Best Ice Fishing Reels

Ice Fishing Reels - Reviews & Guides For 2024

Our Top Ice Fishing Reels

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Ice Fishing Reel Buyers Guide

There are some significant differences in ice fishing and regular fishing, so you cannot use the standard fishing reel when fishing out in freezing temperatures. You need a fishing reel that can stand out against the cold and works fine so that you can catch more fish.

It is essential to know what features your fishing reel has before buying it and start fishing with it. The design of an ice fishing reel may look the same as of a regular fishing reel, but there are some differences in the construction and features.

Here is a comprehensive buyer’s guide that will help you find the factors that you should look for when purchasing an ice fishing reel. Go through these factors, and compare different ice fishing reels to buy the best one.

Why is this buyer’s guide important?

With this buyer's guide, you can rest assured that you can buy the right fishing reel that's perfect to use in ice and works well without getting jammed. We have listed almost everything that you should know about ice fishing reels.

Further, we have covered some frequently asked questions and accessories that you should know about when going for an ice fishing reel.

Factors to consider when selecting an ice fishing reel

Before you press the buy now button, make sure that you have selected a high-performance ice fishing reel that is sturdy and can withstand the harsh climate. For your ease, we have classified the guide into multiple factors, so buying a reel will be easy.

Types of ice fishing reel

The first thing that you should check is the type of ice fishing reel. Buying the right type of ice fishing is crucial so that you get the expected performance from it, and it lasts longer. Further, the type of ice fishing reel impacts the ease of fishing, so it is important to choose the right type.

The two common types of ice fishing reels are as the following:

  • Inline ice fishing reel
  • Spinning ice fishing reel

There is no obvious winner when it comes to comparing inline and spinning ice fishing reel, but there are some significant differences you should know about when buying a fishing reel. Below we have highlighted the core differences between spinning and inline fishing reels.

Inline ice fishing reel

Often known as straight-line fishing reels, these reels are the most common type that anglers buy. If you need a fishing reel for jigging, go for inline reels. The straight-line design of the reel helps you throw the spool with ease and in a straight line. Furthermore, it prevents any issues such as corkscrewing and twisting, even when you use a light fishing line.

With an inline ice fishing reel, you can avoid the reel's unnatural behavior, so the fish will think that it is a real bait, and voila, you can catch it. Moreover, the design of the fishing reel is simple, so you don’t have to worry about using it. The fishing reels possess fewer issues over time and work well if you follow a proper maintenance regime.

The only downside to using an inline fishing reel is the poor drag, you don’t get advanced drag with these reels, and that can be a problem sometimes. Overall, these fishing reels are good for beginners and experts, but if you need advanced drag, then you should go for spinning ice fishing reels.

Spinning ice fishing reel

Spinning ice fishing reels are the most commonly used reels because of the performance. These reels have advanced drag, and you will love to use them if you need a good drag. If you are targeting bigger fish, then go for spinning reels as they are ideal for catching walleye and pike.

If you are a beginner, then you will find it hard to use spinning reels due to the mechanism. The reels aren’t great for throwing the bait in a straight line, but they are good for casting to a great distance.

Why is drag important?

You might be wondering why drag is important and if it is really something to consider when buying an ice fishing reel. Well, the drag of the fishing reel decides the strength of the reel. If you want to catch bigger fish species such as pike, you need a reel with better drag, and that is only possible with a spinning ice fishing reel.

Inline reels also have a drag system that is commonly termed as the star drag system, which is good for catching small and mid-sized fish.

Line capacity

Fishing in the ice is different than fishing around the bank, as you cannot get down into the water when the fish strikes with the bait and catches it. You need an ice fishing reel that can withstand immense pressure and has great line capacity.

Go for a fishing reel that can hold the line in place so that you get everything in your hand, and you don’t miss the fish.

The line capacity of the reel depends on its configuration, material, and type, so you need to check some other things as well when buying an ice fishing reel.


The choice of material will impact the durability, sturdiness, and longevity of the fishing reel. Also, the reel that is made using high-quality material will be lightweight and can withstand more pressure while battling with the fish.

Most manufacturers use aluminum because it is durable and is lightweight as well. On the other hand, some manufacturers use graphite as well due to its sturdiness and flexibility.


Ice fishing reels made using aluminum are highly durable, and there is no need to worry about corrosion. Further, the reels are lightweight, and you can minimize the overall weight of the fishing rod to have better control over it.

