10 Best Ice Fishing Rods in 2021 (Reviews & Buying Guide)

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The cold winds mark the beginning of the ice fishing season. It is a unique experience that involves the simplest things in fishing: Drop the lure, jig the rod, and wait. There is no casting involved. But it has its other challenges, like fishing in below zero temperatures, drilling a hole in the ice, building a shelter, and walking through the ice.

But, you must first get the right gear before attempting ice fishing. For instance, an ice fishing rod is among those pieces of equipment you must get. Your regular rod won’t cut it. It is simply too big to get the job done. So, it is time to search for a brand new rod. 

Don’t worry, though. We’ve got your back. We’ve selected ten of the best ice fishing rods you can find. And, after a lot of testing, we determined that the KastKing Konvert is the best of all options. It comes with two different tips and a carrying case! So, you virtually get two rods for the price of one. 

If the Konvert doesn’t attract you, we suggest getting the St. Croix Mojo. It is more expensive. But it is of higher quality as well. Lastly, the Ugly Stik GX2 is the best option for those looking for an affordable ice fishing rod and reel combo. 

Now, it is time to take a look at the other options we have for you.

The 10 Best Ice Fishing Rods Reviewed

KastKing Konvert Twin Tip Ice Rod

Features: 

  • Length (Inches): 27
  • Power: Medium and medium-light
  • Action: Fast
  • Stainless steel guides 
  • Fiberglass and graphite poles 
  • Cork handles 3
  • 2-piece construction 

KastKing will always be a brand that you can rely on. And with the Konvert, they didn’t disappoint. You can trust it to take any fish out from the icy water at any time. Plus, you’ll be getting two rods for the price of one! Yes, you read that right. Two ice fishing rods for less than 50 bucks!

The Konvert ice rod has two sections: The handle and the tip. You get two of the latter. One of them has a medium power rating, while the other is medium-light. This way, you can cover a wider range of baits, lures, and techniques. 

You can also choose between fiberglass or an IM6 graphite blank. The first is stiffer but stronger. The second, on the other hand, is more flexible but more likely to break if hit. In our opinion, the carbon fiber model is a better deal altogether. 

The Konvert comes with a clear travel tube. It protects the rod while it is on your ice fishing sled. You can also use it to keep the spare tip while you use the other. 

The carbon fiber model comes with a split cork handle, while the fiberglass version comes with a full, pencil-like grip. 

You get the same stainless steel guides on either version. All models come with a chartreuse tip too. The bright color helps to detect movement regardless of the environmental light. 

Pros: 

  • You get two tips
  • It comes with a case
  • Highly-visible tip
  • It packs small

Cons: 

  • Sections don’t fit tightly
  • Sits on the stiffer side 

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2

Features: 

  • Length (Inches): 28
  • Power: Light
  • Action: Fast
  • Stainless steel guides 
  • EVA handles 
  • Graphite and fiberglass composite pole
  • Single-piece pole

The GX2 will always be a suitable option for those looking for an affordable fishing rod. This time, however, we will talk about the ice rod model.

The GX2 retails around 45 bucks and already comes with a size 20 spinning reel. That’s why it is arguably one of the best ice fishing rod and reel combos in the market.

The rod has a fiberglass and graphite composite construction. It is stronger than regular graphite models but more sensible than fiberglass blanks. 

You are stuck with a 28” pole only. However, it is an all-around length suitable for most ice fishing techniques. You also get the classic one-piece stainless steel guides and clear tip design. The guides are strong but not that sensible. Thankfully, the clear tip design helps with movement detection. 

The EVA foam handles are barely enough to hold the rod. This time, we don’t get those comfortable grips of the larger versions. 

The ice fishing reel has a 4.4:1 gear ratio and an 18 IPT. Plus, the aluminum spool holds up to 110 yards of line, which is more than enough for ice fishing. The operation is adequate, although we noticed some play in the handle. 

Pros: 

  • It comes with a decent ice fishing reel
  • Sturdy pole
  • Twist-lock reel seat 

Cons: 

  • Not as sensible as pure graphite rods
  • Short handles 

St. Croix Mojo Ice Fishing Rod

Features: 

  • Length (Inches): 24, 28, 32 , 34, and 36
  • Power: Ultralight to heavy
  • Action: Fast
  • Stainless steel Sea Guides
  • Graphite pole
  • EVA handles 
  • Graphite reel seat
  • Single-piece pole

Now, it is time to talk about the St. Croix Mojo ice fishing rod. Like the regular-size version, the Mojo Ice features a solid carbon fiber blank. St. Croix added extra layers on certain sections of the rod to further increase strength.

