Your cousin up in Nebraska is getting married this year. And of all the things he could have picked as a present, he's asking you to get him the best ice fishing reel you can lay hands on. Wait, you ask, there are separate fishing reels just for the ice?
You've managed fine so far with your regular spinning reel. Sure, the gears get jammed a lot in the cold, but that happens to most equipment.
So, why do you need separate gear for ice fishing anyway? And how do you pick the best ice fishing reel for yourself -- or for that cousin of yours?
What Is an Ice Fishing Reel?
As the name suggests, an ice fishing reel is a reel designed for fishing on the ice. They’re typically smaller than regular fishing reels, but they’re also a lot more durable than regular ones. That’s not unusual – you need something tough to withstand those freezing temperatures!
If you have access to a boat and enjoy braving the icy winds, ice fishing is one of the most rewarding outdoor activities you can indulge in. And as long as you're dressed warmly and stay safely on the boat, it's a great activity for your kids too!
So, it's definitely worth doing your research and choosing the best ice fishing reel to make your outing memorable.
If you've ever been out fishing in the cold, you know it can be hard. Quite apart from the fact that your fingers seem to be icicles, the reel tends to get stuck easily in the cold. That's why you need the best ice fishing reel to make things simpler for yourself.
Types of Ice Fishing Reels
Step into any ice shack, and you’ll see fishing gear of all kinds on every side. As with regular fishing, there are different types of ice fishing reels that you can use. The two most popular kinds of reels, however, are inline reels and spinning reels.
Inline reels are usually paired with lighter-weight fishing lines and help to ensure minimal twisting of the line. They’re perfect for catching smaller fish, which is typically what you’d be targeting on the ice.
You can’t use inline reels for too many things other than ice fishing, but their specialized design is what makes them the best choice for ice anglers.
Many ice fishing enthusiasts prefer to use spinning reels, which are great for year-round fishing and thus work out cheaper than buying specialized ice fishing gear.
On the other hand, because of the way a spinning reel wraps the fishing line onto the spool, you’re almost bound to get some line twist. That could weaken your line over time.
So, which type is the best ice fishing reel for you? If you’re a dedicated ice angler and want gear you can count on for many winters, we’d suggest picking an inline reel. If you’re more of an amateur fisher, however, a spinning reel will do the trick all year round.
Things to Consider When Buying Your Ice Fishing Reel
Here's the good news -- most ice fishing reels out there have clear labels saying they're suitable for the ice. So, you shouldn't have too much trouble separating out the ice fishing reels from the regular ones. Even among the ice reels, however, there are a lot of options -- and you should keep the following points in mind when picking one for yourself.
No matter what reel you buy, you’ll need a rod to go with it. You can choose to buy a rod and reel combo and not worry about hunting for a compatible rod.
If you’re looking for more specific functionality, though, you could choose your own rod and reel individually after making sure they’re the right size and weight.
Line management is another important consideration. Monofilament or fluorocarbon lines tend to snap in cold weather and often fly off because of line memory. You could use a special line conditioner to prevent this, or use braid as a tougher mainline.
You’ll often be out fishing in subzero temperatures, so your fishing reel needs to be durable enough to withstand the cold. Be sure to have some gear lubricant handy so that the gears don’t freeze and jam in the water.
Some reels also come with spools that repel water and thus make sure no ice accumulates on your reel.
So, Which Are the Best Ice Fishing Reels out There?
Just search for "best ice fishing reel" on Google, and you'll get a ton of options. How do you actually sift through those and pick the one that suits you best?
We've done the homework for you. Each of the fishing reels we've listed here scores high on functionality and will last you through many fun fishing sessions on the ice.
How We Reviewed
We combed the Internet and selected the most reliable sources for listings of the best ice fishing reels on the market. Water Sports Mag, Globosurfer, Outside Pursuits, and USAngler all had great options.
We also took Amazon buyer reviews into account to see how well each fishing reel matched up to its claims.
The Best Ice Fishing Reel: 8 Options for Winter Sports
Whether you’re venturing out onto the ice for the first time or a seasoned (see what we did there?) ice fisher, you can bank on any of these choices when choosing the best ice fishing reel for yourself.
