Ice fishing certainly isn’t a sport for the faint of heart, but those who have given it a try know how truly rewarding it can be. Pulling out a fish seemingly from nowhere can be exhilarating. Many ice fishers wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world.
However, you aren’t likely to have much fun or be very successful out on the ice without the right ice fishing equipment. One of the most essential pieces you’ll need is, of course, your rod. Even if you are an expert when wielding traditional fishing rods, many features differ when it comes to specialist ice fishing rods.
If you’re new to the ice fishing world or are looking for an upgrade, keep reading to learn about all the best rods currently available on the market.
Top 10 Ice Fishing Poles
- St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod
- Shakespeare Wild Series Ice Fishing Spinning Rod
- Berkley Cherrywood HD Ice Fishing Spinning Rod
- Fenwick HMG Ice Fishing Spinning Rod
- St. Croix Legend Black Ice Fishing Rod
- 13 Fishing Tickle Stick – Ice Rod
- Fiblink Graphite Ice Fishing Rod
- Akataka Ice Fishing Rod
- Abu Garcia AVOLICE29M-C Volatile Ice Casting Rod
- Shakespeare Ugly Stik Ice Fishing Spinning Rod
St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod
St. Croix is a global brand that has been creating ice fishing equipment for over seventy years. They have continuously worked to create excellence, and the Mojo Series is no exception. Even though the company produces some of the most expensive options on the market, its popularity has only grown. The Mojo series features lightweight models made from carbon that provide a professional level fishing experience to anglers.
- Solid carbon blank with precision taper
- Stainless steel guides that are lightweight
- Reel seat adaptable for all technique types
- Tensions from ultra-light to heavy
- Cork/EVA handle
- 10 different models so you can find exactly what you need
- Stainless steel guides designed to prevent freeze-up
- High sensitivity to easily feel fish nibbles
- Complaints of stiffness
- Higher price point
St. Croix is a well-known and respected company in the fishing rod business. You are unlikely to go wrong when purchasing one of their products, including the Mojo Series.
Shakespeare Wild Series Ice Fishing Spinning Rod
Founded in 1897, this company also boasts a long-lasting tradition of excellence in the fishing industry. In addition to creating a great ice fishing pole, the company also offers outdoor apparel and fishing accessories for the whole family. The Wild Series consists of low-cost models that still deliver great results out on the ice.
- Fiberglass moderate action blanks
- Lightweight stainless steel guides
- Hybrid tech grips
- Many users claim it is one of the best ice fishing rods for walleyes
- Low price, high value
- Lightweight yet strong
- Complaints of bent and unaligned eyelets upon delivery
- Not the fanciest option
The value of this fishing rod compared to its price cannot be denied. Anyone looking for reliable, inexpensive ice rods must consider this model from Shakespeare.
Berkley Cherrywood HD Ice Fishing Spinning Rod
Offering rods, bait, tackle, and even sunglasses, Berkley has cemented themselves as a leader in the fishing industry since 1945. Their Cherrywood HD rod features a range of materials, including stainless steel, cork, and fiberglass, to ensure that it is as lightweight and flexible as possible while still maintaining superior structural integrity.
- Fiberglass blanks
- Handle made of cork
- Sliding ring reel seat made of graphite
- Stainless steel guides and inserts
- Low price point
- Flexible but strong
- Users have called it the best ice fishing rod for panfish
- Not the most sensitive
This rod gives yet another example of a steal in terms of price. Many users have found great success with this rod, and it is likely you will too.
Fenwick HMG Ice Fishing Spinning Rod
Named for a lake in Washington state, Fenwick has been supplying the world with high-quality rods for decades. The HMG Ice Fishing Spinning rod is made with high modulus graphite and premium AAA cork to create a well-balanced device suitable for any skill level.
- High modulus graphite blank
- Aluminum oxide inserts coupled with stainless steel guides
- Handles made with premium AAA cork
- Twist-lock reel seat
- Tapered construction with more moderate actions
- Handles fish well
- Great sensitivity and action
- Weak compared to some other brands
Several users have stated that this model is one of the best ice fishing rods they own. If you are looking for a solid rod at a reasonable price, then you need to put this Fenwick model on your list.
St. Croix Legend Black Ice Fishing Rod
Next on the list, we have another St. Croix rod that the company released for the 2017/2018 fishing season. Even though it is one of the most expensive on the list, ice fishers with more experience should definitely consider it. This rod’s special features, including a Spring Bobber attachment, clearly set it apart from the rest of the pack.