You can choose between five lengths ranging from 24 to 36 inches. And six power ratings! The Mojo ice rod has enough backbone to handle large and small fish alike. On the other hand, the fast action tip allows you to detect anything that’s happening beneath the ice. Note that depending on the power/length combination, you’ll either get a casting or spinning rod. 

The Mojo ice fishing rod comes with a sensible graphite reel seat. It does a superb job at handling vibrations. You can easily lock the reel in place with a simple movement. At both sizes of the handle, you’ll find the EVA foam handles. 

Lastly, the Sea Guides are what you would expect from St. Croix. The stainless steel frames are durable, while the rings are smooth. But beware. The guides close to the tip are quite delicate. 

Pros: 

  • Smooth line guides 
  • Sturdy backbone
  • Remarkably sensible 

Cons: 

  • Not all length/power combinations are available for all rod types
  • Delicate line guides 
  • The EVA foam handles don’t perform as well as cork on freezing conditions

Fenwick HMG Ice Fishing Spinning Rod

Features: 

  • Length (Inches): 26, 27, 28, and 30
  • Power: Medium-light, medium, and medium-heavy
  • Action: Fast
  • Stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide rings 
  • Cork handles 
  • Graphite pole
  • Graphite reel seat
  • Single-piece pole

The Fenwick HMG is the answer to those searching for an ice fishing rod under 50 bucks. It is available in four lengths: 26”, 27”, 28”, and 30”. All of them feature a single-piece carbon fiber blank. 

Although the pole is thin, it has enough backbone to handle any panfish. You can choose between medium-light, medium, and medium-heavy power ratings. The second is good middle ground if you want to have an all-around ice fishing rod. Either option comes with a fast action tip. So, sensitivity is something to expect from the Fenwick HMG.

The pole has thin stainless steel line guides with aluminum-oxide rings. They are sensible, thanks to their slim profile. However, they are prone to bend. So, be careful, especially during transportation. 

The graphite reel seat sits between the cork handles. The high-quality cork grants enough grip to handle the rod with or without gloves

Pros: 

  • Plenty of options 
  • Lightweight
  • Sensible pole and line guides

Cons: 

  • Delicate line guides
  • Power ratings feel flimsier than expected 

13 Fishing Microtec Ice Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

Features: 

  • Length (Inches): 26 and 28
  • Power: Medium
  • Action: Fast
  • Stainless steel guides
  • Fiberglass pole 
  • Cork handles 

If you are looking for an ice spinning rod that already has a reel on it, then the Microtec is a safe bet. There are two lengths available: 26 and 28 inches. 

The blank is different from what we’ve seen thus far. This time, you get a fiberglass rod that’s slightly stiffer than an equivalent graphite model. But with the advantage of being stronger too. 

You are stuck with fast action and medium power ratings. There are no other combinations available. 

But you do get two handle options; regular, split cork handle, and a full deadstick version. Which one is better for you depends on your likes and the technique you’ll be using. Go for the second if you are in doubt. 

The stainless steel guides are nothing impressive. They are smooth but not as sensible as the ones found on other ice fishing rods. However, keep the price tag in mind. It hardly gets better than this. 

The spinning reel, on the other hand, has a 2.5:1 gear ratio. There is not much information about capacity or size. But what we can tell you is that the three ball bearings only help as much. It gets rather stiff once you’ve hooked something, so beware. 

Pros: 

  • The rod already comes with a reel
  • Sturdy pole 
  • Strong line guides 
  • Thick handles 

Cons: 

  • Not many power/action combinations 
  • The reel gets stiffer under load
  • The bail doesn’t distribute the line evenly 

Fenwick Eagle Ice Fishing Rod

Features: 

  • Length (Inches): 30 and 32
  • Power: Light and medium-heavy
  • Action: Moderate 
  • Stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide rings 
  • Cork handles 
  • Graphite blank
  • Single-piece pole

Value hunters will be pleased to know that Fenwick made an ice fishing rod version of their regular-sized Eagle spinning pole. It packs all the features of its big brother but in a compact 30” blank. 

