Ice fishing is an increasingly popular type of angling through North America and Canada so I have put together this list of the best 10 ice fishing rods available on the market as well as a buyer’s guide to help with your decision making.
An ice fishing rod is very different to a casting rod because you are just dropping a bait down a hole. The length is much shorter and is closer to a short boat rod.
There are a few key criteria to keep in mind, depending on what species you are targeting. This includes the rod material, the action, the length, and the guides/eyes.
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- 1 Quick Summary – Best Ice Fishing Rods
- 2 Ice Fishing Rod Buying Guide
- 3 10 Best Ice Fishing Rods
- 3.1 1. Fenwick HMG Ice Fishing Rod
- 3.2 2. Berkley Cherrywood Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combo
- 3.3 3. St. Croix Avid Jigging Ice Fishing Rod
- 3.4 4. Fiblink Graphite Ice Fishing Rod
- 3.5 5. Shakespeare Ugly Stik Ice Fishing Rod
- 3.6 6. HT Enterprise Ice Fishing Rod
- 3.7 7. 13 Whiteout Ice Fishing Rod
- 3.8 8. BaitRunner Ice Fishing Rod
- 3.9 9. Celsius Frostbite Ice Fishing Rod
- 3.10 10. Green Hornet Ice Fishing Pole
- 4 Conclusion
Quick Summary – Best Ice Fishing Rods
- Best Overall: Fenwick HMG
- Best Value for Money: Fiblink Graphite
- Best Rod and Reel Combo: Berkley Cherrywood
- Best Jigging Rod: St Croix Avid
- Most Durable: Shakespeare Ugly Stik
Ice Fishing Rod Buying GuideBass Fishing Tackle Essentials [202...Bass Fishing Tackle Essentials [2022 Update]
Rod Power for Fish Species
The power of a rod describes how much it bends when a fish strikes. You really need to know what species of fish you are going to target and how large and powerful they will be.
Overtons has a great breakdown of what rod power to select based on your target species:
- Ultra-light Rods: Panfish
- Light Rods: Bass, Perch, Panfish
- Medium Rods: Walleye, Pickerel, Trout
- Heavy Rods: Pike, Musky
Just because the water is cold and the fish aren’t as active, don’t assume that they are less powerful. You should select the power of the rod based on the largest fish that you could catch.
Don’t select a lighter rod and then get dissapointed when it can’t hold up to a trophy fish’s fight.
Most ice fishing rods are made of either graphite and fiberglass. They both have their own advantages and disadvantages so make sure you understand their differences so you can select one that suits your own personal needs.
Graphite rods are the modern materials used for high end rods. They are more expensive but are betting at setting the hook due to their high sensitivity. Graphite rods have more bend in them.
If you are fishing by leaving your rod in a rod holder, then you might want to consider a graphite rod because the extra bend will give you a little more time to reach it to set the hook.
Graphite can also break when it is struck hard. I have seen a few rods break when they aren’t secured properly in the back of a truck.
Fiberglass rods are cheaper but are not as bendy or flexible. They are more durable and are cold resistant.
Fiberglass can handle freezing temperatures better.
If you don’t take good care of your equipment then I would recommend a fiberglass rod.
It is really a decision between sensitivity in graphite and durability in fiberglass.
The length of an ice fishing rod depends on a lot of factors – weight, strength, and ease to transport.
If you have to travel long distances, particularly on foot then having an easy to carry rod is crucial.
If you are worried about how much weight you have on the ice, then a short rod is crucial – especially if you have multiple rods on top of all your other gear and your tackle box and tools.
Ice fishing rods are much shorter than other rods because you don’t need to cast your bait. But the longer the rod the more flex it has and easier to set the hook, particularly for larger fish. The general range of lengths for a dedicated ice fishing rod is 24 to 42 inches.
If you are only targeting panfish then you can happily use a much shorter rod.
However if you are going after bigger fish like Pike, then you may want a long rod with more power.
Mudhole has this rule of thumb for selecting rod lengths depending on your target fish species:
- Small Fish (Panfish) – 24 to 36 inches
- Medium Fish (Walleye) – 30 to 42 inches
- Large Fish (Pike) – 36 to 42 inches
The eyes or guides on your rod is also important for ice fishing. You will want fairly large eyes to allow ice to run through without getting caught. This will lead to a more more enjoying fishing experience as you don’t have to constantly be removing ice from your guides.
Small eyes also increase the risk of damaging your line as the line as pulled against the trapped ice.
The more eyes then more constant the rod will bend when a fish strikes and will give better performance and increased shock aborption.
You will generally see 4 to 6 eyes on a standard ice fishing rod.
10 Best Ice Fishing Rods
1. Fenwick HMG Ice Fishing Rod
Available in Ultra-light all the way to Medium-heavy in power as well as from 24 to 28 inches, the Fenwick HMG gives you multiple options to select the right combination for your needs.
This graphite rod has 5 stainless steel eyes to give uniform bend through the entire length.
The handle is made from cork to give good grip and comfort.
Fenwick are a trusted brand that make high quality rods in all forms of angling.
- Available in Ultra-Light to Medium-Heavy
- Available in 24 to 28 inches in length
- 5 Stainless Steel Eyes
- Premium Cork Handle
- Not available in the longer lengths up to 42 inches
- Not suitable for large pike
2. Berkley Cherrywood Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combo
This light powered rod is 27 inches long. I also comes with a Berkley spinning reel.
