If you’re heading out on a frozen lake for some ice fishing, you’ll want to make sure to bring one of the best ice chisels with you for a variety of reasons.
This piece of ice fishing gear will, first of all, keep you safe on the ice. You can use it to probe for weak spots in the ice, especially if the ice is snow-covered.
- 1 Best Ice Chisels Reviewed
- 2 How to Choose the Best Ice Chisels
- 3 Homemade Ice Chisel DIY
- 4 FAQs
- Best Overall: Jiffy Deluxe Mille Lacs Chisel
- The Best Budget One-Piece Ice Chisel: Eskimo Economy Chisel
- Best Budget Two-Piece Ice Chisel: Eskimo
- The Best Budget Bucket Chisel: Eskimo Bucket Chisel
- Best Mini Ice Chisel: Jiffy Mini Mille Lacs
- Cabela’s Ice Chisel: Cabela’s Ice Chisel
If you’re out in the bush, then it’s a helpful tool to help you gather water. Snow is more air than water, so it’s helpful to have a tool that can help you break through the ice to gather water when necessary.
Ice augers are handy, but they only allow you to drill one size hole. With an ice spud, you’re able to make any size hole you need for the task at hand.
In this guide, we’ll dive into what you need to think about when picking the right ice spud for your fishing needs.
Let’s get chipping!
Best Ice Chisels Reviewed
Best Overall Ice Chisel
Jiffy Deluxe Mille Lacs Chisel
- Jiffy 3305 Deluxe Mille Lacs Chisel
- Two-piece, two position ice chisel
- Featuring a unique cutting edge
This is a workhorse ice chizel (sic). It’s just over ten pounds and comes in two pieces for ease of transport. The heft allows you to make monster cuts with every thrust. You can expect around 3-4 inches per hit so you’ll be through the ice in no time.
I know guys who have a manual auger and a Jiffy. Most times if they need a quick hole they grab the Jiffy. It just cuts so fast that it doesn’t make sense to use the auger unless you need to drill deep.
If you know you’re going to be ice fishing for the long term, get the best.
Best Budget One-Piece Ice Spud
Eskimo Economy Chisel
- 52.5 inch chisel length
- Single-action head design
- Fully-welded steel for long lasting durability
If you’re new to winter fishing and not sure if you want to spend the big dollars on the Jiffy, then pick up one of these cheap Eskimo chisels.
These are bare-bones ice fishing spud bars.
The edge is flat which will make cutting a bit harder, but not impossible. It doesn’t come with any anti-vibration or cushion, so if you’re making a bunch of holes, this could fatigue your body a bit.
Best Budget Two-Piece Ice Chisel
Eskimo Two-Piece Ice Chisel
- 64 inch assembled chisel length. Quick and easy...
- Fully-welded steel design and rubber chisel head...
- Multi-faceted, triple-action chipper head allows...
This is a bit longer version of the Eskimo Ice Chisel above. It’s super quick and easy to assemble. It locks together with a slip-fit and a locking spring.
It’s heavy-duty and heavy period. It’s heavier than the Jiffy so if you want a workout, this might be your ticket.
Best Budget Bucket Chisel
Eskimo Bucket Chisel
- 19 inch chisel length features a hammer-style end...
- Features a hammer-style chisel on one end and the...
- Multi-faceted, dual-action chipper head allows you...
If you want a light-weight and small chisel just to cut holes in a pinch, check out this bucket chisel by Eskimo.
This is more of a multi-tool which has different ends that can be used for different tasks. Maybe you want to hammer away from the edge of your ice as it starts to freeze over, this will handle it no problem. Or maybe you want to drive in some steaks when your ice tent is about to blow away.
It’s just a great tool to throw in your bucket and use as duty calls.
Best Mini Ice Chisel
Jiffy Mini Mille Lacs
This is similar to the Eskimo Bucket Chisel in that it’s a nice tool to have in a pinch. This chisel shouldn’t be used as your main hole cutter, but for little clean-up cuts or a lightweight ice checker, this will handle the job no problem.
It’s nice and light, coming in at around three pounds and is only 30 inches long. Throw it in your sled and have it handy for the little tasks around your ice fishing site.
