The summer is over, and we are starting to count down the days to the lakes freeze over so we can get right into the ice fishing season. Is there anything more magical than setting up your gear on a frozen lake and hoping to catch your supper? With all fishing equipment, you want the right tools for the job. In this article, we aim to help you find the best ice fishing reel for your next adventure on the frozen water.
We have put together our top 9 best ice fishing reels we gathered over 100 reels that said they were for ice fishing a narrowed them down to the top 9. If you want a little more information on what to look for below, we have a complete buying guide to help.
KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels, Perfect for Ultralight/Ice Fishing
Summer doesn’t seem like an intuitive name for an ice fishing reel now does it? Well, you would be wrong. It brings the heat and liveliness of summer to your ice hole in the dead of winter. The KastKing Ultralight Summer Spinning Reels is a lightweight and versatile fishing reel that is perfect for ice fishing, or any other fishing that requires the use of a small and versatile spinning reel. It has all of the features you need to have a good ice fishing reel and it comes in at a great price that won’t break the budget.
The KastKing Ultralight Summer Spinning Reels is made from a unique graphite construction that is both durable, corrosion resistant and lightweight. The graphite performs better in the cold than traditional metal bodies. It also features up to 18lbs of stopping power which far outclasses its size and weight. That makes it ideal for ice fishing as it has enough drag to pull straight up on those fish coming towards the hole without sacrificing the power you need to finish the job.
It looks like winter, feels like summer, and performs like the best of both. This reel features prominently on best seller lists for a reason. Find out for yourself why everyone loves the KastKing Ultralight Summer Spinning Reels.
- Loads of features for a low price
- Super light and durable body is perfect for ice fishing
- Tons of power that you are going to love
Okuma Cold Water Linecounter Trolling Reel CW-203DLX
Some of the best fish in the world are found at the bottom of cold streams and frozen lakes. Unbeknownst to the casual angler or the temperate fisherman cold water has a strong affect on your equipment over time. The temperature swings can cause metal to warp and bend if it is not designed and tested properly. That is why Okuma, maker of many quality fishing reels, has developed a powerful trolling reel specifically made to be used in cold water and cold environments. The last thing you want is to take a warm weather reel into cold temperatures and have something go wrong.
The Okuma Cold Water Linecounter Trolling Reel CW-203DLX comes with some excellent built in features that will make your time on the water much more tolerable. The high caliber internal components are held within Okuma’s MSS or Mechanical Stabilizing System, providing extreme durability and long-term alignment of gears and shafts even in extreme temperature swings. It has a solid brass pinion for outsized power and durability. The gearing system is built with a self lubricating system so you don’t have to fuss with liquids out in the cold which keeps your reel spinning freely no matter what the situation.
- Durable body and internal components made for cold water trolling
- Makes catching those desirable fish much easier than ever before
- One year limited manufacturer’s warranty.
13 Fishing Black Betty Freefall Ghost Inline Ice Fishing Reel
13 Fishing is one of the few companies on the market making quality reels designed specifically for ice fishing. They know what it takes to craft a special reel for the specific variables and details that come with fishing around an ice hole. Many other reels are simply traditional reels rejigged for ice fishing which adds in unnecessary features and weight. The 13 Fishing Black Betty Freefall Ghost Inline Ice Fishing Reel is a no frills reel that gives you exactly what you want out on the ice. This is lightweight, has cold weather resistant materials used at every phase, and has oodles of ice fishing specific features.
The reel has a 2.5:1 gear ratio that is perfect for ice hole fishing. It features a graphite body that is lightweight and won’t change shape or form in the cold. Also, it has drop speed control made for dropping lines straight downwards, something most reels do not feature. It also has a slide drag system that allows you to instantly tailor your drag on the fly to fit the specific fish you are trying to catch. On top of all that, it is affordable and comes in three colors to fit your style out on the ice. Do not get a refit reel made for standard fishing, get a reel made for this.
- Unique ice fishing features at every turn
- Small, light and sleek design
- Affordable and reliable construction
Abu Garcia ICEMAX
Abu Garcia knows how to make a good fishing reel. They have been making quality fishing gear for years and they have continued this tradition with their newest line of ice fishing reels. The Abu Garcia ICEMAX 4842-1331 Ice MAX Spinning Fishing Reel combines the best design philosophies of Abu Garcia and repackages them into a design made specifically for the unique conditions faced out on the ice. Anyone who has brought a traditional fishing reel out on the ice will know that not all reels are made equally.
