The fun in ice fishing lies in the challenges that come with it. Whether these challenges are weather conditions, finding shelter, or finding a good rod.
So, imagine this. You’ve got your warm shelter, your baits, lures, reel, and your ice fishing rod. You’re dressed in a huge fluffy jacket to keep you warm, and you’re preparing to start your fishing journey.
So, you just get all your gear ready, your bait in the water, and you’re relaxing— but wait! Is that a bite you just felt? And so the fight starts, and when you’re just seconds away from catching your fish, your rod snaps.
Now, we don’t know about you, but we sure felt that pain.
Drama aside, finding a good ice fishing rod that will not fail you, like what has just happened in our little story, is not an easy task. Well, it is now.
We’re prepared a list of our favorite ice fishing rods with their specs, pros, and cons. So, without further delay, here’s everything that you need to know.
List of the Best Ice Fishing Rods:
- Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Combo – Best Overall
- Fenwick Elite Tech – Runner-Up
- Berkley Cherrywood Ice Combo – Best Cheap Combo
- Fiblink Jigging – Best Jigging Rod
- St. Croix Mojo Series – Best Ultralight Rod
- Abu Garcia Venerate Ice Combo – Best Rod and Reel Combo
Our Top Picks:
|Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Combo||Graphite and fiberglass composite||26″ to 30″||Light, medium, and medium-heavy||CHECK PRICE|
|Fenwick Elite Tech||High-modulus graphite||24″ to 42″||Ultra-light to medium-heavy||CHECK PRICE|
|Berkley Cherrywood Ice Combo||Fiberglass||24″ to 30″||Ultra-light to medium||CHECK PRICE|
|Fiblink Jigging||Graphite-glass composite||72″||Medium-heavy and heavy||CHECK PRICE|
|St. Croix Mojo Series||Solid carbon||24″ to 36″||Ultra-light to medium||CHECK PRICE|
|Abu Garcia Venerate Ice Combo||Solid carbon||23″ to 29″||Ultra-light to medium-heavy||CHECK PRICE|
The 6 Best Ice Fishing Rods in 2021
1. Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Combo – Best Overall
Our top pick is Ugly Stik’s Ice Fishing Combo that comes with a rod and a reel.
If you know your way around fishing rods, you’d know that GX2 is an excellent rod, and the ice version of GX2 is just as good.
Ugly Stik rods are known for high-quality materials while being budget-friendly, and the ice combo is no different. The rod is made using the Ugly Tech Construction, which is a composite of graphite and fiberglass that contributes to the rod’s durability and lightweight.
Its EVA grip, clear-tip, and stainless steel guides play a huge role in making the rod comfortable to hold and use. Moreover, it is sensitive enough to allow you to feel the lightest of bites.
The rod comes in sizes 26″,28″, and 30″ with light, medium, and medium-heavy power ratings respectively.
If all that is not enough to convince you, its 7-year warranty is a guarantee that this rod will last you a lifetime.
- High durability
- High sensitivity
- 7-year warranty
- Affordable price
- The reel is not the best quality
The Ugly Stik GX2 we all know and love also comes in an ice fishing version, and we wouldn’t ask for more. It is durable, sensitive, lightweight, and, of course, affordable. It also comes in three different lengths and power ratings to suit any fish you’re aiming to catch.
Read more about: Best Crankbait Rods
2. Fenwick Elite Tech – Runner-Up
More often than not, it is worth investing those few extra dollars on a rod that will last you years upon years.
The Fenwick Elite Tech is made from high modulus graphite that is sensitive and durable. Moreover, it comes with stainless steel guides for accuracy and a cork handle that is comfortable to hold.
What we love about this rod, though, is its lightweight, which makes it easy to use for as long as you want without fatigue.
Furthermore, the rod’s action is fast, which makes it the perfect rod for catching smaller fish. However, if smaller fish aren’t for you, the rod also comes in power ratings starting from ultralight all the way to medium-heavy with a variety of lengths. It comes in sizes ranging from 24” to 42”.
Its variety in lengths allows you to choose the right fishing rod that fits your needs whether you’re fishing from a shelter, and want a short rod, or if you are fishing in the open, so longer rods are easier to handle.
