Best Ice Fishing Reel | Reviews of the Top Models for 2019

My zest for adventure brought me to the doorstep of ice-fishing, and I soon find myself with a chance to catch some of the magnificent fish species in the icy lakes of the Rocky Mountains. After my initial excitement, though, I was worried that my rod or reel might fail—and it wasn’t a short trip to this lake.

Once I started my hunt for the best ice fishing reel, I discovered nothing I thought I knew turned out to be accurate—except for one fact spinning reels are suitable for ice-fishing. Given all this trouble I went through, I decided to help fellow anglers with this ice fishing reels review.

 

 

Our Top Pick

My pick for the best ice fishing reel is the Abu Garcia IceMax. Although the name is self-explanatory, there is so much more about this reel which won my interest.

So, why don’t I walk you through it?

 

 

The Best Ice Fishing Reels of 2019 Reviewed

Abu Garcia ICEMAX Spinning Fishing Reel

The Abu Garcia IceMax spinning ice-fishing reel is quite an appealing combination of updated features and durability. Anglers with a strong affection for ice fishing are likely to appreciate this reel’s smooth performance and sturdy gearing system.

 

Key Features

  • 3+1 ball bearing and roller bearing system
  • Superior quality cold gear lube
  • Machined, durable aluminum spool
  • Ever-last strong bail system
  • Collapsible reel handle

 

What I like about this product

The Abu Garcia IceMax has made ice fishing a breeze owing to its collapsible handle design for hassle-free storage. I like the convenience of button switch collapsible design, which saves time and effort as compared to any other models which require complex unscrewing of nuts for folding the handle.

 

What I don’t like about this product

As a beginner, you might experience a lot of trouble with the bail reverse feature. The spool tends to get stuck due to faulty anti-reverse gear.

 

 

Pros

  • Smooth bearing operation
  • Continuous lubrication during extreme weather conditions
  • Strong spool featuring incredible weight capacity
  • Highly durable bail system
  • Single-touch foldable reel for portability

 

Cons

  • Minor faults with anti-reverse switch

 

Smooth drag and hassle-free portability are star features of Abu Garcia IceMax. Any angler who wants to experience fishing during a trekking trip across mountain valleys should take a keen look into this reel. Apart from minor issues with anti-reverse, this reel is a great product to invest in.

 

Overall Rating – 4.7/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Daiwa D-Spin Ultralight Spinning Ice-Fishing Reel

Daiwa’s popularity among anglers is mainly due to its commitment to improving performance consistently. The Daiwa D-Spin Ultralight spinning ice-fishing reel is an excellent addition in the manufacturer’s lineup of reliable options. If you are angler with a particular fishing style, this reel is a great option. You can pick from two different models depending upon your needs.

 

Key Features

  • Premium ball bearing system
  • Innovative Digigear system
  • Composite, lightweight reel case
  • Appealing color contrast and a modern design
  • Two models to pick from

 

What I like about this product

Good looking rods have always caught my attention, and looks are something quite dominant in this ice fishing reel. I like the sturdy feel of the handle and powerful gearing system. Another great thing is that the reel features smooth retrievals owing to the longer stroke oscillation present in 1000 model.

 

What I don’t like about this product

As compared to other ice fishing reels available in the market, the Daiwa D-Spin took too much force whenever I tried to close the bail. Many anglers can find the application of greater force exhausting.

 

Pros

  • Smooth bearing drive
  • Durable housing
  • Speedy, durable, and sturdy gear system
  • Longer stroke oscillation
  • Nice-looking reel

 

Cons

  • Loose reel knob may get stuck during retrieval

 

The Daiwa D-Spin Ultralight spinning ice-fishing reel is undoubtedly a great pick for anglers looking for a reel which is as good in its performance as it is in its looks. The reel knob issues are occasional, and you can efficiently remediate them. Overall, it is a reasonable reel to buy.

 

Overall Rating – 4.1/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Pflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning Reel

The Pflueger MONICEB Monarch ice spinning reel has created considerable hype in the world of ice-fishing. If you are looking for a reel which can take the brunt of time, this product is certainly going to meet your expectations. Pflueger knows how to keep the anglers fascinated owing to an appreciable feature lineup and sturdy build.

 

Key Features

  • 4+1 stainless-steel ball bearing system
  • Lightweight graphite body
  • Graphite rotor
  • High-quality aluminum bail

 

What I like about this product

I have always been skeptic about the durability of major reels despite all the claims made by manufacturers. Surprisingly, this reel is very resistant to corrosion and dents. Moreover, I like the oversized handle, which can easily be gripped on when you are wearing thick ice fishing gloves. You can never risk the grip with this reel.

