The 5 Best Ice Chisel & Spud Bars For Cutting The Ice

by Julie | Last Updated:   May 4th, 2022
The 5 Best Ice Chisel & Spud Bars For Cutting The Ice


Throughout the entirety of the ice fishing season, you’ve likely come to the realization of the different gear you need, and what you need to repair. Just like any hobby that you get into, you’ll always find yourself needing more and having to update your equipment as each season passes, and there is just certain gear that you’ve likely noticed would make your life a whole lot easier.

One of which is a particular tool that would help you break through old holes that have frozen over. An ice chisel is highly versatile and useful for those who tough it out on the frozen lake or river through the winter.

They help you to keep your ice holes clear and open even if they’ve frozen over from the night before. They also are an alternative way to dig an ice hole if you don’t have anything else to utilize. It may take more time with thick ice, but they’ll still be effective.

So, we are here to tell you more about our top five list of ice chisels that you can get, and each of their unique features that will improve your ice fishing experience next season.

IN A HURRY? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS…

Reviewing The 5 Best Ice Fishing Chisels

Thunderbay Heavy Duty Steel Chisel

This THUNDERBAY steel chisel is indeed a heavy-duty creation that will help you bust through the ice with ease. Made with both durability and strength, it is a convenient tool you can easily carry out with you because it can pull apart into two pieces.

Featuring a fully welded steel construction and a rubber chisel head protector that will increase the longevity of the blade by keeping it covered when not in use. It does have some weight to it being 7.7 pounds, but that adds to its capability at breaking up the ice.

This ice chisel stands at 64 inches which is 5.3 feet, making it a perfect size for those that are taller so it doesn’t require them having to bend over so much when using it. It is highly effective and can easily chisel through 5 inches of ice with little problem.

It features a tether rope for additional security when you are chipping away. Just put it around your wrist while gripping the rubber handle, so when you do bust through the ice hole, you don’t lose your grip and your ice chisel. That’s what the tether rope is there for.

Pros
  • Has great quality and durability
  • The 2-piece construction makes it much easier to transport
  • Weight and design make it highly effective with little physical effort
Cons
  • Customers report that when the chisel got wet the metal swelled, cracked, and rusted within a few days
  • Another when it was delivered, claims the chisel was dull

Eskimo CH9 Dual Action Hammer-Style Ice Chisel

Eskimo presents a more compact design option for an ice fishing chisel with unique features. It is the perfect compact size to fit right in your bucket and easily carry with you out onto the ice.

It has a hammer-style end that gives you the option of two different ways to chisel the ice, and can do so in fewer strokes. The hammering end allows you to chip at the ice in the same motion as a hammer while the alternative side is specifically designed for chipping ice around your tip-ups.

The weigh-to-length ration of this ice chisel allows it to deliver the most efficient chiseling and chipping action with maximum impact on every stroke.

It features a durable steel design with it is fully welded, so you know it has the longevity to make it through at least a few ice fishing seasons. It also features an anti-vibration foam grip that provides additional comfort when in use.

Pros
  • Works very well and just as described
  • Customers say it is heavy duty and durable
  • Is a great tool for negative temperatures when ice fishing to clear up your ice holes as they constantly freeze over. Will cut your time in half to do so
Cons
  • A couple of customers have received the item damaged or missing the tether rope
  • May ship with blade dull and you’ll have to sharpen it
  • Heavy for its size

Eskimo CH12 Triple-Action Chipper Head Ice Chisel

For those that are looking for Eskimo quality, but in a larger size, then this is the ice chisel to go with your ice fishing gear. At 64 inches (5.3 feet) it is significantly larger than the previous one listed above.

Also featuring the fully welded steel construction for increased durability and longevity it combines the weight-to-length ratio in a larger heavier chisel that powers through the ice with its own brute force and little of your physical effort.

You’ll have a comfortable and good grip thanks to the anti-vibration foam handle. The triple-action blade head is able to chip more ice with fewer strokes to do so.

