The 5 Best Ice Fishing Rods & Guide On How To Pick One

by Thavius | Last Updated:   April 11th, 2022
The 5 Best Ice Fishing Rods & Guide On How To Pick One
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As ice fishing grows in popularity, more and more ice fishing rods are being introduced to the market. Hence, there are different models of ice fishing rods in the market for you to choose from. But be careful, some of these products are of great quality while some are simply duds.

So, how do you find the best ice fishing rod?

Finding the best ice fishing rod can be a bit of a hurdle, especially if you don’t have ample experience. If you have been having trouble finding a high-quality rod for your ice fishing trip, you have come to the right place.

In this article, I will be providing a comprehensive review of the best ice fishing rods and also include a buying guide to tell you all you need to know about ice fishing rods.

IN A HURRY? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS…

Reviewing The 5 Best Ice Fishing Rods

KastKing Konvert Twin Tip Ice Fishing Rods

The next product on my list is the KastKing Konvert and it is a 2-in-1 ice fishing rod (Konvert stands for convertible). You will get two different rod tips — a medium action tip and a medium-light action tip. This will allow you to choose the perfect rod for any situation.

Additionally, the KastKing Konvert is made of a 100% graphite blank that is lightweight yet durable. This makes the rod incredibly sensitive. You will get to feel even the lightest nibbles from fish. What’s more, the rod’s sensitivity doesn’t take anything away from its power. You can trust it to deliver solid hooksets.

The highly visible strike tips are another great feature. KastKing has equipped the rods with bright, chartreuse green tips for superior visibility. So, you will be able to detect strikes early whether you are fishing from an ice shelter, on a sunny day, or in low light conditions. This is a feature that you won’t find in many ice fishing rods.

Furthermore, the rod has a length of 27 inches when assembled and a length of 17 inches when disassembled. This will enable you to store and transport your rod with ease. For safety, the package includes a plastic storage case for the handle and both tips. You can also choose to keep one rod in the case while using the other to extend the life of your rods.

Pros
  • It is portable
  • It is versatile
  • It comes with a storage case
  • It is highly sensitive
  • It features a highly visible strike tip
Cons
  • None yet

St. Croix Rods Mojo Ice Fishing Rod

St Croix has built a reputation for making premium rods for all kinds of anglers and the Mojo Ice is for lovers of ice fishing. It has a carbon fiber blank like the open water model but with even more layers. This was done by St Croix to make it stronger and better suited to ice fishing.

However, you should understand that this isn’t one of the most budget-friendly ice rods. But if you can afford it, you will get an incredibly strong, stiff, and sensitive rod. Even the lightest strikes won’t go unnoticed when you use this rod.

Additionally, St Croix prioritized comfort when designing this ice rod. The handle is made of cork and EVA material that provides different kinds of grips. This is one of the standout features of the rod. It also features three main stainless steel guides that will ensure that your line remains cool and abrasion-free.

Furthermore, the Mojo Ice features a sensitive graphite reel seat that handles vibrations excellently. You will also be able to lock the reel in place without fuss. Finally, the rod is suitable for catching different species of fish including the larger ones.

Pros
  • It has high-quality guides
  • It has a well-designed handle
  • It is durable
  • It is ultra-sensitive.
Cons
  • It isn’t budget-friendly

13 FISHING – Tickle Stick – Ice Fishing Rods

13 Fishing is a highly reputable brand in the ice fishing world and this is one of its finest products. The Tickle Stick ice spinning rod is a fantastic rod that can be all ice anglers regardless of their level of experience. It comes with a special flat tip that makes the blank incredibly rigid and therefore guarantees excellent hooksets.

Though you can install a spring bobber attachment if you desire, it isn’t necessary. This is because the flat tip already provides abundant sensitivity. So, it is highly suitable for finesse fishing techniques. The rod is also built to withstand aggressive jigs and spoon rigs.

Additionally, the rod won’t be affected by the extremely low temperature even if you fish for long hours. The only downside is that the tip of the rod tends to snap easily due to its flatness. So, you will have to be extra careful when storing or transporting the rod.

When it comes to usability, you won’t be disappointed by this fishing rod. It is lightweight and very comfortable on the hand thanks to the cork handle. I also like the quick-release button on the trigger as it allows the user to easily switch reels. Finally, the impressive versatility of the rod makes it suitable for catching different species of fish including walleye, trout, bass, and even small sharks.

