Top 10 Best Ice Fishing Rods (Aug. 2019) : Review & Buyer’s Guide
- Simon Michel
Are you bored or just hanging out alone on the lake? It is time you took part in a lucrative activity that will not only refresh your mood but you’ll be rewarded with some fish that would either be consumed or sold. That’ll be fun right? Yes, ice fishing is the way to go.
So, what makes a good ice fishing rod? Well, it must be highly sensitive to transmit the signals from the fish to the rod, strong enough to withstand a tough fighting fish, easy to use, and provides consistent power even in the extreme cold weather condition.
However, there are so many models available today, making it increasingly difficult for you to make the right choice. Meanwhile, we have compiled a list of the best ice fishing rods in today's market, in addition to some of the things you’ll consider to buy the model that suits your preference.
You shouldn’t miss this opportunity for anything. So, read on.
What You Will Get Here
- Things to Consider When Buying an Ice Fishing Rod
- How Did We Pick These Products?
- Our Top 10 Product List
- Top Choice: Fenwick AETOS
- Also Great: Fiblink Saltwater 1-Piece Jig Spinning Rod
- Top Rod & Reel Combo: Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2
- Budget Pick: Abu Garcia Veritas 3.0
- A List of 6 Other Products We Reviewed
- Final Words
Things to Consider When Buying an Ice Fishing Rod
Ice fishing is very different from conventional saltwater or freshwater fishing. To succeed, you’ll need the right type of gear. Making the right choice could be difficult, especially if you’re a new angler. However, you’ll need to have the following things in mind before paying for your preferred product.
1. Material & Construction
The quality of performance of any ice fishing rod is determined by its material of construction. The three major materials for the construction of these rods are graphite, fiberglass, and composites.
Graphite rods are lighter, stronger, more durable and sensitive than fiberglass materials although they’re usually expensive. Their action in the cold is faster than those made of composite or fiberglass.
So, the high-end models are made from graphite and they are very reliable while handling some tough fighting fishes. Their tips are more responsive and allow you to jiggle at your pace to lure the fish.
However, pure and high-quality fiberglass rods tend to bend easily in comparison with a graphite rod. This feature becomes handy when making hooksets. In addition, graphite rods tend to weaken after prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures whereas fiberglass rods will win in the cold.
You shouldn’t be confused between the power of the rod action. Interestingly, the position of the flex on the rod is determined by its action.
This is very important because it determines how the fish sees the bait and your tendency to make a successful catch.
If the action of the rod is slow, it will dampen its sensitivity to the littlest bite from the fish. Besides, the better the action, the greater its ability to handle a heavy fish.
If the bending position is on the tip, it’s a fast action rod. But if it bends on the middle, then it’s a medium action rod.
3. Size & Weight
Generally, ice fishing rod models are short in length mostly about 16 to 40 inches. This is because they don’t require long distant casts as conventional fishing do. Here, you’ll only have to drop your lure to the water through the little openings on the ice.
The size of the rod you can use will depend on your fishing technique and the dimensions of your shelter. If you’ll be targeting bigger fishes, you should opt for longer rods since they have the power to handle such fish and the impact on your hand muscles will be less.
You should consider buying a lightweight rod since it’ll be easy to hold without feeling fatigued over time. There is the likelihood that you’ll lose interest in the activity easily if you’re using a heavyweight rod.
Moreover, the weight should match with that of the line it’ll be using. While weight is important, quality and durability should never be compromised.
Your choice will depend on your style of fishing. If you’ll be going for bigger fishes, you’ll need to own the best baitcasting rods. They’re strong enough to handle heavy lines and their throws are mostly accurate.
Spinning rods are more suitable for handling small fish and lighter lines. They’re easier to use and are less prone to a backlash, making them great for beginners.
The grip of the rod should be comfortable even in gloved hands. Most of today's models have plastic, foam, or cork handles. But the high-end ones come with cork handles that are light, easy to grip, highly-sensitive, and offer a warm feel.
The foam handles give a lighter feel and are more durable. Rods with graphite handles are highly sensitive but they’re usually expensive. You may prefer rods with split handles which allows you to have direct contact with the pole for easier and faster detection of bites.
