Best Ice Fishing Rods in 2020 | The right gear for winter season!

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: May 9, 2020
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Just because its winter does not mean you stop your favorite fishing game. Winter enthusiasts just cannot get enough without some activities on frozen water. However, one will need the right gear so as to fish comfortably and successfully. One of those tools needed is the ice fishing rods apart from the warm attire, reels, bait, and patience.  The poles are uniquely designed to penetrate small openings on frozen waters and tough enough to pull out the catch.

Of importance is to choose the best ice fishing rod that can withstand the harsh environment and allow anglers to do their work well. The pole should be sensitive enough to transmit elusive vibrations from sluggish and fussy fish underwater. The handle should be user-friendly for cold hands and gloves that may affect dexterity. Precisely, the rod should have tailor-made features for easy fishing during the winter season. 

In order to pick the right rod, therefore, you should deeply understand the ins and outs of each product and what sets them apart from the rest. This is not an easy task since there are thousands of these products in the market. It can take a lot of time trying to go through most of them before making a decision. But with this article, your work is made easier. The six top-rated products have been reviewed, and picking any of them will guarantee you quality and long-lasting services. Use the buyer’s guide included here to choose one from the six reviewed depending on your fishing needs and preference.

Top 6 Ice Fishing Rods in 2020 (Best Picks)

In a hurry? Check the bestseller top Ice Fishing Rods from Amazon. Just check the product link, the details and price.

Best Ice Fishing Rods
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In-Depth Review of Six Top-Rated Ice Fishing Rods

Before settling on a particular ice angling pole, it is crucial to have a thorough review of its features. Here we provide a detailed analysis of the top-ranking ice fishing rods in the market from which you can pick one using the buyer’s guide, which will be discussed later in this article. These best products include:

01- Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel & Rod Combo

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This product comes as a combo with a spinning rod and the reels. The rod maintains the originality of popular ugly stick products while ensuring strength and durability. The fabric used is a mixture of fiberglass and graphite that offers sensitivity and is lightweight while maintaining power and sturdiness. The stainless steel guides prevent insert pop out, resulting in comfortable fishing. It has EVA handles that are lightweight and long-lasting. Buy this combo package and sense every fish bite while firmly pulling it out through the ice holes. 

Key Features

  • EVA handle and twist-lock reels for maximum comfort and durability
  • Fiberglass and graphite mixed fabric which offers excellent versatility
  • Stainless steel guide which prevents insert pop-out
  • Pure tip design genuine ugly stik blank
  • The reel is attached to the rod making work easier

Specifications

  • Brand: Shakespeare
  • Model: USGXICE26LCBO
  • Length: 26 inches
  • Material: Graphite and fiberglass

To buy one, click to Amazon.

02- Tailored Tackle Ice Fishing Rod Reel Combo

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This combo comes with various poles that have fast action and medium-light power ratings for maximum sensitivity of every bite from different fish species in ice water. There is a 28-inch rod that offers flexibility for fishing and can be used outside hole hop or inside a shelter. The cork handle is ergonomically designed with carbon fiber blank for maximum grip power and durability. 

Freezing waters cannot affect the reels as they are of superior quality size 20 with five ball bearing system. In order to keep guides and the rod tip safe, the packaging is done securely. Included is the user guide that will teach you how to use and maintain the ice angling rod for maximum durability. Buy one and use it to catch dominant fish during the winter season.

Key Features

  • Cork handle that is ergonomically designed for maximum comfort and durability
  • Included 28-inch ice fishing pole that has medium-light power and fast action ratings offering a high sensitivity
  • Multispecies rod design that provides high versatility in terms of the target species
  • Secure packaging to protect the guides and the rod tip
  • Comes with a user guide for instructions on how to use it and keep keeping well for long-lasting services

Specifications

  • Brand: Tailored tackle
  • Length: 28 inches
  • Power: medium-light
  • Action: Fast 

To buy one, click to Amazon.

