Rods and reels are the most basic and necessary pieces of equipment to go fishing, so an ice fishing combo is an important purchase! While you can buy your ice fishing rod and reel separately, a rod and reel combo ensures that they fit and work well together.
Ice fishing is different than other fishing styles, as you simply drop your line in a hole in the ice rather than casting. This means that your rod and reel will mostly be fishing vertically, waiting to reel in a fish through the ice. Ice fishing combos are made specifically for this type of fishing.
Even if you’ve been ice fishing for years, finding the best gear can be difficult. You have to know what components to look for, the best brands, and other factors to ensure that you’re making the right decision. To make things easier, we’ve found the best ice rod and reel combos available.
Top 10 Ice Fishing Combos
We’ve done the research and found the best ice fishing reels and rods, so you can find the right on for you! These ice fishing combos are known for quality construction and great performance out on the ice. Make the most of hardwater fishing season this year with the top-rated ice fishing rod combos.
- Abu Garcia Venerate Spinning Combo
- Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2
- Frabill Fin-S Pro 30-inch
- Berkley Cherrywood
- Fenwick Nighthawk
- Shakespeare Glacier
- Frabill 6845 Combo
- Berkley Lighting Rod Spinning Reel & Rod Combo
- Abu Garcia Veritas 3.0
- Eagle Claw Cold Smoke Inline Combo
Abu Garcia Venerate Ice Fishing Spinning Combo
The Venerate Ice Fishing Spinning Combo from trusted brand Abu Garcia is a great choice for an ice angler. It has a 3+1 ball bearing system for smooth casting and retrieve and stainless steel guides. A low temperature gear lube ensures that this rod and reel combo works well in cold weather. Customers cite the extra sensitive rod tip and comfortable handling.
- 3+1 bearing System
- Low temperature gear lube
- Extended reel stem
- Solid carbon blank
- Stainless steel guides with Zirconium inserts
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2
Shakespeare Ugly Stiks are known as high quality, affordable rods. The Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel & Rod Combo was made for ice fishing, so it’s optimized for catching fish through the ice. This rod has idea balance, lighter feel, and improved components compared to older models. Stainless steel guides, an aluminum spool, and an EVA handle are a few notable features on this combo.
- Size 20 spinning reel suited for ice applications
- Ported aluminum spool
- Genuine ugly Stik blank with clear tip design
- Twist-lock reel seat with EVA handles
- One-piece stainless steel guides
Frabill Fin-S Pro 30-inch
Frabill is known for making great ice fishing gear. The Fin-S Pro Ice Fishing Combo is one of the best on the market, with a sensitive carbon fiber blank, stainless steel ice guides, and a multi-disc front load drag on the reel. With 3 ball bearings with infinite anti-reverse and sub-zero lube, the reel is sure to be smooth even in the colder temperatures.
- Special stainless steel single foot ice guides
- 3 plus 1 ball-bearing reel
- Machined aluminum spool
- Reel seat with cork grip
- Solid carbon fiber blank for increased sensitivity
Berkley Cherrywood Spinning Combo
Berkley is a well-known and respected fishing brand, manufacturing quality fishing gear. The Berkley Cherrywood Ice Fishing Spinning Combo upholds that level of quality. Made with a fiberglass blank and sturdy graphite spinning reel, this combo is perfect for catching fish through the ice.
- Cherrywood Combo
- Provided by Berkley
- Ice Combos made for ice fishing applications
The Fenwick Nighthawk Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combo is another great choice for anyone who loves ice fishing. It comes in ultra light and medium light, both great for ice fishing, and has a smooth 3+1 bearing system. Made with high quality components, like double anodized aluminum in the spool, this is a sturdy ice fishing combo.
- 3+1 bearing System
- Machined ported and double anodized aluminum spool
- Durable solid glass construction blank
- TAC and EVA handle design for solid grip
- Smoked stainless steel frames with stainless steel inserts
Shakespeare Glacier Spinning Combo
Another great choice from Shakespeare, the Glacier Ice Fishing Spinning Combo comes in six sizes, all good for ice fishing, so you can fit this rod and reel to your needs. It is made with high quality materials, so it will hold up in tough weather conditions. The tilted orientation improves line flow, so your ice fishing line won’t catch or tangle.
