Ice fishing isn’t a complicated activity, but it is more than cutting a hole in the ice and waiting. There is some basic gear every ice angler should have before you get started ice fishing. Ice fishing can be an inexpensive day, or you can go all out and purchase some top of the line gear. Either way, you will need a few things to get started.
Ice Fishing Gear
Like any activity, ice fishing means there is an endless supply of gear you can purchase. However, someitems are a must, and the rest tends to be non-essential but can add comfort. If you obtain a fishing license and buy the basic equipment, then you can build your collection of essential ice fishing gear from there as you discover what you prefer and what becomes a necessity when you’re at the ice hole.
Ice Fishing Auger
First of all, there won’t be any fishing if you can’t get through the ice. An auger is the first piece of gear that an ice angler should have. Various models are run by gas along with others that are hand-powered. Power augers are more expensive, but can do the work quickly and are easy to use. Hand augers take more strength but are less expensive. Both types come in three sizes (6,8,10”) so make sure you choose the one appropriate for where you are fishing.
Strikemaster Laxer Mag Power Ice Auger – This easy-to-use auger has a 42cc, 2.5HP powerhead. It also has a transmission that is made with heat-treated steel gears. The twin laser blades are stainless steel and come with collarbolt, allen wrench, blades and blade cover.
Strikemaster Hand Auger – This two-piece hand auger that has ergonomically designed handles that can be adjusted in height. Blades are high alloy carbon steel for easy use.
Ice Fishing Rod
There are lots of fishing rods to choose from, but getting one specifically for ice fishing is a big help. These are usually around 24” in length. This makes jigging easier and lets the angler stay close to the hole. Sometimes it is difficult to detect a bite through the thickness of the ice, so a smaller rod is more sensitive. They are exceptionally light, so you need to fight fish slowly if a big one gets hooked. Rods can be bought on their own or in a combo. If anglers are aiming for a larger type of fish, then a thicker rod is better.
If you want to be more traditional, then a tip-up may be the way to go. These are cross arms that have a line attached with a flag. When the fish bites then the line comes off the spool and the flag go up.
13 Fishing Widow Maker Limited Edition Ice Rods – These are good rods that are well made. They have been designed with challenging ice fishing in mind. They’re on the more expensive end, but strong for heavier fish.
Berkley Ice Tip Up – An inexpensive way to ice fish. This tip-up is durable and lightweight. It has a large capacity spool, and the shaft is lubricated so it won’t freeze. The flag is visible and easy to trip as needed.
Ice Fishing Reels
Anglers need a good reel to go with their rod. If you don’t buy a package, then look at a basic spinning real or inline. These reels match the smaller rods and aren’t as hefty as a regular fishing reel. If you decide to get more than one, make sure to get a rod holder as well so there is no juggling more than one line at a time. The reel will need to have anti-reverse switches, so the line and rod aren’t going to get pulled in while they aren’t being held.
Piscifun® ICX Precision Ice Fishing Reel – This reel has solid stainless steel bearings with an anti-reverse switch as well as an anti-freeze lubricant. It offers smooth performance in any weather.
Black Betty FreeFall Ice Reels – This reel is strong and light for easy use. It has a four-ball bearing system and anti-reverse as well. The carbon disc drag system is simple to start and holds consistent pressure.
Ice Fishing Line
There are as many ice fishing lines as there are rods and reels. Most ice anglers prefer an invisible fluorocarbon line that is lightweight, usually between 4-8 pounds. A light line is hard for the fish to see and it also fits well on the smaller reels. Make sure to choose a line that is meant for the fish you are trying to get. It needs to be strong enough if you are aiming for a big catch.
Berkley Trilene Cold Weather Monofilament Fishing Line – This is a great cold water line. It is limp and smooth with lots of flexibility no matter how cold the water is. It also reduces twists and tangles.
Other important ice gear
There are lots of other odds and ends to buy before going out on the ice to fish. An ice scoop is a big help to clear the hole of slush. Ice cleats for boots are also a great option so you aren’t slipping on the ice. They just strap onto your boots. And finally, grab a bucket to keep things organized. It can sit on the sled and keep everything in one spot. They also can double as a chair if you are desperate. Finally, a small propane heater can help on cold days. Be safe with these as they need venting if in a shelter.
These are the basic ice fishing gear items that are needed if you are going to get started in the activity. There are lots of extras to be bought as well to make the day more comfortable if you decide you love it. The important thing is to make sure that the ice is safe and is at least 4 inches of solid ice. Drill test holes and listen for reports. It always needs to be safety first. A good shelter, clothing, heaters and sleds are all things that will make the ice fishing experience even better as you begin to invest in the pastime.