Essential Ice Fishing Gear: The ultimate list

Kristian Ole



Ice fishing sounds like a lot of fun, but while it’s a great sport, you need a lot of grit, determination, and patience along with the right gear. No matter how tough you may be, without the right ice fishing equipment, you may find it difficult to catch fish as well as feel uncomfortable and unsuccessful. Keep in mind that most expert ice anglers take months if not years to narrow down the perfect equipment for their fishing trip and if you’re planning a voyage to an ice bank with rod and reel, you need to be aware of various weather conditions and accordingly be prepped and equipped so that your fishing trip can be a successful one. 

Unlike normal fishing, ice changes your approach, from the biting cold to the constant glare and you may need to also use a different kind of fishing gear along with your essential supplies before you set out on your icy fishing adventure. 

Essential ice fishing gear you need

  • Ice augur

Since you will be drilling several holes during your day on the ice to ensure your catch, you will require a good ice augur to help you. This comes in both a manual and a motorized version out of which the motorized one should be good for beginners but can be a tad pricey. With a manual one, you will need a lot of upper body strength and an extension shaft to ensure that you do this the right way. 

  • A conventional reel and a rod

While a reel and a rod may seem like a no-brainer, you need to look for a fishing rod that is tough, sturdy, and can take on larger and medium-sized fish but isn’t too long. With ice fishing, you don’t need to cast and throw your line, so even a single-action reel in shallow water will work well on ice. Just keep in mind to avoid long rods as if cast from a short distance, it can bend too much, making it difficult for you to grab and swing the fish through the ice hole. 

  • Tip-ups

These devices can accommodate a very short rod or even two spooks and are designed especially for ice fishing. You can have one rod on top and below the device or even hand-line the fish through a submerged shaft which features a colorful flag that will indicate the angler when the fish strikes. Tip-up devices depend on the amount of bait you carry along with you, and you need to choose the right one that works the best along with your fishing skills.

  • Different lines

Unlike river or sea fishing, on ice, anglers mostly use basic fishing lines and knots that don’t slip or come loose along with a braided line. These lines are mainly used for larger fish like trout, which require the most strength and agility to pull up. It also allows you to sense any small pull at the end of the hook or tiny nibbles so that you can sense the size of the fish. 

  • Power baits and lures

Most ice anglers use bait like grubs, earthworms, crustaceans, or even small minnows, along with power lures, jigs, and plastic grubs that can also be used. Always choose easy baits that are colorful so that they can grab the attention of the fish as well as allow you to see them owing to the heavy snow cover. Some anglers will also use a small motor that can move the lure for you so that you can keep your hands warm while sitting out for long hours on the ice. 

  • Fish finders

Like its name, these devices allow you to detect groups of small or large fish, and you can choose a manual or an automatic one that you can prop up on the ice. Some of these devices even come with protective covers or sonar units, which can be quite expensive, but if you invest in them, it gives you an edge up on the fish and makes your fishing trip easier and more comfortable. 

You can see our recommended fish finders here.

  • Hooks

Avoid using too large hooks under the ice as most fish remain very docile during this time and will tend to notice large swivels, hooks, and the shine they give off. This is why you should always use small hooks that are low-key. Also, make sure that your hooks are sharp!

  • Gear haulers

Some areas don’t allow snowmobiles or vehicles, especially if the ice bank is thin and on very large lakes and open areas. If this is the case, then you can look for kid’s wagons or even oblong sleds that are light, easy to pull behind you or carry, and can hold all your important gear and equipment. If you need to carry any bags with warm clothing, food, or water, then look for a shoulder harness to help ease the pull and strain. 

  • In between bites

Lastly, and most importantly, look for smaller items that can keep you occupied on the ice while you’re waiting for your fish to bite. This can include a small portable music player, a good book, a pair of binoculars that can be entertaining, or even a couple of snacks and a warm drink. You can even look up areas to fish that are close to wildlife so that you can view various animals in the distance while you are waiting. You must invest in a proper pair of shoes, clothing, gloves, anti-glare sunglasses, and more so that you can fish with ease.

Bundle Up And Drop A Line. Your Catch Is Already Iced!

Like all types of fishing, ice fishing should be fun, comfortable, convenient, and safe. Always double-check your essential ice fishing gear and clothing before you leave the house and check for places to fish as well as the rules and regulations of that area in advance. Investing in high-quality ice fishing gear from a reliable brand can make all the difference between a successful, safe and unsuccessful fishing trip which is why it’s always good to do your research and look for ice fishing gear that is safe, easy to use, carry and can help you make your fishing journey easier, especially if you are a beginner.


About Kristian Ole

Kristian Ole Rørbye, a marine biologist and seasoned angler, shares his fishing adventures and expertise on FishingKris. Join him as he explores the world's waters, one cast at a time.

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