- Comes with a Spring Bobber that indicates every single strike
- Anglers can interchange this bobber with other bobbers supplied by St. Croix (sold separately)
- Locking reel seat with EVA trim
- Precision-taper solid carbon blanks
- Stainless steel guides with anodized black frames
- Extremely sensitive with the high-tech spring bobber, especially helpful in deep water
- Sleek all-black look
- Great for catching walleye
- High price point
If you want to look, feel, and fish like a professional, then this is one of the best ice fishing rods out there. Designed to replace the retired Legend Gold and Legend Silver models, the Legend Black provides the perfect combination of classic and innovation. While you will end up paying a bit more, most users admit that it is completely worth it for this model.
13 Fishing Tickle Stick – Ice Rod
Next up is an option from 13 Fishing. Although this company is based in Florida, they have made a name for themselves supplying all types of fishing equipment including ice fishing jig rods. The special technology in this rod, allowing anglers to feel even the most subtle of bites, make it a popular choice for dedicated ice fishers.
- PC2 (parallel composite construction) blank construction
- New evolve finesse ice reel seat
- Detects both positive and negative bites
- Flat tip technology
- ALPS thin wire guides
- Anglers can detect any kind of strike on their line
- Flat tip allows for perfect hook-sets every time because the rod does not roll over
- Light and easy on the hands
- Higher price point
- Reports of misalignment of eyes, flat tip, and reel seat
- Complaints of lack of durability for the flat tip
This model features technology that can’t find on most other models. If you are a serious angler who is looking for the most innovative products currently on the market, then you must take a closer look at this offering from 13 Fishing.
Fiblink Graphite Ice Fishing Rod
With the motto of “happy fishing, happy life,” Fiblink understands the joy that fishing brings anglers all over the world. Offering everything from nets to tackle backpacks, they work to meet all the needs of their customers. This model is made to be comfortable, yet effective, making it perfect for anglers who like to spend many hours out on the ice.
- Graphite rod blanks that extend through the handle
- One-year warranty with a full money-back guarantee
- Aluminum oxide guides
- Solid handle made of cork
- Handle shaped for comfort and sure grip
- Come with a rod bag
- Lower price point
- Complaints of damage upon delivery
- Reports of misalignment
This model received the most mixed reviews of any rod on this list. However, most complaints had to do with issues upon arrival that the company vows to fix through their warranty. If you’re looking for a solid rod at a competitive price, then this is still a great contender.
Akataka Ice Fishing Rod
Akataka places a strong emphasis on the benefits that fishing can bring to the entire family. They promote strong family and community values through their company policies and products. If you are looking to get your kids involved in the pastime of ice fishing, then this is the ideal starter rod that even comes with a great warranty.
- Carbon fiber rod blanks
- Sensitive tip
- 12-month warranty
- 3A cork handle
- Ergonomic handle comfortable for both children and adults
- Lightweight to alleviate fisher tiredness
- Easy to install reels
- Low price point
- Some felt it was more of a medium-light pole rather than an ultra-light
This fishing pole is truly a great option, especially if you are looking to get the next generation of anglers involved. Most users have had very few complaints and expressed pleasure with the rod’s performance.
Abu Garcia AVOLICE29M-C Volatile Ice Casting Rod
With an unorthodox beginning in taxi meter manufacturing, Abu Garcia has now found its stride in the fishing industry over the last seven-plus decades. The AVOLICE29M-C Volatile Ice Casting Rod, one of their newest, keeps both comfort and precision at the forefront of its design.
- High-density EVA handles
- 24 ton graphite blank
- Uplocking comfort reel seat
- Stainless steel guides with titanium oxide inserts
- Built for comfort even in brutal conditions
- Handles made for greater sensitivity and durability
- Highly rated ice fishing jigging rod
- Reports of misalignments
- Complaints of stiffness
This Swedish company is known for creating some high-quality products, and this ice casting rod definitely fits in with the rest of the company’s repertoire.
Shakespeare Ugly Stik Ice Fishing Spinning Rod
Finally, we have come to our last suggestion which is from a company we have already discussed. However, this model comes from Ugly Stik, one of their subsidiary brands. The Shakespeare Ugly Stik Ice Fishing Spinning Rod features top of the line materials while maintaining a sleek look that is sure to impress out on the ice.
- Combination graphite and fiberglass blanks
- Stainless steel guides made of a single piece of material
- Clear tip design
- EVA grips
- One-piece guides eliminate insert dislocation
- Tip design allows for enhanced strength and sensitivity
- Grips are durable and lightweight
- Sleek look
- Low price
- Reports of receiving incorrect sizes
Seeing that the most significant complaint with this ice fishing pole does not even have to do with the pole itself but rather with the ordering process, if you can manage to get the correct rod than there is a good chance you will be happy with it. Additionally, obtaining this model allows you to get the high-quality construction of a Shakespeare at a fraction of the cost of many of their other options.