When it comes to convenience, this ice chisel has the feature you need because it is able to come apart into 2-pieces for easy transport. This is definitely a tool you’ll want in your ice fishing arsenal.

Pros
  • It performs great due to the weight and easily chisels through the ice
  • Made from heavy-duty material
  • Customers love how it comes apart so it fits perfectly in their ice sled
Cons
  • A couple of customers received an ice chisel dull and with the foam handle split
  • Issues with shipping and handling of packages. Blade cover could be missing, or have damage to chisel head, or powder coat

Eskimo CH11 59.5-inch Multi-Faceted, Triple-Action Chipper Head Design Ice Chisel

Obviously, Eskimo has dominated our top 5 list here, and with good reason. They produce quality products that perform exactly how you need them to. Similar to the Eskimo CH12 the main difference is that the CH11 is shorter at 59.5 inches, and the lighter at just 7 pounds.

Another feature that sets this spud bar apart from the previously listed, is that it is all one piece. It does not break apart, so the shorter size is a little more convenient for fitting in your ice sled or carrying with you.

It features the same anti-vibration foam handle as the previous for maximum comfort and grip. Also, it boasts the same tripe-action chisel head that increases surface area and focuses the power of each blow on the sharp points. This allows it to break through more ice with fewer strokes.

This is a powerful ice spud bar that is made with a durable steel design that is fully welded. This is a great option for many anglers in addition to their ice auger.

Pros
  • Customers say the tripe-action head is much more efficient than a flat blade
  • Able to chip through 8 inches of ice with ease
  • Made with excellent quality
  • It is well balanced making it easy to use
Cons
  • Heavier chisel than expected
  • Paint will chip and the blade is delivered dull
  • Customers have experienced shipping and handling issues with the spud bar arriving damaged

Eskimo CH7 Single-Action Ice Chisel

Surprise, surprise the final product on this list is another Eskimo. If this doesn’t speak to their quality, then I don’t know what does. However, the CH 7 is rather different from others in design. It doesn’t boast any extra features but is more of a classic design in comparison to other chisels on this list.

With simpler is better in mind, this is an effective spud bar that is perfectly balanced in its weight-to-length ratio for the maximum impact with each stroke. The flat blade allows you to chip more ice with fewer strikes as well.

This Economy Chisel does not feature a tether rope or grip handle, but it does have a durable construction with its fully welded steel design to maximize its longevity.

Simpler than most chisels, this one is still quality made to get the job done so you can catch fish.

Pros
  • Customers say it is well made and performs excellently for checking ice thickness, and opening up old holes
  • Great value for the price
  • Does exactly what you need it to with little effort
Cons
  • A couple of customers received items damaged
  • Much more lightweight than expected

Our Top Choice

The best ice spud bar on this list would have to be the Eskimo CH11. Not only do the customers seem to love this option, but its overall quality and capability seem to stand apart from the rest. It is still long enough to use while standing, and yet should be short enough that you can fit it in your ice sled.

The chisel head-on is more productive than that of a flat blade being able to chisel through the ice faster and easier with less physical effort. The triple-action head increases the surface area coverage and delivers more power to the two points of the chisel blade. This is what makes it capable of chipping through 8 inches of ice in no time at all.

It also has a foam handle that provides an anti-vibration grip for maximum comfort. The wrist strap is there for added protection and security while chipping away, so when you break through, you won’t lose your ice spud bar. This is a durable, capable, and long-lasting piece of ice fishing gear that all anglers should carry with them onto the ice.

Not only are you able to clean up ice forming around existing holes for your tip-ups in the most frigid of temperatures, but you’ll be able to break through old holes that have frozen over, make new holes if you don’t have an auger or it broke, and you can test for thin ice with it.

How To Choose The Best Ice Chisel: Buying Guide

Best Ice Chisels

When looking at what spud bar is best for you, there are a few things you can look at. Each one is made a little different even though they all accomplish the same goal.

