One of the most dedicated and extreme forms of fishing is certainly ice fishing. Not only do ice fishermen need to combat severe weather conditions, but they often end up placing themselves in perilous fishing ground, too.
Still, the thrill of ice fishing is like no other, and the sport retains a strong allure and draw for fishermen across the chillier sections of the country. Having the proper equipment is crucial for an ice fisherman, perhaps more so than any other type of fishing. Of course, this means having the best ice fishing reel to bring large fish out of the freezing cold water and up onto the ice.
Having a faulty reel could not only cost a few fish, but it could also take the inherent fun out of ice fishing. Luckily, this review has compiled a list of customer reviews, and has outlined the top-rated, best ice fishing reels to use this season.
Table of Contents
- 5 Best Ice Fishing Reels
- Buying Guide for Ice Fishing Reels
5 Best Ice Fishing Reels
In order to help narrow down which ice fishing reels will provide the most value for the money, this review has created a list of the five top-rated, best-selling ice fishing reels that are currently on the market. Each and every reel will get an in-depth look into their various components, providing a comprehensive look into the best features of each ice fishing reel. By examining the top-rated ice fishing reels, each and every fisherman can obtain an accurate picture of what the top qualities are for these types of reels.
- Eagle Claw Inline Ice Reel
- Nylon body and aluminum spool
- Smooth Teflon drag
- Free spool release button
- Spool tension adjustment
- TICA SS500 Cetus Trout Fishing Series
- 6 precision stainless steel ball bearings
- Comes with extra spool
- Can be fitted for right or left-hand retrieval
- Instant anti-reverse
- Fiblink Inline Ice Fishing Reel
- Free spool release button
- Aluminum star drag
- Line clicker
- Instant anti-reverse system
- Frabill Straight Line 371 Ice Fishing Reel
- Lightweight composite construction
- 5+1 ball bearing system
- Instant anti-reverse
- 22-inch line retrieval
- 13 Fishing Black Betty Fishing Reels
- CNC machined aluminum construction
- Carbon drag
- Instant anti-reverse
- 2.7:1 gear ratio
1. Eagle Claw Inline Ice Reel
The nylon body and aluminum spool configuration makes the Eagle Claw Inline Ice Reel ideally suited to withstand bitter winter weather conditions. Ice fishermen will be pleased to experience the free spool release button, which removes the drag and allows the reel to go into a free spin. This makes ice fishing much easier, allowing for a tight lure to be dropped into a fishing hole without causing tangles in the fishing line.
Although the reel comes established with a left-hand retrieval, the reel can easily be adjusted for a right-hand retrieval. It also comes with a 2.6:1 gear ratio, meaning that each crank of the reel will bring in about 15 inches of fishing line. As an additional benefit, the Eagle Claw Inline Ice Reel comes with a line clicker, so ice fishermen don’t need to continually monitor the amount of line output from the reel.
As one of the most affordable ice fishing reels, the Eagle Claw Inline Ice Reel also offers a high level of value, making it one of the top reels to invest in for ice fishing.
2. TICA SS500 Cetus Trout Fishing Series
The TICA SS500 is an overall rugged, well balanced, and precise ice fishing reel. Though it only weighs 6.3 ounces, this reel manages to pack quite a bit of power and precision into a small package. The six precision stainless steel ball bearings enhance the drag, giving it a silky smooth feel and dependable operation.
As an additional benefit, a mini roller bearing allows the reel to come equipped with an instant anti-reverse feature. Made from durable aluminum, this reel is built to hold up under even the harshest winter weather.
The TICA SS500 model also comes with anti-freeze lubrication, which ensures that the reel won’t seize up while on the water. Even the construction itself allows for additional protection against cold wind and temperatures.
The sleek, elongated construction makes it easy to hold onto the reel, even while wearing thick gloves. With high durability and resistance to harsh weather conditions, the TICA SS500 is a great option when considering investing in an ice fishing reel.
With four ball bearings and a gear ratio of 2.6:1, the Fiblink Inline Ice Fishing Reel is an altogether smooth and sturdy ice fishing reel. At 5.8 ounces, it is light enough to comfortably hold for longer periods of time, and still sturdy enough to withstand wear and tear from changing weather conditions.
