Best Ice Fishing Rods 2023: Top 6 picks | Ice Fishing Rod Buyers Guide

Ice fishing can be a really fun and rewarding experience, but in order to make the most of your time out on the ice, you need to have the right gear.

In this post, we'll take a look at some of the best ice fishing rods on the market and discuss what makes them so great. Stay safe and have fun out there!


Best Ice Fishing Rod - Overall

Fenwick HMG Ice Spinning Rod

LENGTH: 28" | POWER: MEDIUM LIGHT

Check Price on Amazon

Pros (Why do we like it?)

The Fenwick HMG is our top pick for the best ice fishing rod. It is a medium light action and it is a very durable and sensitive rod that's built to handle just about anything you might encounter while ice fishing.

The blank is made of high-modulus graphite, which makes these strong and ultralight rods. The guides are double-footed stainless steel guides, and the solid cork handle is comfortable to hold even when you're wearing gloves.

The Fenwick HMG is a great all-around ice rod. It's sensitive enough to feel the lightest bites, but it also has the strength to handle big fish.

We also like the fact that it's built with high-quality materials that are designed to last.


Best Ice Fishing Rod & Reel Combo - Overall

13 Fishing Wicked Ice Hornet Ice Spinning Combo - IHW-28L

LENGTH: 28" | POWER: LIGHT 

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Pros (Why do we like it?)

Our top pick from the best ice fishing rod and reel combos is the 13 Fishing Wicked Ice Hornet Ice Spinning Combo.  This combo provides anglers with a great balance of power, sensitivity and durability, all in one package.

The Wicked Ice Hornet combo includes a 28” light rod paired with a 4.8:1 gear ratio spinning reel, making it a great choice for catching panfish such as crappies & sunfish.

The 30-ton Toray rod blank is both sensitive and durable, while the ALPS thin wire guides provide smooth line flow and added durability. The reel includes 5+1 ball bearings for smooth operation, and the aluminum spool provides both strength and durability.

The 13 Fishing Wicked Ice Hornet combo is a great choice for anglers looking for a versatile and durable ice fishing rod and reel combo during the ice fishing season.


Best Ice Fishing Rod for the Money

Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

LENGTH: 28" | POWER: MEDIUM

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Pros (Why do we like it?)

The Ugly Stik GX2 ice fishing rod and reel combo is one of the best values for money when it comes to ice fishing gear.  As an Ice angler, you are going to love this high quality rod combo!  Ugly Stik has been around for ever and it show in their rods.

The Ugly Stik GX2 ice fishing rod is made of high-quality hybrid of graphite and fiberglass rod materials and is designed for durability and performance and one piece stainless steel guides.

The reel included in this combo is also high-quality, and features a smooth drag system that makes it easy to use.


Best Ice Fishing Rod for Walleye

13 Fishing Microtech Walleye Spinning Ice Fishing Combo

LENGTH: 36" | POWER: MEDIUM

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Pros (Why do we like it?)

If you're looking for the best ice fishing rods for walleye, 13 Fishing's Microtech Walleye Ice Combo is the perfect choice.

This a 36" medium action, lightweight rod.  It is a sensitive rod specifically designed for targeting walleye through the ice, and it comes with a durable and smooth-operating reel that's perfect for ice fishing.

The 13 Fishing Microtech Walleye Ice Combo is specifically designed for targeting walleye through the ice, making it the perfect choice for serious walleye anglers.  Although, designed for walleye, this is a very excellent rod for northern pike, bass, perch & lake trout.


Best Ice Fishing Rod for Panfish

HT Enterprises Polar Fire Red Zone Ice Combo - PFRZ-26LS

LENGTH: 26" | POWER: LIGHT

Check Price on Cabela's

Pros (Why do we like it?)

Panfish anglers, this one is for you!  When it comes to ice fishing for panfish, you can't go wrong with the HT Enterprises Polar Fire Red Zone Ice Combo.

This combo includes a rod and reel that are specially designed for ice fishing and makes an excellent panfish rod, so you can be sure that you're getting the best possible performance out of your equipment.

The rod is made from graphite for strength and sensitivity, while the reel is made from aluminum oxide inserts for durability. The combination of these materials makes for a combo that can handle even the most challenging conditions.

The HT Enterprises Polar Fire Red Zone Ice Combo also comes with a number of features that making it one of the best rod and reel combos for ice fishing. For example, this rod has freeze resisting EZ Ice Out guides and a split-grip Total Touch handle that provides a comfortable grip even when wearing gloves.

The reel also has a drag system that makes it easy to adjust the tension, so you can always be sure that your line is tight enough. And, of course, the whole combo is designed to be used in extremely cold temperatures, so you'll never have to worry about your equipment freezing up.


Best Ice Fishing Rod for Lake Trout

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Ice Combo - USELTICE30MCBO

LENGTH: 30" | POWER: MEDIUM

Check Price on Cabela's

Pros (Why do we like it?)

