Fishing & Hunting Tips

Best ice fishing rods [Review & Buying Guide]

When you’re out there into the ice for fishing, it’s time to have a little war between you and the fish under the ice. The moment you make a couple of holes with your ice fishing auger, the fun war begins and you need to make the most out of it. Well, the ice fishing rod will make the difference whether you’re gonna win or lose, right?

Wanna keep your Ice Fishing Rod safe and protected that it can last for a long time? Must use a Rod sleeve. Just a few bucks can really save all your rods!

Choosing a fishing rod may seem like not a big deal. But when you have tons of options, the job comes a bit daunting. That’s why we are here to help you choose the best ice fishing rod in your budget. After hours of market research and finally put each of them into real action we decided to show you the champions of ice.

So without further ado, let’s get started. Before getting started, here’s our latest article on the best ice fishing rod for panfish where you’ll find some more cool options. Mind looking on them?

1. St. Croix Avid Jigging Series Ice Fishing Rod

St Croix Avid Jigging Series Ice Fishing Rod (27", Medium-Light)

 

Description: Do you love to apply jigging on ice fishing, folks? Well if you do, here’s the perfect rod for that. St. Croix Avid Jigging Series is such a model that is designed and manufactured precisely for jigging technique. It’s an overall rod, you can go for a panfish or a heavy fish like walleye.

This rod comes in two different sizes. If you’re gonna fishing from a shack, get the 27” so that you will get more room for moving it with ease. They offer medium and medium-light action which is great for landing something bigger than panfish or bluegills. Like I told ya, the medium action rod is going to be the best walleye ice fishing rods.

Did you notice the fact that the St. Croix ice rods have no reel seat? But don’t you worry pal! Just attach it with an electrical tape on each end of the reel or you can also use castration tool and bands in order to hook up the reel with the rod. Easy, right?

So far we have tested, the ice rod is so well built in terms of durability. It’s got a Precision-taper solid carbon blank which offers a good backbone. It will be comfortable cause it’s got this Super-sensitive carbon handle. The Kigan stripper guide with lightweight, low-profile running guides are a real piece of work in cold weather.

Speaking of styles, we did jigging spoons, ice jigs, jigging Rapalas and other popular walleye jigs with this one and it successfully landed so many fishes. The sensitivity of the tip is awesome, so controlled is the right word perhaps.

Lastly, if you’re looking for an all-over fishing rod or specifically a jigging rod for walleye fishing this St. Croix Avid is exactly what you’re looking for. Gives great value for the money folks, try it!

Pros
  • Great design for a specific style
  • Well constructed and amazing sensitivity and great backbone
  • Carbon blank used which is so durable
  • Can be applied for mixed species and sizes
  • Premium USA made
Cons
  • None so far

2. St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod

St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod

 

Description: St. Croix Mojo is such a series which earned many anglers heart. I got a St. Croix Mojo catfishing rod which is one of the best catfishing rods I have ever fished with! When it comes to hard water fishing, St. Croix Mojo won’t disappoint you at all. Let’s know more about these awesome ice fishing rod.

Very few ice fishing rods in the industry can be compared with this St. Croix Mojo series. I mean, look at the design and outlook of the rod, no wonder it will win your heart at very first sight. But how that helps in fishing right? Well, the rod has a promising performance too!

It comes in about twelve different sizes to choose, from 24 inches ultra-light all the way up to 36” medium-heavy. It’s up to you now whether you wanna do unlimited pan fishing with the 24-28 inches ultra-light setup or go for the big daddy lake-trout fishing with the 36” medium-heavy setup. Amazing right, you bet it is!

Now let’s come to the built-quality of the St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod. Made with the Precision-taper solid carbon blank, this got an amazing sensitivity to feel even a little activity while keeping a great backbone to set. I love doing ice fishing for lake-trout where I needed that backbone. And lemme tell you, folks, it seemed like the best ice fishing rod for lake-trout!

It offers a combination of Premium split-grip cork and EVA handle. The Custom reel seat looks insane, isn’t it! Followed by the Lightweight, stainless-steel guides make a great ice fishing rod. The eyelets will not be in ice too bad and cold on windy days.

Now, lemme tell you the reason why I love this rod so much, folks. It’s got a huge option which is suited for a wide variety of fishing styles and techniques for panfish, trout, walleye, pike and lake trout. You just need to know which species you wanna caught and then choose the size and action wisely. The St. Croix Mojo will make the job done like a champion.

