When it comes to ice fishing, there are no single best ice fishing rods that you can have in your arsenal. Be sure to check out our other ice fishing gear guides if you’re just getting started.
You’ll likely have a few different ones depending on what type of fish you’re going after, bait or lures you plan to use, and the environmental conditions you’re subjected to.
Top 10 Ice Fishing Rods
|Abu Garcia Venerate||Check Current Price|
|13 Fishing Widow Make||Check Current Price|
|St. Croix Mojo Series||Check Current Price|
|Fenwick ETICE Elite Tech||Check Current Price|
|Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2||Check Current Price|
|Frabill 6986 Combo||Check Current Price|
|Akataka Ultralight Rod||Check Current Price|
|Fiblink Travel Rod||Check Current Price|
|Berkley Cherrywood HD||Check Current Price|
|Shakespeare Wild Series||Check Current Price|
Therefore, we’ve put together a list of the best ice rods based on some of the scenarios you might find yourself this season.
Let’s take a closer look at your options.
10 Best Ice Fishing Rods for 2021 Reviewed
1. Abu Garcia Venerate
Best Ice Fishing Rod Combo
- 3+1 bearing System
- Low temperature gear lube
- Extended reel stem
If you don’t already have an ice fishing reel that you love, then it might be worth just jumping and getting this solid ice fishing combo by Abu Garcia.
This is a solid carbon blank with stainless steel guides that have been upgraded with zirconium inserts.
The ultra-light is great for panfish and small trout. It’s well balanced and the reel has a smooth rotation. It’s comfortable to hold for long periods of time and the rod is strong yet sensitive.
2. 13 Fishing Widow Maker Evolve
- CORK HANDLE - 13 Fishing Widow Maker Ice Rods are made with...
- DIAMOND COATED GUIDES - ALPS thin wire double diamond coated...
- MAXIMUM SENSITIVITY - Lightweight and balanced for maximum...
13 Fishing ice rods are stellar! If you’ve been ice fishing for some time and would like to move away from the budget rods, then this would be the next best step up.
It’s a graphite blank that has great action. The cork handle is comfortable and the guides are Alps thin wire double diamond guides, which are a nice step away from the generic stainless still guides found on cheaper ice rods.
3. St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod
- VARIETY OF FISHING STYLES - Suited for a variety of fishing...
- PRECISION-TAPER SOLID CARBON BLANK - Precision-taper solid...
- SEA GUIDE STAINLESS-STEEL GUIDES - The fishing rod boasts...
We’re a huge fan of St Croix ice rods. St Croix continues to put out quality products year after year.
If you’re looking to go after bigger fish like walleye, pike, whitefish, or lake trout, then check out this rod. It’s sensitive enough to feel the slightest nibbles, yet has enough backbone to hoist the big fish from the bottom. Walleyes ice fishing just got a lot more fun with this rod.
This is a popular rod and one you’d likely buy again throughout the years.
4. Fenwick Elite Tech
- 100% high modulus graphite blanks
- Smoked stainless steel guides with Zirconium oxide inserts
- Down locking reel seat
This is a very popular graphite ice fishing rod made by a company that knows a thing or two about catching fish. This rod is super sensitive and has a strong backbone with a quick tip. You might need a spring bobber if you’re going for small fish, but overall this is a great rod for your arsenal.
Best of all it’s not expensive. It’s not every day you get a quality rod at a good price.
5. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2
Best Beginner Rod
- Size 20 spinning reel suited for ice applications
- Ported aluminum spool
- Genuine ugly Stik blank with clear tip design
If you’ve never tried an Ugly Stik then you’re missing out. These rods are darn near indestructible and will stand up to multiple years of abuse. If for some reason you are able to wear through or break it, they are so well priced that picking up another is not a problem.
What’s even crazier is this rod comes with a reel that will also stand up to a beating. We’re not sure how Shakespeare can stay in business offering such long-lasting gear for an affordable price.
6. Frabill 6986 Combo
- Frabill | Trusted By Anglers Since 1938
- This panfish system is engineered to maximize performance,...
- Rod Features: Ultra-sensitive micro-spring bobber |...
Here’s another extremely reasonably priced ice fishing rod and reel combo made by Frabill. Even if you’re fishing in sub-zero conditions you can rest assured this rod will deliver. It comes with an ultra-sensitive micro spring bobber to sense when you have the slightest activity on your line.
Best of all it comes at a price that might have you buying two just because you love them so much!
7. Atataka Ice Fishing Rod
If you’re looking for a little more sensitivity for your panfish bite, then check out this Atataka rod. It has a sensitive tip that should help you sight fish as well.
It’s flexible and has a strong backbone. The reel seat is nice and the cork handle is comfortable. The orange tip is a nice feature to see tip moving against the snow.
If you’re looking to put a bunch of bluegills, crappie, and even some largemouths in the cooler, this would be your rod.
8. Fiblink 2-Piece Portable Travel Ice Fishing Rod
- Solid E-glass carbon composite blanks; Light, strong and...
- Stainless steel frames with stainless steel inserts, line...
- Twist-lock reel seat with aluminum alloy screw knob;...
Sometimes you need to travel to find the hot bite in the cold weather. If you’re not looking to lug your expensive gear then you should take a look at this new Fiblink travel ice fishing rod.
It’s a carbon composite rod that is light and sensitive. You’ll be able to catch everything from perch, walleye, trout, and panfish. Best of all it has an old-school pistol grip vibe which is more unique than anything we’ve seen in a while. It’s definitely worth a look!