When it comes to ice fishing for lake trout, you can't go wrong with the Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Ice Combo.  This combo is specifically designed for ice fishing, and it comes with everything you need to be successful.

This rod is made with heavy-duty graphite & fiberglass materials & stainless steel guides, for extreme durability, while the reel provides a smooth experience.

Plus, the whole setup is very affordable, making it a great option for those on a budget.  If you're looking for a quality ice fishing rod and reel combo that won't break the bank, the Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Ice Combo is the perfect choice.


FAQs about Ice Fishing Rods

What is the best ice fishing rod?

The Fenwick HMG Ice Spinning Rod is our top pick for the best ice fishing rod. It's a versatile and durable rod that can be used for a variety of different fish, making it a great choice for both beginner and experienced ice anglers alike.

If you're looking for a cheap ice fishing rod and reel combo, the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Rod is one of the best budget rods available. It's a durable rod that's built to last, and it's a great choice for the price. Croix custom ice rod is not a bad option either.

The HT Enterprises Polar Fire Red Zone Ice Combo is an excellent ice rod panfish and small trout.

What is the best length for an ice fishing rod?

This is a question that doesn't have a definitive answer, as the best length for an ice fishing pole depends on a number of factors, such as the type of fish you're targeting, the size of the lakes or ponds you'll be fishing in, and your personal preferences.

With that said, most ice fishermen tend to use fishing rods that are between 24 and 36 inches long. Shorter fishing rods are easier to handle in tight spaces such as a popup or fish house, while longer rods give you more rod power and reach when setting the hook or fighting a fish.

Ultimately, it's up to you to decide what length rod works best for you and your ice fishing needs.

Can you use a regular reel for ice fishing?

It is possible to use a regular reel for ice fishing, but it's not ideal. In general, ice fishing reels are smaller and have fewer moving parts in order to deal with the extreme cold and the potential for ice build-up.

A regular reel will work in a pinch, but it may be more difficult to manage the line and set the hook on a fish through the thicker ice. It's always best to use equipment that is specifically designed for the task at hand, and that will give you the best chance of success.

What is the best ice fishing rod and reel combo?

The best ice fishing rod and reel combo depends on the type of fish you're targeting. For example, if you're after walleye, then the 13 Fishing Microtech Walleye Ice Combo is a great rod of choice.

If you're after panfish, then the HT Enterprises Polar Fire Red Zone Ice Combo is a great lighter rod option. And if you're targeting lake trout, then the Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Ice Combo is a power rod for bigger fish.


How to select the perfect ice fishing rod?

Here, we'll take a look at some of the things to consider when selecting an ice fishing rod.

Targeted fish

First, think about the type of fish you'll be targeting. If you're after panfish, a short and light rod will do the trick. For larger fish like pike or walleye, you'll need a longer and heavier rod.


Rod Power

Diagram of Power of Fishing Rod

The next factor to consider is the rod's power. This refers to how much the rod bends when you put pressure on it. An ultra light rod will bend the most, while a heavy rod will bend the least.

Again, this varies based on the type of fish you're targeting. For panfish, a  more sensitive rod with light power is often best, as it's easier to feel bites and set the hook. For larger fish, a medium to medium heavy rod provides more power and control.


Rod Length

The final rod factor to consider is the length of the ice fishing rods. This is mostly a matter of personal preference, but as a general rule, shorter ice fishing rods around 26" - 28" are better for smaller fish and in tighter spaces such as a popup or fish house, while longer rods around 36" provide more power and reach.

No matter what type of ice fishing rod you select, be sure to match it with the appropriate reel and line. With a little bit of trial and error, you'll be sure to find the perfect setup for your next ice fishing adventure!


Fishing Line

For freezing temperatures, you'll want to use a line that is specifically designed for ice fishing. This type of line is stronger and more resistant to freezing, which is important in cold weather.  They also have a special coating that helps them stay flexible in the cold weather.  This is so they don't snap as easily when you're pulling in a big fish through the ice.

There are a few different types of fishing line that work well for ice fishing in freezing temperatures. One popular option is monofilament line, which is specially designed to stay flexible and strong in cold weather.

Fluorocarbon line is another good choice, as it is invisible under water and can handle colder temperatures than other types of line. Whichever type of line you choose, make sure to keep it spooled tightly on your reel to prevent it from freezing up.

Braided fishing line for ice fishing is a great choice because it is high in sensitivity and strength, with zero stretch. This means you can detect even the slightest nibbles from fish, and that you won't have to worry about your line snapping under pressure.


Wrap Up

Ice fishing can indeed be a whole lot of fun. It is one activity that the entire family can enjoy together. However, in order to make the most out of this winter pastime, you will need to have the best ice fishing rod with you.

With this guide, we hope that you are now better equipped to select the perfect ice fishing rod for your needs and budget. Do let us know which among our top 6 picks is your favorite? Have fun and stay safe while ice fishing!

Happy Fishing!

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