6. Spool Size
The size of the spool is one of the features you should consider before buying a new fishing rod. It should have the ability to accommodate the line and should be designed to function efficiently in cold conditions. Most of the standard spools are equipped with anti-freeze oils that help to prevent the moving parts from failing while you’re fishing.
7. Bearing Rating
A good model should have bearings made from high-quality materials and with a high rating. The number of ball bearings determines how smoothly the reel will operate as they help to reduce friction on the moving parts.
8. Fish Species
The species of fish you’ll be hunting should determine the type of fishing rod to buy. You’ll find markings like ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ on the body of the rod to indicate its power. You should buy a rod that can handle the type and size of fish you intend to catch.
Game fish like walleye and whitefish can be handled by a medium heavy rod while species like pikes and trout will require a heavier one. Interestingly, you’ll need an ultra-light rod for species like panfish.
9. Ease of Use
The smooth functioning of a rod is influenced by the quality of its line guide. The greater the number of guides, the easier it can be used as it can bend easily and withstand the shocks from the fish.
You should buy rods with large guides since they’re not only easy to use but can handle ice-beaded lines effectively. In addition, you’ll enjoy the ease with which you can retrieve or drop baits. Your preferred choice should have at least 4 to 6 guides and if your target catch is heavy, a rod with double guides will be better.
As we said earlier, the length of the rod you buy should be determined by the size of the fish you intend to catch.
It is preferable to buy good quality ice fishing rods that will last for a long time. As a rule of thumb, you should buy rods that offer a good value for money. Here we reviewed products that are strong, durable, efficient, and reliable at affordable prices. So, even if you’re on a budget, you’ll still find options that suit your preferences.
How Did We Pick These Products?
The purpose of this in-depth review is to provide you with a complete guide to buying an ice fishing rod that you’ll always love. To clear all doubt and boost your confidence in us, we’ll like you to have a clue of some of the steps we took to develop this buying guide.
First, we started by testing, reviewing, and examining several brands of ice fishing rods on the market. Actually, we were assisted by some community-based volunteers who focused on testing the products based on the criteria we had developed.
Our years of experience with these fishing poles have deepened our understanding of some of the preferences that you must have in your choice. With this, we based our criteria for selecting our top picks on specifications and concepts like the handle, spool, ease of use, bearing number, type, size, weight, material construction, and much more.
In addition, we consulted with expert anglers to learn about their experiences and challenges with these products. We searched the web for comments and ratings from various users. To ensure that we didn’t miss anything, we examined the views of other writers and bloggers on the various ice fishing rods on the market.
We discovered that each of the products has their unique features that make one fare better than the other. However, we only selected the models with the highest number of positive features as per our test results, consumer comments, and recommendations from the experts, etc.
After thorough research and reviews, we collated the practical data from our community-based partners and the expert anglers to create our final list. However, before you continue, it’ll interest you to have an in-depth info on the top things to consider before shopping for this product.
Our Top 10 Product List
This is our much-expected list of the top ice fishing rods on the market. We have categorized them based on how they meet our criteria for a good choice. The features for each of the products have been discussed as well as their pros and cons to help you come to a final decision.
Fenwick has a reputation for being one of the few producers of high-quality ice fishing rods. The Fenwick AETOS is equipped with everything you’ll need for fishing on a frozen lake or pond.
One of the greatest advantages of this spinning rod is that the blank is constructed from high-quality graphite material, which helps to minimize weight while maximizing its overall strength and performance.
It should interest you to know that this model features a cork handle and split cork grip which does not only enhance the comfortability of the grip but allows you to feel even the faintest bite.
The Fenwick AETOS is available in lengths of 18 inches, 28 inches, and 30 inches. The shorter length is more suitable for handling small fish like perch and panfish while the longer lengths possess the needed strength for taking heavy fish like trout and walleye.
Another important aspect of this model which is worth mentioning is the fast tips that give it ultra-high sensitivity which enables its quick and easy detection of bites. In addition, it has a great hook setting power for taking on tough fighting fish.