The solid carbon pole is durable and sensible. It flexes with ease since it only comes with a light power rating. So, the eagle is more suitable if you are targeting panfish. But if you want more backbone, you can always go for the medium-heavy option. 

In terms of action, you are stuck with moderate. However, this is a good thing since it is less likely to rip the hook out of a fish mouth with such a rod. Still, we wished to have more options in this department. 

The stainless steel guides come with aluminum-oxide rings. They are notably thin, which enhances sensibility at the expense of durability. Thus, make sure to get a carrying case for safer transportation.

Pros: 

  • Large premium-grade cork handles 
  • Sensible yet strong pole 
  • It comes with a hook keeper
  • Smooth line guides 

Cons: 

  • There is only one action rating available  
  • Delicate line guides 

Berkley Cherrywood HD Ice Fishing Rod

Features: 

  • Length (Inches): 24 and 26
  • Power: Ultra light and medium light
  • Action: Moderate fast
  • Stainless steel guides and inserts 
  • Cork handles 
  • Fiberglass blank
  • Single-piece pole

Sturdy, affordable, and light are the three words that come into mind when thinking about the Cherrywood HD ice rod. You can choose between a 24”or a 26” pole. Both are single-piece blanks. Make sure to get a carrying case so you can transport the rod. 

The shorter pole has an ultralight power, whereas the other comes with a medium-light rating. Both come with a moderate fast action tip. We think that the 26” medium-light model is the best choice.

The Cherrywood features a fiberglass blank. It looks more than capable of handling most panfish. Plus, it is not as stiff as other ice rods with similar builds. However, it is not even close to graphite. 

On the other hand, the line guides feature a stainless steel frame and rings. They are slim and sensible. But beware.

Despite the size, the Cherrywood HD has a large cork handle. It is comfortable and grants a good grip over the rod. 

Pros:

  • It is sensible for a fiberglass pole
  • Large cork handle
  • Sensible and smoot guides 
  • Great value for your money

Cons: 

  • The reel doesn’t lock tightly into place
  • The guides are not strong

Frabill Ice Hunter Predator Spinning Combo

Features: 

  • Length (Inches): 38
  • Power: Heavy
  • Action: Moderate
  • Stainless steel guides 
  • EVA handles 
  • Graphite pole
  • Graphite reel seat
  • Single-piece pole

With 38”, the Ice Hunter spinning combo sits on the larger side of the spectrum. Thus, making it heavier than most other ice fishing rods available. 

The Ice Hunter features a solid graphite blank. It is only available in heavy power. Sadly, Frabill doesn’t offer any information about the action. However, after testing the rod, we concluded that it comes with a moderate action rating. The Frabill Ice Hunter is a suitable ice rod for those looking to catch trout or pikes. It has enough backbone to haul them. Yet, it remains sensible enough, so you don’t miss anything. 

The full-size reel seat already comes with a spinning reel. It gets the job done. Nevertheless, we suggest getting another one down the road. 

The split EVA foam handle is thin but surprisingly comfortable. But make sure not to soak the handle in water. It will harden, making the rod difficult to hold.

Pros: 

  • Strong backbone for large fish
  • It already comes with a reel
  • Chartreuse tip 

Cons: 

  • The EVA foam handle get hard as the temperature decreases 
  • The reel is not smooth at all 

Berkley Lightning Ice Fishing Combo

Features: 

  • Length (Inches): 24”, 28’’, and 32”
  • Power: Ultralight, medium-light, medium, and medium-heavy
  • Action: Moderate
  • Stainless steel guides and inserts  
  • Cork handles 
  • Graphite pole
  • Graphite reel seat
  • Single-piece pole

Now that we are talking about ice fishing combos. Let’s take a peek at the Lightning ice spinning rod and reel combo. Berkley presents us with a stiff fiberglass pole. You can choose between a 24”, 28”, or 32” rod. But more importantly, you can pick between four different power ratings: Ultralight, Medium-light, medium, and medium-heavy. You get a moderate action rod regardless of the combination you choose. 

The Lightning ice fishing rod comes with a size 500 spinning reel. It offers a 5.2:1 gear ratio and 5.5 pounds of maximum drag. It comes with an aluminum spool that holds up to 220 yards of fishing line. More than enough for ice fishing. 