With brass gears, a stainless steel spool shaft, and an aluminum handle, this ice fishing reel is made from some of the most durable components available.
The drag system is easily adjusted, and the free spool function makes ice fishing much easier. Fishing line can quickly drop down as far as needed, and the line
4. Frabill Straight Line 371 Ice Fishing Reel
What really sets the Frabill Straight Line 371 model apart is its lightweight composite construction. Not only does it maintain rigidity and increase durability, but it also resists conducting cold temperatures, creating an overall comfortable reel to hold during the winter. With a 3.7:1 gear ratio, this ice fishing reel offers additional strength and power to bring larger fish through ice holes.
The large construction of the spool allows for maximum balance and a quicker retrieval rate, with each turn of the handle bringing in 22 inches of fishing line.
As an additional benefit, this reel also comes with an adjustable bait alarm, eliminating the need for constant supervision of the fishing line. Internal sub-zero lubricant ensures that gears will continue to function throughout bitter cold, making this a perfect ice fishing reel.
5. 13 Fishing Black Betty Fishing Reels
This ice fishing reel has gotten nearly perfect reviews for its smooth drag and overall durability. Its large baitcasting style knob allows for increased adjustment and control when bringing fish up through the ice, making it a desirable reel for ice fishermen. The machined aluminum construction creates a rugged exterior that is ready to endure harsh winter conditions.
With a 2.7:1 gear ratio, ice fishermen will find that the Black Betty model provides enough strength to handle tough running fish without compromising efficiency. With the combination of the instant anti-reverse, retrieves are fluid and effective. Additionally, the lightweight EVA handles provide a comfortable grip, allowing ice fishermen to exert greater control over the reel.
The carbon drag system allows for reliable performance that stretches across the extent of the drag range. With solid construction and efficient mechanisms, the 13 Fishing Black Betty model is quickly becoming one of the most talked-about ice fishing reels.
Buying Guide for Ice Fishing Reels
When looking to purchase an ice fishing reel, there are a few components regarding quality and construction that potential buyers should keep in mind. As with any type of fishing, there are specific traits that help to separate good reels from high-quality reels. In order to help narrow down your search to the best reels possible, keep these components in mind:
Reel and rod weight
While there are some exceptions, ice fishing rods are typically much shorter and lighter than other rods. This means that having a lightweight reel is even more important, not just for comfort, but for overall stability. Installing a reel that substantially outweighs the rod can create an imbalance, making it difficult to efficiently fish over long periods of time.
Additionally, the reel and rod combination is often propped up during ice fishing, which makes balance even more important. Whatever ice fishing reel you choose, make sure to take a deeper look into the weight of the reel, and see how it compares to the rod.
Since ice fishing doesn't involve any casting, the line recovery is of utmost importance. The rate of line retrieval and the smoothness of the retrieve can be deciding factors in whether a fish escapes or is brought through the ice hole. There is no real standard to follow for the speed of line retrieval: this largely depends on personal needs and preferences. Make sure that the ice fishing reel you choose offers adequate rates of line retrieval to fit your needs and preferences.
Weather resistant components
For ice fishing reels, this can apply to many reel components. Most importantly, this applies to the outer composition of the reel, and the gears inside. While reels composed of all metal are typically much more durable, they will also conduct cold temperatures, making it difficult to hold the reel throughout frigid winter conditions.
The internal gears also need some additional care and attention when it comes to cold temperatures. The best ice fishing reels will come with gear lubricant that will naturally repel the cold, ensuring that gears don’t freeze up while on the water.
Whether sitting on a lake, pond, or creek, ice fishing can be just as much of a social event as fishing during the warmer seasons. The temperature may be somewhat less forgiving during ice fishing season, but that certainly doesn't stop ice fishermen from bundling up and participating.
One of the most important aspects of making sure that your ice fishing experience is productive and enjoyable is ensuring that you have the right equipment. By analyzing the top-rated ice fishing reels, any fisherman can find themselves well-equipped towards choosing the perfect reel for them.