The Fenwick AETOS is equipped with tough stainless steel guides with stainless steel inserts for improved performance, accuracy, and durability. In addition, it is a medium action rod which means that it bends on the middle; making it the ideal rod for ice fishing.
- Length: 28 inches
- Shipping weight: 1.6 ounce
- Handle: Split cork grip
- Material: 100% graphite blanks
- Stainless steel guides
The Fenwick AETOS is built to meet the demands of the beginners and professional anglers alike. It comes with many exciting specs at an affordable price. It is one of the lightest rods from the Fenwick’s production line. The tips are highly sensitive and has a capability of detecting subtle bites which help to maximize your opportunities to make a successful catch.
One of its greatest advantages is the split cork grip handle that not only creates a comfortable grip but helps by enhancing its balance and sensitivity. This is a great rod with a great feel, value, and productivity. You surely don't wanna miss out on this excellent ice fishing equipment.
This is one of the most versatile ice fishing rods you’ll find on the market since it is made for vertical jigging.
The Fiblink Jig Spinning Rod is a combination of graphite and fiberglass, making it light to enable you to fish all day without feeling tired. In addition, it is sensitive enough to feel the slightest bites. Its strength is commendable and capable of pulling heavy lures through the hole on the ice without breaking.
For enhanced performance and durability, it stainless steel guide frames in addition to the ceramic inserts that helps to reduce friction when using braided lines.
Still, on the design, this model features an aluminum alloy reel seat that secures rod in place and helps to reduce its misalignment under heavy load.
Another feature of this model that will interest you is the EVA grip handle which offers a soft and comfortable grip that reduces fatigue while enhancing your control and sensitivity with the rod.
Moreover, this top-class spinning rod is equipped with aluminum gimbal butt with a rubber cap that secures the rod in the belt to reduce the impact of shocks from tough fighting fishes.
It is available in the medium-heavy type with a line weight of 50 to 80lbs and heavy type with the capacity of handling lines of 80 to 120lbs. So, you can choose from the type that suits your fishing style.
If you’re interested in a cheap option that will serve for long while you keep enjoying each session, this is for you.
- Length: 6 feet
- Rod Weight: 26.6 ounces
- Lure Weight: 4 – 10 ounces
- Line Weight: 50 – 80 pounds
- Guides: 6
- of Piece: 1
- Handle: Eva grip
- Material: Composite
This is a lightweight yet tough and durable ice fishing rod that is designed for vertical jigging. It is very affordable yet with high-quality performance and ease of use.
One of the greatest advantages of this model is its graphite and fiberglass composite that makes it sensitive to the lightest bite while maintaining the needed strength to withstand the shocks from a heavy fish. Anyone that has used this will highly recommend it, and we are no different.
If you're searching for a nice ice rod and reel combo, Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 is what you need. It is very affordable yet has everything you’ll need for your satisfaction. It has a very simple interface making it much easier to use.
The rod features a composite blank which is a guarantee of high-sensitivity, lightweight, reliability, and durability. Interestingly, the tip can sense even the weakest bites from fish of any size.
One of the things we liked about this model is its ergonomically designed EVA foam handle that does not only enhance the comfortability of the grip but helps to improve its sensitivity and performance.
Still, on the design, it is equipped with a 20 size spinning reel with the power to handle light lures effectively. in addition, it features a single ball bearing which helps to reduce friction while enhancing the smoothness and accuracy of its performance.
The GX2 comes with an aluminum spool which is strong enough to handle both braided and monolines with efficiency.
Moreover, its composite material construction makes it light and comfortable in the hand without feeling fatigued. Its durability is top-notch, making it capable of working all day despite the cold without failing.
It will interest you to know that this model features a twist-lock reel seat that helps to secure the lock and keep it from flexing against the pull of the fish. Meanwhile, it is available in lengths of 26 to 30 inches which you can choose based on your style of fishing.
This is one of the few cheap models currently available with improved strength and great durability to satisfy your angling needs.