03- Abu Garcia Venerate Ice Fishing Spinning Combos

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Abu Garcia spinning combo is somehow expensive, but every extra coin you spend is worth it. You get good quality rods made of solid carbon blank that offer excellent durability. This is further enhanced by stainless steel and a guide that has zirconium inserts that can withstand freezing water. The length is 29 inches, which offers excellent versatility with other sizes available that can be picked depending on the angling needs. The reel is included that has a 3+1 bearing system making it practical and efficient. Purchase one and have ice fishing experience like no other.

Key Features

  • Solid carbon blank which offers maximum durability
  • 29-inch medium power rod that is more effective
  • Stainless steel guides that have zirconium  inserts for long-lasting services even on saltwater
  • Multispecies rod design for catching , multiple fish

Specifications

  • Brand: Abu Garcia
  • Model: AVNRTICE29MCBO
  • Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Length: 29 inches
  • Power: medium

To buy one, click to Amazon.

04- Fenwick AETOS Ice Fishing Spinning Rod 

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Fenwick Aetos pole is superiorly designed to make fishing seamlessly easy on ice waters. It has high power with fast action providing high sensitivity that can detect bite from sluggish fish in the winter season. Featuring Fuji skeleton reel seats, high-modulus blank construction, lightweight feel, and stainless steel guides with stainless steel inserts, it has all applications required for ice fishing.

Key Features

  • Superior modulus solid graphite blank construction
  • Cork and cork handle construction for maximum grip and comfort
  • Stainless steel guides that prevent insert pop-outs
  • Medium power and fast action for high sensitivity

Specifications

  • Brand: Fenwick
  • Model: AICE21LXFS
  • Length: 21 inches
  • Power: light

To buy one, click to Amazon.

05- Berkley Cherrywood HD Ice Fishing Spinning Rod

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If you are looking for a less priced rod, then Berkley Cherrywood is the best option. It comes in three sizes of 24, 27, and 30 inches.  The 100% fiberglass blanks ensure you get long-lasting services at a low cost. Breakages rarely happen since the pole is highly flexible as a result of its material construction.

The handles are full cork with stainless steel inserts and guides. The finishing on the rod keeps its quality for a long time with graphite sliding ring reel seats, which are easy to use. Ensure you attach the straps to be useful as the design does not allow you to lock your reels in. Spend less on this product and get great features that enable you to fish effectively during the winter season.

Key Features

  • 100% fiberglass blanks for durability
  • Long-lasting rod finish which offers superb quality
  • Stainless steel guides which avert insert pop-out
  • Full cork handles which are reasonably durable 

Specifications

  • Brand: Berkley
  • Model: 1323297
  • Length: 24 inches
  • Power: ultra-light 
  • Material: 100% fiberglass

To buy one, click to Amazon.

06- St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod 

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St. Croix Mojo rod has precision-taper solid carbon blanks that offer long-lasting services. Made of EVA handle and superior split-grip cork, you are assured of maximum dexterity and durability. The custom reel seats allow anglers to use it to catch different fish species while employing various techniques. With stainless-steel guides prevent insert pop-out while ensuring you fish all day long without getting tired since the tool is lightweight. Get it and fish all day in ice waters as long as you wear protective gear.

Key Features

  • Stainless steel guides which prevent insert pop-out
  • Precision-taper solid carbon blank which makes it last for long
  • Custom reel seats suitable for all fishing styles
  • Lightweight to allow fishing for long hours
  • EVA handle for comfort and durability

Specifications

  • Brand: St. Croix
  • Tension supported: Medium-heavy
  • Size: 24-32 inches

To buy one, click to Amazon.

What to Consider When Purchasing the Ice Fishing Rod- Buying Guide

To have a smooth experience in ice fishing without any hiccups, you have to get ready with the best tools needed. We have mentioned that the fishing rod is very crucial in determining the success of angling during the winter season, and therefore one should buy one that meets all the criteria. You might be asking, which are there criteria? Worry no more; below, we will discuss what you need to consider when buying the best ice fishing rod from the market. Read on and pick one wisely from the six reviewed above.