Pros
  • Wide range of variety for different species
  • Ideal for all techniques
  • Premium quality materials
  • Great sensitivity and stiff backbone at the same time
  • Amazing features integrated with it’s design
  • High-quality rod
Cons
  • Too pricey compared with other ice fishing rods

3. Fenwick Elite Tech Ice Fishing Rod

Fenwick ETICE24ML Elite Tech Ice Spinning Rod

 

Description: Introducing you to the Fenwick Elite Tech ice fishing rod, one of my personal favorites. Whenever I go to the ice, Fenwick Elite Tech is always there on my fishing arsenal. Wanna know why? Cause it’s rod which I can use for almost any species, really love that versatility.

Fenwick has a reputation for quality and this Elite Tech Fenwick ice fishing rod has all the requirements the best ice fishing rod should have. It is made using 100% high modulus graphite blanks. This means that it is lightweight and comfortable to use even for prolonged durations, it has incredible sensitivity for easy detection of subtle strikes to make solid hooksets and it is strong enough for lifting fish.

Rods components include smoked stainless steel guides with Zirconium oxide inserts and a down locking reel seat for durability and efficiency. The cork handle is designed for comfort, control, and sensitivity and feels soft and warm in the hand. The shorter lengths are great for fishing from the comfort of a warm shelter while the longer lengths suit fishing in the open. If you’re going after smaller fish, the light powers suit you while the heavy powers and longer lengths offer the lifting strength for bigger fish such as walleye and lake trout.

Pros
  • Robust and durable composite build-in quality
  • Light and balanced feel for comfort
  • Ergonomic handle offers a great grip
  • Highly responsible tip
  • Affordable
Cons
  • None so far

4. Berkley Cherrywood HD Ice Fishing Rod

Berkley Cherrywood HD Ultralite Spinning Ice Rod, 24" - 1323297

 

Description: Kids love pan fishing, right? You can give this Berkley Cherrywood Hd rod to the young adventurers which is one of the best ice fishing rods for panfish. Let’s be honest with you folks, I never used the Berkley Cherrywood Hd for open or close water. But did use the ice fishing rod this year which belongs to my angler buddy. And the experience was quite amazing. Let’s jump into more details.

The rod offers 2 different models for different species. If you got an Ice Fishing Shack, the 24” ultra-light powered rod will be your cup of tea. I fished with the 30” medium powered setup and caught some healthy walleye and bass. Ice fishing for walleye or bass with this rod is really fun, I’m telling you. The blank has got that stiffness needed for a medium-sized fish.

What’s different than most other ice rods is this rod has got 100% fiberglass blank. Now that’s the reason behind its promising backbone. Also, the fiberglass built-in made the rod stand-out for longer period of time.

It’s a minimalistic rod with Stainless steel guides and inserts and a Graphite sliding ring reel seat. But what I loved about the rod is it felt so comfortable on hands. Unlike many other rods, the cork handle was so grippy. I mean a fishing rod at this cheap price, it will be beyond your expectations in terms of durability and usability. Trust me!

Let’s have some final words about it. It’s a good rod suit for small jigs. Not the most sensitive rod out there but overall it’s a great ice fishing rod at a very affordable price. Being honest, totally worth it. Give it a shot if you’re running on a short budget.

Pros
  • Great affordable price
  • Durable fiberglass blank
  • Comfortable handle with good grip
  • Good for jigging
Cons
  • Not that sensitive

Best Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

5. Frabill Fin-S Pro Ice Fishing Combo

Frabill 6972 Combo Spin Fin-S Pro 30 Medium

 

Description: If you’re on a tight budget but wanna get an ice fishing rod and reel combo which won’t be disappointing, this might be your best pick. Frabill Fin-S Pro is a nice looking combo in an insanely cheap price! I mean can you imagine an ice fishing combo under 50 bucks? Yup, here it is!

Frabill Fin-S Pro comes in a size and action, the 30” medium action setup will be a perfect choice for walleye, bass, perch fishing. I love walleye fishing for walleye and truly it’s one of the best ice fishing rods for walleye. The action and sensitivity were beyond expectations in this range.