- Weight: 8 ounces
- Dimension: 26.5 x 5 x 3.5 inches
- Length: 26 inches
- Handle: EVA foam
- Bearing: 1BB
- Material: Composite
This product offers much more value than its price. The rods and reels are designed to withstand the dragging power of medium-heavy and light fishes. The spool is made from aluminum to reduce its weight while enhancing its performance and durability.
The grip is superb, thanks to the ergonomically designed EVA handle. The only drawback with this rod is that its relatively limited sensitivity.
The Abu Garcia Veritas 3.0 ice fishing rod is equipped with a 24-ton graphite blank which means it is lightweight making it easy to be held, strong enough to withstand the shock from fish and can pick up bites easily.
It has a length of 29 inches which is suitable for fishing from a confined space. Moreover, it has enough strength to lift some small but stubborn fishes.
One of its greatest assets which are worth mentioning is its micro cleek reel hood that is responsible for its secure connection which is needed for a balanced drag.
Moreover, it features smoked stainless guide frames with aluminum oxide inserts which helps to enhance the durability and efficiency of its operation.
Other components of this ultra-light ice fishing rod include the split grip high-density EVA handle design that does not only feels good, warm, and comfortable in the hand but allows you to have direct contact with the rod for increased sensitivity to the bites.
If you’re low on budget but still want good value for money, you must have the Abu Garcia Veritas 3.0. So, what are you waiting for? Get one today and you’ll enjoy it for a lifetime.
- Length: 29 inches
- Weight: < 3.2 ounces
- Material: Graphite
- Handle: Split grip
- EVA handle
- Stainless steel guides
- Aluminum oxide inserts
For the price, this is simply an amazing choice to make your expeditions more enjoyable and more comfortable. It feels very light in the hand, making it suitable for all day fishing without feeling tired.
It comes with a split grip that is durable and allows you to have contacts with the rod for enhanced sensitivity. Moreover, the EVA foam grip offers a soft and comfortable feel.
It is more suitable for catching small sized fish like crappie, panfish, or catfish.
A List of 6 Other Products We Reviewed
The St Croix Mojo is made from sturdy materials available to provide you with the level of sophistication you’ll ever require for better results. You’ll be very satisfied after buying this rod since it is made to serve you for long.
It will interest you that this rod features a precision tapered carbon blank that is very strong, durable, and can easily notify you once it senses any bite from a fish. Moreover, it is very light and easy to use.
When it comes to ice fishing, the St Croix Mojo has a length of 24 inches making it capable of taking on several species of fish without breaking.
One of the features we like about this model is its split grip cork and EVA handle which does not only feel light in the hand but gives a soft and comfortable grip which is needed for a smooth and enjoyable fishing operation.
It is designed with a custom reel seat that allows it to be used for various fishing techniques and styles.
Another important feature of the St Croix Mojo is that it is equipped with stainless steel guides which do not only enhance its durability and smooth operation but helps to keep the rod from failing after prolonged use in the extreme cold.
This medium heavy tackle was found to perform more than we’d expected and offers a good value for the money.
- Length: 24 inches
- Power: Medium
- Material: Graphite
- Split grip cork
- EVA foam
- Stainless steel guides
The St Croix Mojo has so many positive features which are uncommon in other products in its price range.
The blank is made from carbon which is lightweight, durable, and maintains its sensitivity no matter the duration it is exposed to the cold.
It features both cork and EVA foam in the handle which enables you to enjoy a soft and comfortable grip. It is designed to handle different techniques and styles of fishing.
If you’re searching for an option that can pair easily with any ice jigs and lures kits in your possession, the Tailored Tackle is the right choice. It is highly versatile and capable of handling fish like Walleye, Trout, Crappie, Sunfish, and much more. It is 28 inches long with a line rating of 3 to 6 pounds and with medium power rating.
How quickly such a rod can bend under load is given by its action and that includes the position of the bend and its rate of recovery when the load is removed. Interestingly, this model possesses extra fast action for indicating the slightest of bites.
This combo features a fishing reel with size 20, which is powerful enough to overcome the strikes from tough fighting fishes. Moreover, it is equipped with 5 ball bearings to enhance its performance and durability.
It is worth mentioning that the reel has a gear ratio of 5.2:1 which is perfect for handling both light and heavyweight fishes.
