The 5 Best Ice Fishing Rods

If you want to go ice fishing, you will need to trade your standard bass fishing rod for the best ice fishing rod. The comparison between the two rods is a testament to how unique ice fishing truly is. The small profile is the perfect fit for the tiny hole in the ice, so it works effectively. If you need a new rod, check out our ice fishing pole reviews below.

Top 5 Ice Fishing Rod Reviews

Best Choice
Our Score 10 Out of 10
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Premium Pick
Our Score 10 Out of 10
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Best Value
Our Score 6 Out of 10
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Runner Up
Our Score 8 Out of 10
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Honorable Mention
Our Score 8 Out of 10
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* Ratings are determined using our specialized rating system.

So what separates ice fishing poles from surf fishing rods or a rod that you’d use for fly fishing? Ice fishing rods are short—typically no longer than three feet in length. This gives you more leverage when reeling in fish and helps prevent the rod from snapping under the pressure. With so many ice fishing rods on the market, it can be difficult to wade through the endless amount of content. Luckily, we have done all the hard work for you, so you can easily find the best ice fishing rod to meet your needs on the icy lake. Check out the top five best ice fishing rods currently available.

Berkley Lightning Rod Ice Fishing Spinning Reel & Rod Combo

Berkley LR24ULSCBO Lightning Ice Combo UL Rod and Reel, 24-Inch
Berkley LR24ULSCBO Lightning Ice Combo UL Rod and Reel, 24-Inch amazon.com Check price

Lightning Ice Combo UL Rod and Reel
Provided by Berkley
Ice Combos made for ice fishing applications

The Berkley Lightning Rod Ice Fishing Spinning Reel & Rod Combo comes pre-spooled with Berkley Trilene Micro Ice line. To improve durability and give you leverage over fish when reeling them in, the rod is made from solid fiberglass. This rod allows you to choose how long you want it to be: you can select from 24″, 28″, and 32″.

The ultralight graphite spinning reel is built with a ball-bearing drive that creates smooth front drag and left/right convertible retrieve. This rod helps reduce wear on your fingers, the fore-grip uses hidden thread technology to keep it from easily coming into contact with your fingers. Like many great fishing rods of all types, this one uses a Skeleton reel seat to improve the pole’s sensitivity while keeping the weight low.

Pros
  • Fiberglass rod improves durability
  • Available in three lengths
  • Cork grip helps warm hands
  • Reel does not hold enough line for extremely deep fishing
Cons
  • Reel does not hold enough line for extremely deep fishing

Frabill Fin-S Pro 30-Inch Ice Fishing Rod & Reel Combo

Frabill 6973 Combo Spin Fin-S Pro 30 Medium H
Frabill 6973 Combo Spin Fin-S Pro 30 Medium H amazon.com Check price

Solid carbon fiber blank for increased sensitivity
Reel seat with cork grip
3 plus 1 ball-bearing reel. Multi-dis. front load drag with Infinite anti-reverse
L/R ambidextrous handle. Deluxe quick f...

The Frabill Fin-S Pro 30-Inch Ice Fishing Rod & Reel Combo is one of the best ice fishing rod models on the market, hands down. I love this rod because of the high-quality components and reliable performance that come at a reasonable price. Constructed from solid carbon fiber, this rod is flexible and strong yet lightweight.

Featuring a sturdy build with medium power, the rod has an exceptional backbone that will improve any angler’s handling of medium-to-large catches. The guides are comprised of special single-foot stainless steel, and the cork handle is comfortable and ergonomic. The high-quality reel is attached nicely to the rod for smooth reeling, and it has 3 + 1 quality ball bearings to further improve the operation.

