Best Ice Fishing Rods + Buying Guide | 2019 Reviews

Ice fishing is perhaps one of the most relaxing and enjoyable forms of fishing. Something about sitting in a warm little bubble on a quiet cold lake just really hits the spot. However, ice fishing is also a bit different than your typical fresh or saltwater trip.

For one, you need a high-performing rod to detect bites. If you are new to ice fishing or just looking to expand your tackle, finding a suitable rod can be a real challenge—but no worries. Let’s review the best ice fishing rods to see what’s available and what it can do for you.

 

 

Our Top Pick

Of all the poles we reviewed, the St Croix Mojo Series offered the highest quality and best ease of use—and it did so at a fair price point. It was an easy choice for our top pick and would be a great place to start your search.

 

 

The Best Ice Fishing Rods Reviewed

St Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod – Our Top Pick

The St Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod is available in several sizes and two power values. It features durable construction and is the ideal option for the seasoned ice angler.

 

Key Features

  • Length selection of 32 inches, 34 inches, and 36 inches
  • Heavy and light power values
  • Precision-taper solid carbon blank
  • Split-grip cork and EVA foam handle
  • Custom reel seat
  • Stainless-steel guides

 

What We Like

This option offers everything you want in an ice fishing rod. Thanks to the solid carbon blank, it is lightweight, strong, and sensitive. The split-grip cork and EVA foam handle also add to the rod’s sensitivity while providing a comfortable, ergonomic grip.

The length and power selection you get with this rod allow it to cater for your target species and fishing style. The stainless-steel guides are perfectly aligned and resistant to abrasion, tangling, and corrosion.

 

What We Don’t Like

This ice fishing rod is suitable for anglers of all experience levels. However, since it comes with all these high-end features, it is relatively expensive.

 

 

Pros

  • Ergonomic EVA foam and cork handle
  • High-quality tangle-resistant stainless-steel guides
  • Several length options for your fishing needs
  • Highly sensitive, yet durable enough for most larger species
  • High-quality ice fishing rod from a reputable brand
  • Durable precision-taper carbon blank

 

Cons

  • Relatively high price

 

The St Croix Mojo Series is one of the most popular ice fishing rods available as the result of its high-value features and durable build.

 

Overall rating – 5 of 5

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Berkley Cherrywood HD Ice Fishing Spinning Rod – Best Value

The Berkley Cherrywood HD is a 24-inch ice fishing spinning rod, and the best value we could find.

 

Key Features

  • Length of 24 inches
  • 100-percent fiberglass blank construction
  • Full cork handle
  • Graphite sliding ring reel seat
  • Stainless-steel guides and inserts

 

What We Like

If you have budget constraints, but don’t want to compromise on quality and durability, the Berkley Cherrywood is worth considering. This ice fishing rod is 24 inches long, which is just shorter than the average and long enough to catch a wide range of species.

The blank is made of 100 percent fiberglass and, while you may prefer graphite, this rod is as strong as can be. The fiberglass material doesn’t offer the same level of sensitivity as graphite materials. However, since this rod has a cork handle, it has sufficient sensitivity to help you detect bites in turbulent water.

The cork handle is also comfortable to hold and provides you with adequate control over the rod.

 

What We Don’t Like

One problem with this rod is that the stainless-steel line guides are not as strong and reliable as those of other high-end ice fishing poles.

 

Pros

  • Excellent value for money
  • Cork handle enhances rod sensitivity
  • Fiberglass blank contributes significantly to rod strength
  • Versatile length
  • A high-quality graphite reel seat

 

Cons

  • Power value may be too light
  • Stainless-steel line guide quality can be improved
  • Fiberglass construction reduces rod sensitivity

 

Despite the Cherrywood’s few drawbacks, the ice fishing rod delivers exceptional value for money.

 

Overall rating – 4.8 of 5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

13 Fishing Whiteout Ice Combo

The Whiteout Ice combo from 13 Fishing includes a high-quality 3BB in-line reel and 27-inch solid graphite ice fishing rod.

 

Key Features

  • Combo includes a rod and reel
  • Rod length of 27 inches
  • Solid Toray graphite blank construction
  • 3BB reel with anti-reverse
  • Aluminum reel handle with soft-touch knob
  • Suitable for both hand orientations
  • Hidden evolve reel seat
  • Evolve Electric Blue guides
  • Cork handle

 

What We Like

A standout feature of this spinning rod is that it comes complete with 13 Fishing’s 3BB in-line reel. The reel itself is packed with valuable features, including an aluminum reel handle, soft-touch knob, and anti-reverse.

On paper, the spinning rod looks good as well. The rod blank is made of graphite, which means optimal sensitivity, a lightweight, and strength. The rod also has a cork handle to provide the angler with a comfortable grip and to maintain the rod’s sensitivity.

The three high-quality guides follow 13 Fishing’s proprietary “Evolve” pattern and are resistant to corrosion.