We've included both inline reels and spinning reels so that you can buy whichever you're most comfortable with.
Pflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning Reel
- 5 bearing system: Corrosion resistant stainless steel ball bearings
- Graphite body and rotor: Lightweight graphite reel construction
- Aluminum bail: Thick aluminum bail wire design, rigid to prevent mist shaping
Pflueger knows what it takes to build a durable reel that lasts years on the ice, and this spinning reel is one of the best of its kind. With its lightweight graphite reel construction and corrosion-resistant ball bearings, this reel will stay with you through the toughest winters.
The Pflueger MONICEB spinning reel comes with a five-bearing system with stainless steel ball bearings that won’t freeze up no matter how cold it is. The graphite reel is incredibly lightweight and performs consistently, so you can fish for several hours at a stretch. The aluminum bail wire adds extra support.
Buyers have praised the smooth functionality and line capacity. However, a few have noted that the reel isn’t as durable as expected.
Daiwa D-Spin Ultralight Spinning Reel
For a sleek look combined with powerhouse functionality, you can hardly do better than the Daiwa spinning reel. Its lightweight yet sturdy design houses incredibly smooth gear that will help you snag a neat catch every time.
The Daiwa D-Spin fishing reel features Digigear, the brand’s special digital gear that provides speed, durability, and power. Plus, the sleek black-and-silver packaging makes this one of the more attractive ice fishing reels on the market.
Buyers have praised the lightweight structure and smooth functionality.
However, a few have mentioned that the reel looks and feels somewhat cheap.
Shakespeare Glacier Ice Reel
- Full body graphite reel frame
- Aluminum spool
- Extended stem for more Clearance
- 15 degree tilted orientation for optimum line flow
- Cold gear lube for extreme conditions
While Shakespeare is relatively little-known in the fishing reel sphere, their Glacier model lives up to its name in the best way possible. With this reel in your fishing kit, you can be sure of top-grade performance in even the coldest of winters.
The Shakespeare Glacier Ice Reel features a graphite reel frame with a spool made from aluminum, so you can use it out on the ocean and on lakes as well.
It features a 15-degree tilted orientation that makes for a smooth line flow. It also comes with cold gear lube to keep it working smoothly even when temperatures drop below zero.
Buyers find this reel to be sturdy, reliable, and great value for money.
BERRYPRO Inline Ice Fishing Reel
Left-handed anglers who’ve despaired of finding the right reel for themselves needn’t despair anymore. This inline reel is perfect for both right- and left-handed users and is extremely lightweight to boot.
The BERRYPRO Inline Ice Fishing Reel comes in both red and grey, with a comfortable non-slip rubber grip. The drag system gives you super-smooth performance every time, and the aluminum spool withstands cold temperatures easily. It also comes with an extra spool for easy replacement.
Buyers have praised its lightweight build and its smooth rotation. However, a few have noted that the drag function could be improved.
Ellen Archery Inline Ice Fishing Reel
- Equipped with automatic cable patent raft fishing tackles to solve the majority of Diaoyu has been plagued by uneven cable problems.
- Weight: 220g Bearings: 8 +1 run more smooth Ratio: 2.6: 1. Winding amount: 0.2/210,0.30/90
- Exquisite line wheel design, all-aluminum CNC machining precision, anti-corrosion oxidation treatment.
- Stainless steel spindle, anti-corrosion, impact resistance, excellent performance. This product uses imported brake system
- Discharge system configuration, adjustable discharge, the line wheel can be quickly removed.
For a highly durable build and seamless performance, this fishing reel is hard to beat. With an all-aluminum design that’s been CNC machined for high precision, you can count on this reel to bring home a catch every time.
The Ellen Archery fishing reel features 8+1 ball bearings for a smooth running performance. It comes with an anti-corrosion oxidation treatment, so it won’t scratch even with rough use.
It’s also impact resistant and has an imported brake system, so you can stop and start without a hitch.
Buyers have praised the smooth performance and the lightweight structure.
However, a few have noted that the instructions included are written in Chinese, which makes it difficult to service the reel without professional help.
