quarters. For ice anglers inside an ice shelter shorter fishing rods will be easier to use in these cramped quarters. Short rods provide less shock absorption, causing reel drag, and your arms to compensate for the stress of the fight. However, shorter rods are easier to use in cramped quarters, as you’ll find when fishing in ice shelters. Opt for graphite over fiberglass in short rods for more strength and backbone. If fishing’s a family affair, keep in mind that short rods are easier for children to use and can turn pint-sized panfish scraps into epic battles.

Ice Fishing Reels

The best ice fishing reels are those that still provide superior performance, despite the low temperatures. Due to the freezing temperatures, you may experience some difficulty with the sensitivity of the line. When making your selection, know that finding the best reel for ice fishing doesn’t have to be difficult, despite the many options available on the market. To start with, we recommend gaining a good knowledge of what to look for in your reel. You will then need to know the differences between regular reels and ones that are built for colder weather. Knowing what to look for will help you to make the most informed decision. To start, let’s take a look at some high quality options. The Abu Garcia Icemax Fishing reel fits full features into a small price point. It has a line management system that allows you to use many different types of lines. The reel itself has gear lube that is rated for cold temperatures so you won’t end up with a frozen rod. Abu Garcia has also included a machined aluminum spool that is durable while also being lightweight. Pflueger knows how to make a fishing rod last for years to come. The Maniceb has been made with graphite gears and body meaning it will not rust and stand up to dings and dents. There is also an aluminum wire bale that will keep your line winding in a straight line. You’ll notice that the 4+1 stainless steel ball bearings make reeling your catch smoother than you’re used to. Also, the handle is oversized and made of rubber so you can use it even with bulky gloves. A popular brand amongst fisherman, Pflueger ice fishing reels holds as much quality as their other reel types. Daiwa has become one of the leaders when it comes to ice fishing reels. Their D-Spin is an ice fishing powerhouse. It comes in two models so you can choose the rod depending on your fishing style. Both have a composite housing that protects the gears of the rod. Daiwa has also developed a special gear system called Digigear, digital gear that combines speed, power, and durability. The 1000 model has a spool with a longer stroke oscillation making it smoother when reeling in a catch. All of these features come in a sleek package. The combination of silver and black make this one of the nicer looking rods. All said and done the sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing an ice fishing reel. Choose wisely!

We hope to have informed and inspired you to get out on the ice this year. If you’re in the Wisconsin area and looking for a fun fishing experience to plan with family or friends, Trophy Ice Fish is happy to cater to your ice fishing needs.

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