 

What We Don’t Like

A minor issue with this rod is that you have to use it with braided line to see optimal results. The rod also has a fast action, and may not be suitable for catching larger fish species.

 

Pros

  • High-end reel included in the package
  • Blank has a graphite construction
  • Comfortable cork grip
  • Lightweight and sensitive

 

Cons

  • Doesn’t work well with monofilament fishing line

 

The Whiteout combo from Fishing 13 is the ideal option for beginner ice anglers who have no tackle or seasoned ice fishermen who want to benefit from the rod’s quality construction.

 

Overall rating – 4.6 of 5

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Shakespeare Wild Series -Best Ice fishing Rod for Panfish

Rigidity is the name of the game with the Wild Series Ice fishing rod from Shakespeare with its fiberglass construction.

 

Key Features

  • Length of 25 inches
  • Fiberglass blank construction
  • Moderate action and ultralight power
  • Hybrid tech grip handle with cork
  • Stainless-steel guides

 

What We Like

The most notable feature of this rod is its solid fiberglass blank and moderate action, which makes it suitable for lightweight lures and catching small- to medium-sized fish. The fiberglass construction contributes significantly to the rod’s durability and strength and, despite this material type, it performs well in terms of sensitivity.

The hybrid tech grip handle has an ergonomic design for comfortable use while wearing a glove, and it features cork that allows vibrations from bites to reach your hand. The rod has a length of 25 inches, which is not at the short end of the spectrum, and long enough for a wide range of ice fishing settings.

 

What We Don’t Like

The quality of this rod’s stainless-steel guides is lacking. The eyelets tend to bend easily, which can result in tangling and a wide range of other problems. For the price, however, you may not find it difficult to look past this drawback.

 

Pros

  • High sensitivity levels for a fiberglass construction
  • String and durable
  • Comfortable cork handle
  • Affordable

 

Cons

  • The quality of the guides can be improved

 

If you need rigidity, reliability, and sensitivity without the costs, this ice fishing rod may be a viable option.

 

Overall rating – 4.9 of 5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Fenwick AETOS Ice Fishing Spinning Rod

The AETOS from Fenwick is a popular graphite spinning rod for ice fishing and ideal for targeting heavier species.

 

Key Features

  • Graphite blank construction
  • Rod length of 30 inches
  • Medium-heavy power value
  • Fast action
  • Cork handle
  • Stainless-steel guides

 

What We Like

The AETOS is another high-end ice fishing rod with a graphite blank construction, cork handle, and stainless-steel guides. At this point, all graphite blank rods may seem similar. However, this 30-inch rod has medium-heavy power value and, as a result, it is one of the rods in this list that is suitable for catching heavier fish.

However, since the rod has a fast action, it is highly bendable, and you can use it with light lures and bait as well. The blank is also made of graphite, the rod is highly sensitive, and you will easily be able to detect bites. The rod has a high-quality cork handle for added comfort and to complement the rod’s sensitivity.

 

What We Don’t Like

Despite the rod’s fast action, it is quite stiff at the tip. To some anglers, the number of guides may also be insufficient for the rod’s length.

 

 

Pros

  • Lightweight and sensitive graphite rod
  • Length and power value are suitable for catching larger fish
  • Comfortable cork handle enhances rod sensitivity
  • Fast action and highly bendable to use with light lures

 

Cons

  • Tip of the rod may be too stiff for some anglers
  • Not enough line guides

 

The Fenwick AETOS is a high-end ice fishing rod for beginner and seasoned anglers. Consider this rod if you prefer a graphite construction for catching larger fish.

 

Overall rating – 4.5 of 5

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Shakespeare Ugly Stick GX2 Ice Fishing Rod

Ugly Stick GX2 is a familiar name in some fishing circles. The ice fishing rod in this series offers a wide range of high-value features to ensure a successful trip.

 

Key Features

  • Length of 26 inches
  • Light action
  • Size-twenty spinning reel included
  • Fiberglass blank construction
  • Light power value
  • EVA foam handle
  • Twist-lock reel seat
  • Stainless-steel guides

 

What We Like

When you look at this ice fishing rod’s features, you may be forgiven for thinking that this is a rod like any other. The features listed above does not take the quality of the rod’s components and construction into account, however, which is superior to most other rods in this price category.

Because of this Ugly Stick GX2 high-end build, it is durable and reliable. The quality also compensates to an extent for the lack of graphite in the blank construction. The rod is sensitive and lightweight, and it has the strength you can expect from a fiberglass rod.

 

What We Don’t Like

One issue with this package is the lacking quality of the reel components. There is a light drag when you are reeling, and the reel clicker is somewhat flimsy.

 

Pros

  • Durable fiberglass blank construction
  • Reel included with the spinning rod
  • Highly sensitive for a fiberglass rod
  • Comfortable EVA foam handle
  • Lightweight rod
  • Average rod length for ice fishing

 

Cons

  • Reel quality can be improved

 

Like all other Ugly Stick GX2 models, this ice fishing rod is a high-quality addition to any angler’s tackle. If you have a high-quality reel for this rod profile, it may be a suitable option.