Shimano Sienna SN1000FE
- Perfectly suited for everything from freshwater to inshore fishing; the Sienna spinning reel features a variety of upgrades and improvements
- Encased in a new M-Compact Body that moves the oscillation gear closer to the rod greatly improving the balance of the reel and also reducing angler fatigue
- Equipped with a Propulsion Line Management System that provides longer casting distances while preventing backlashes and wind knots from forming
- Utilizing Super Stopper II technology for instant anti-reverse with no back play as well as Dyna-Balance to eliminate wobble during the retrieve by counter balancing the rotor to enhance sensitivity and smoothness
- Max Drag: 9 lbs. / Gear Ratio: 5.01:1. / Weight: 9.2 oz. / Line Retrieve: 28" / Bearings: 1BB + 1RB - PowerPro Line Cap: 10/150; 15/145; 30/100 - Mono Line Cap: 6/200; 8/140; 10/120
Shimano has earned a well-deserved reputation for its precision engineering, and this fishing reel packs a lot of top-notch features. Suitable for use all year round, this spinning reel includes instant anti-reverse as well as superb balance.
The Shimano Sienna spinning reel has an M-Compact body that keeps the oscillation gear closer to the rod, providing better balance. The Propulsion Line Management system guards against wind knots and backlash, while the Super Stopper II technology provides instant anti-reverse and guards against wobbling.
Buyers have praised the smooth functionality and the lightweight structure. However, some have noted that the reel’s durability is only average.
KastKing Centron 500
- GREAT VALUE - Loaded with features yet low on price. KastKing Summer/Centron offers the best value...at any level. The KastKing Summer Fishing Reel turns any angler into a PRO.
- LIGHTWEIGHT - narrow graphite frame design and computer balancing system combine high performance in a compact Spinning Reel. KastKing Summer/Centron makes an awesome gift for anybody who loves fishing, the 500 size reels match perfectly ice rods and make a perfect ice combo.
- HIGH POWERED - KastKing Summer/Centron spinning reel's Superior Drag System offers incredible stopping power up to 17.5LBs. It has a hardened metal main shaft, perfect mesh drive gear and precision machined pinion gear for fish fighting power.
- SMOOTH PERFORMANCE - Summer/Centron's nine quality ball bearings and one instant stop one-way anti-reverse bearing give it ultra-smooth performance.
- DURABLE/ATTRACTIVE FINISH - Summer/Centron's attractive, brilliant finish and its high strength two color anodized aluminum spool, with a power launch lip for longer casts and holds more line than competitor's models that sell for much more.
For a reel that’s packed with features yet easy to use for everyone, the KastKing spinning reel is your best bet. Its amazingly lightweight build make it the perfect companion for your ice fishing trip.
The KastKing Centron 500 has a lightweight graphite frame design combined with a Superior Drag System for smart, precise fishing. The computerized balance system helps to keep the reel in position, and the machined pinion gear helps you keep struggling fish in place.
Plus, the attractive dual-colored finish makes this a fishing reel to flaunt.
Buyers have praised the durability of the reel and the ease with which it hauls in even big fish. However, a few have noted that the drag functionality could be improved.
Penn Pursuit Spinning Fishing Reel
For fishing enthusiasts who are seeking a top-quality budget buy, this fishing reel will give you excellent performance without breaking the bank. The lightweight, durable frame and the oiled felt drag system make for a smoothly running reel that looks as good as it operates.
The Penn Pursuit fishing reel comes with a graphite body and a metal side plate that add durability without bulking up the structure too much.
The ergonomic handle makes for an easy grip, while the anti-reverse functionality allows for smooth cranking. It also has a 4+1 stainless steel bearing system for corrosion-resistant operation.
Buyers have praised its durability as well as its ability to reel in larger fish. However, a few have noted that finding rods compatible with this reel is difficult.
Which Are the Best Ice Fishing Reel Options for Winter Sports?
Ice fishing is tremendous fun, but it isn't quite like regular fishing. You need a fishing reel that can withstand the cold, pull in big catches easily, and operate smoothly no matter how windy or chilly it is.
So, when you're choosing the best ice fishing reel for yourself, pick any of the ones we've listed above. They're worth the investment!
Which is the best ice fishing reel you have used? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured Image Source: Pixabay.com