  • Size 

Different ice fishing techniques call for distinct pole sizes. The length of these rods ranges from 16-42 inches, which is far much short compared to the normal ones that are used in warm conditions. The short pole is beneficial in freezing waters as one need to drop lures and remove catch through a tiny opening in the ice. No casting on the shore and therefore small size will work just correctly. 

The length of the rod will be determined by the targeted species and where you are fishing. If you are fishing in the open, then go for longer rods while if doing it from angling shelter, then small sizes will be the best. Pulling larger fish will require bigger rods as they give more power and shock absorbers as you battle to pull them out of the small openings. In order to avoid losing the catch when using shorter poles, the hands should be ready to put more effort when removing them after a bite.

  • Material

In most cases, the poles are made of graphite, fiberglass, or combination of the two.  Each of these materials has its strengths and weaknesses that make them suitable for different fishing conditions. The one chosen should be strong and robust while maintaining its sensitivity in icy conditions. 

The graphite materials are robust, have impressive sensitivity, and lightweight. It is the best option for experienced anglers because of its tendency to break if not handled correctly.  Conversely, the fiberglass is robust and long-lasting though it is not sensitive or lightweight as graphite. The strength makes it suitable for novice anglers as it will not break because of its flexibility. The composite construction that combines both fabrics is the best of all as it has maximum versatility in different fishing conditions. 

  • Power and Action

The power is the element that determines the force needed for the rod to bend. It ranges from ultra-light to ultra-heavy. Ultra-light bend much quicker, and it is ideal for catching small fish. Action, on the other hand, shows how fast the pole bends, where it is concentrated, and its ability to return to its original position after removing the load. It ranges from extra fast to slow action poles. 

The slow action rods are ideal for small fish since they are flexible and bend evenly throughout the length resulting in a parabolic form. Larger fish will need you to buy fast or moderately fast action rods.

  • Weight 

Ice fishing can be done for a long hour as you try to have as many fish as possible. This calls for a lightweight rod that cannot strain your hands, allowing you to continue fishing comfortably. A massive rod is strenuous as can make your shoulders and the wrist aching while fishing or even long after you are done. Fiberglass poles are weightier, while graphite rods tend to be lightweight while the mixture of the two strikes a balance. When choosing the rod, make sure the weight matches that of the line and the lure.

  • Handle And Grip

The handle should be firm and comfortable to catch as the hands will have reduced dexterity as a result of gloves and cold weather. The grips vary in sizes, design, and the material used. If you are targeting smaller fish and casting near distances, then a shorter grip will be ideal. The big fish and far away from casting calls for more extended grips as one may require using two hands at some point to pull out the catch. 

Most of the poles have plastic, foam or cork handles, each having their distinct benefit. Cork grips are the most preferred since they are soft, lightweight, feel warm, comfortable, and can sense transmitted vibration from the bites. Eva handles are durable and weigh less, and some prefer them as they do not wear out quickly. Graphite handles are also available in superior rods though it very expensive though very sensitive. Look for those with split-handle design as it is easier to detect bite as the finger remains in contact with the rod blank. 

  • Ease of use

You should get a rod that is easy to operate depending on your skills level. The quality and quantity of lines guides or eyes of the pole will dictate whether it is easy to sue the rod or not. Those that are easy to use have more comprehensive guides and eyes that are aligned well along the rod’s length. The tools should also be lightweight, has a solid handle grip, and balanced feel when using it. Those with more extended handles are stress-free to use when catching big fish as they give you control and power and absorb shock as the fight to remove it from tiny opening ensues. 

  • Price 

If you want a rod that performs well, of high quality and durable, then be ready to invest more. Those that cost much are likely to be sturdier and come with more additional features. This is not to say it is not wise to buy cheaper rods as there are those that go for 15 dollars or less. They will still enable you to fish on frozen water, though, may not last for long. Look at the features that you want your rod to have and those which you are willing to forgo and plan accordingly. If you have enough money, then buy a top-quality pole with great prices. If not, then get a cheaper one that can still serve you for a while.