It’s got a nice sensitivity, thanks to the carbon-fiber blank which made it more sensitive. As we know carbon-fiber is both sensitive and durable. The rod offers a comfortable cork grip with a reel seat. Loved the Special stainless steel single foot ice guides.

Coming to the reel, it’s got a spinning reel which has a Machined aluminum spool. With the 3 plus 1 ball-bearing reel, it showed a moderate speed. You can’t expect a lot from the spinning reel but it’s okay in this price range!

Pros
  • Low price, good rod
  • Great backboned blank
  • A good amount of sensitivity
  • Durable built-in quality
  • Gives great value for the money
Cons
  • Not much of options here with this combo

6. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Rod

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel & Rod Combo, 26" Light Action Rod, USGXICE26LCBO

 

Description: If you’re a fishing enthusiast must have known the name of Shakespeare brand, a brand that has massive popularity for making some of the best fishing rod and reels in the market at a surprisingly cheap price. Many say the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 is one of the toughest rods and they are not wrong guys.

It is built using Ugly Tech construction that uses a combination of graphite and fiberglass to produce a lightweight and sensitive yet strong and durable pole. Ugly Tuff one-piece stainless steel guides mean you don’t have to deal with insert pop-outs. The brand’s unique Clear Tip design adds to the strength and sensitivity of the rod. The handle is lightweight and durable EVA.

All these features mean that it is possible to sense light bites and the rod has plenty of backbone to pull all kinds of fish sizes through the ice hole. Another thing that makes Ugly Stick ice fishing rods some of the best ice fishing poles is that they won’t break your budget and will serve you well for years to come.

The reel it offers is a moderate one in terms of performance. With the 20 size spinning reel, you will find 1 ball bearing. Not that satisfying speed but in this price range, I think it’s okay. It has less weight for the Ported aluminum spool. Features like EVA handle with twist lock reel seat adds a bit more value for the money. Overall it’s a pretty durable reel.

Pros
  • Composite blank, ultra-durable
  • Good backbone and sensitivity
  • Corrosion-resistant durable guides
  • So lightweight
  • Affordable and great for the money
Cons

Not so much happy with the reel

7. Abu Garcia Venerate Ice Fishing Combo

Abu Garcia AVNRTICE23ULCBO Venerate Ice Combo

 

Description: Looking for the best Ice fishing rod and reel combo? We already did find out the best ice combo for you. Yup, we are talking about the Abu Garcia Venerate ice fishing rod and reel combo. And wanna know the best part? It comes with an insanely cheap price. I mean in this price, no way you can go wrong with this one.

Abu Garcia is a brand which any angler can trust right? And this one’s a gift from this famous brand for the ice fishing enthusiasts. The rod and reel combo is basically a spinning setup that has 4 different models. From 23”- UL (Ultra-light) all the way up to 29”- medium powered rod. It’s good to have that many options, right?

Let’s talk about the 23” ultra-light one, shall we? They did a quite good job keeping it that short. When you’re inside an ice fishing shack, the best possible situation is that you’re on the top of the hole, and a real short rod will be so comfortable doing the job inside a shelter. Very few rod manufacturers actually consider this and make such small-sized rod-like 23” ultra-light. So yeah, smart move there!

Let’s come to the built quality now. Absolutely loved the pure carbon blank which made the rod standout longer. Even the ultra-light or light option has such a great backbone so that if a bigger fish hit the lure, you can land it with confidence. I did land some bass and small-sized walleye with the ultra-light and light powered rod, crazy right? If you’re targeting bigger species, go for the 29” medium power.

Abu Garcia Venerate offers a cork handle which is so comfortable and grippy. It also features a reel mechanism that holds the reel. It’s designed as you can hold it like a pencil. Cause here’s a great thing about the rod. For the Extended reel stem, anyone can handle with great ease. Oh boy, almost forgot about the hook keeper!

Speaking of reel seats, the combo offers a 3+1 bearing System spinning reel. The speed was great for ice fishing, no complaints with the reel. It’s this price range, it’s a great deal.

Let’s come to verdict folks, considering the buying facts durability, power, usability, and affordability the Abu Garcia Venerate is a great Ice Fishing combo to have. I can’t express how impressed I was with this one. Just try it and thank me later!