9. Berkley Cherrywood HD Ice Fishing Rod
Best Budget Ice Fishing Rod
- 100% fiberglass blanks
- Durable rod finish
- Full cork handles
If you’re looking to get started ice fishing and don’t want to spend a lot of money on gear, then you need to check out this Berkley Cherrywood HD. Pair it up with a small 500 size reel with some light monofilament and you’ll be all set to catch some small panfish on the water.
This rod is made from a 100% fiberglass ice fishing rod blank and comes with a comfortable cork handle. It has three guides so it’ll be a bit better against freezing if you’re fishing outside.
This ultra-light is able to bring in crappies up to 22 inches. It’s cheap so if you break it, you won’t break your bank.
10. Shakespeare Wild Series Ice Fishing Spinning Rod
- Solid fiberglass moderate action blanks
- Lightweight stainless steel guides
- Comfortable HTG - Hybrid Tech grips
If you’re looking for a comparable rod to the Berkley Cherrywood HD, but want more guides because you’ll be fishing inside your ice shed, then this is worth your consideration.
It’s made from fiberglass and comes with stainless steel guides for added durability. It has a light tip and a strong backbone.
This rod will have no problem bringing in walleye up to 27 inches on the medium power model.
How to Choose the Best Ice Fishing Rods
There are some general rules of thumb to decide what type of setup you’ll need for ice fishing. We’ve listened to experts to see what they like to use so that you can determine what to get prior to hitting up your local shop or buying online.
Note: just FYI, it’s ice fishing rod, not ice fishing pole.
Generally, we’ll bucket our setups between panfish and larger fish. There are many ways to catch fish, but if you had to start from scratch, follow these guidelines.
Ultralight Fiberglass Rod Setup
If you’re looking to catch panfish including perch or bluegill and want to use micro baits, then you should look at getting an ultralight ice fishing rod 18-24 inches in length.
You’ll want to pair that rod with:
- 500 size ice fishing reel
- 2-6lb mono/fluoro or
- 5 lb braid
Ultralight Ice Fishing Graphite Rod Setup
Sometimes fiberglass just won’t cut it in terms of sensitivity. Therefore, if you’re planning on going jigging for small walleye, crappie, bluegill, or rock bass, then you should look at getting an 18-24 inch rod if fishing in your ice hut, or 28-30 inches if you’re fishing outside.
You’ll want to pair that rod with:
- 1000 size reel
- 2-6lb mono/fluoro
- 5-8 lb braid
- ML with fast action
This setup will be super sensitive, which is why we like it for jigging. For even more feel, try using 5-pound braid with a four-foot fluorocarbon leader.
Bigger Fish Ice Rod Setup
Now if you’re in an area where you can go for bigger fish, then you’ll need another setup entirely. If you plan to go for whitefish, walleye, lake trout or other monsters, then you should look at a medium to a medium-heavy rod.
You’ll want to pair that rod with:
- 2500 size reel or
- Baitcaster 150-200 size
- 4-10lb mono/fluoro
- 5-10lb braid
- 28-36inch length when fishing outside
- 18-24 in inside the tent
Again, feel free to use braid with a fluorocarbon leader if you want a bit more sensitivity. You way to select the right rod stiffness to the size fish you’re going after. Problems happen when you don’t dial this in properly.
Fiberglass vs Graphite Ice Rods
When you’re choosing your ice fishing rod blank, you’ll likely be deciding between fiberglass and carbon fiber.
Fiberglass blanks are:
- super soft
- great for live bait and micro presentations
Graphite blanks are:
- a little stiffer
- great for working baits
Ultralight vs Medium vs Medium-Heavy
Make sure you match rod power to the size of the fish you’re targeting.
- Ultralight to light: target panfish
- Medium to Medium-Heavy: target walleye, lake trout, pike, white fish
Walleye Ice Fishing Rig
Walleyes are a fun fish to target and are a bit special. They need a good rod and reel to be able to bring these fish to the surface.
That means they should have a solid backbone rod with a quality reel and drag. This will allow you to achieve a good hookset and to be able to play a fish properly. Make sure you drill a proper size hole in the ice or use an ice chisel to make an opening to get out your catch!
For more information on How to Catch Walleye.
The worst thing that can happen is that you’re fishing and your guides freeze up. This causes annoyance and can damage your line if you’re not careful.
Usually, when guides are too small and it’s super cold outside, they’ll freeze up. The opposite of small guides are big guides, which can be nice, but tend to be clunky and take away from the balance of the ice rod.
You’ll also find that the bigger the guides, the less there are on the rod.
When possible go more guides for a better rod bend. If it’s freezing and you’re fishing outside, go with bigger guides.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What does it mean to choose the right size of a fishing rod?
A: You want to pick the right length, power, and sensitivity of rod depending on what type of fish you’re going after. For ice fishing, if you’re fishing in a hut, it’s more convenient to fish a shorter rod.
Q: How can I handle and test my rod?
A: The best way is to visit your local fishing shop. Another option is to buy a few online and get a sense of their weight, power, and sensitivity by attaching quality ice fishing reels and using your hand to pull the line.
Q; What are carbon fiber rods?
A: Carbon fiber rods are made from carbon fiber blanks. Carbon fiber is generally more sensitive compared to fiberglass in fishing rods.
Q: Why it’s important to pick a well-balanced rod?
A: A well-balanced rod is helpful for improving the sensitivity of the rod tip. This will allow you to detect fish striking your bait easier.
Q: How do you know what type of rod to use with what type of fish?
A: When picking your rod it’s best to understand the type of fish you’re going after. If the fish grows big then you’ll want a more powerful rod. If they are tiny fish and nibble bait which requires sensitivity to hook them, you’ll likely want a lighter rod. Pair your rod to the type of fish you’re targeting.
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