Best Ice Fishing Rods of 2019: Complete Reviews with Comparisons

Many people have chosen fishing as their preferred sport. It’s quite enjoyable and fun, and there are many types available. If you plan to ice fish, though, you’ll need to find the right equipment.

We will talk about the best ice fishing rods and have chosen five products we think you’ll like. This allows you to compare the items for yourself and make a more informed decision when buying.

Best Ice Fishing Rods: A Review

1. Shakespeare Wild Series Ice Fishing Spinning Rod

Pure Fishing is a manufacturer of many brands, including Shakespeare and Berkley. The Shakespeare brand was established in 1966 and has been quite popular ever since.

You’ll find a variety of other related products, including lures, tackle, and reels sold in a variety of specialty shops and online. You can buy directly from the website, but it might be more convenient to use a third-party e-commerce site like Amazon.

Product Highlights

The Shakespeare Wild Series Ice Fishing Spinning Rod comes in three sizes. You’ll find that the 23-inch option is ultra-light while the 25-inch product is a light model. There’s also a 27-inch version in the medium range.

This rod features solid fiberglass material for the rod itself; it also uses moderate action blanks. The guides are made of stainless steel and designed to be lightweight, and you’ll get five guides with any size.

The grip is always a concern, and the Shakespeare Wild Series Ice Fishing Spinning Rod features a hybrid grip. There is no mention of what materials are used, but it will help improve the feeling of the grip while you hold it.

What We Like

Our biggest concern here was the grip, but we were surprised to learn that the handle wasn’t made of cork. It looks like this material, but it is actually a hybrid tech grip (HTG). For those who love handles made of cork, this will be even better than you could imagine.

What We Don’t Like

When you first look at the Shakespeare Wild Series Ice Fishing Spinning Rod, it appears that it is a two-piece rod. We were hoping for that, but when it arrived, it is one piece. This isn’t a significant issue, but it does mean you need to find a place to store it.

Pros:

  • Good sensitivity
  • Ideal for walleye and other medium or light fish species
  • Cork-style handle

Cons:

  • Eyelets and grip not aligned correctly
  • Bent eyelets likely

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2. Fenwick HMG Ice Fishing Spinning Rod

Fenwick is one of those companies that have been around for decades. With 50 years under its belt, you can be sure that the manufacturer knows what it is doing and produces excellent-quality products. It focuses on innovation and keeping up with industry standards, as well.

It’s possible to find this brand in many fishing equipment shops and retail stores. However, you can also buy it online through its website. 

Product Highlights

You’ll find that the Fenwick HMG Ice Fishing Spinning Rod comes in five sizes. The 23-inch version is ultra-light while the 25-inch option is light.

There’s also a 26-inch unit featuring a medium-light bend and a 27-inch one in medium. Regardless of what action you’d like, you’re sure to find it.

The rod is made of graphite making it lightweight and durable.

The tapered construction is also ideal. You’ll find that you get a moderate action regardless of the size or bend.

The Fenwick HMG Ice Fishing Spinning Rod has guides made from black stainless steel to give it a polished look. Its inserts are made using aluminum oxide, which prevents corrosion. Along with that, the handles are custom-designed to feature cork.

What We Like

When it comes to an ice fishing rod, the materials used are essential. We were surprised that graphite blanks, high-grade cork, and aluminum oxide were used, as these can get pretty expensive. What is better is that it’s not reflected in the price.

What We Don’t Like

We weren’t satisfied with the strength and stiffness of the Fenwick HMG Ice Fishing Spinning Rod. The medium light version seemed quite flexible. 

Pros:

  • Firm rod
  • Nice balance
  • Ideal for light biters

Cons:

  • Might be too lightweight for larger fish

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3. St. Croix Legend Black Ice Fishing Rod

St. Croix is one of those brands that seem to have been around forever. For over 70 years, this company has remained innovative and willing to try new things. They haven’t always come to fruition, but it shows character and the desire to make the sport as fun and effortless as possible.

With that said, you can find this brand in a variety of ways. For one, it is sold in many retail locations and on its website. Third-party e-commerce sites are also authorized to sell the brand.

Product Highlights

For ice fishers who want one of the newest models on the market, this is the option for them. The St. Croix Legend Black Ice Fishing Rod was just released for the 2017/2018 season. It comes in a variety of sizes and actions, as well.

You’ll find light, medium-light, medium, and even ultra-light action options available. Sizes range from 30 inches down to 17 inches, depending on the gauge.

Though many ice fishing rods don’t, the St. Croix Legend Black Ice Fishing Rod features a strike indicating spring bobber at the end. As such, you aren’t required to purchase this piece separately, as with other models.

Of course, you can use other spring bobbers with this product. Plus, there is a locking reel seat, which is ideal.