Aluminum can withstand extreme temperature, and the material resists cracks, so you can rest assured about the longevity of the fishing reel.

The best part about aluminum rods is that they are affordable and sturdy.


Ice fishing reels made using graphite are great because of the flexibility. The reel doesn’t break down even if the bait lands in the mouth of a big fish. If you need a lighter reel, then go for ice fishing reels made using graphite.

The material resists corrosion and is available in both spinning and inline reels so that you can choose it depending on your requirements.

Weight of the reel

It would be great to invest in a lightweight fishing reel as you will be already carrying a lot of heavy items, such as the fishing gear. The weight of the reel depends on multiple factors, such as material, construction, and design.

If you go for a reel made using graphite, then expect to be lightweight. Buying a lightweight reel has a myriad of benefits, such as you can hold it comfortably for more time. Furthermore, there will be less strain in the wrist, and you can fish for a long time as there is no hand fatigue at all.

Always check the weight before you click on the buy now button to ensure that the weight of the reel is exactly what you expect. Furthermore, lightweight reels are good to hold when you are wearing thick gloves.

However, there is one thing that reduces as the weight of the reel gets low, and that is durability. Read some customer reviews to know more about their experience with the reel.


The durability of the reel depends on multiple factors, such as the material and the construction. When you buy an ice fishing reel, make sure that it can withstand extreme temperatures. Go for an ice fishing reel that is resistant to freezing so that it doesn’t get jam while fishing.

When you buy a durable fishing reel, then you can expect it to last longer. Go with reels made using graphite and aluminum so that there is no corrosion, and the reel performs as you want it to do. Furthermore, check customer reviews before you buy the reel because it is an excellent way to know more about the durability of the reel.

You shouldn't buy reels that aren't durable because they can get damaged when struggling with the fish. When fishing in the ice, you cannot expect what fish species will strike the bait, so it is essential to get a highly durable fishing reel.


No matter what type of ice fishing reel you want to buy, it is important to pay attention to the number of bearings it contains. More bearings mean that the reel will have smooth functionality, and you can wrap up the line with ease.

Usually, most of the ice fishing reels come with four bearings, but you will find reels that have more than four bearings depending on the size of the reel and its specifications. Most folks look for more bearings, and they overlook the quality of the material.

You should go for an ice fishing reel that has more bearings which are made up of high-quality material. Bearings made using poor material won't last long, and you will have multiple issues with the fishing reel, such as reduced durability and problems while wrapping the line on the reel.

When you buy branded fishing reels, you can rest assured that they have bearings made up of high-quality materials only.

Gear ratio

The gear ratio of the ice fishing reel decides how many times the spool rotates after you turn the handle. If the reel has more gears, then the spool will rotate multiple times. You will find the gear ratio written on the reel, so it will be easy to find out how many gears it has.

The common gear ratio options available in ice fishing reels are 4:1, 5:1, 6:1, and 7:1. The greater number of gears the fishing reel has, the better it will be. Furthermore, the increased gears of the ice fishing reel increase its cranking power as well, but the retrieval can be a little less.

Depending on the type of species that you want to target and the lure, you can decide the gear configuration. However, ice fishing reels with lesser gears are also good because of the good retrieval speed that you get with the reel.

Easy to maintain and clean

The ice fishing reel should be easy to maintain and clean so that it lasts longer, and you don’t face any issues while fishing. When fishing in the ice, a lot of ice can deposit on it, which will make it hard for you to rotate the handle and wrap the fishing line.

Cleaning the reel is essential, especially when you buy an ice fishing reel. Go for reels that require less maintenance and are made using durable material such as aluminum and graphite. The only way to find out if the reel is easy to maintain and clean is by checking the customer reviews.

Go through some customer reviews to ensure that they last longer and are easy to clean so that the reel performs well, and you can target your favorite fish species.

Anti-freeze feature

The anti-free feature is only available in ice fishing reel because you need to use them in the snow. The feature will help the reel get rid of the snow accumulation so that it works fine, and you can fish without any issues.

You will be spending most of your time in the icy-cold temperatures, so get a reel that has an anti-freeze feature. Usually, inline ice fishing reels have this feature, so you don’t need to carry a lubricant. However, if you are buying a spinning fishing reel, then make sure to go for a lubricant tube so that you can protect the reel from ice.

Body design

The body design of the fishing reel depends on the type and size. It is important to buy a fishing reel that is perfect for catching the fish species you want to target. Some reels have the spool that comes with a robust case that protects it from the harsh climate.