The stainless steel line guides use rings of the same materials. Although they are thin, we had a hard time telling whether or not we had a fish at the other end. Still, this is due to the stiff fiberglass blank, which is not as responsive as graphite.

Pros: 

  • Sturdy pole that is able to handle abuse
  • It comes with a decent spinning reel
  • Ergonomic cork handles

Cons: 

  • Stiff
  • There is only one action rating available 

Fenwick World Class Ice Fishing

Features: 

  • Length (Inches): 24’’, 26’’, 28’’, 30’’, 32’’,36’’, and 42’’ 
  • Power: Ultralight, light, medium-light, medium, and medium-heavy
  • Action: Fast
  • Stainless steel guides and aluminum oxide
  • Cork handles 
  • Graphite pole
  • Graphite reel seat
  • Single-piece pole

The Fenwick World Class Ice spinning rod is arguably one of the best-looking poles on this list. But it is more than just looks. 

The World Class features a carbon fiber blank, which is sensible, flexible, and durable with the exception of the tip. There are seven sizes to choose from ranging from 24’’ to 42’’. Each one has a different power rating that goes from ultralight to medium-heavy. All models come with a fast action tip. 

The pole comes with single-footed Fuji AT frame guides. The guides, on the other hand, have smooth Torzite rings that work exceptionally well in freezing conditions. Sadly, they are not that durable. They are prone to come off. 

We were pleased by the cork handles. They don’t get soaked in water. Plus, they offer a secure grip even when wet. 

Pros: 

  • Larger and comfortable premium-grade cork handles 
  • Sensible line guides and reel seat
  • Responsive pole 

Cons: 

  • Fragile tip
  • The lines are prone to come off 

Must-Know Factors When Buying The Best Ice Fishing Rods

best ice fishing rods

Ice fishing rods are quite different from regular-sized poles. For instance, they are shorter, lighter, and slimmer. Nevertheless, they share all the other features, such as power and action. That’s why you should learn how each one impacts performance. 

Luckily for you, we’ve compiled all the information you need to know about ice fishing rods. We’ve also answered a couple of common questions that first-timers might have. This way, you can get the most out of your money. 

So, with no further ado, let’s get started. 

Rod Power

Rod power refers to how much weight it takes to bend the rod. That’s why it is also known as rod weight. There are three standard ratings: Light, medium, and heavy. 

As you might imagine, light rods bend with the slightest of pressure. Therefore, they are only suitable for small fish such as walleye. So, if you are after bigger fish, you’ll need something with more backbone. That’s when medium and heavy rods are for. 

Some brands offer intermediate power levels, such as ultralight, medium-light, medium-heavy, and extra-heavy. Although names are standard, the performance is not. For example, a light rod from KastKing might be stiffer than one of St. Croix’s. Thus, make sure to test each rod beforehand. 

What Ice Fishing Rod Power to Buy? 

It all comes down to the fish you are after. For example, fish like panfish don’t require too much backbone. So, you are better off with an ultralight or light ice fishing rod. But if you are after something bigger, then you will need something stronger. 

Rod Action

Action refers to how much of the rod length bends. Other anglers understand action as to how quickly the rod gets back to its natural, straight state. Like power, there are three standard ratings: Slow, moderate, and fast. 

Fast action rods bend around the upper quarter. Thus, they quickly get back to their natural state. Moderate action poles, on the other hand, bend along the upper half. That’s why they take more time than fast action blanks.

Now, slow-action rods bend along their entire length. They are the most flexible of all and take the most time to get back to their natural state. That’s why they are the most delicate as well. Thus, they are ideal for small fish. 

What Ice Fishing Rod Action to Buy? 

The best ice fishing rod needs to be responsive. This way, you can quickly detect if fish are biting. However, fast-action rods are more likely to tear the hook out of the fish mouth. That’s why you should tread with care.

Sadly, a slow-action rod is not responsive enough. Therefore, you should get a fast or moderate action rod.

Ice Fishing Rod Blank Material

Graphite and fiberglass are the most common materials for ice fishing rods construction. Some brands, like Shakespeare, offer composite poles. But, what’s the difference? 