Pros
  • Exceptional-quality reel with 3 + 1 ball bearings
  • Ambidextrous handle can be used by anyone
  • Sensitive and comfortable cork handle
  • Risk of snapping if a fish is too large
Cons
  • Risk of snapping if a fish is too large

Celsius 24-inch Spinning Rod & Reel with 3 Ice Jigs Combo

Celsius C/CEL-SPN Spin Carded Combo-24M, Multi, One Size
Celsius C/CEL-SPN Spin Carded Combo-24M, Multi, One Size amazon.com Check price

24" Fiberglass Rod.
Pre-Spooled Graphite Reel.
Comes With 1 Float And 3 Ice Jigs.
Country Of Origin: United States

Pre-spooled with a line, the Celsius 24-inch Spinning Rod & Reel with 3 Ice Jigs Combo is ready to go right out of the box. As one of the best ice fishing rods in the game, it will accompany you on numerous ice fishing trips due to the high-quality materials and construction.

The graphite and fiberglass composition allows the rod to be extremely durable and strong but still offer a high level of sensitivity and flexibility. When working your jigs, this rod and reel is comfortable with a backbone to vertically pull fish through the hole. Of all the rods on this list, the Celsius 24″ delivers the best value for your money so if you want a high-quality rod and reel combination without breaking the bank, this is your best bet.

Pros
  • Fantastic value for your money
  • Sensitive to nibbles and lightweight handle
  • High-quality material composition and excellent build
  • The line may get wrapped around the axis when reeling in
Cons
  • The line may get wrapped around the axis when reeling in

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Ice Fishing Spinning Rod

Shakespeare USGXICE26M Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Rod, 26-Inches, Medium
Shakespeare USGXICE26M Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Rod, 26-Inches, Medium amazon.com Check price

Ugly Tech construction with a combination of Graphite and fiberglass
Ugly Tuff guides feature new one-piece stainless steel guides to eliminate insert pop outs
Ugly Stik Clear Tip design for extra ...

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik Ice Fishing Spinning Rod delivers the same incredible durability as the original Ugly Stik from 1976. With the addition of a more balanced and sleeker feel, lighter weight, and a beautiful modern black aesthetic, this rod is definitely a step up from the original model.

Constructed from a combination of fiberglass and graphite, the Shakespeare Ugly Stik Ice Fishing Rod is lightweight but durable and sensitive to even the tiniest nibbles. The rod features Ugly Tuff single piece stainless steel guides, so you do not need to manage insert pop-outs. The Clear Tip design further strengthens the rod while adding more sensitivity so you can feel when you have a bite.

Pros
  • Highly flexible with a responsive tip
  • Offers incredible value for the money
  • Available in three lengths
  • Not the best option for fish that put up a strong and lengthy fight
Cons
  • Not the best option for fish that put up a strong and lengthy fight

Fenwick Elite Tech Ice Fishing Spinning Rod

fenwick ETICE24ML Elite Tech Ice Spinning Rod,Multi
fenwick ETICE24ML Elite Tech Ice Spinning Rod,Multi amazon.com Check price

100% high modulus graphite blanks
Smoked stainless steel guides with Zirconium oxide inserts
Down locking reel seat

With a reputation for quality and performance, Fenwick has developed the Fenwick Elite Tech Ice Fishing Spinning Rod, which boasts all the requirements the best ice rod must have to be effective. Constructed from 100% high-modulus graphite blanks, the Elite Tech rod is comfortable and lightweight, even during prolonged usage.

The ice fishing pole also has amazing sensitivity for easy strike detection and is strong enough to lift fish from the water. The rod components are including a locking reel seat, and stainless-steel guides to improve durability and efficiency. The handle is constructed from cork to ensure control, sensitivity, and comfort. The shorter length of this rod is excellent for fishing from a warm shelter.

Pros
  • Six lengths and four powers
  • Cork handle is sensitive and comfortable
  • Rod is made of high-quality material with high-quality crafting
  • Not the best option for long-distance ice fishing
Cons
  • Not the best option for long-distance ice fishing

Features to Consider for the Best Ice Fishing Rod

Now that you have read our ice fishing rod reviews, you have a better idea of the types of ice fishing rods for sale. However, not every rod is going to be the best option for every angler. You need to understand the different features you can find in rods before you make your selection. Here are some of the most important factors to consider before buying your new ice fishing pole.

Action

The action of a pole tells how fast the rod bends when you are reeling a fish in. Where the bend is concentrated and the speed at which the rod recovers are crucial factors. There are slow, moderate, fast, and extra fast action rods. Extra fast rods are amazing sensitivity while slow rods are best for smaller fish.