Pros
  • Superb built-in quality
  • Comes with plenty of options
  • Pure carbon blank construction
  • Great handle
  • Reel with 3+1 ball bearing
  • Great deal
Cons
  • Have a little sensitivity issue

8. 13 Fishing Whiteout Ice Fishing Combo

13 Fishing Whiteout Ice Combo 27.5'' ML WOC275ML

 

Description: Here’s a tremendous ice fishing combo for the beginners or ice anglers on a budget. The 13 fishing Whiteout ice fishing combo offers such a great deal which is hard to avoid! The lightweight combo is so easy to use which makes it a rod for newbies out there. But for a pro angler, it will perform simultaneously.

When it comes to combo, most of the time you have to sacrifice something whether it can be the backbone of the rod or the crappiness of the reel. But with this one, you won’t have to be! The Solid Toray Graphite Blank construction gives a good backbone of the rod and good amount of sensitivity in the tip.

It offers 6 different sizes which I believe light powered. Yup, mostly it targeted the sunfish family with this sensitivity. But it will be just fine if a bigger fish hooked up! With stainless steel guides and hook keeper, the rod added more value for the money.

Nothing so great about the handle, Aluminum Handle with EVA Handle Knob offers good comfort and grip. But what I love most about the combo is the spinning reel it offers.

Equipped with Evolve Blackjack Reel Seat, the spinning reel is quite a good deal. You will find a 7 BB with Instant Anti-Reverse system followed by Fat Bail Design. Isn’t that sound awesome? Now that’s hard to expect from a budget combo!

I’m sure folks, you got a good reason now why you wanna buy this 13 Fishing Whiteout Ice Fishing Combo. If you just started ice fishing or wanna surprise your loved ones with an ice fishing rod and reel combo, this is the best deal you could find on the market.

Pros
  • Durable graphite construction
  • Great backbone and sensitivity
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Reel with 7bb+ anti-reverse feature
Cons
  • Few power options would be great

FAQS

Q.1: why ice fishing rod?

Ans: I’m sure you already know that ice fishing rods are more like small in diameter and length. Unlike conventional saltwater or freshwater fishing rods, they have a sensitive tip and reduced power for mostly pan fishing. With a conventional rod, you can enjoy panfishing. Yup pan fishing is one of the most favorites in ice.

You’ll also find ice rods with the strong backbone for bigger fish like walleye, bass, perch or lake trout. Whatever it is, a 29” to 30” inch rod is enough for any species. The main reason for the specialized tiny looking rod is, in an ice fishing scenario you need to be very close to the hole. Specifically when you’re into the ice fishing shelter, a short rod is a real privilege. 

Q. 2: what is the right setup for pan fishing?

Ans: who doesn’t love pan fishing, everyone does! But what setup you need to choose? Well, you need something very sensitive so that you can feel even the tiny vibe under the water. So an Ultra-light or a light rod with fast action tip and a small-sized reel will be the best pick for pan fishing.

If the rod got a lot of backbone and less sensitivity, you can’t feel anything with the rod. So the medium or medium-heavy powered setup will be fine for bigger fish like bass, walleye or lake trout.

Q.3: which rod material is the best for ice fishing?

Ans: lemme tell you folks, any material as its own advantages and disadvantages. You’ll find few materials on the market such as fiberglass, graphite or carbon fiber blank. Among them, try to pick a rod blank made with premium carbon fiber. In terms of stiffness and sensitivity, carbon fiber performs the best.

If you need a lot of backbone, you can go for a fiberglass or graphite rod. But if you need both the sensitivity and backbone strength, carbon fiber is your ultimate cup of tea.

best ice fishing rods
Source

Final words

When we spin out money to something, we want it to last for a long time. And ice rods from this list will last long, put my bet on that! We’re confident about our research and just give any of them a try. From the tons of rods, these are the few that are tend to stand strong.

If you ask me which one I would choose from this list, I would go with St. Croix Avid Jigging SeriesIce Fishing Rod, a bit pricey but totally worth it. For a rod and reel combo, Abu Garcia Venerate Ice Fishing Combo is my all-time favorite. The rest is up to you folks, choose the right one for you and have happy fishing. Last but not least, be safe out there! 🙂

Nicholi Wyto

Hey I'm Nicholi Wyto is a professional sports fisherman and hunter, love to enjoy spending time in Michigan’s rugged northern forests. I love to explore my experience and help others who are interested in fishing and hunting.

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