Tips for Buying
In this section, we’re going to go a bit more in-depth into how to choose a fishing rod. There are many things to take into consideration when making this decision.
While ice fishing rods aren’t the most expensive things out there, unless you are an experienced angler, it can be challenging to weigh the pros and cons of each rod without some outside help. Here are a few aspects to consider so that you can determine which ice fishing rod will best fit your needs.
Most ice fishing rods come in tension levels from ultra-light to heavy. Generally, different tension levels support catching different sizes and strengths of fish. Consider the recommendations and specifications of each supplier to determine which model is most likely to help you reel in the catch of your dreams.
Does the rod you are considering feature any sort of warranty or money-back guarantee? If not, then you may have to pay out of pocket for a new one if it breaks on your first outing.
Warranties generally cover the rod for a period of about a year and sometimes may only be redeemed for an exchange.
Money-back guarantees are likely to be for a much shorter time but are typically “no questions asked.” If the manufacturer offers both, then you are in luck.
This aspect mostly has to do with the pole’s handle. Some handle materials are more comfortable than others. Handle comfort is important because you are likely going to spend many hours gripping the pole, so you need to make sure it fits your hand well and is comfortable.
Additionally, you may want to look at handles that feature an ergonomic design if this is an area that is especially important to you. You want your fishing experience to be as enjoyable as it is successful. Comfortable handles can help you get there.
Of course, cost is a concern when purchasing just about anything, but there are few price trends in ice fishing rods that you need to be aware before making your final decision. There are a plethora of options in the $15-30 range. However, some retailers sell outliers that go for over $50.
If you are not extremely serious about ice fishing, then you will likely find an acceptable rod in this lower price range. However, if you are looking for top quality, then you may need to splurge for something in the upper price range.
The weight of the rod is one of the most important to which to pay attention. Holding a rod above an ice hole is hard work, but it becomes exponentially more laborious if the pole is unnecessarily heavy.
The largest contributing factor to weight is the material from which the manufacturer constructed the rod’s blanks.
Common lightweight materials include carbon fiber, fiberglass, and graphite. While there is no clear favorite among these construction materials, you can try them out in side-by-side comparisons to determine which works best for you.
In case you are unfamiliar with the term sensitivity in terms of fishing, it refers to how detectable nibbles on the line are.
Most anglers prefer poles that are more sensitive than not because sensitivity helps them to set the line in the fish quickly after they get a bite. If you can’t tell that a fish is biting, then you will be much less likely to catch it.
The guides are the little eyelets that your line passes through to keep it in place on your rod. You will want to ensure that they are made of a lightweight material that does not weigh down your rod. However, you will also want to ensure that they are strong enough to guide your line and are not susceptible to breakage.
Additionally, the guides need to allow your line to pass by smoothly so that you can quickly reel in your big catch. Too much friction may cause you to lose your prize. A popular material for this aspect of the ice fishing pole is stainless steel.
Some ice fishing rods contain features that no other models have. For instance, when it comes to sensitivity, the St. Croix Legend Black Ice Fishing Rod features a spring bobber attachment. Whereas, the 13 Fishing Tickle Stick features flat tip technology.
As an angler, you will need to decide if these innovations and special features will enhance your game or merely cost you more money unnecessarily.
While this consideration isn’t of the highest importance, you still need to consider it, especially if you desire to participate in competitions or just want to impress your friends. Many anglers perceive rods with sleeker, uncluttered looks to appear more professional.
If you are looking to fit in with the pros or simply “dress to impress,” if you will, then this is something that you should take into consideration.
Type of Fish
If you are exclusively interested in catching a specific type of fish, then you might want to look for rods that are designed to catch a particular fish. Conversely, you could consult reviews to determine what fish users of each model have caught most often.
Ice fishing rods for walleye may do a terrible job at catching panfish and vice versa. Therefore, it is imperative that you know what you want to catch and which pole will best help you achieve that goal.
Hopefully, the above information will help you to be much more confident when it comes time to buy your first ice fishing rod or the next one to add to your collection. Unlike tip-ups, ice rods require the fisherman to stay with the hole, so you will cover less of the lake, but have greater connection to the lures. While ice fishing is certainly a challenging activity, having the perfect rod will get you one step closer to success.
If you keep the tips provided in the Buyer’s Guide in mind, you will be sure to end up with something that works well for your needs. Remember that just because your friend’s rod works really well for them, it does not necessarily mean that it will automatically work for you too.
Good luck catching some sizeable walleye, panfish and much more this season!