Comfort

Comfort is one of the most critical factors when ice fishing during the winter. The best ice rod should be built so it’s balanced and light, regardless of the environment. The handle must be soft, comfortable, and warm in the hand, yet firm enough for fishing.

Construction

The best ice fishing rods are comprised of fiberglass, graphite, or a composite of both. The other components should also utilize high-quality materials and must be able to withstand below-freezing temperatures.

Handle

Since you will most likely be fishing with gloves to improve dexterity, the handle is an essential consideration. The best ice rod must have a comfortable and firm grip that is constructed from foam, plastic, or cork. Cork is the most common option because it’s fairly durable and helps retain the heat of your hands.

Material

The harsh environmental conditions and difficulty pulling the fish precisely vertical require a strong rod constructed from tough materials. At the same time, you want a material that is sensitive enough where you feel the nibbles from beneath the ice.

Size

All fishing poles are available in different lengths to suit different conditions and applications. Ice fishing rods range from 16″ to 42″, which is rather short when compared to open water poles. An ice fishing pole needs to be short because the angler is lifting the fish through a small hole. This means you’ll also want to leave your telescopic fishing rod at home.

Spool

Regardless if you are purchasing the rod and reel as a combo or the two components separately, the spool is an essential feature that must be assessed. It should be a reasonable size with the capacity to hold the length and weight of your fishing line.

Weight

Another important factor is the weight of the rod with the lower weight being better and easier to handle for lengthy periods. This will allow you to fish for many hours without becoming fatigued. Graphite rods are the lightest weight with fiberglass being heavy and composite in-between.

Benefits of Using Ice Fishing Rods

In addition to the environmental factors of ice fishing, it is a difficult version of the sport. Pulling a fish from a small ice hole is quite different from open water fishing where there is plenty of room to maneuver and reel in your catch. As a result, you must have an excellent rod built specifically for this type of angling. There are many benefits to using the best ice fishing rods including:

Ease of Use

Ice fishing rods are simple to use, you just need to drop the line into the ice hole and reel in the fish when you feel a nibble. The short rod also allows you to sit right next to your hole, which gives you a lot more leverage.

Less Technique Required

Similarly, since you are not casting the line into open water, you do not need to master a specific technique to be successful. The rod does most of the work, so it needs to be durable and flexible enough to pull fish from the water.

Lower Cost

Given their smaller profile and construction with fewer components, ice fishing rods tend to be much less expensive than traditional rods. You can even find ice fishing rod and reel combinations to further lower the price.

Precautions of Using Ice Fishing Rods

Although there are many benefits to using an ice fishing rod over a traditional rod, there are some precautions that you must take when fishing.

The first and most obvious thing you need to do is be cautious when walking on ice, because you can injure yourself if you slip and fall. You also need to ensure that the ice is thick enough to support your weight before you go out onto it. If you’re only walking onto the ice, it needs to be at least four inches thick. However, if you plan on driving your car on the ice, it needs to be at least a foot thick.

Even if the ice is thick enough, you should still be prepared in case of emergency. Have a plan for what you’re going to do if someone falls into the water, and also have the necessary supplies at the ready. This includes things like blankets, a rope, and a phone to call 911 if it’s needed. Similarly, if you plan on ice fishing alone, make sure you tell someone where you’re going and when you will be back.

Before going fishing, watch the news and look for whiteout or squall watches. Under these conditions, you can easily become disoriented and walk over thin ice or even have difficulty finding the route back to shore. While ice fishing can be a lot of fun, it can also be dangerous in the wrong conditions. Help ensure that you have a safe and fun fishing trip ahead of time by taking the necessary precautions.

Conclusion

We got to look at a lot of great rods for these ice fishing rod reviews, but we agree that the Berkley Lightning Rod Ice Fishing Spinning Reel & Rod Combo is the best ice fishing rod. We love the comfortable cork handle and how there are different lengths to choose from. It ensures that your rod has exactly as much power as you want, unlike some other rods where you only have one option. This rod is a great choice for ice fishing beginners and veterans alike, and we highly recommend it.