The biggest problems you will face with a reel out on the ice are temperature warpage and poor lubrication. Those are the two problems that Abu Garcia has identified and moved to fix with their ICEMAX reels. They have bolstered the bail line to make it thicker and less susceptible to change in low temperatures. Unfortified bail lines will expand and contract more easily going from a warm car to cold air and back again. Not so with this system. They have also upgraded the types of lubrication used inside this reel. Most people don’t know that most of the moving parts in a reel come pre-lubricated but if you do not have an ice reel, these lubricants are not cold weather resistant.
With the Abu Garcia ICEMAX 4842-1331 Ice MAX Spinning Fishing Reel, everything is weather resistant from the bearings to the bail line to the lubricants used.
- Excellent ice reel from the quality makers at Abu Garcia
- Affordable, high caliber construction
- Make specifically for the avid ice fisherman
This reel does not look like your run of the mill fishing reel, and that is on purpose. To the uninitiated, this reel is going to look downright bizarre, and for a good reason. This is a reel designed specifically for hard use out on the ice by ice hole anglers. With its unique spool, cork handles, and 2.7:1 gear ratio, you might be scratching your head.
These features are all made to make ice fishing easier and more efficient than using a standard reel. It comes with a free release button for easy dropping down into the hole. The epoxied cork handles are made so they will not freeze or get sticky when being used with gloved fingers. It will look right at home hanging from your ice fishing rod. Better yet, all of Fiblink’s products come with a one year quality guarantee. It says it right on the box. If anything goes wrong with this reel, send it back and they’ll fix it. Now you can buy with confidence and get a reel specifically made to feel at home out on the ice. There’s nothing else like it.
- The unique design is eye catching and made specifically for on ice use
- Affordable and efficient construction will leave you impressed
- Includes an alarm switch so you can run multiple holes at once
Eagle Claw in Line Ice Fishing Reel
Eagle Claw has made a name for themselves by creating high quality, affordable reels designed specifically for ice hole fishing. Not many companies focus on this niche fishing craft but Eagle Claw does. Other manufacturers simply rebrand their warm weather reels for use in the ice without truly understanding the art of ice fishing. Eagle Claw designs all of their reels from a place of knowledge and experience. This is apparent in the Eagle Claw In Line Ice Fishing Reel as it comes with a ton of features made specifically for ice fishing.
For example, this reel has no braking system. Normally, this would be a huge headache for any angler but this reel does not require casting. Instead, it comes with a free release button to easily drop your lure and line into the hole without any hassle. Any ice fishing reels with braking systems are simply repurposed casting reels branded for ice fishing. It is specifically designed as a cold weather resistant in line reel with Teflon construction which holds up better than metal materials out in the cold air.
- Truly designed for ice fishing with no frills, only quality
- Will perform the way you expect a proper ice fishing reel under the harshest conditions
- An affordable price that anyone can love
Eagle Claw In Line Ice Reel
Quality for a bargain, that is what you will get with the Eagle Claw In Line Ice Reel. The first thing you will notice is its sharp and innovative design, the second thing you will notice is the outstanding price point. You will instantly fall in love with them both. This is an excellently designed inline reel made specifically for ice fishing. Ice fishing is a popular pastime for those who brave the northern months but still love to fish and spend time outdoors. Not many people realize what a difference a quality ice reel makes but it really does.
The Eagle Claw In Line Ice Reel has a nylon body and spool which will weather the cold much better than traditional metal bodied reels. It has a strong and smooth Teflon drag system and a free spool release button to make casting and cranking a breeze out on the ice. Every component in this reel is made to facilitate better cold weather and ice fishing. Anyone who has used a traditional metal reel out on the ice will instantly know the difference and you will not want to go back. Get yourself an upgraded in line fishing reel made for ice with the Eagle Claw In Line Ice Reel today. You won’t regret it.
- Quality in line reel made for the harsh conditions on the ice
- A price you will love
- Components specifically designed for cold weather fishing
Penn Pursuit II Spinning Fishing Reel
The Penn Pursuit II Spinning Fishing Reel makes the cut for a solid ice fishing reel and it does not take long to realize why. Penn Fishing is a reputable company with a long history of creating efficient, affordable, and high quality products. They craft reels of all kinds and this reel is no different. It brings the quality and versatility you have come to expect from a Penn reel and has the added bonus of being a great reel to use while out on the ice.