Well, carbon fiber, or graphite, is more flexible and has a higher weight-to-strength ratio. Sadly, it has a flaw. Graphite is brittle. In other words, it doesn’t handle hits so well.

Fiberglass, on the other hand, is stiffer than graphite. In other words, it is not as sensible. Thus, it is not as responsive. But the good news is that it is stronger than carbon fiber. 

Carbon or Fiberglass for Ice Fishing?

It all comes down to personal preference. In our opinion, carbon fiber is a better deal altogether, especially because they are lighter. Plus, they are more sensible, which makes them perfect for small fish. 

Rod Handle

Cork and EVA foam are the most common handle types found in any rod, including ice fishing blanks. 

Cork, for example, offers a better grip even when it is wet, and it is more sensible. In addition, they keep your hands warmer in the dead of winter. That’s why it is the best material for ice fishing rods. 

EVA foam, on the other hand, makes for much more comfortable grips. But they tend to underperform during winter. 

Rod Length

The length determines how far you can cast, how maneuverable the rod is, and how much weight it can handle. Longer fishing poles cast farther and haul more weight. But they are less maneuverable as well. In addition, long poles are more responsive, making it easier to detect bites. 

On the other hand, a shorter pole is more accurate and maneuverable. But you have to compromise casting range and strength. Thankfully, these are two things that don’t matter much for ice fishing. That’s why ice fishing poles are remarkably short, around 24” to 32” long.

Which is the Best Length for Ice Fishing?

If you are fishing from a shelter, then using a shorter pole is the way to go. They are more maneuverable, making them perfect for confined spaces. 

Length doesn’t matter much if you are fishing in the open. Here a 28” to 34” ice rod is the best bet. 

A size 28” rod is a good all-around length if you are unsure about how you’ll be using the rod. 

Line Guides

Line guides play a crucial rod when casting and retrieving the line. They also transmit vibrations from the line to the rod. Plus, they support the line in spinning rods. That’s why the best line guide should be strong and sensible. 

Most rods have line guides with stainless steel frames. The rings, on the other hand, could be made from stainless steel, aluminum oxide, ceramic, zirconium, and even titanium oxide. 

The line guide size is important as well. The bigger the line, the less likely it is to freeze. Frozen guides restrict line flow, making the reeling harder than it should.

Our Top Pick: KastKing Konvert

The IM6 carbon fiber blank and twin tip construction were the two things that we fell in love with. The pole is sensible yet strong enough to pull trophy-sized panfish out of the freezing waters. In addition, you can swap between the two tips depending on the lures you are using. 

The Konvert comes with a chartreuse tip that makes bite detection easier. On the other hand, the cork handle offers a comfortable and secure hold. 

Furthermore, the Konvert ice fishing rod is among the few options that come with a carrying case. So, you don’t need to worry about getting one. Last but not least, the price! The Konvert retails for around 30 bucks. Thus, offering a lot of value for your money. Here you can find one for you!

FAQs

Casting Or Spinning Rods? 

Casting rods are not suitable for ice fishing. They are simply too large, and it is more suitable for thicker lines. 

Spinning rods, on the other hand, are more suitable for light tackle. Plus, they are available in smaller sizes. 

Can I Use a Regular Rod for Ice Fishing? 

Naturally, you can. However, we don’t recommend it. You’ll be fishing from a hole in the ice. Therefore, you need to be close to it to see and maneuver the rod. In addition, it will be easier to see the screen of the fish finder if you are close by. 

In addition, it will be impossible to handle a regular-sized pole if you are fishing from an ice fishing shelter. 

So, in short, you need a small pole to fish effectively during winter. 

Can I Cast an Ice Fishing Rod?

Ice fishing rods are not designed for casting. You simply drop the lure on the whole and let it sink to the desired depth. That’s why casting rods are not commonly used for ice fishing. 

Can I Use an Ice Fishing Rod In The Summer?

Of course, you can use it. It is just like before. Ice fishing rods are thinner and shorter than regular poles. Therefore they are not suitable for long casts or massive fish. So, you might have a hard time catching something.

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Hi! I’m Steven!

I am an avid life long fisherman, having caught over 25,000 fish over the years. My life-long passion for fishing began when my father taught me how to fish at the age of ten. I started luremefish.com to share my extensive knowledge of all things fishing.

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