Still, on the design, it features a carbon fiber blank which is light enough to be held in the hand without feeling fatigued yet durable and capable of transmitting the bites with speed. Moreover, it is equipped with an ergonomically designed cork handle which helps to enhance the comfortability of the grip and feel.
- Length: 28 inches
- Line Power Rating: Medium-light
- Line Rating: 3-6 lbs
- Reel Size: 20
- Bearings: 5BB
- Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
- Line Capacity: 2lb / 200yds 4lb / 100yds 6lb / 80 yds
- Extra fast action
The Tailored Tackle is a nice combination of a rod and reel. The rod features a carbon blank which is light, strong, durable, and sensitive enough to pick up the most fragile change in its movement.
The reel is equipped with 5 ball bearing which helps to reduce friction and enhance the smoothness of its operation. This is highly versatile and recommended for fish species like walleye, perch, panfish, trout and much more.
The Legend ice fishing rod is one of the best rods from St Croix production line. It is widely known for its overwhelming flexibility and strength on the ice. It is very efficient and can easily detect and transmits bites.
This light product is equipped with 1 spring bobber which enhances the sensitivity of the rod. Interestingly, it has a length of 24 inches and is available in various power ratings like light, medium, medium-heavy, ultra-light to suit your style and technique of fishing.
It is worth mentioning that the St Croix Legend is equipped with a locking reel seat that locks the rod on the reel foot to enhance its stability under heavy loads.
Moreover, the blank of the rod is constructed from high-quality carbon, making it an amazing fishing gear in terms of sensitivity and performance.
One of the things you’ll like about the St Croix Legend is the ease with which the spring bobber indicator system can be interchanged with other ice fishing rods to suit other species of fish.
It will interest you to know that it is designed to enable you to strike without missing as it enables the control of its movements to give it the needed balance to stop a prey.
If your interest is to buy an ice fishing rod that is lightweight yet strong enough to catch both small and medium-size fish, this product is for you.
- Length: 24 inches
- Power Rating: Light
- Color: black
- Material: Graphite
- Spring Bobbers
- Stainless steel guides
The St Croix Legend is designed with high-quality materials to enhance its durability and performance no matter its exposure to the cold.
One of its strongest assets is the spring bobber indicator that allows you to spot the slightest disturbance on the tip of the rod which would lead to a successful catch.
When it comes to sensitivity and reliability, irrespective of the fishing technique used, there is no other choice like this.
This is another top quality rod and reel combo. It is made from high-quality materials and offers reliable performance irrespective of the duration of exposure to freezing cold conditions.
The Frabill 371 is constructed from carbon fiber. This means that it is lightweight, rugged, strong, and sensitive enough to detect the slightest disturbance on the tip of the rod in the water. In addition, its rugged and sturdy construction provides it with the needed strength to withstand the impact of large fighting fish species.
One of the most interesting things about this is its titanium main guides which is a guarantee of its extreme performance and durability.
Moreover, it has a length of 25 inches, making it suitable for landing walleye and crappie. Also, the ergonomically designed cork handle keeps the rod balanced in the hand while enhancing its sensitivity and the comfortability of the grip.
The attached reel for ice fishing is very powerful. It is well made to run smoothly and accurately, thanks to its high-quality aluminum spool and 5 + 1 ball bearings.
One of the major expectations of any fisherman is the ease of use and comfortability of their fishing tackle. This model is designed to be lightweight to allow you to fish all day without feeling fatigued.
This combo comes with a gear ratio of 3.7:1 which is slow but more suitable for tackling heavy and tough fighting fishes. Moreover, it’s pre-equipped with an anti-reverse that allows it to run without interruptions from pullback which may limit your performance.
- Dimensions: 25 x 5 x 3 inches
- Weight: 8 ounces
- Material: Graphite
- Length: 25 inches
- Gear Ratio: 3.7:1
- Bearings: 5BB + 1RB
- Titanium guides
The Frabill 371 ice fishing rod and reel combo are designed to suit the specific needs of beginners and professional anglers who are interested in luring heavy fishes.