 

What I don’t like about this product

Pfleuger has missed the mark in terms of convenience. I noticed that the crank has a complex unscrewing mechanism which makes it harder to lock the bail in one place. The location of thumbscrew on the opposite side of handle grip is something quite disturbing.

 

Pros

  • Corrosion-resistant ball bearing system
  • Lightweight reel construction to prevent fatigue
  • Thick aluminum bail resistant to mist-damage
  • Oversized handle

 

Cons

  • The backreel switch is absent

 

The Pflueger MONICEB Monarch ice spinning reel is good for ice-fishing considering its oversized handle and rust-resistant parts. However, the manufacturer needs to work to improve the anti-reverse system. Overall, this reel offers great value for the money.

 

Overall Rating – 4.3/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

SHIMANO Sienna FE Ice Fishing Reel

Shimano has raised the bar for upcoming ice-fishing reels by introducing a range of design and performance upgrades in the new SHIMANO Sienna FE ice fishing reel. At a glance, the reel is stylish enough to grab your attention, which is later justified with its appreciable features.

 

Key Features

  • Upgraded compact body
  • Propulsion line management system
  • Oscillation gear placed closer to the rod
  • Super Stopper II technology for improve anti-reverse
  • Dyna-Balance to prevent any wobbles

 

What I like about this product

Shimano has introduced a noticeable improvement in this reel in the form of the oscillation gear placed closer to the rod. I loved the enhanced balance and sturdy feel of the spool for long-distance casting.

 

What I don’t like about this product

The Sienna FE ice fishing reel has a great feel, although the line shows twisting whenever shorter casts are released. I also noticed that the reel feels a bit stiff when heavier catches are retrieved.

 

Pros

  • Versatile function suitable for fresh and saltwater fishing
  • Oscillation gear improves rod balance and prevents fatigue
  • Longer casting distance
  • Minimal backlashes/line knots
  • Enhanced smoothness and sensitivity during the retrieve

 

Cons

  • Minor line twisting during jigging

 

For anglers who prefer deep jigging for deepwater or inshore fishing, this reel is best inline ice fishing reel. Some issues with the line can be remediated with some practice. As a whole, the SHIMANO Sienna FE ice fishing reel is suitable to invest in.

 

Overall Rating – 4.5/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

13 Fishing 2015 Black Betty Fishing Reel

The 13 Fishing 2015 Black Betty fishing reel seems like a novel addition to any angler’s ice-fishing gear. This reel has done much to complement the action of high-end ice fishing rods, which is evident from the satisfied consumer range online. Despite being a new addition to the fishing world, the brand is already giving tough competition to some of the biggest names in the ice-fishing world.

 

Key Features

  • CNC machined aluminum spool
  • Fast 18-inch line retrieve
  • Lightweight carbon drag system
  • 71 gear ratio offered by the smooth gearing system
  • Quick anti-reverse

 

What I like about this product

I found catching big fish much easier owing to its swift anti-reverse system. I like the smooth feel of the line retrieve system which sits inside a durable CNC machined aluminum encasing. The gear ratio is good enough to lure considerable fish to the shore.

 

What I don’t like about this product

The handle is awkward, leading to a less firm grip as compared to other ice-fishing reels. I also observed that the line casting is bit tricky and beginners can easily mess the line by overturning it on the loose spool. Care is needed to operate this reel.

 

Pros

  • Includes a free spool
  • Minimum line knots and backlashing
  • Durable drag system
  • Convenient knob adjustment
  • Rapid retrieve

 

Cons

  • Jerky and loose star drag

 

The 13 Fishing 2015 Black Betty fishing reel is a suitable pick for anglers who want an affordable spinning ice-fishing reel while enjoying most of the innovative features. This reel offers a durable drag and free-fall casting leading to rapid retrievals. Some issues with drag may cause inconvenience. This reel is one of the best ice-fishing reels available in the market.

 

Overall Rating – 4.6/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Eagle Claw In-Line Ice Reel

The Eagle Claw Inline ice reel is another impressive addition in this review in terms of its exterior styling and seamlessly integrated interior parts. The reel is styled to suit the needs of occasional as well as professional ice-fishing enthusiasts, making it one of the most versatile spinning reels out there. Eagle Claw has deservingly made its mark in the world of spin fishing, and this reel is a solid proof of the manufacturer’s due fame.

 

Key Features

  • Unique nylon spool and reel body
  • Durable Teflon drag
  • Convenient spool tension control
  • Free release button for spool
  • Star drag system
  • Line clickers for efficient drag

 

What I like about this product

One of the most prominent advantages of using this reel is the extensive line capacity. I am impressed by the gear ratio, which has made deep fishing in icy waters a breeze. Furthermore, the rapid spool release makes dropping jigs much easier and faster.