What We Like

The thing that impressed us most about the St. Croix Legend Black Ice Fishing Rod was the included spring bobber. Yes, it’s not hard to go out and buy your own, but it’s nice that it’s provided.

What We Don’t Like

The spring bobber can be a little difficult to adjust.

Pros:

  • Very sensitive
  • Spring Bobber included
  • Comfortable grip

Cons:

  • Spring bobber hard to adjust
  • Guides need more lubrication

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4. St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod

Though we’ve already talked about the St. Croix brand, it’s important to note that this world-class company has earned angler’s respect from all around the world. Its factory is in Mexico, and a passionate employee handcrafts each rod.

You can find these products throughout the world and in a variety of retail locations.

Product Highlights

When it comes to finding an ice fishing rod, you do have options. The St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod comes in six different actions, including light, medium, ultra-light, and heavy. Sizes range from 24 inches to 36 inches, depending on the action.

This product comes with a precision-taper carbon blank, so you’re sure to find that it withstands the test of time. Carbon and graphite are generally considered to be the best because they are more durable.

The handle is made of cork, as many ice fishing rods are. The only difference is that EVA is also used. Its split-style is unique to this series and gives better aesthetics and grip strength.

You’ll also get a custom reel seat, which is suitable for a variety of techniques. The stainless steel guides are an excellent addition, and the product is quite lightweight.

What We Like

We were taken aback by the handle itself. Most products only feature cork or something similar. While that is the norm, we prefer EVA, and the St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod does not disappoint.

What We Don’t Like

The medium action rod may be too stiff. You may have to purchase the rod and try it out on the fish that you are targeting. 

Pros:

  • Solid carbon material
  • EVA/cork handle
  • Custom reel seat
  • Lightweight
  • Stainless-steel guides

Cons:

  • Action may be too stiff in some situations

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5. Fenwicks Methods Ice Fishing Spinning Rod

The Fenwick brand has been around since 1952 when a group of fly-fishers formed a company to sell new fiberglass blanks. They were quite popular at the time, and the company flourished. They frequently came up with new and innovative options, giving them the power to withstand the test of time.

This brand is available from a variety of retail locations. You can even buy directly from the website.

Product Highlights

Though most products come with a single blank action option, the Fenwicks Methods Ice Fishing Spinning Rod features interchangeable ones. This means you can choose the option that best fits the conditions and your preferences.

The handle is primarily made of cork, but EVA is also included to help with grip and smoothness. This ensures that you have a good grip regardless of your current fishing conditions.

While it doesn’t have a carrying case, most ice fishing rods don’t. To be a little different and unique, this brand and model includes a hard traveling tube. You can easily take it with you without fear that you will damage the rod.

What We Like

The best part was the two, rod blanks. It’s a little confusing at first, but it just means that the handle can hold two different rods. Size listings are for either 25/29 inches or 23/27 inches, thereby giving you a better indication of the options.

What We Don’t Like

As things sometimes go, the thing we like most is also something we worry about. For one, the rod blanks just slide in and out of the handle. It doesn’t appear that there is a way to lock them into place, which could be problematic when fishing.

Pros:

  • Interchangeable rod blanks
  • Carrying case included
  • Excellent reel seat
  • Sensitive and strong
  • Straight guides

Con:

  • Only two actions (light and ultra-light)

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Buyer’s Guide

When it comes to choosing the best ice fishing rods, there are multiple things to consider. You’ll need to think about the application, species, power, and more. We have compiled a list of things to ponder to ensure that you choose the right option.

1. Species

When focused on the type of fishing rod, you need to think about what species you’re hoping to catch. Most manufacturers do not categorize the rods based on the target, so it might be best to consider rod power, as well.

Power indicates how much force is needed to bend your rod. Common classifications include light, ultra-light, and medium. Match the target species to the control you need.

Ultra-light rods will work best for panfish, while light rods are suitable for perch. Medium options are good for whitefish, walleye, and some trout.

Most anglers make the mistake of buying a rod that’s too stiff. Big fish do need more stiffness in the rod, but you don’t want it to be too much. If you can feel the flutter of the reel through the rod, you should be good.

2. Application

Consider which baits and lures you’re going to use and how they will be used. For example, you’ll need a different rod if you plan to swim-bait walleye or spoon lake trout.

It might be ideal to have multiple rods with you and ready to go. Think about golfing for a second. You wouldn’t use the putter the entire time, and the same applies to ice fishing.

You’re probably going to need several different rods with various actions and strengths. However, you may be able to pare that down a bit and just use two or three different rods. As you get used to the nuances, you’ll be able to determine which one you need for various applications.

3. Rod Action

Action refers to where and how the rod flexes on its blank. It’s essential to consider it because it might affect how you choose lures or play the fish.

