Best Ice Fishing Reels: A Comprehensive Guide

By Get Fishing •  Published: 12/01/23 •  4 min read

Ice fishing is a unique and rewarding experience that requires specialized gear. Among the most important gear is your ice fishing reel. A well-chosen reel can make the difference between an enjoyable day on the ice and a frustrating one. In this article, we’ll explore the best ice fishing reels available on the market, providing you with all the information you need to make an informed decision for your next frozen fishing escapade.

best ice fishing reels

Best Ice Fishing Reels

Shimano Sienna

Shimano Sienna 1000 Spinning Reel

Shimano Sienna 1000 Spinning Reel

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The classic and what we consider to be the standard do it all budget friendly spinning reel. You can go out to any store right now and buy one. You can’t go wrong with it.

13 Fishing Black Betty Free Fall Carbon

13 Fishing Freefall Carbon

13 Fishing Freefall Carbon

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Featuring an innovative freefall trigger, the 13 Fishing Black Betty Freefall simplifies vertical jigging and provides an edge when targeting aggressive fish species like catching perch through the ice.

Pflueger President Inline Ice Fishing Reel

Pflueger President Ice Fishing Reel

Pflueger President Ice Fishing Reel

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Built with a Composite frame and Aluminum spool Free-spool trigger system This ice fishing is just as dependable as it’s spinning reel counterpart.

How to Choose the Right Ice Fishing Reel

Understanding Gear Ratios and Line Retrieval

Gear ratios impact how quickly you can retrieve your line. A higher gear ratio is suitable for aggressive jigging, while a lower ratio is better for luring in larger fish like when you’re ice fishing for big crappie.

Types of Ice Fishing Reels: Spinning vs. Inline

Spinning reels are versatile and easy to use, while inline reels offer precise control and are less prone to line tangles in cold conditions.

Materials and Durability

Look for reels made from corrosion-resistant materials like graphite and aluminum, ensuring your reel can withstand exposure to icy water and harsh weather.

Cold Weather Performance

Choose a reel with effective lubrication and a sealed drag system to prevent freezing and ensure smooth operation in frigid temperatures.

Maintenance Tips for Longevity

Proper maintenance can extend the life of your ice fishing reel. Clean and lubricate it regularly, and store it in a dry environment during the off-season.

Techniques for Successful Ice Fishing with Your Reel

Jigging in Shallow Waters

Jigging is a popular technique for attracting fish in shallower waters. Experiment with different jigging motions to find what works best.

Dead Sticking for Lethargic Fish

When fish are less active, dead sticking—leaving your bait stationary—can entice even the most lethargic fish to strike.

Using Tip-Ups for Multiple Lines

Tip-ups allow you to fish multiple holes simultaneously, increasing your chances of success. Set them up with different bait to target various fish species.

Staying Safe While Ice Fishing

Checking Ice Thickness

Always check the ice thickness before venturing onto frozen lakes. Clear ice is stronger than cloudy or white ice.

Dressing in Layers

Dress warmly in layers to protect yourself from the cold. Avoid cotton clothing, as it retains moisture and reduces insulation.

Carrying Essential Safety Gear

Carry safety essentials like ice picks, a throw rope, and a life jacket. These can be life-saving tools in case of an emergency.


Investing in the best ice fishing reel suited to your needs is essential for a successful ice fishing trip. With the right reel in hand and the knowledge of various techniques, you’ll be ready to embrace the frosty adventure of ice fishing.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can I use my regular fishing reel for ice fishing?

While you can use a regular reel, ice fishing reels are specifically designed for cold conditions and offer better performance.

What’s the significance of gear ratio in ice fishing reels?

Gear ratio affects the speed of line retrieval, allowing you to adapt your technique to different fishing situations.

Are inline reels better for beginners?

Inline reels are generally easier for beginners to manage due to their straightforward design and tangle-resistant nature.

How do I know if the ice is safe to walk on?

Always check ice thickness; a minimum of 4 inches of clear ice is generally safe for individual walking.

What should I do if I fall through the ice?

Remain calm, try to stay afloat using your winter clothing, and call for help if possible. Use ice picks to pull yourself out if the ice is stable around you.