The 5 Best Ice Fishing Rod And Reel Combo With Buying Guide

by Thavius | Last Updated:   April 11th, 2022
The 5 Best Ice Fishing Rod And Reel Combo With Buying Guide


Ice fishing rods and reels are two basic pieces of equipment that you will need as an ice angler. Though they can be bought separately, it is usually a good idea to opt for ice fishing rod and reel combos. Getting an ice fishing combo is the best way to ensure that your rod and reel are a perfect combo.

Additionally, hard water fishing is quite different from other forms of fishing as it involves no casting. Ice anglers catch fish by fishing vertically, so your ice fishing rod and reel have to be suitable for this purpose. The good thing is that ice fishing combos are designed with this in mind.

If you are in search of the best ice fishing rod and reel combo, you will have to do proper research on the best brands and features. You will also have to check out user reviews. Or you can just save yourself time by reading my honest review and buying guide in this article.

IN A HURRY? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS…

Reviewing The 5 Best Ice Fishing Rod And Reel Combo

Radioactive Pickle Inline Ice Fishing Combo

If you are in search of an inline ice fishing combo that provides great control, this is a product that is worth checking out. The Radioactive Pickle from 13 Fishing is a combination of two excellent products; the Tickle Stick Rod and FreeFall Ghost Reel. Each of the features ice rod and reel combo performs a function that makes it suitable for fishing in winter.

To start with, the first feature that you will notice in this rod and reel combo is its bright color. The highly visible color of the combo doesn’t just make it visually appealing, it will also enable you to see the action of fish on your lure even in low light conditions.

Additionally, you are guaranteed to love how the combo will feel in your hands. It has a split grip handle that will allow you to crank the reel with utmost ease even when your hands are wet. The rod is specially designed so that it features a flat tip. The flatness of the tip means that you will notice the bite of the smallest of fishes.

Furthermore, the drop speed control function will allow you to decide the exact depth that your bait is dropped. The device has been equipped with a FreeFall feature that ensures extra smooth jigging. When buying this ice fishing combo, you will have the option of choosing between two lengths. It is also available in different powers including ultralight, light, and medium. Finally, there are two different models. One with a left-handed retrieve and the other with a right-handed retrieve.

Pros
  • It has a highly visible color
  • It is suitable for fighting big fish
  • It feels comfortable on the hands
  • It has a beautiful design
  • It features a drop speed control function
Cons
  • It is quite expensive

PLUSINNO Ultralight Winter Ice Fishing Rod Reel Combo

Plusinno is a top brand that makes high-quality fishing gear for beginners. This ultralight ice combo is a great choice for ice anglers interested in capturing small to medium-sized fish. Now, let’s take a close look at the reasons why this product has been included in my list.

Firstly, the package includes all the tools that you will need to start your ice fishing journey. You will get an ice fishing rod, reel, line, and lure set. The rod is highly durable and sensitive. It features a fast action tip that will help you detect even the slightest nibble from small fish. Also, the fiberglass blank will ensure that you have the strength you need to reel in fish without fuss.

As for the reel, its body and rotor are built with premium aluminum. This material makes the reel lightweight yet significantly strong and durable. The reel also features 3+1 bearings and precision gear engagement. So, you can be assured that the reel will work smoothly on the ice. The stainless steel guides include ceramic inserts for more smoothness and durability.

Additionally, comfort is provided by an ergonomically designed handle. The handle is made of a combination of cork and EVA, so it will offer an excellent grip during long fishing sessions in cold weather. Also, the combo features a down-locking reel seat that can be assembled and disassembled with ease. You will get all of these great features at an affordable price.

Pros
  • It has a comfortable handle
  • It is highly sensitive
  • It is lightweight and portable
  • It offers great value for money
  • It comes with a carry bag
Cons
  • The clamp quality can be better

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel & Rod Combo

Shakespeare and Ugly Stik have come together to deliver this top-quality product. This lightweight ice-fishing rod combo is designed to offer great stability in the coldest conditions. It is available in two different lengths; 28″ medium and 30″ medium heavy. The balance offered by the rod and reel combo will give an advantage in your fight against different species of fish.

Another reason why this combo is so popular is that it is available at a pocket-friendly price. So, you don’t have to break the bank to own one. The combo is also versatile and easy to use, it doesn’t matter whether you are new to ice fishing or experienced.

