Ice Fishing Rods and Reels for Beginners

Ice Fishing Rods and Reels for Beginners

Ice Fishing Rods and Reels Beginners

If you’re looking to start an ice fishing arsenal, you may seem a bit overwhelmed with such a wide array of gear that is at your disposal. Like all fishing, various rods, reels, and tackle are available for purchase. But where do you start when you want to purchase a rod and reel? We will look at what you should be looking for in your first ice rods and reels.

Set Ups 

You can get by with two main types of rod combos that will handle bluegill, crappie, perch, bass, and even walleye. When choosing these two combos, look for a rod measuring from 24” to 28”. These may seem small now, but you will see their importance when you're hovered over a 6” or 8” hole in the ice. These shorter lengths allow you to fish effectively right over the top of your hole. That means you will have a better hookset and fight fish more effectively because of your limited range of motion that doesn't allow you to move fish as effectively as you would in open water. 


  • Ultra-Light Rod: This is a very soft rod that allows you to detect the faintest of bites while fishing the smallest baits. A small and subtle presentation is often needed, and this rod is best paired with 1/16oz, 1/32oz to 1/64oz baits. Small lead or tungsten jigs and small spoons and rattle baits of this size will be effective for this rod. These baits pair best with 2lb test monofilament, a light line that gives you the sensitivity and response through the rod needed when fishing small baits.
  • Light Rod: A step up from the Ultra-Light but with more backbone for those slightly larger presentations. Paired with jigs, spoons, rattle baits, or blade baits up to 1/8oz. This variety allows you to fish baits more effectively in deeper water and with heavier line. Pairing this set up with 4lb-6lb test line is a great starting point based on the depth and conditions you are fishing. 


  • Spinning Reels: Choosing a spinning reel is never a bad option because of its ease of use and the sheer variety available at every price point. The optimal sizes for ice fishing will be 500-1000 sized reels. Offering a drag system that is easy to adjust and easy to tune. They tend to freeze sooner than an inline reel will because of their moving gears and can be more prone to line twists. Spinning reels will be the most versatile reel, no matter the situation.
  • Inline Reels: Inline reels are a great choice because the line lays flat on the spool without twisting like a spinning reel. Making it easier and more precise to drop small baits to stay in the strike zone. Adjusting and fine-tuning an inline reel can be much more difficult and may not apply to every scenario, such as dead sticking a bait instead of jigging. Generally, more expensive but ideal for anglers who want more precision.
Choosing your first ice fishing rod and reel can seem overwhelming with the variety you may see online and in store. There are plenty of price ranges to accommodate your needs and skill level. Many rod and reel combos will start as little as $30-$40 and can climb up to $100-$150. With lots to offer, find a combo or two within your price range. Ice fishing is a great way to advance your fishing knowledge and skills. Starting with the basics is a great way to get introduced to the sport and enjoy some great wintertime fishing. Stay safe and goodluck!

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  • Stan Miketa