The reel is chock full of high grade features, and it all comes in at a price that will surprise you. It is made with a clever combination of graphite and aluminum that gives it a fantastic mixture of lightweight and durable material. This makes it able to stand up to the cold better than other reels, and the graphite is higher grade than similar reels that use nylon for their ice reels. If you favor a spinning reel as opposed to an in line reel, you do not get much better in terms of quality and performance than the Penn Pursuit II Spinning Fishing Reel. Upgrade your time on the ice and don’t get stuck fiddling with reels, not designed for the harsh conditions of ice fishing, get a known product from a known manufacturer.
- A durable, quality spinning reel that is tough enough to hack it out on the ice
- A sleek, cold design that looks and feels great
- Affordable product from the makers at Penn Fishing
Pflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning Reel
The Pflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning Reel is a quality spinning reel designed for use out on the ice. Fishing is a universally beloved sport around the world and you can find fisherman on the water at the equator or in the arctic. Each environment needs a unique set of gear to get the job done. Pflueger knows this and that is why they have taken their best design elements and combined them into a reel designed for use in cold weather and ice hole fishing situations. Do not get a reel designed for temperate rivers because you are going to be disappointed if you do.
The Pflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning Reel has a graphite body and graphite rotor. This prevents the cold from warping the material over time like you sometimes see with similar thin metal construction. This way you still get the durability and weight of aluminum without the potential for temperature warpage. They have also thickened the bail line for the same reason. This reel was designed to brave the cold weather.
- Quality spinning reel from Pflueger is designed to withstand the harsh cold of ice hole fishing
- Thick bail line will not warp or crack in the cold
- Graphite components are durable, lightweight and temperature resistant
The Best Ice Fishing Reel
Bigger is not always better, and complex is sometimes just complicated. Do you ever wish things in life were simpler instead of more intricate? Sometimes we just need a tool that does the job as advertised. No flash, No fuss. No muss. That is the conclusion I came to when weighing my options for which reel to choose for this piece. There are a lot of reels out there that claim they are the best. They can fish ice, and they can fish rivers, they can fish it all.
I don’t need a reel that can fish it all, I am looking for the best ice fishing reel. In the pursuit of being the flashiest or the best, a lot of the reels out there have just added too much to their builds. Ice fishing, compared to other kinds of fishing, is relatively simple. Most reels do not need braking systems or fancy anti-reversal knobs. What they need is a way to drop line efficiently straight down without getting tangled. They need to be able to hold up to the cold weather without warping or breaking down.
I say all of that to iterate that there are complex reels out there, there are reels that do more, there are spinning reels out there. If those are the things that you are looking for, by all means, seek them out. But when it comes to being purely a winter, ice fishing reel there is one that is simply the best.
Eagle Claw In Line Ice Reel
- Carbon Pattern Finish
- Smooth Star Teflon Drag
- Spool tension adjustment with free spool release button
- 4 + 1 Ball Bearings
- 2:6:1 Gear Ratio
The Eagle Claw In Line Ice Reel sets out to do a job and it does it. It is a fantastic ice fishing reel. No frills, or unneeded extras. This keeps the size and costs down while offering you a tool that will get the job done. This reel is not flashy, does not have a ton of extra features. It just works. And that is what the best thing about it is.
The Eagle Claw In Line Ice Reel is an in line reel specifically designed for ice hole fishing. Not many other reels can say that and if you’ve ever used a standard reel out on the ice, you will know that there is a difference between an ice fishing reel and a standard reel.
First of all, this reel has an entirely nylon body and spool. This is a totally unique feature that works for this reel. Other ice fishing reels are made of graphite, which is good for its weight and durability but it can be fragile. If you’ve ever dropped a graphite reel onto the ice and had it crack, you’ll know what I mean. The nylon is temperature resistant, modern and it feels great in your hand.
It also features a free spool release button, a must for ice fishing reels. Fiddling with a casting reel and trying to get it to drop the line without tangling up as it goes into the hole is frustrating. That is why a free release tab is so important. This one works great. It also has a spool tension adjustment so you can adjust the tension easily when you’re not free dropping into the water.
Rounding up why this reel
The drag system is made of Teflon, again, a must for ice fishing reels. The cranks are smooth and the drag feels good when lifting up on the line. You will appreciate the power and Teflon is super weather resistant. Other reels may work great out on the ice until a component freezes up or you get materials that warp from temperature swings.
Best of all, this reel is cheap. You will be shocked at the price of such a well rounded ice fishing reel. You will not have to spend more than the price of dinner in today’s world to own this reel. This goes hand in hand with the theme of the Eagle Claw In Line Ice Reel. It gets the job done. It’s not expensive. It’s not overly designed. It works, it works well and it works on a budget.
If you are looking for the best ice hole fishing reel that you can use during the winter to get the job done without having to worry about it, you want the Eagle Claw In Line Ice Reel. For that, it simply is the best.