Cabela’s Ice Chisel
Cabela’s Ice Chisel
Cabela’s is near and dear to a lot of anglers so we’d be remiss if we didn’t include their ice chisel in case you wanted to support them. They make a variety of sizes, but we like the 64 inches for getting the work done.
They are also cheaper than the Eskimo and Jiffy, so if the price is a concern, check them out.
How to Choose the Best Ice Chisels
When it comes to picking the right ice chizzle (sic) for your needs, it’s best to keep it simple. The tool itself needs to be able to get the job done in the least amount of effort on your body.
That means it should be:
- Sharp enough to cut through the ice
- Heavy enough to use gravity to your advantage
- Robust enough to not break while you’re out in the wild
- Easy to transport to your target location
Let’s break that down into further detail.
Keep the Blade Sharp
Generally when cutting a sharp blade is a safe blade. When it comes to blunt for trauma to ice, you need a blade that’s sharp to make the initial cuts, but it doesn’t need to be razor-sharp.
Pick an ice spud that is made of a blade material that keeps its edge. For example, don’t get an aluminum ice spud because the material is too soft for repeated bashings. Steel is a great material for this type of task.
Stepped Blade vs. Flat Blade
If you want more control over the size of your holes that you’re cutting, it might be worth looking into a stepped blade vs flat blade. The nice aspect of a step is that it has a smaller entrance point to help get the cut started.
A flat blade ice spud bar feels like it’ll take more brute force rather than finesse to get the job done.
Two-Piece vs. One-Piece
Transportation is important when considering your ice chisel. If you have a vehicle that gets you to your spot, then it doesn’t matter as much as if you had to carry it yourself.
If you’re packing a bunch of your ice fishing gear in a sled, then it could be beneficial to get a spud that can break down into a more compact form. That’s where a two-piece spud would come in handy. Just make sure the joints connecting them as sturdy as that would likely be the place it could break if a force hits that joint wrong.
The weight of the best ice chisels comes down to what you intend to use it for. If you’re looking to use your ice chisel to cut holes in the ice for ice fishing, then it’s important to get a heavier chisel.
If we got back to physics, force equals mass x acceleration. With the heavier mass and gravity, you’ll be able to pack more of a punch through the ice.
A lighter spud would be better for checking the quality of the ice. Since you’re looking for weak areas while crossing, you can forego the weight. The nice thing about this lightweight is that it can be used with one hand in a poking fashion. This reduces fatigue, which keeps your mind focused on finding the best path forward.
Vibration can be a concern if your body isn’t up to the fatigue battering ice will leave you. If you are susceptible to joint or muscle fatigue, make sure you pick a chisel that has some kind of cushion in the handle.
This will help you disperse the force up the chisel and out the handle and reduce the transfer to your hands, arms, and body.
Safety is always a concern when ice fishing. Make sure you are always fishing on solid thick ice. Use your ice chisel to check the quality of ice especially if there is snow covering areas you’re crossing.
These chisels are not to be messed with. Make sure you don’t hit anyone with them or let kids use them as jousts.
Whatever you do, don’t drop your chisel once you break the ice. Many anglers have ice spuds resting at the bottom of the lake because the moment they broke through the ice the momentum slid the chisel through their hands.
This can be fixed by tying a piece of cord to the chisel. We recommend putting a loop and have your hand hold it. We DON’T recommend actually tying the cord to your physical body. You should be able to ditch the chisel if the ice starts breaking around you.
Homemade Ice Chisel DIY
We’re huge fans of building our own gear whenever possible. Usually, you can make something just as good if not better with a cheaper overall cost.
Browsing a bunch of designs, this is the one that we like the most. The modular spud bar chisel head is a great idea as it can be reused on different handles depending on what your needs are. We like the stepped chisel heads for the hole making control.
Would you ever try making your own? With that being said, it’s time to grab your ice rod and hit the lake!
Q: Who makes the best ice chisels?
A: We like the Jiffy Deluxe Mille Lacs Chisel. It’s heavy-duty and has been tested by plenty of ice fishermen with rave reviews.
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