We’ll go over a few of the features you should look at when picking out your ice chisel:

Two-Pieces versus One-Piece

This could be a deciding factor for some ice anglers if they are looking for convenience. Some ice chisels can break apart into two pieces which are great for easy transport. This makes them small enough to fit into your pack, bucket, or ice sled with ease.

A one-piece ice chisel can come in a more compact size that would fit better into your ice sled, but not as conveniently. Still, they are a great idea to have and use if you’re walking out to your fishing spot and don’t know how thick the ice is. You can use ice chisels to check the thickness as you walk. It’ll be ready to go and you won’t have to put it together like a two-piece one.

Tether/Wrist Strap

This is a very helpful feature to have on your ice spud bars. Often times if you are using a chisel to open up existing holes, new holes, or old holes, once you punch through the ice the chisel usually wants to continue going. That’s why having a way to keep it secured to your wrist is incredibly helpful. You don’t want to lose it if your grip fails!

Vibrations

The impact of icy cold water and air on your body can cause fatigue and pain. The vibrations that come through each punch and impact of the ice chisel can make this worse. This is exactly why you want one that has a cushioned grip with anti-vibration qualities. This will make it more comfortable for you while chipping away at an ice hole. Whether it is rubber or foam, just having a cushioned spot for grip is ideal.

Stepped Blade vs. Flat Blade

Make no mistake, both get the job done and it is more up to personal preference because they perform similarly. The flat blade is the classic design and it can chip through more ice in fewer strokes. On the other hand, the stepped blade covers more surface area and concentrates the power into the points of the blade. This also breaks more ice in fewer strokes.

Keep the Blade Sharp

Having a sharp chisel blade makes it easier to punch through the ice. Especially for those first few critical strikes. Be aware that you may not receive the spud bar with the blade sharpened, to begin with. Regardless you’ll need a way to sharpen it when it does become dull after continued use.

When the blade becomes dull, it won’t chip the ice as well and will require more brute force. Keeping the blade sharp will ensure that the ice chisel will perform at its best.

Key Insights & Takeaways

Ice fishing chisels are an important piece of ice fishing gear that many anglers choose to carry with them. They function not only as another safety precaution for testing ice thickness but function as a sort of ice pick that allows you to chip through the ice to make more holes to catch fish.

Ice spuds can be used like an auger, but also like an easy-to-use clearing tool as well. When you are fishing in the most frigid of temperatures, perhaps below even 0 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll have to constantly clear your fishing holes of ice. Chipping ice from an existing hole with a heavy-duty ice pick like this will save you a lot of time.

When you’re out there in the snow, ice, wind, and cold determined to catch your lot of fish, this is the tool you’ll want with you. If your ice auger fails then the ice chisel can take its place. They are even capable of breaking through thick ice with relative ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do you need an ice chisel for ice fishing?

They’re a great idea to carry with you for safety at the least. They provide an additional way to open up more ice fishing holes if your auger fails. Also, they can be used to test ice thickness while you’re heading out to your spot or going somewhere new. They make it easier to open old holes and clear out existing holes from ice build-up.

Can you walk on two inches of ice?

No, it is not recommended. Two inches of ice is not near safe enough for people to walk on. The rule to follow is that 4 inches and up are when it is safe to walk and venture out onto the ice. Otherwise, you could be at risk of falling through.

What is an ice chisel/spud bar?

It is essentially a long piece of steel usually between 4 to 5 feet in length with a point on the end. Like a spear that you can use to test the ice before walking on, or chipping it for ice fishing.

I was fishing before I could walk and it's been a family tradition for centuries. Fishing is my life, or at least as long as I can remember. In the Lake Champlain International Fathers Day Fishing Derby, not only have I won first place twice but also third place! Also, in addition to majoring in Wilderness Recreation Leadership, I also happen to be a licensed camping, hiking, and hunting guide for NY.