It is equipped with a graphite reel seat which helps to keep the rod and reel in place to ensure that you enjoy a hitch-free operation.
The titanium guides allow the line to flow from the spool through it without any obstruction. You will surely enjoy its performance in any ice fishing condition.
The 13 Fishing White Noise features a cork handle which is very durable yet offers the grip and sensitivity that is needed for a high-performing ice fishing operation.
You’ll appreciate its graphite blank that can hold up in freezing temperatures while it’s lightweight and sensitivity features help to improve your overall comfort and frequency of catch.
Still, on the design, this model comes with a pre-assembled reel that is a perfect match for the rod.
It will interest you that it is designed with reel seat lock that keeps the rod and the reel secure under heavy loads.
The reel is equipped with high-quality ball bearings that with anti-reverse that does not only reduce the effect of friction on the gears but allow the line to flow during the cast and retrieve operation without any obstruction.
At a length of 27 inches, this ultra-light ice fishing combo will surprise with the vast species of fish it can handle.
One of the things we liked about this is the aluminum reel handle designed to be used by both left-and right-handed persons. Moreover, the soft touch knob on the handle allows you to enjoy a balanced control.
If you’re interested in buying an ultra-light ice fishing rod and reel combo that is lightweight yet sensitive enough to pick the soft trails of small biting fish, the 13 Fishing White Noise is exactly what you need.
- Length: 27 inches
- Bearings: 3BB
- Material: Graphite
- Aluminum reel handle
- Reel seat lock
- Soft touch knob
This rod and reel combo with ergonomically designed handles can be used by both hands. It comes with numerous specs that are a little above what is expected from this price range.
The reel is equipped with 3 ball bearings and anti-reverse that keeps it running for long without any issues in its operation. This is recommended for catching small game fish species only.
If you’re interested to land perch, pike, trout, and crappie, the Fiblink Graphite is the product to go for. When it comes to lightness, strength, and sensitivity, it is one of the best you will ever find on the market today.
The blank is made from graphite which implies that it is lightweight, durable, and sensitive enough to pick the slightest strikes of the rod by preys.
It will interest you to know that this is available in lengths of 24, 30, and 32 inches for you to choose based on your fishing techniques.
One of the things you’ll appreciate in the Fiblink Graphite rod is its stainless steel guide with aluminum oxide inserts that is not only durable but guarantees the smooth flow of the line to and from the water.
Moreover, this model features a solid cork handle that is designed to suit your hand and to provide you with the comfort and feel that is needed for a smooth angling operation.
This is designed to work smoothly in the harshest conditions. It offers some of the best comforts and performance you’ll ever have from any ice fishing rod at this price.
- Length: 24 inches
- Weight: 2.2 ounces
- Power Rating: Medium-light
- Material: Graphite
- Handle: Cork grip
- Stainless steel guides
The Fiblink Graphite Ice Fishing Rod is one of the best ice fishing rods you’ll find on the market at this price range. Its great feature is a huge surprise to so many anglers.
It is very light yet highly responsive to the faintest disturbance on the water thanks to its 100% graphite blank.
One of the greatest advantages of this rod is its solid cork handle which does not only enhance the sensitivity of the rod but keeps your hands comfortable and warm for a successful ice fishing operation.
This model is recommended for both beginners and professional handlers because of its extreme ease of use.
Fishing in free-flowing water bodies is easier than fishing in ice. This is because of the harsh weather condition and the slow response of fish to baits. Thus, it takes more than just a cast or dip in the water to make a successful catch while fishing in icy waters.
The only way you can overcome all setbacks and become the master of the game is by using one of the best ice fishing rods on the market. They’re available in various sizes, grips, materials, reel and rod combos, for you to choose from.
The market is already flooded with so many ice fishing rod models and most of them are of poor quality. With this in mind, we have prepared some of the best reviews on ice fishing rods to ensure that you have a clue of what to expect from your ideal product. We are confident that you’ll find this buying guide to be highly resourceful in choosing a product that suits your budget and preference.
Also check our reviews of types of fishing rods, such as fly fishing rods and baitcasting fishing rods.