This combo doesn’t come with the most sensitive blanks but it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. The rod has incredible strength. It will be difficult for you to find a product that offers a blend of high strength, durability, and sensitivity at this price point. That said, this combo will be a great choice for any ice angler looking to catch larger fish.

Furthermore, the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 has a beautiful design that doesn’t fail to catch the eye. It also has an aluminum spool and an EVA handle. The handle will remain comfortable on your hands even when it’s wet. You will find no anti-reverse feature on this ice fishing combo but again, this is only a slight issue as movements are minimal.

Pros
  • It is budget-friendly
  • It has an EVA handle
  • It features a twist-lock reel seat
  • It has a durable blank
  • It features one-piece stainless steel guides
Cons
  • The reel has only one bearing

13 FISHING – Descent/Snitch – Inline Ice Fishing Combos

13 Fishing is fully dedicated to making products that help anglers dominate the ice and Descent Snitch Combo is one of its affordable options. The combo consists of a high-performance inline reel and one of the best ice fishing rods on the market. You are guaranteed to get a great ice fishing experience with this well-matched combo.

The rod is available in two different lengths, 25 inches, and 29 inches. It has a graphite soft-touch frame that is equipped with a highly sensitive Flex-Core tip. This will ensure that you don’t miss any bite on your lure, even from small fish. It also has a strong backbone and stainless steel guides that can withstand subzero conditions.

As for the reel, it comes with a quick-release spool design. This feature will enable you to switch your spools seamlessly. One feature that I like a lot is the deadstick spool clicker on the reel. When deadsticking, this feature will notify you when a fish takes your bait. The reel also features 5 stainless steel ball bearings and an anti-reverse function for fast hooksets.

Additionally, the 25-inch model is suitable for all kinds of fish from panfish to walleye while the 29-inch model is ideal for fish as large as walleyes. Also, the 29-inch model will come in handy when you fish in shelters with small spaces. For excellent handling and control, the combo has a custom Evolve premium cork handle.

Pros
  • It is strong
  • It features an on/off spool clicker
  • It is equipped with a fender for increased sensitivity
  • It is comfortable
  • It is built for winter
Cons
  • None yet

13 FISHING – Wicked – Spinning Ice Fishing Combos

13 is one of the top makers of ice fishing tools around. So, it is no surprise that the company has another entry on my list. The Wicked Ice Spinning Combo offers great value to any angler that is interested in catching fish this winter. To start with, it consists of an ultralight front drag reel and a high-quality ice fishing rod.

The rod is made up of strong Toray blanks and Evolve Performance guides, so you can expect a high level of sensitivity from it. It will allow you to feel every single bite. Despite its sensitivity, it has enough backbone for walleye ice fishing. The rod is available in a range of lengths and power that will suit different ice fishing techniques.

Additionally, the reel has the necessary features to handle the challenges on the ice. It comes with an aluminum spool and a five stainless steel ball-bearing system for seamless reeling. There is also an instant anti-reverse feature that guarantees positive hook sets. You can choose to have either a normal or long stem model of the reel.

For increased usability, this ice fishing combo comes with an interchangeable handle. So, you will be able to choose either the left or right-handed retrieve. The handles are also equipped with a comfortable Evolve Carbon-Divide up-locking reel seat. Finally, it comes at a pocket-friendly price.

Pros
  • It features an instant anti-reverse system
  • It has a fat bail design
  • It has a high level of responsiveness
  • It is versatile
  • It is suitable for catching walleye
Cons
  • None yet

Our Top Choice

Finding the perfect ice fishing combo isn’t a straightforward task as the perfect option usually depends on various factors. That said, you won’t be disappointed by the 13 Fishing Radioactive Pickle.

These inline reel and rod have emerged as the best ice fishing combo because of the immense value that they offer on the ice. The combo has all the right features in addition to being durable, comfortable, and sensitive. It is worth the few extra dollars.

Watch this video to learn how to store your ice fishing rods efficiently:

How To Find The Best Ice Fishing Rod And Reel Combo

The best rod and reel combos for hard water fishing are quite different from combos designed for open water fishing. This is mainly because there ice fishing doesn’t require casting. All you have to do as an ice angler is lower your bait down an ice hole.

When searching for the best ice fishing combo for your unique needs, there are several factors that you will have to consider. I will be explaining each of them below:

Types Of Ice Fishing Reels

The first factor that you should consider is the type of fishing reel that you want. There are two main types of ice fishing reels; spinning reels and inline reels.