 

What I don’t like about this product

Eagle Claw has overlooked a huge flaw in the drag of this reel which is inclined to a lighter weight spectrum. The spool is disappointingly loose and won’t handle anything less than 2 pounds.

 

Pros

  • Rapid line retrieve to get a hold of big fish
  • 61 smooth gear ratio
  • Teflon Star drag system for smooth casting
  • Hassle-free line control
  • One-push spool release
  • Inexpensive

 

Cons

  • Drag is a bit tricky to adjust for beginners

 

If you are looking for an unconventional ice fishing reel at low price with great features, the Eagle Claw In-line ice reel is good enough to suit your preferences. Deep jigging is a dream-come-true for ice-fishers with this rapid release reel. Lastly, it is very affordable.

 

Overall Rating – 4.1/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Daiwa Crossfire Front Drag Spinning Fishing Reel

The Daiwa Crossfire Front Drag spinning fishing reel is an impressive ice-fishing reel mainly due to its advanced upgrades and performance enhancements.

 

Key Features

  • 3+2 ball bearing and roller bearing featuring a 4.91 gear ratio
  • Advanced Gyro spin rotor
  • Twist Buster to minimize line twisting
  • Front Drag adjustment featuring line click
  • ABC-reinforced aluminum spool

 

What I like about this product

I like the solid feel of this reel which speaks volume about the dependability for deep jigging in icy waters. Despite the inherent nature of spinning reels for retaining line twists, the Twist buster feature used in this reel remediates the problem to a great extent.

 

What I don’t like about this product

Although this reel is among the best straight-line reels I have encountered, the drag is much rougher as compared to the competitor reels. It may be an issue for anglers who demand a smoother fishing experience.

 

Pros

  • Lightweight, durable aluminum body
  • Micro-click line drag adjustment
  • Minimal backlashes
  • Balanced rotor and spool fitting
  • Affordable

 

Cons

  • Rougher drag as compared to other models

 

The Daiwa Crossfire Front Drag spinning fishing reel offers impressive performance for deep jigging. You can easily spend hours ice-fishing at your favorite spot without straining your body as the reel is lightweight. Anyone who wants to get a reliable ice-fishing reel can invest in this reel without a second thought.

 

Overall Rating – 4.3/5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Ice Fishing Reel Buying Guide

Finding the ultimate ice-fishing reel is challenging, especially when there is a whole new spectrum of fishing reels available with slight differences. Here are some quick tips to help you choose a suitable ice-fishing reel

 

Go for lightweight reels

When it comes to fishing in the cold, anglers tend to find escape in small tents and huts which do not offer much space for keeping large reels. Your first and foremost priority for picking an ice-fishing reel should be portability and lightweight design. The last thing you want while trekking on rugged mountains is to carry additional reel weight which is promised to exhaust you sooner than you expect.

Another significant advantage of lightweight reels is that they offer higher levels of sensitivity, and you can easily detect any nibbles on the other end of the line. Therefore, you not only need to pick an ultra lightweight fishing reel but also a lightweight fishing rod.

 

 

Pick a sensitive drag system

If you are planning to catch placid targets such as walleye and pike during your ice-fishing venture, pick a reel which offers the most sensitive drag. Usually, two types of drag system are preferable for ice-fishing

  • Star Drag Star drag is mostly found in precision marked, high-grade baitcasting reels. For lower-grade and simpler ice-fishing reels, star drag helps in boosting spool rotation by increasing pressure on it. It is way simpler in ice-fishing reels as compared to baitcasting reels.

 

  • Front Drag In ice-fishing reels, this system is better than any other reel. The drag helps in spool rotation whenever you have a fish on the line. If you want smoother retrievals, this system is a great option to start from.

 

Deciding on a Gear Ratio

In a simple definition, gear ratio refers to the relation between handle speed and spool rotation. Typically, a 11 gear ratio indicates that the handle completed a 360-degree turn of the spool once. For ice-fishing reels, choosing a gear ratio determines whether your trip will be beneficial or not. Higher gear ratios are needed if it is necessary to pull the line out of the water quickly.

Refrain from choosing a frustrating 11 gear ratio and choose a slightly higher gear ratio, which is lower than the 7.01. Reels falling in this mentioned range usually have the most versatile action which is deemed useful in ice-fishing.

 

Final Thoughts

The Abu Garcia IceMax possesses all the parameters of the best ice fishing reel, including durable build, considerable line capacity, appreciable gearing, and most of all, portability. The spinning rod is suitable for long trips trekking across snowy mountains and sitting by the side of icy lakes to catch some of the best targets of your fishing career.

I have filtered the best spinning reels for ice-fishing, which are all listed in this review. Before you jump into ice-fishing, make sure to read the buying guide and head to YouTube to learn the basics of it. Don’t forget to spread the word among your fellow anglers.

Happy fishing!

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