- Extended stem for more Clearance
- 15 degree tilted orientation creates optimum line flow
- Durable solid fiber glass
- Stainless steel guides and inserts
- EVA handle with graphite sliding rings
Frabill 6845 Combo
Frabill makes the list again with their 6845 ice fishing combo. Made tough, this gear works well in all temperatures and can withstand the cold of winter fishing. The blank that comes through the handle improves sensitivity, so you’ll feel even the lightest bite. The lightweight design is perfect for ice fishing, and high quality construction make this a durable rod and reel combo.
- Stainless steel ice guides reduce freeze-up
- Blank through handle adds sensitivity and increases feel
- Lightweight composite reel
- 1:1 Reel ratio with super smooth drag
- Blank through handle adds sensitivity and increases feel
Berkley Lighting Rod Spinning Combo
The Lighting Rod and Reel Combo is another top pick from Berkley. The responsive fiberglass blank is both durable and lightweight, and the graphite reel has a smooth drag. This ice fishing combo can withstand the cold, with over-sized line guides and cork grips that are comfortable and warmer to hold. A skeleton reel seat improves sensitivity and cuts down the weight of this ice rod and reel.
Abu Garcia Veritas 3.0
Another repeat brand, the Abu Garcia Veritas 3.0 Ice Fishing Combo is another solid choice. It comes in four sizes from ultra light to medium light, all of which are ideal for ice fishing depending on factors like location and target species. The Veritas Ice Fishing Combo has an extending reel stem for better angling, a 3+1 bearing system, and strong stainless steel guide frames with aluminum oxide inserts.
- Reel: 3+1 bearing System
- Machined aluminum spool
- Everlast bail System
- Extended reel stem
- Rod: 24 ton graphite blank, split grip high Density EVA handle design, micro click reel Hood, smoked SS guide frames with aluminum oxide inserts
Eagle Claw Cold Smoke Inline Ice Light Fishing Combo
The Eagle Claw Cold Smoke Inline Ice Light Fishing Combo is another ideal option for ice fishing. With ultra light power, this 24″ rod and reel combo is perfect for catching fish through the ice. It has four stainless steel guides, an inline reel with 4+1 ball bearings, and a smooth teflon drag system. The S-curve rod blank is super light and sensitive.
- 1 per retail
- S-Curve graphite is light and sensitive
- Inline ice reel with 4 + 1 ball bearing
- Smooth Teflon drag
- All EAGLE CLAW LAZER SHARP TROKAR HOOKS are Made in America
Tips for Buying
Did you know that ice fishing has consistently been ranked as one of the most popular outdoor winter activities? It’s incredibly rewarding if you do it right. But your level of success depends on the type of equipment you set yourself up with. This is especially true for ice fishing because it naturally takes place in harsh environments. You need protective gear that can stand up against snow, cold temperatures, and sometimes sleet.
One of the best ways to prepare? Using a combination ice fishing rod and reel. What people like about this approach is its versatility and convenience. But this type of gear can be a considerable investment, which is why you want to get to know the products on the market before you make a purchase. If you don’t, you will end up wasting your money.
Use this guide to figure out what makes the best ice fishing rod combo.
What to Consider
When shopping for your next combination rod and reel, there are a few important features to look out for. Most of these details should be listed in the product descriptions. If not, you may have to do a little extra research. The most common features include:
Because ice fishing is such a hands-on activity, it is important that you are able to hold your gear effectively. That’s where grip comes into play. You need to select an ice fishing rod with a quality handle. Handles are typically made out of either foam, plastic, or cork.
If you come across a model with a cork handle, this is a winning choice. Cork is a great material for a cold, winter sports like ice fishing. Your hands will stay warmer when using cork, and it’s easy to hold with gloves on. This material is also light enough that you have excellent sensitivity while fishing.
