How To Get The Best Ice Fishing Reel

how to get the best ice fishing reel

To be known as one such indispensable element for ice fishing, reels are the cylindrical device mounted to the handle end of the fishing rod.

Evidently, playing and landing a fish can depend on your experience, knowledge, reaction, and patience. But a big chunk of your success rides on your choice of a reel.

Not to mention, without the sensitivity of the reels, your ice fishing expedition may well turn out to be a mediocre one.

However, if you are not a novice to the ice fishing, you might know that reel comes along with a rod – The complete combination setup. Therefore, perhaps the quite few reasons why you deliberately came across the page are:

Either you got your reel broked, and your rod is still fine; hence, you want to buy a separate reel so that you can mount it to the rod or, you wish to build your own rod and reel combination considering the likings that you won’t otherwise find on the rack of your best fishing store.

And whatever your concern is to make your way out, luckily I have got you covered.

Choosing the Right Reel is Really Mandatory?

The fulfillment of an ice fishing expedition will happen when you return with some prized bargains.

Adventure lovers or to be precise, the minds of the ice fishing enthusiasts are pre-occupied with thoughts related to the best location for ice fishing, the type of fish they want to go after, picking up the right ice shelter to safeguard from the cold.

Seriously, not many of them spare a thought about the best ice fishing reels.

If you are separately buying a reel for the rod, you should necessarily go through the specifications and other considerations in order to get insured that they matched well and your hard-earned money merely get invested in the best product satisfying your needs.

With the help of this all-inclusive guide, I am sure that you’ll be getting the best yet affordable ice fishing reel.

And I hope your future fishing expeditions will be more fruitful.

Types of Ice Fishing Reel

At first, you need to be informative enough about the types of ice fishing reels available in the market.

Currently, they are available in three variants, inline, spinning and baitcasting reels.

When you visit a tackle shop, you will notice the ice fishing enthusiasts prefer the inline and spinning reels mostly. Let us introduce you to the functionalities of these fishing reels.

Ice Fishing Spinning Reels:

You will notice the spinning variant of the ice fishing reel is open-faced. It is always tailored beneath the ice fishing rod. The makers have included a spool, additionally; the line extends by the influence of the bait or tackle.

The spinning reel offers a great deal of flexibility and is very easy to operate. Thus most ice fishing enthusiasts prefer this reel over its counterparts.

Furthermore, you have a wide array of choices of the spinning reel option.

Spinning reels have some drawbacks like their performance tends to drop in freezing climates, the reel tends to freeze which takes a prolonged time to thaw which wastes precious time for the angler.

Ice Fishing Inline Reels:

The inline reels are now a close second to the spinning reels.

Constant innovations by the makers of this variant at present are giving the spinning reel a good run for their money. Quite similar to the spinning reel, here also the position of the reel is below the rod, but true to its name it remains in-line with the rod.

They are available in different diameters, and the typical setup of the inline reel feeds the line from the rod guides to the spool. They are becoming popular as they do not tend to twist and turn and do not freeze as well.

As I mentioned, the inline reels are becoming better; however, they are still unable to overshadow the functionalities of the spinning reel.

The reason being, the inline reels do not work in your favor when you target the larger species of fish. The drag adjustments of a spinning reel are far better than the inline reels.

Spinning reels are ideal for those who are starting off their ice fishing expeditions. Lastly, inline reels are rather costly than the spinning reels.

Ice Fishing Baitcasting Reels:

The baitcasting reels are not that popular among the ice fishing folks. Still, some individuals do prefer these reels over the others.

The biggest drawback of the baitcasting reels is its heavy weight. The reason being they come with large baskets.

Baitcasting reels have spools which you can adjust from left to right. A lot of skill and expertise is necessary to use the baitcasting reel.

Understandably, for all these reasons, the baitcasting reel is not preferable to the majority of the ice fishing fanatics.

How to choose the best Ice Fishing Reel?

Now, the million dollar question, which ice fishing reel is going to be the best for your purpose.

For this, we need to delve a bit deeper. Unless you familiarize with the effectiveness of each of these three reels and some of the other essential conditions, you will keep juggling your choices.

So, let us simplify things for you. Just concentrate on the guidelines that are about to follow, I bet, your decision making will become easier.

I commence with the baitcasting reel. I mentioned already, these reels are heavy, and many anglers would find it challenging to manage it efficiently. However, if you happen to figure out the way it operates, you will have a gala time filling up your ice bucket with larger species like lake trout.

Baitcasting reels are nothing short of excellent. You will be able to have complete command over the proceedings while casting and reeling the fish back.

But the competition is primarily between the spinning and inline reels. Frankly, it is impossible to pick up a winner from these two. So, your focus should shift on the way you plan to ice fish, accordingly you can make your choice between the spinning and inline reels.