FAQs

Q: Which materials make long-lasting rods?

Most rods are made of fiberglass and graphite. The fiberglass is the most durable as it is sturdy and flexible. They can pull out aggressive and heavy fish from the small ice openings without breaking. The graphite though sensitive can break off easily when not correctly used and, therefore, suitable for expert anglers.

Q: Which is the ideal length for ice fishing rods?

Shorter rods are ideal for ice fishing, contrary to open water angling, which needs long poles. The large ones are not very sensitive in cold water and not necessarily required as casting is done over a very short distance. Also, the long rods are not mobile, especially when fishing from ice shelter where no much space is available.  

Q: Why is it critical to choose a well-balanced rod?

A well-balanced rod will provide much-needed comfort and performance. It feels good to hold and comfortable to use, even for an extended period without getting tired.  They perform as expected when dropping lures and pulling out the catch. Ensure the weight of the reel, line and the lure matches that of the pole.

Q: How can I test my rod?

If you are buying from a fishing gear store, it is recommended to test a variety of poles before settling on one. Online stores such as Amazon allow customers to order and test them within the refund period. Testing the rod is done by holding it as if fishing, then checking if it feels light, comfortable, and well balanced. Check its construction and attachments like reel seats, guides, and inserts to see whether it is made well and how durable it can be. 

In order to test whether the gear will be well balanced, attach it to the reel. Bail should also be inspected whether it opens and close effortlessly and works efficiently. Check how easy it is to operate the knob by activating it. Hold the reel handle to test for smoothness and if it is well-made. Take the rod if satisfied with all the tests and get ready for your next ice fishing trip. If the pole is noisy, heavy, and flimsy, take advantage of the return period and order for a replacement.

Features of the Six Top-Rated Ice Fishing Rods In 2020

# Product Name Features More Info
1 Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel & Rod Combo
EVA handle
Graphite and fiberglass materials
Twist-lock reel seat
Lightweight
Clear tip design blank
Check Latest Price
2 Tailored Tackle Ice Fishing Rod Reel Combo
Cork handle which is ergonomically designed
28-inch rod
Secure packaging
Multispecies rod design
Carbon fiber rod blank
Check Latest Price
3 Abu Garcia Venerate Ice Fishing Spinning Combos
Medium power
29 inches
3+1 bearing system
Stainless steel; guides that have zirconium inserts
Solid carbon blanks
Check Latest Price
4 Fenwick AETOS Ice Fishing Spinning Rod    Stainless steel guides
High-modulus graphite blanks
Cork and Tac handle construction
Fast spinning
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5 Berkley Cherrywood HD Ice Fishing Spinning Rod
1005 fiberglass
Durable finish
Stainless steel guides
Graphite sliding ring reel seats
Full cork handles
Check Latest Price
6 St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod Precision-taper solid carbon blank
Stainless steel guides
Lightweight EVA handles
Custom reel seats
Check Latest Price

Final Word

Ice fishing is a great outdoor activity to engage in during the winter season. You get to spend your time wisely and go home with food for dinner. Nevertheless, anglers must be willing and prepared for the harsh conditions and cold temperatures during such seasons. One way to get ready is to put in place all the critical gears needed for productive and comfortable fishing. First, you need a warm outfit, and another important tool is the rod. Without the right pole, you might suffer trying your luck the whole day and still go home without a catch.

The best ice fishing rod will enable you to drop the lure, feel the bite, set the hook, and finally pull out the catch. Using the buyer’s guide to narrow down the available option, pick one from the ones reviewed here, and you will enjoy fishing in frozen waters.  Remember to match the rod with the best lures, reels, line, and spool in order to have a superb performance out there. 

Make the risky venture rewarding by getting the right rod for your fishing excursion!

Reference links

Last update on 2020-11-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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