Many people prefer to buy a rod and reel combo because they know the reel they have selected will fit perfectly with the rod.
It has four large guides which is on the lower side for a rod of this length.
Made by Berkley, this is a trusted combo from a quality manufacturer. The handle is made from cork which is both comfortable and non-slip – particularly when you are wearing heavy fishing gloves.
The reel is of a lower quality than the rod and is suitable for beginners and panfish. As you progress in your experience and size of fish you will want an upgrade – particularly of the reel.
- Combo guarantees the reel will suit the rod
- Non-slip cork handle
- This entry level combo is not suitable for larger fish, particularly the reel
3. St. Croix Avid Jigging Ice Fishing Rod
This ice fishing rod made by St. Croix is a dedicated jigging rod. It is available in Medium-Light to Medium-Heavy power, and in 27 to 36 inches in length.
It is an incredibly sensitive carbon rod and handle with 4 small, lightweight eyes.
Made in USA by St. Croix, this is certainly an option worth considering particularly if you intend to do a lot of jigging.
This is a super sensitive, high quality jigging rod.
- Sensitive carbon handle so you will feel every bite
- Specifically designed for jigging
- Spinning reels can be attached with electrical tape
- Only available in Medium-Light to Medium-Heavy
Fiblink are another high quality rod manufacturer. This graphite ice fishing rod is available in Ultra-Light to Medium-Light power and 24 inch to 32 inch length. It is suitable for Walleye, Perch, Crappie, Pike, and Trout.
The rods are very light and range from 2.2 to 2.4 ounces.
The handle is made from non-slip cork, and the 5 guides are made from aluminum oxide which are both lightweight and durable. The rod also comes with a rod bag to keep it in good condition during transport and storage.
- Lightweight rod
- 5 guides for uniform shock absorption
- Non-slip cork handle
- Very affordable price
- Only available in limited power and lengths
5. Shakespeare Ugly Stik Ice Fishing Rod
Shakespeare are famous for making the toughness fishing rods around, and their ice fishing rod is no exception. This rod is a combination of graphite and fiberglass to give a great combination of sensitivity and durability.
It is available in 26 to 30 inches in light to medium-heavy.
The 5 stainless steel guides give a good shock absorption. The grip is made from EVA which is durable and comfortable.
- Shakespeare are famous for durable fishing rods
- 5 stainless steel guides
- Combination of graphite and fiberglass rod
- Only available in light to medium-heavy
- Only available in 26 to 30 inches
6. HT Enterprise Ice Fishing Rod
This economic, entry level ice fishing rod is a great first step into this form of angling. It is an ultra-light powered rod that is available in 24 or 36 inches. It is also fast action with high sensitivity.
This rod is only suitable for smaller panfish or crappie.
With only 4 guides it does not provide as uniform shock absorption as some of the other models.
- Economic, entry level ice fishing rod
- Highly sensitive, fast action rod
- Only suitable for small fish
- Not many options of power and length
7. 13 Whiteout Ice Fishing Rod
This 27 inch lightweight carbon rod is another option you may want to consider for smaller fish. With only 4 blue guides it doesn’t offer as much shock absorption but is ideal for the sized fish this rod would be targeting.
The handle is made from cork which gives a non-slip grip even when wearing fishing gloves.
Made by 13 fishing, have a look at this rod if you are going to be targeting smaller panfish or crappie.
- Cork handle
- Electrical blue stylings
- Only suitable for smaller fish
- Only 4 guides
8. BaitRunner Ice Fishing Rod
This BaitRunner ice fishing rod is a specially designed jigging rod. It is a 28 inch medium-light rod that is highly sensitive so you won’t miss a bite. It also has a strong backbone for larger fish than you would expect.
The ABS handle has a patented removable base for storing small jigs and tackle which does come in handy.
This carbon rod is suitable for perch, walleye, crappie, and trout.
- Removable handle base for storing small jigs
- 5 stainless eyes for uniform shock absorption
- Durable ABS handle
- This dedicated jigging rod isn’t suitable for a spinning reel
9. Celsius Frostbite Ice Fishing Rod
Celsius produce this Frostbite ice fishing rod. With an orange camoflage patterened EVA handle, this rod will stand out from the rest.
It is on the small side suitble only for panfish and crappie at 24 inches long and ultra-light power.
It has 4 chrome guides which is enough for a rod of this length.
- Stylish orange camo EVA handle
- Corrosion resistant chrome guides
- Short, lightweight rod only suitable for small fish
10. Green Hornet Ice Fishing Pole
For something out of the box, have a look at the Green Hornet Ice Fishing Pole. It is handmade with a fiberglass rod.
If you want a conversation starter in your ice fishing shelter, then this is it.
Made as a replica of the rod that Walter Matthau used in the movie Grumpy Old Men.
It is 28 inches long with a single guide.
“The Green Hornet’s caught more fish than you’ve lied about!”
- Conversation starter
- Handmade and handpainted
- Only a single guide
- Not suitable for a spinning reel
That brings us to the end of this article. Hopefully I have been able to educate you on the key criteria including length, power, and construction materials. Making sure you get a long life out of your rod is the best way to get the best value for money.
Make sure you fully understand exactly what type of fish and the expected size you will be catching to get a rod that really meets your needs.
If you have any experience with ice fishing and have your own favorite ice fishing rods then please let us know in the comments below. We love to learn from your wisdom and share it with our readers.
Last update on 2022-09-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API