 

Overall rating – 4.3 of 5

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Frabill Fin-S Pro 30-Inch Medium Ice Fishing Rod -Best Walleye Ice Fishing Rod

The Fin-S Pro 30-Inch ice fishing rod from Frabill is specially designed as a reliable alternative to other spinning rods in this price category.

 

Key Features

  • Carbon fiber blank construction
  • Machined aluminum spool
  • Reel seat with cork grip
  • Stainless-steel rod guides
  • 3+ 1 ball bearing reel with anti-reverse

 

What We Like

The Frabill Fin-S Pro Ice fishing rod has a carbon fiber blank construction that is lightweight and sensitive to bites. This ice fishing rod is available in five different sizes so you can choose the most appropriate length for your needs.

The rod features a machined aluminum spool, stainless steel rod guides for added durability, and a cork grip that accommodates the slightest vibrations from the tip of the line. The handle is also ergonomic and comfortable to hold, even if you’re wearing gloves.

 

What We Don’t Like

The rod’s stainless-steel guides are durable and are perfectly aligned to minimize friction. However, the rod itself is susceptible to snapping at the tip, especially if you are targeting heavyweight species.

 

Pros

  • Carbon fiber construction adds to the sensitivity
  • High-end stainless-steel guides
  • Reel with anti-reverse included
  • Suitable for beginners

 

Cons

  • The construction quality of the rod can be improved

 

The Frabill Fin-S Pro 30-Inch Medium ice fishing rod is a viable option for most ice fishing applications and anglers of all skill levels.

 

Overall rating – 4.7 of 5

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ON AMAZON

 

Ice Fishing Rod Buying Guide

While ice fishing rods generally fulfill the same primary function, they differ from each other in many ways. Below is a list of several buying considerations that you can take into account to help you find the most appropriate ice fishing rod for your needs.

 

Type

There are mainly two types of ice fishing rod, namely spinning and baitcasting rods. Spinning rods are generally easier to use with lightweight lines and lures. This rod type typically has the reel, reel seat, and line guides mounted on the underside of the rod.

Baitcasting rods are more suitable for heavier lures and lines, and they generally provide more power than spinning rods. A baitcasting rod’s reel, reel seat, and line guides are mounted on the top side of the rod.

 

Length

Ice fishing rods are generally much shorter than fishing rods for open water because they are used to drop lures and hook fish through small openings in the ice. Their lengths vary from 16 inches to 42 inches.

The length you need depends on the fish species you are targeting. As a rule of thumb, the heavier the fish you catch, the longer your rod has to be. Additionally, you may need a rod at the short end of the spectrum if you are fishing inside your shelter or some other confined space.

 

Material

Ice fishing rods are usually made from either graphite, fiberglass, or a composite mix of the two. Graphite rods are sensitive and lightweight. Fiberglass rods are generally stronger than graphite ones, but they are less sensitive, and they are usually not lightweight.

Rods made from composite materials typically have the sensitivity of graphite poles and the strength of fiberglass ones.

 

 

Action

A rod’s action refers to how bendable it is when a weight hangs from its tip. The faster the action, the stiffer the rod. Slow-action rods that can bend throughout are more suitable for catching small fish. Fast action rods, on the other hand, is ideal for catching heavier fish.

 

Handle

Ice fishing rod handles are usually made from cork, foam, or plastic. Cork is by far the most popular material for handles as it is lightweight, comfortable, and warm. A cork handle also contributes to a rod’s sensitivity.

 

Construction

An ice fishing rod’s construction quality is a paramount buying consideration and involves more than the rod materials. The line guides should be resistant to corrosion and properly aligned. The reel seat also has to be fitted securely to the rod and give it a balanced feel.

If your rod is not constructed correctly, chances are it will snap, or fittings like the reel seat or line guides will become defective. Another common issue with poorly constructed rods is line tangling.

 

Spool

Your ice fishing rod spool should be strong enough to accommodate the weight and length of your fishing line. Since you will be using it in sub-zero temperatures, your reel should preferably also be coated with anti-freezing lubrication.

 

Power

A rod’s power determines the size and weight of the fish you will be able to catch. Power values are generally rated in weights, namely ultra-light, light, medium, and heavy. The power you need depends on your target fish species. For example, if you want to catch large fish like lake trout, you will need a rod with a heavy power value.

 

Final Thoughts

When shopping for an ice fishing rod, quality, reliability, and sensitivity are paramount. The St Croix Mojo Series, our top pick for the best ice fishing rod, offers all these qualities and more. This ice fishing rod offers a wide length selection and a choice between two power values.

It also has precision-taper solid carbon blank construction, a split-grip cork, and EVA foam handle, as well as a custom reel seat. The line guides are made of stainless steel for added durability and can withstand corrosion, bending, and tangling.

If you are looking for a durable and versatile ice fishing rod, the Mojo Series from St Croix may be a suitable option.

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