If you desire a hassle-free experience that guarantees unmatched performance regardless of the climatic conditions and the length of the trip, the inline reel should be your choice. The components attached to the inline reel are arranged to keep some distance between each of them. Thus you can always be sure that the reel is not going to lock if water gets into it.

Remember, while elaborating about the spinning reel, I mentioned, the spinning reels tend to freeze. The inline reels are devoid of this problem.

However, inline reels require some skills to operate; on the other hand, even the beginners will be able to use the spinning reels easily.

Additionally, the inline reels can never expect to match the flexibility of the spinning reels. So, as you can see, both these mostly used fishing reels have some pros and cons. Hence, you have to consider some other factors when deciding on which ice fishing reel is going to be your companion.

And here they are:

Type of Fish

You certainly sort your plans well in advance before commencing the ice fishing expedition. It includes the place where you will be fishing and most importantly the type of fishes you can expect at that place.

Consider this factor when evaluating the ideal ice fishing reel. Are you hoping to catch a lot of small species of fish, like panfish? Then you can go for the inline reel, but if you intend to target the larger species like lake trout, the spinning reel is your ultimate option.

As an ice fishing fanatic, you know, live baits are crucial for this sport Spinning reels provide great drag adjustments which inline reels cannot offer.

However, if jigging is your cup of tea, then go for the inline reels. Unlike the spinning reels, the lines will not twist and turn when they are lying on the spool.

Still, I insist, the beginners of ice fishing will do better with a spinning reel. For overcoming some of the drawbacks of operating the spinning reel, they can consider getting some tips from the experienced anglers.

The other factors that can play a pivotal role in determining your ice fishing reels are as following.


You know what to expect when you are out there on the sub-zero temperatures. The fishing reel will have to endure water, ice, and extreme temperatures.

So insist for only graphite or aluminum fishing reels as they can survive the ordeal of these unfavorable climatic conditions better.


The fishing reel is going to be your companion wherever you play the sport.

While ice fishing, you may have to move around quite a bit if the fish is not biting the bait at a particular spot. Wouldn’t it be convenient if you carry a light reel?

Furthermore, using a heavy reel will make you exhausted pretty quickly.

Anti-freeze Feature

Often, you have to encounter issues like freezing of the reel. When buying the fishing reel at the tackle shop, ensure some treatment has been done using an anti-freeze feature.

You will find this feature pretty useful; else you are going to waste precious time in thawing the reel.

Reduced Friction

Well, you need not be a sci-expert to understand this point.

You would need the reel to work smoothly. Friction can restrict the smooth operations of the reels considerably. The presence of ball bearings will help curtail the conflict.

So, remember, go for an ice fishing reel that has ample ball bearings. You will notice, they will help in opposing the drag load to a great extent.

The other important considerations

By now, you are well aware of the basic things that should help you procure the best ice fishing reel for your next expedition.

However, there are some other vital points too which you should not ignore.

Let us quickly take a glimpse:

1. Body Design

Since you are going out fishing on ice, your preference should be the reels made of robust materials like graphite or aluminum.

The body design that features these materials will be durable and will seldom break, no matter how much pressure you apply to them.

While choosing the body design, take a good look at the products, by no means, the materials should make way for rust.

2. Handle

Hold the reel in your hands to get the feel. Unless you have a comfortable and sturdy handle, you will not be able to fish correctly.

At the present day, you will come across handles that facilitates a rubber grip. These will be very comfortable to hold.

3. Spool

The spool does not require any introduction. The spools are available in various sizes and materials.

Accordingly, these factors establish the heaviness and number of spools it can hold.

If your intentions are going after larger and stronger species of fish, you must opt for a big spool that can successfully drag those large fishes.

Lastly, the anti-freeze lubrication feature is mandatory which will not let the spool to freeze in sub-zero conditions.

4. Drag Capacity

After reading this far, you have seen the “dragging” is one of the essential aspects of an ice fishing reel.

Dragging is the procedure with the help of which you will be able to drag the fish from their holes.

Your ideal consideration should be a reel that allows free-flowing and less resistance. Simultaneously, if you get an adjustable reel, you can have the liberty for catching a wide range of fish species.

5. Bearing Number

Friction is detrimental for the ice fishing reels. Constant friction will deteriorate the reel as it experiences a lot of wear and tear.

The more ball bearings a reel has, the chances of frictions will minimize significantly. Additionally, a fishing reel with a good number of ball bearing will let you cast and retrieve very conveniently.

Best Ice Fishing Reels I Recommended

And here comes the most awaiting part:

To simplify the task for you, I have reviewed some of the best ice fishing reels. You can choose any one of them depending on your choice and expertise.

So, take a look at them, select the one that suits you the best, and pack a punch on your future ice fishing mission. Here are the Top 5 ice fishing reels which work best in all conditions.

Eagle Claw Inline Ice Reel

Yes, while trying this inline ice fishing reel we found it to be awe-inspiring. The lack of twisting of reels is the biggest USP of the inline reels.