Regular fishing reels cannot survive in the cold, so you should ensure that the reel you are planning to buy has a good body design.

Easy to install

Go for an ice fishing reel that is easy to install with the fishing rod. Some reels have a complex mechanism, and they are hard to attach to the fishing rod. If you are a beginner, go for a reel that is easy to install so that you don’t have to spend half of your time mounting and unmounting the reel.


The price of the ice fishing reel depends on various factors such as the type, size, and configuration of the reel. Before you start looking for the best ice fishing reel, make your budget to avoid overspending. These reels are available at a range of prices varying based on the material and brand of the reel.

Furthermore, never settle down with ice fishing reels that are way cheaper than the regular options. You should buy a reel that is highly durable and can withstand the icy-cold weather and the impact caused by the fish.

Ice fishing accessories to buy with the fishing reel

Once you choose the ice fishing reel that you need, it is time to buy some accessories that you will need while fishing. Here we have recommended some accessories you should buy before you leave for fishing.

  • Fishing reel cover

Get a good quality fishing reel cover so that you can pack it to protect it from the ice. You should get a case that can easily accommodate your fishing reel along with some hooks and other small items.

  • Fishing gloves

You need a pair of thick fishing gloves to keep your hands warm during fishing. Also, the gloves will give you comfort so you can fish for more time without feeling any hand fatigue.

  • Rod holder

It would be great to have a rod holder so that you don’t have to hold it for longer while waiting for the fish to strike on the bait. Buy a flexible rod holder so that you can use it with ease.

  • Lubricant

Yes, ice fishing reels work fine even in the freezing temperature, but having a lubricant tube is a great idea. Get a low-temperature lubricant so that you can use it on the components of the rod, and use it whenever required to keep the reel and rod functioning properly.

  • Ice fishing line

You need an ice fishing line that is durable and can withstand the harsh temperatures. Go for a line that is made using lightweight and sturdy material so that it lasts longer.

  • Ice fishing boots

Get a pair of ice fishing boots so that you don’t slip on the ice while fishing. Look for a durable pair that is comfortable to wear so that you can fish for more time while feeling ultimate warmth and comfort.

  • Power handle

With a good power handle, you get ultimate control over the reel. It becomes easy to use the reel, and you can battle with the fish with ease, and that is important, especially when fishing in the ice. Go for a handle that fits well with the fishing reel and is comfortable to hold.

  • Spin strap

Even if you have the best ice fishing reel with multiple gears and bearings, sometimes you will feel a lack of control over it, and that is where you will find the need for a spin strap. With a spin strap, you will find it easy to battle with big fish species such as pikes and walleye.

  • Spool tenders

A spool tender will keep the fishing like safe into the reel. If you don’t use a spool tender, then the fishing line may unravel while it is inside the storage. Get multiple spool tenders and keep them handy so that you can use a new spool tender if the older one gets damaged.

  • Repair kit

Having a repair kit is indispensable so that you can repair the reel whenever required. The repair kit contains multiple tools that you can use to fix the reel while fishing.

FAQs: Best Ice Fishing Reels

Q: Is it okay to use a regular reel for ice fishing?

A: No, you should never use a regular reel for ice fishing, because these reels aren’t designed to withstand extreme cold. The reel will develop cracks due to the decrease in the temperature, and it will break down after some time. Follow this guide to buy the best ice fishing reel that lasts longer and is good to use for ice fishing.

Q: What is a lubricant, and why should I use it?

A: Not every ice fishing reel has an anti-freezing feature, and that is when you need a lubricant. These lubricants are specially designed for extreme temperatures to keep the reel functioning properly. Get a lubricating tube so that you can lubricate the crucial components of the fishing reel.

Q: Are ice fishing reels expensive?

A: The price of the fishing reel depends on multiple factors such as the material, type, brand, and configuration. When searching for the best ice fishing reels, you will find some affordable as well as expensive options so that you can choose one according to your budget.


Fishing in the ice isn't easy, and therefore it is essential to buy a reel that lasts longer and is designed specially to use in snow. With this guide, you can buy fishing reels that are built to last and are easy to install on the fishing rod.

Note down the factors listed in this guide and then compare different reels to buy the best one. Furthermore, we have listed some accessories that you should consider buying with the fishing reel. Before you click the buy now button, consider reading some customer reviews to ensure the reel you are planning to buy is perfect. / - © Copyright 2020