Spinning Reels

These are the most popular type of reels used in ice fishing season due to their short learning curve. It is usually a good reel for most rods. If you are opting for an ice spinning reel, you should ensure that it features a good drag control system. This is particularly essential if you plan to go after large, aggressive fish.

Inline Reels

Inline reels may have an unusual appearance, however, they have a great advantage over spinning reels when it comes to ice fishing. Unlike spinning reels, inline reels aren’t susceptible to line twists. This is because they have larger spools and their design allows lines to roll out freely. They are also lightweight, so you will be able to move around freely when using one.

Here are the best ice fishing sleds for smooth gear hauling.

Handle

Since you will be using your hands a lot during your ice fishing sessions, your ice fishing rod needs to have a high-quality handle. Rod handles are usually built materials such as cork, foam, and plastic.

I would recommend that you get a rod with a cork handle. This is because cork is an excellent material for outdoor activities in winter. It will keep your hands warm and allow you to hold your rod comfortably with your gloves on. Also, cork handles tend to enhance sensitivity due to their lightness.

Sensitivity

Since the fish that you are after will be beneath the ice, you won’t be able to see the activity around your lure. Hence, sensitivity should be of the utmost importance while you pick your gear. This will enable you to feel the slightest bites on your lure.

Material

As you should know, ice fishing rod and reel combos are made from different materials. The type of material used in building your gear will determine its performance and lifespan. As for your rod, it should be to handle the force exerted by you and the fish that you are interested in.

The common materials used in building ice fishing gear include fiberglass, graphite, and carbon fiber. Some products are also made with a combination of these materials. Ensure that you get a durable yet sensitive material.

If you are a handy person, then check out the following video on how to make your own ice fishing rod:

Size

Ice fishing rod and reel combos come in various lengths and this determines their usage and comfortability. If you are an ice angler that enjoys fishing from a shelter, you should opt for a rod that is between 26 to 30 inches long. This will enable you to fish without coming in contact with surrounding structures. But if you will be fishing in the open, a longer rod will be ideal.

Bearing System

Ball bearings help in reducing friction in fishing lines and each ice fishing reel has a specific number of bearings. But unlike what many ice anglers think, the performance of your bearing system won’t be determined by the number of bearings alone. Your ball bearings also have to be built with quality material like stainless steel.

Want to stay warm this winter? Check out the best ice fishing bibs for men and women.

Fast Action Tip

The top brands are including fast action tips in more and more combos because they offer many advantages to ice anglers. With a fast action tip, you will get a great amount of flexibility and sensitivity.

Affordability

You shouldn’t have to empty your wallet to get a good ice fishing combo. There are several affordable options on the market and have included the best of them in my list. Also, you shouldn’t opt against a more expensive rod like the 13 Fishing Radioactive Pickle if you can afford it. You will be getting your money’s worth.

Check the following article on how to prepare for ice fishing in the forest reserves

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 50 yards of line enough for ice fishing?

You can purchase an ice fishing line in either a 50 or 110-yard spool. So, you can set up two reels with a 50-yard spool. That will be 25 yards for each reel. Start spooling with the braided lines that you’ve got left and complete it with 25 yards of good quality line.

Why are ice fishing rods so short?

Ice fishing rods are shorter than regular rods due to the requirements of ice fishing. A short rod will allow you to be close to the ice hole and also detect any action on your bait.

What is the best line for ice fishing?

All anglers have their unique preferences when it comes to the right gear. However, it is always a good idea to opt for a line with good abrasion resistance when going on an ice fishing trip. Ice holes tend to have sharp edges that can cut your line and cost you your catch.

What is the best time to catch walleye ice fishing?

The best time to catch any is either dawn or dusk. Fish tend to feed more during these periods, so they will be more likely to strike your bait. However, you can catch fish at any time of the day if you present your bait properly.

What action rod for ice fishing walleye?

Generally, the best tool for the job is a solid carbon rod with a length of between 30 to 34 inches. Such a rod will have the backbone needed to fight large, aggressive fish. However, you should opt for something a bit smaller when fishing inside a shelter.

I've been a fisherman for over 35 years. From catching small bullheads with my grandfather at his pond to catching strippers on the backwaters of the Chattahoochee, I love to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water.