Most anglers never use slow-action versions. They don’t have the sensitivity or strength needed to get the fish out of the hole.

Generally, slow-action rods bend toward the handle, which is considered to be too much. Fast-action rods usually flex primarily at the tip while medium-action versions flex in the middle.

You also have ultra-fast options with more limber tips. This can offer more backbone for the blank and give better hooksets.

With all that in mind, the good thing is it’s quite easy to test the rod power and action. Take the handle in one hand with the tip in the other. Lightly bend on the rod to test action.

4. Material for the Blanks

Generally, the blank material is considered a significant thing. You’ve got fiberglass, composite (blend), and graphite. In most cases, graphite is the best because it is the most sensitive and lightest.

The ultimate thing to consider here is whether or not the rod was engineered properly. Even a fast-action rod can perform erratically if it is made with the wrong material.

Graphite might also be too sensitive if you plan to use a strike indicator or spring bobber. Plus, it is more fragile in the freezing temperatures, which is primarily when you will be using the rod.

5. Line and Lure Balance

The rod you select must match the lures you plan to use. Sensitivity also plays a part here because you will miss your target if the rod and lure are incorrectly balanced. Thus, many manufacturers now list the recommended line and lure weights with the rod description.

When aggressively jigging, you’ll need less flex in the tip of the rod for the lure weight. With too much flex, you can’t get the right snap. If you’ve got a flimsy tip, you’ll use too much energy to rip the jig.

You should also think about the line when buying an ice rod. Medium-heavy fishing rods are probably suitable for jigging spoons. The problem is you can’t pair them with too thin a line, or the rod will bend too much to absorb the jig snap.

It’s also possible to find braids. If you choose this option, you may want to consider a lighter rod than you’d normally use with a monofilament fishing line.

6. Rod Length

For most fishers, rod length is highly dependent on the conditions in which you fish. Long rods are usually more forgiving and can absorb hard hooksets, headshakes, and more. Of course, they can be harder to use in closed spaces.

Short rods aren’t as shock-absorbing, which means the reel, arms, and line have to compensate for that added stress. They are easier to use, though, when in an enclosed space, such as in an ice shelter.

It is ideal to choose graphite for the short rod to get more backbone and strength. Plus, they’re easier for kids to use.

7. Rod Guides and Line

Though rod buyers rarely think about it, the quality of the guides, sometimes called eyes, can directly impact the performance of the rod. With more guides, you’ll have a better bend and improved shock absorption. Make sure the rod has four guides, at least, and five or six might be better.

It’s also essential that the guide tapers in size as you move toward the tip. Hence, the ones nearer to the tip will be smaller than the ones closer to the handle.

Large eyes are often better because the beaded line can pass through it easily. Plus, you won’t have to clean off the ice as much. Oversized eyes can also work well for dropping the bait and reeling up.

Single-footed eyes are ideal for reducing weight, while double-footed eyes can give you the strength you need to target bigger fish or jig heavy baits.

FAQ

1. How Should I Dress While Ice Fishing?

Since you are going to be on the ice for most of the day, layers are especially helpful. Many people use moisture-wicking clothing for the base. This means that any sweat is captured and not allowed to remain against the body.

The outer layer should be water-resistant, as well as insulated. Usually, wind-resistance is also essential because there could be a breeze coming from the frozen lake.

Though most people focus on coats and the top part of the body, don’t forget to wear layers on the bottom extremities. The legs and feet can get quite cold.

Your boots should also be considered carefully. Remember, you are probably going to walk on the ice. Good traction and a thick sole are key here so that you don’t slip.

2. Will I Have to Rent an Ice Fishing Shack?

Though it isn’t necessary, most ice fishers do prefer to have some sort of shelter. Remember, you will be on a frozen lake, probably in the middle of nowhere. It’s nice to get in out of the wind and have a place to store your fishing rods.

3. How Do I Know if the Rod Is Well-Balanced?

Generally, it is best to choose a rod that isn’t excessively flexible with a strong tip. That way, the rod is more balanced. It can seem like a challenge to know what to do, but there is an easy test.

To test it, make sure that you are using the lures and line you plan to use out on the water. When holding it with both hands, the rod should be easy to maintain.

Consider asking a friend to pull on the tip gently. If everything is balanced, the rod will bend slightly at the right angle. This, of course, depends on the action and tension of the rod.

Final Verdict

Though all of the products we reviewed were here because of their benefits, we did find one clear winner. You just can’t beat having one handle with two interchangeable blanks. It’s unheard of, even in the modern world of ice fishing.

Therefore, we chose the Fenwicks Methods Ice Fishing Spinning Rod primarily because it had the interchangeable blanks. Of course, it also features straight guides and a cork-style handle, which is all the rage right now.

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