Sensitivity is another important factor for ice fishing. Because the fish that you want to catch are underneath a layer of ice, visibility is a natural issue. That layer of ice over the water can be thick. You need to be able to detect even the slightest pulls at the end of your line.
How sensitive your gear is usually depends on what it is made out of. When reading ice fishing combo reviews, look for a high sensitivity ranking.
The types of materials used in the construction of your combo rob will play a part in how the model performs, as well as the level of maintenance it requires. When it comes to the rod, it needs to withstand force from you and the fish you are trying to catch.
Bottom line: rod combos need to be durable.
Some of the strongest materials used include carbon fiber, fiberglass, graphite, and sometimes a mixture of the above. If you are wondering if one is better than another, they each have their pros and cons. For example, fiberglass is useful for sensitivity purposes, and graphite is particularly strong against resistance.
When shopping for ice fishing rod combos, pay attention to the type of reels they come with. Depending on where you go on your outing and what type of fish you’re after, you may benefit from a specific type.
The three main types of reels are:
- Bait casting reels
When it comes to an in-line ice fishing combo, they are a great option because they are lightweight. In addition, it is harder to twist your line when using this type, thus making it less likely to disrupt your retrieve.
If you are mainly focusing on small fish, you can’t go wrong with a spinning ice reel as a simple but versatile option.
Finally, bait casting reels will be your best bet for large game, although they can be difficult to learn how to use at first. Baitcasting reels are not typically used for ice fishing.
Size is yet another important element for finding the perfect piece of equipment. Combo rods come in varying lengths. The key to success is finding one that is the appropriate length for your comfort and your specific needs. Many anglers like to do their business from within some sort of shelter.
If this sounds like you, you would benefit from a shorter rod that falls between 26 and 30 inches on average. A shorter rod will still get the job done without having to worry about collision with the surrounding walls. If you prefer to be in the open as opposed to a shelter, or if you are fishing at a two-person hole, longer poles will work.
When researching what type of gear to buy, look out for the bearing number. On the reel you will find a number that indicates the number of ball bearings that are present. Ball bearings will help you detect possible friction on your line. You want to aim for options with a higher bearing number. A higher number means a streamlined casting and reeling process.
Fast Action Tip
In recent years, fast action tips have been a common addition to newer combo options. Fast action tips offer many benefits to the average angler. Fast actions tips allow you to have improved hit detection capabilities, more flexibility, and adds to the overall sensitivity of the rod
Finding suitable combination ice fishing reels and rods doesn’t have to break the bank. There are many affordable options out there; it’s just about knowing where to look. It’s always a good idea to do a lot of comparison between different brands and models until you find one with the specifications you want. Getting a good one at first can be a bit of an investment, but in the long run you’ll be happy you spent a little extra money.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long will one of these combo rods last?
A: Most quality rods are built to last, especially though freezing temperatures. When looking at the materials used, aluminum and graphite are both useful in combating corrosion. Proper cleaning and maintenance of your equipment is recommended after every use as well.
Q: What is the best combo for panfish?
A: Panfish are a common type of game for ice fishers. When it comes to size, they are fairly small. This makes a 24 inch pole with light action a great option.
Q: What is the best ice fishing combo for walleye?
A: Because walleye are typically a larger type of game, you will want something that has a little more power. Try to aim for at least a 30 inch rod that has fast action.
Q: How does traveling work with this type of equipment?
A: Most modern options have been engineered to be incredibly lightweight, making them perfect for travel. If you aren’t traveling that far, you may be able to muscle through with a heavier rod.
A combination reel and rod is exactly what you need to step up your ice fishing game. They make the overall process faster and more convenient. That will result in less stress and frustration for you.
Make sure you find something that is comfortable for you to hold and handle. Look for a comfortable grip. This will ensure that you’re performing at your best. Pay attention to what kind of game you’ll be after as well. This will determine the size of your rod and other special features like tip, bearing number, and more.
Once you have a quality new rod and reel, you’ll be surprised at how much you improve your game.