Best Ice fishing Reel Buying Guide
Before you jump right into a purchase it’s important to research what you are about to buy. We have done all the research for you and put out top 9 reels. However, some people like to do their own research and this is why we have given you this buying guide.
Knowing the specs and what are the important bits of information will allow you to make the perfect purchase for your needs.
Knowing things like gear ratio are important however, maybe more important with ice fishing is freeze resistant as you will be using these reels in some really low temperatures. So let’s get right into the important things to consider helping you get that perfect ice fishing reel.
Type of reels
Spinning Reel – The spinning reel is one of the easiest reels to use and the design most will be able to identify. The big difference is that these reels will be specifically made for the extremely low temperatures. They will have elongated yolks and antifreeze lubricates to stop the reel from freezing. The biggest disadvantage with a spinning reel is the drag system is often hard to use when wearing fishing gloves.
Inline Reel – Jigging then the inline reel is perfect for ice fishing. This design allows the line to lie on the spool with very little twisting. You hold these reels like you hold a pistol and it’s the much-preferred design of many ice fishers. The free spool button is much loved by people who ice fish as it’s easy to operate in gloves.
Baitcasting Reel – Once the reel people loved but didn’t love the price is now much more affordable. They are becoming much more popular in ice fishing circles. The drag system is easy to use even in gloves and the compact nature means it’s a nice fit for ice fishing. The big disadvantage is they take a little more skill to operate and a lot of people prefer the simple nature of the inline reel.
Ice fishing reels look a little different than ordinary reels in there design; this is down to the condition that you will be using the reel in. You may want to consider a design that covers the line from the elements this will stop line breaks.
Now spool is one place that an ice fishing reel doesn’t need to be as well built. Due to the fact that you will not be casting the spool design doesn’t need to be as strong. However, as you don’t want the line to twist the spool will look a little different to lay the line flat. You will also find that an ice fishing reel normally holds a lot more line due to the deeper depths you will be fishing.
A standard reel may have a very different reel handle as they are not built with someone wearing gloves in mind. This is different to an ice fishing reel we are normally wearing gloves at all times. So with this in mind manufactories have built oversized handles with anti-slip material to make it much easier to use. The larger reel gives an added benefit that you will get extra torque out of your reel when turning.
With all reels you want to keep a lookout to how many bearing the reel you are getting has. The bearings will determine how smooth the reel performs when in use. However, with ice fishing reels it’s not as important the bearings used is the main thing to keep an eye on. You want to make sure the bearings are made from high quality material as they are going to be in cold conditions.
If you are targeting a large fish you want a reel with a drag system. What the drag system dose is allows you to set a tension on the line. If the fish pulls hard over this tension the reel will allow the line to run free. This stops the line from breaking and you losing the fish and nobody want that to happen. Most reels will come with a changeable drag so you can easily adjust the tension to target different size fish.
This system is only on ice fishing reels as you will be fishing in such cold conditions. The anti-ice system is pretty self-explanatory. The reel has internal parts that will not freeze over and the best reels for these are in-line reels. If your reel doesn’t have this system then you can buy anti-freeze paste but this can be a pain to apply.
You don’t want to be out on the lake and you reel to explode I have seen it happen. It’s so important to get a reel that is built for the freezing conditions. There is no question that ice fishing gear takes a beating with the snow and freezing conditions. Now if you add salt water to the mix then it’s going to an extreme test.
So keep an eye out for big names that have stood the test of time in ice fishing gear. You want a hard wearing material for your new reel like aluminum or graphite for best performance.
You will get a lot of friction if you use an ordinary reel until it breaks. However, ice fishing reels input lube into the gearing system that can withstand extreme cold. This will stop the friction in the reel and keep it in tip top condition thought out your fishing trip.
I feel this is a personal thing than anything but I like a light reel. I’m going to be using the reel in bulky gear and I’m going to be walking a long way potentially to the lake. I want the reel to be light in the hand when my hands are cold I don’t want anything heavy. Also, I want the overall weight of all my gear to be as light as possible and every bit of weight makes a difference. That long walk back to the car can be the worst and I want my ice fishing sled to be as light as possible.
I hope you agree that we have put together a complete buying guide to helping you find the best ice fishing reel. There are many different things to consider when you come to buy your new reel.
You will not go far wrong, just picking any of my top 9 ice fishing reels that are in your price range. If you want to do a little more research, then we hope the buying guide helps make this easier for you.
There is not much more to say other than happy ice fishing and I wish you many tight lines.