- Comfortable to hold
- Variety of lengths and power ratings
- Sometimes eyelets are not be aligned correctly
The Elite Tech is the runner-up best ice fishing rod that we’d highly recommend if you like fishing medium-to-small fish. It is lightweight and balanced with a comfortable cork grip. Moreover, it comes in a wide range of models guaranteeing that you’ll find the rod that fits your fishing technique.
3. Berkley Cherrywood Ice Combo – Best Cheap Combo
Being on a budget is no longer a set-back, really. You can find budget-friendly versions of any product you’re interested in, and ice fishing rods are no exception.
Not only is the Cherrywood Ice rod affordable, but it also comes in a combo of a rod and a reel for even more money-saving.
The fiberglass rod is durable enough to handle most fish you might come across. Moreover, it is sensitive and comfortable to hold with its full cork grip.
The rod comes in lengths 24″ to 30″ and power ratings of ultra-light to medium.
The only downside of this combo is that the reel is not too good, that’s why we mostly recommend this combo for beginners, or if you’re just testing the waters(pun intended) of ice fishing.
- Affordable price
- High durability
- Reel is mediocre
- The drag is terrible
- Tips might break
If you’re new to the world of ice fishing, and you’re not yet ready to spend a fortune on high-end gear, Berkley Cherrywood Ice Combo is here to save the day. The rod is durable, sensitive, and comfortable to hold.
4. Fiblink Jigging – Best Jigging Rod
While this is originally a saltwater rod, it’d work perfectly for ice fishing, since it is a jigging rod.
The difference between jigging and spinning rods is that jigging rods use jigs that go vertically through the water, which makes them suitable for ice fishing. If you’re looking for a jigging rod, or you’re willing to give it a shot, we’d strongly recommend the Fiblink Jigging rod.
It is made from a graphite and glass composite that makes it durable, sensitive, and lightweight, which is the perfect combination for ice fishing.
It comes with stainless steel guides and a high-density EVA handle that makes it comfortable and easy to use.
Moreover, the rod comes in a length of 72″, which is a little longer than average for ice fishing rods; however, it comes in power ratings of medium-heavy, and heavy, which makes it a perfect rod for heavier fish.
- Comes in heavy power rating
- High durability
- Modern design
- A little pricey
- Too long to use inside shelters
Jigging is one of the most addictive fishing techniques because it comes with its own challenges, but it also needs its own rods. The best jigging fishing rod on the market is the Fiblink Jigging, as it is durable, sensitive, and even comes in a heavy power rating.
Read more about: Best Saltwater Spinning Rods
5. St. Croix Mojo Series – Best Ultralight Rod
We understand that not all fishers want to catch the biggest fish in the sea. Sometimes, catching smaller fish can be a challenge on its own, which requires an ultralight rod.
If catching smaller sized fish is your thing, the St. Croix Mojo Series is the best ultralight ice fishing rod that you can find on the market. Here, the word ‘ultralight’ actually goes two ways; the rod itself is lightweight, and it also comes in an ultralight power rating.
The rod is made from solid carbon that is lightweight and sensitive. Moreover, it comes with stainless steel guides and a split handle. How could we ask for more?
Furthermore, the rod comes in a range of lengths starting at 24″ to 36″ with power ratings starting at ultra-light to medium-heavy.
- A variety of models
- High-quality materials
- A little on the pricey side
Finding a good ultralight ice fishing rod is not as easy as you might think, which is why we believe that a good ultralight rod is worth investing a little more money into. The St. Croix Mojo is a durable, high-quality, and sensitive rod that comes in a wide variety of models. It’s hard to find a better ultralight rod than this one.
6. Abu Garcia Venerate Ice Combo – Best Rod and Reel Combo
Abu Garcia are known for their high-quality products, and it indeed shows in their Venerate Ice Combo.
This combo is strongly recommended if you’re planning to go ice fishing quite regularly because the rod and reel are both high-quality, and they’re at a very reasonable price point.
The solid carbon rod is lightweight, sensitive, and durable. Moreover, it comes with stainless steel guides and a premium grade cork grip for comfortable usage as long as you’d want.
Besides, the rod comes in lengths starting at 23″ all the way to 29″ and power ratings of ultra-light to medium. You’re guaranteed to find the perfect rod, whether you prefer fishing in the open or from the warmth of a shelter.