Pros
  • It is affordable
  • It has a durable hook seat
  • It comes with a comfortable handle
  • It has a sensitive tip
  • It can handle different types of lure
Cons
  • It has a fragile tip

Fenwick Eagle Ice Fishing Spinning Rod

If you are a fan of the Fenwick brand, you should be pleased to learn about this product. It is the ice fishing version of the Fenwick Eagle and it offers the same features as the original but in a portable 30-inch blank. Let’s take a look at its best features.

Fenwick constructed this ice fishing rod with a solid carbon material that makes it durable and sensitive. The pole is also highly flexible thanks to its light power rating. Hence, it will be a great choice if you are looking to catch panfish. However, you will need to get the medium-heavy model if you need more power.

When it comes to rod action, the only option that you will have is moderate. This isn’t a bad thing since there will be a lesser chance of you pulling the hook out of your prey’s mouth. Still, a few options would have made this rod much better.

Furthermore, the stainless steel guides are equipped with aluminum-oxide rings. Their thinness increases the rod’s sensitivity while sacrificing durability. Hence, it will be a wise decision to get yourself a carrying case. The premium, continuous cork handle will give you a comfortable grip.

Pros
  • It is sensitive yet durable
  • It features smooth line guides
  • It has a large cork handle
  • The package includes a hook keeper
Cons
  • Only a single rod action is available

Fenwick HMG Ice Fishing Spinning Rod

The Fenwick HMG is another excellent spinning rod for ice fishing. It has lots of impressive features but its standout feature has to be the high modulus graphite blank. The rod is also affordable and suitable for amateur ice anglers.

Ice anglers can’t help but fall in love with the design of this ice fishing rod. The rod’s appearance and feel show that it was carefully designed. Though it can’t match the lightness of carbon and fiberglass rods, it is reasonably light and sleek. The handle is built from high-quality AAA grade to provide a comfortable grip.

I like how the black stainless steel guides come with aluminum oxide inserts. The rod generally feels durable and secure; it features a sturdy backbone and a quite flexible tapering tip. Another feature that I like is the twist-lock reel seat that ensures the reel is installed securely.

Additionally, the rod comes in various variants. But when it comes to performance, the medium rod is the best option due to its perfect blend of durability and sensitivity. So, it will be a good fit whether you are looking to catch little fish like small perch and crappie or 4 pounders like walleye and pike.

Pros
  • It is lightweight and comfortable
  • It offers great value for money
  • The length is suitable for ice fishing
  • It is durable
  • It offers moderate to fast action
Cons
  • The guides aren’t of the best quality

Our Top Choice

So far, I have reviewed the 5 best icing fishing rods, but if you want the overall best, you should opt for the KastKing Konvert. The St Croix Mojo Ice Rod is a close competitor but it comes at a high price. That said, three features make this ice rod stand out from the rest — the IM6 carbon fiber blank, the convertible tip, and its low price.

When you choose this product, you will get a sensitive pole that is strong enough to fight trophy-sized panfish in freezing conditions. You will also be able to switch between two different rod tips depending on your preferred lure. Another feature that you will find useful is the carrying case.

Want to save some time during your next ice fishing trip? Get yourself the best cordless drill for ice augers.

How To Choose An Ice Fishing Rod: Buying Guide

Before you proceed to buy your first ice rod, you need to understand that this fishing equipment comes with varying features. You need to learn about these features as they will greatly affect the performance of your rod.

In this section, I will provide all the information that you will need to find the perfect ice fishing rod.

Rod Power

Also known as rod weight, the power of a rod simply refers to the amount of weight that is required to make it bend. Examples of rod power ratings include light, medium, medium-heavy, etc.

A light ice fishing rod will bend under the smallest weight. Hence, this type of rod is meant for capturing small fish. If you are going after larger fish, you will need something more powerful. This is where a medium, medium-heavy, or heavy rod will come in handy.

Rod Action

The rod action simply refers to the rate at which a rod bends when there is pressure on the rod tip. Some ice fishermen also define it as how fast a rod returns to its original state after bending. You can choose between slow, moderate, and fast action rods.

Only the upper quarter of fast action rods bends when it is under pressure, so they return to their original state the quickest. As for moderate action rods, only their upper half bends. This makes them return to their original state slower than fast action rods. Slow action rods have the highest flexibility and this allows them to bend completely. As expected, they take the longest time to return to their original state.

