As the weather gets colder outside and the ice gets thicker, most of us are still on a fishing splurge. The ice is heavy and the fish are ready but what about your rod and reel? The question still remains. What is the best ice-fishing combo? We appreciate the value when we can get it but what does this mean for catching fish? I have to give the right answer. There is no best ice combo for everything and everybody. Multiple models are for different species while some offer advantages over others.
In this post, we are going to give our top picks for the best ice rods and reels. We believe that certain combos are better for certain things and fit certain people. What we are not trying to do is give an exhaustive list of every single amazing combo out there today. Instead, we are suggesting products that help many anglers catch more ice fishing. With that in mind, these are our favorites.
How To Choose A Ice Fishing Combo For More Fish
Consider The Action
When it comes to ice fishing, the action of the rod tip will be your best friend. Having a faster tip will allow you to feel the lite biters that a stiffer rod couldn’t. Fast action tips are important especially when jigging or live bait fishing which is exactly what you will be doing. You do not have to have a fast tip but be aware that the action of the rod will make or break your fishing day. Fish bite softly in the cold and having that extra sensitivity when it matters most is essential.
Pick The Right Rod Type
There are two basic rod and reel types. The spinning rod and the inline rod. Which rod you decide to go with will also be indicative of what reel you can run on it. One is not better than the other in ice fishing. It’s all about what technique you are using and how well each one fits you. I like the spinning reels just for ease of use but inline models will work just as well when used properly. Additionally, spinning versions are cheaper to buy in many cases and the performance is still on par with the best inlines.
Don’t Skimp On Materials
If one piece of fishing gear has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few years, it’s ice combos. The equipment used to make ice rods and ice reels have exceeded prior decades in quality. Certainly, it is the case that modern ice fishing models are made better, are more sensitive, and allow you to be more efficient on the water than the ones from years past. Never skimp on the materials or craftsmanship of your equipment either. Always ensure that you are going with a reliable brand with a good track record.
1. 13 Fishing Wicked Stealth Spinning Combo
The Wicked Stealth combo from 13 Fishing is a great choice for every ice angler regardless of skill level. It is a medium rod with very fast action, stainless steel guides, and an incredibly comfortable grip handle. It provides smooth reeling, easy handling, and a very sensitive connection to your lure. Built tough to handle the ice and big fish, it is a great choice to go with if you are after everything.
2. Eagle Claw EC2.5 Medium Light Inline Combo
Proudly made in America, the Eagle Claw EC2.5 Medium Light inline combo is great for those who prefer an inline setup for panfish. The rod is extremely sensitive and light enough to detect small nibbles. Included is a reel that makes short work of reeling in panfish, small bass, pike, and other fish. It is exactly what you need if you are jigging tiny spoons or fishing with minnows. The rod comes equipped with a comfortable grip texture and is completely resistant to cold and water.
3. Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Ice Combo
We have many great things to say about the Ugly Stik GX2. The GX2 is world-renowned for its durability. We love that the GX2 provides more than enough backbone to haul in even the biggest fish when it needs to. Aside from that, the rod is fairly sensitive and has a great drag system. I believe that this Ugly Stik rod offers the most value for your money and that if you were to get one, you should make it this one. It has a lifetime warranty and allows you to fish almost any way you please.
4. 13 Fishing FreeFall Ghost
As one of the most premium options on the list, the FreeFall Ghost is truly an amazing ice combo. This inline reel comes in both left-handed and right-handed retrieves. The combo packs 3+1 bearings, an instant anti-reverse, a hi-vis tip, and thin wire guides. The color “radioactive pickle” makes a great contrast between the white and gray background of snow to provide visual clarity of the highest proportions. A great rod and reel by every standard and we highly recommend it.
5. Shakespeare Fuel Spinning Rod And Reel
The Shakespeare Fuel Stick is a budget-friendly option for those who want to catch fish on a budget. While in no way inferior to other combos, this one is great because it is versatile and strong. Unlike most, this one is unique because the rod blank is made of 100% solid glass. The guides are stainless steel and even have additional stainless steel inserts attached. It is a medium rod and the price is very good. For a very modest price, anglers can go fishing with a quality rod that will do almost everything they need.
6. 13 Fishing MicroTech Walleye Stick
If you are a walleye, sauger, or pike fisherman, you are in for a treat. The MicroTech Walleye is a luxurious combo with a carbon fiber base which provides the perfect balance between power, sensitivity, and durability. Everything about this rod is aimed at making sure you feel the bite. The sensitive and custom wood and cork hybrid handle is specifically suited for many different walleye and sauger presentations. In addition, the reel is every bit as good as the rod is with 3 ball bearings and a beautiful drag system.
7. 13 Fishing Wicked Maverick
When it comes to specialty ice fishing gear, the Wicked Maverick is really near the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended). Wicked indeed, the reel provides an almost unmatched and impressive 5 ball bearings inside the reel and couples it with an instant anti-reverse. The spool is aluminum instead of steel so it will never rust. The bail wire is fatter which makes it easier to close on ice. The blank is made from solid carbon fiber which makes it amazing at detecting and sticking fish. On top of everything, the evolve line guides are something special because ice fishing line flows through them so easily.
8. 13 Fishing SoniCor Stealth
The SoniCor Stealth model is similar to the Wicked Stealth. Although still maintaining a budget-friendly appeal, the Sonicor Stealth is by no means cheaply made. Its made from solid fiberglass which is what most elite-level fishing rods are made from. They are just more sensitive than others. The guides are polished steel and the reel is graphite like the rotor. This spinning reel is equipped with a single ball bearing but also has a DIGI-Balanced Gear System. It is great when you want to fish with a rod holder.
9. HT Enterprise Ice Blue Spinning Combo
The HT Enterprise is a combo that will fit most people. It’s great for bluegill fishing, walleye fishing, perch, pike, and even bass. It is a good multi-species type of rod. You can run live bait on it or you can throw on a jig for incredible action. The corkalon handle is a pleasure in the hand and lends itself well to those who get numb hands easily. The tip of the rod is a fast action and has an orange tip that is great for telling when you have a fish on. in addition, it packs 2 ball bearings and an infinite anti-reverse. The price is also reasonable.
10. Clam 9574 Lady Ice Buster Ultra
This fine combo is not just for ladies. If you have a lady in your life, fine. If not, the Clam 9574 Lady Ice Buster Ultra Light is still a great combo. It is the quintessential panfish rod for attacking bluegill, crappie, perch, sunfish, and warmouth. Try live bait like worms or you can use small ice jigs like grubs and minnow flies. The rod is made of carbon fiber and the reel is also fine too. Aside from the pink color, the rod packs a ton of sensitivity into one small package. The reason it wasn’t higher on the list is because of the price.
So What Is The Best Ice Fishing Combo Today?
To make a long story short, there isn’t one. All rods and reels have their places where they shine catching fish and other times where they don’t. The best ice fishing rods and reels generally have a certain action and never skimp on material quality. Aside from that, which type you decide to use as well as what brand is entirely up to personal preference. In short, there are quite a lot of great combos that will add some heat to your ice fishing trip. It is up to you to decide which one works best for you. You just have to pick some up and try them out!