- High-quality materials
- Decent price point
- Bad packaging
We believe that the Venerate Ice Combo is the best rod and reel combo on the market. Both the rod and the reel are of high-quality, and that’s exactly what we expect from Abu Garcia. The rod also comes in a variety of lengths and power ratings for you to choose from.
How to Pick an Ice Fishing Rod
Ice fishing rods are special rods that are more sensitive than regular rods, not to mention; they’re much shorter. However, that doesn’t mean that any short rod will work for ice fishing. Before settling on an ice fishing rod, there are a few things that you need to take into consideration.
The material can literally make or break a rod. The most common materials that go into the manufacturing of rods are graphite and fiberglass. However, when it comes to ice rods, graphite is better suited to their short length. Moreover, graphite increases the rod’s sensitivity, which is exactly what you need for ice fishing.
However, fiberglass adds durability to the rod to be able to handle bigger fish. If you want the best of both worlds, a composite of graphite and fiberglass offers just that.
It’s no secret by now that ice fishing rods are much shorter than regular rods, and there’s a reason for that.
Shorter rods are easier to handle during ice fishing because you’re sitting close to the hole, and you wouldn’t want the rod’s length to get in the way. Not to mention, you don’t need the power that long rods provide for casting; you’re not even casting to start with.
When it comes to choosing the perfect length for you, it depends on the kind of fish you’re targeting and also on how close you’ll be to the hole. You can find ice fishing rods as short as 18″, and you can even use a non-ice fishing rod that can be as long as 6′.
Much like regular fishing, there’s no one-size-fits-all power rating; it depends on the species of fish you’re aiming to catch.
Power rating measures how much weight of the line, lure, and fish your rod will be able to withstand before breaking. When choosing a power rating too high, you will not be able to feel the bites of the fish, and a power rating too low will damage your rod.
You should have a general idea of the sizes of the fish you’ll be catching and choose the suitable power rating accordingly.
After going through the products, you should know by now that being on a budget is not a set-back.
If you’re a beginner and you’re looking just to test the waters of ice fishing, you should go for a combo; we’d recommend the Berkley Cherrywood Ice Combo. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a rod only, you should opt for the Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Rod.
Moreover, if you’re looking for a high-end rod and price is not really a hold-back for you, we’d recommend the St. Croix Mojo Series as it is a high-quality rod, but a little pricey.
Read more about: Best Bass Fishing Rods
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can You Ice Fish with a Normal Rod?
Technically, yes, you can. At the end of the day, ice fishing is just regular fishing but with different weather and area conditions.
However, ice fishing rods have some advantages that not all regular rods would provide, most importantly, the high sensitivity. Moreover, ice rods are explicitly designed to withstand harsh weather conditions.
Lastly, ice rods are shorter than regular rods because you wouldn’t need to cast; you’re fishing right in front of you, not from a boat or in open waters.
How Long are Ice Fishing Rods?
Most ice fishing rods range between 24″ to 28″, which is much shorter than regular rods. However, you might also find rods as short as 18″ or as long as 42″.
Why are Ice Fishing Rods Short?
Longer fishing rods are mostly used to help the angler when casting, which you don’t actually need when ice fishing. When ice fishing, whether you’re fishing from a shelter or in the open, you’re close to your hole.
Having a longer than 6′ rod would just get in the way and make it harder for you to fish, especially after you’ve brought the fish to the surface because you wouldn’t want your long rod to prevent you from reaching out to your fish when you are about to catch it.
Ice fishing adds a little spice to regular fishing if we may say so ourselves. The last thing you’d want is purchasing a bad rod that ruins the whole experience for you. We strongly believe in every product we’ve mentioned throughout the article, and now is the time for our recap if you feel like you need a quick memory refresh.
Our top pick for the best ice fishing rod is the Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Combo, and if you know anything about Ugly Stik products, you’d know why we love this rod so much. The Ugly Tech Construction is known for being lightweight, durable, and sensitive, which is exactly the combination you need for ice fishing.
In second place is the Fenwick Elite Tech, which offers a wide variety of lengths and power ratings that you’re guaranteed to find the perfect rod for your fishing goals. Furthermore, the rod is durable, lightweight, and comes in a fast action that is perfect for smaller fish.
In third place is our budget-pick, the Berkley Cherrywood Ice Combo. While the combo is relatively cheap, it is of high-quality materials, and we’d highly recommend it for beginners. It is comfortable to hold with a cork grip, which also makes it easy to use.