Strength and sensitivity are vital to ice fishing. The latter will help you to quickly detect strikes. So, the ideal option will be a fast or moderate action rod. Fast action rods are also strong enough to handle large fish. However, you should be careful with them as they can rip the hook out of a fish’s mouth. Slow action rods are not sensitive enough for ice fishing.

Blank Material

When building ice rods, the manufacturers mainly use graphite and fiberglass. Some also use composite materials.

Sometimes called carbon fiber, graphite offers high flexibility and weight-to-strength ratio. However, it is not a durable material. Meanwhile, fiberglass rods are stiffer so they offer less sensitivity. The main advantage of using them is that they are more durable.

So, what would you prefer? Durability or sensitivity? I prefer graphite rods because they are lighter and more sensitive. They will help you detect activity from small fish beneath the ice.

Rod Handle

The two types of handles that are commonly found in fishing rods are cork and EVA foam.

Cork is the most suitable option for ice anglers because it is more sensitive and it offers a good grip when wet. It also provides some warmth in winter. Meanwhile, EVA foam is the most comfortable option but it isn’t suitable for winter. If you want the best of both worlds, get the St Croix Mojo Ice Rod.

Here are 5 helpful ice fishing tips for amateurs and experienced anglers:

Rod Length

Now, it is time to think about the length of your rod. Since you won’t be casting, you won’t be needing a long rod. Ice fishing requires shorter rods, so you should expect to get something between 24 inches to 32 inches.

Additionally, the maneuverability of shorter rods makes them ideal for anglers fishing from shelters. Any length between 24 inches to 32 inches will do when you are out in the open.

If you are unsure of what you need, get a 27-inch or 28-inch rod.

Line Guides

Line guides are another vital feature in a fishing rod. They have an impact on casts and retrieves. They also transmit vibrations and provide support in spinning rods. Hence, a good ice fishing rod has to have strong and sensitive line guides.

The most common material used in constructing line guides is stainless steel. But as for the rings, they can be built with a wide range of materials including stainless steel, aluminum oxide, titanium oxide, etc.

You also have to consider the size of your line guide. Bigger guides are less likely to become frozen. You will find reeling more difficult when your line guide is frozen.

Lures

For the best ice fishing experience, there has to be a balance between your rod and your lure. Without this balance, it will be hard for you to notice bites early.

Your lures should be chosen based on the type of fish that you are after. For instance, you should get a jig lure if you are after bluegills.

Additionally, the right rod for aggressive jigging should have minimal flex at its tip. You will have to put in a lot of work if you use a rod that has a flimsy tip. A fast-action ice fishing jig rod is the best option for anyone that wants to fish for bass using jigs.

Watch this video to learn how to organize your ice fishing gear:

Frequently Asked Questions

What size rod is best for ice fishing?

Most ice anglers opt for fishing rods that are between 24 to 32 inches in length. However, the standard option is either a 27-inch or 28-inch medium action jigging rod.

Is ice fishing better than regular fishing?

The answer to this question depends on an angler’s personal preference. However, ice fishing has some excellent advantages. To start with, you will be able to fish in areas that are usually inaccessible during the regular fishing season. You will also be able to catch more species of fish since more fish tend to fish in shallow waters in winter. Finally, ice fishing provides a stronger sense of community.

Can I use ice fishing rods for open water fishing?

Ice fishing rods are specifically designed to meet the needs of ice anglers. Yet, some anglers still use them for certain techniques and fish when fishing in open water. Ice rods can be used in the summer in situations where you can sacrifice casting length for high sensitivity. So, you can use an ice rod when kayak fishing.

Should I get fiberglass or graphite ice rods?

I would recommend a graphite rod over a fiberglass rod to ice anglers. Though fiberglass ice fishing rods are known to be more durable, they offer little in terms of sensitivity. You must have a sensitive rod as an angler. Fiberglass rods are also less suitable for ice fishing due to their weight.

Is ice fishing safe?

Ice fishing will be a safe activity when you put your safety first. Firstly, you need to check the thickness of any ice that you will be fishing on. Since ice doesn’t freeze uniformly, the ice should be at least 4 inches thick. You can also drive your vehicle on the truck but it needs to be between 8 to 15 inches thick. Of course, the right thickness will depend on the type of vehicle you will be driving. Here are more safety tips for ice fishing.

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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.