The Eagle Claw ice reel aptly justifies this theory. I tested it by trying to haul a violent fish, and the reel did not twist. Thus, the Eagle Claw guarantees non-stop fishing action without having to ponder about fixing the line.

The Eagle Claw introduces a Teflon drag system which makes it an unbeatable choice. The Teflon system ensures you find the reel very convenient to adjust which in turn causes the entire ice fishing procedure smooth.

I also found it to be super flexible; I was also able to change hands very smoothly.

Although, I noticed this ice fishing reel to be very durable. But, the fishing location was not very cold that particular day, so it remains to be seen if the performance differs in freezing temperatures.

Nevertheless, you will appreciate the aluminum handle which accompanies a non-slip grip. So, you will find the reel very easy to handle.


  • The Eagle Claw reel is super smooth; you will love its performance.
  • Regardless of the temperature, the line will never twist.
  • The adjustable drag system makes it very convenient for the anglers.
  • The retrieval procedure is also very convenient.


  • The only drawback I found, the construction of the frame and the spool of this reel are from a substandard material.

Celsius Blizzard Spinning Reel

The manufacturers have left no stones unturned in making this spinning reel as one of the best. The Celsius Blizzard reel includes out of the box innovations which is going to make your ice fishing expedition a memorable one.

As you already know, spinning reels are ideal for the beginners, and in this case, the novices of ice fishing will find operating this spinning reel a piece of cake.

The creation is from the best quality materials; needless to say; this is going to be a sheer delight for the anglers. Usually, spinning wheels are known for their drawbacks while operating in the freezing conditions.

The Celsius Blizzard reel comes with anti-freeze lubricant which ensures its flawless performance even in the wintry conditions.

The extended reel yoke is another advantage; you need not get rid of your gloves and make your hands go numb. You can easily hold on to the reel with your gloves on.

Furthermore, the frame and spool are of aluminum making it very robust and light.


  • The aluminum spool means you are handling a durable and light ice fishing reel.
  • The extended yoke makes it convenient to handle.
  • The inner part of the reel uses lubrication which comes with an anti-freeze.
  • The ice fishing reel is very affordable.


  • On a rare occasion, despite trying our best I was unable to determine any flaws. No wonder, this product is an absolute beauty and a must-have for ice fishing peeps.

Goture Spinning Ice Fishing Reel

During our reviews, we were pertinent about quality with affordability. The Goture spinning reel is a perfect example of that. The price tag came as disbelief considering the making of the housing of the reel and the handle are from zinc alloy, and the spool comprises of high tensile aluminum.

And that is not all; the main shaft is from reinforced steel. Understandably, you will never encounter issues with the freezing temperatures.

It seems the manufacturer has come up with a dream spinning reel keeping the anglers in mind. To further enhance it, a significant number of ball bearings is present in the reel. Lastly, you will find it incredibly easy to shift the reel from one hand to the other. Storing the reel is also very easy, as it has a collapsible handle.

Whew! I ran out of breath counting the advantages of this spinning reel.

The only downside of this reel is, due to the influence of materials like steel, alloy, and aluminum the reel got heavy. After a particular time you will become tired, but then you can always share it with others to take a breath.


  • The spinning reel is from high-quality materials which makes it very durable.
  • The reel is resistant to friction.
  • You can quickly retrieve from one hand to the other.


  • The weight, this is the only drawback.

Fiblink Inline Ice Fishing Reel

Here I come up with yet another inline fishing reel.

When you carry the Fiblink reel, you will necessarily attract many curious eyeballs. The reel is incredibly stylish and offers exceptional features.

You will seldom find many aluminum inline fishing reels that derive from a machine. The manufacturers have added a push button; you get the convenience of releasing the line capacity of the spool by a gentle push.

The reel is also resistant to friction as it includes 4 + 1 ball bearings. Even though the construction of the reel is out of robust materials, it still manages to be light in weight.

Simultaneously, the reel comes with an anti-reverse switch which allows a smooth drag feature. No matter, how large your target fish is, you never need to bother about losing them.

The only drawback that does not let it become the numero uno choice is the unavailability of a fender. Thus, you will encounter problems if you try to use the palming method. If you try palming, most probably, you will end up wiping up against the spool.


  • The reel construction is from quality materials. Thus it is very durable.
  • The reel has an extensive line capacity, making fishing very convenient.
  • The inclusion of the anti-reverse switch is a big bonus for the anglers.


  • The lack of fender restricts the ability to use the palming method.

Abu Garcia ICEMAX Spinning Reel

During our reviews, I noticed, most of the ice fishing reel manufacturers have put in a lot of effort keeping in mind the cold conditions these reels have to withstand.

The Abu Garcia spinning reel is one of them. Once you procure this reel, I guarantee, you will be able to use it for several years.

The reel includes a cold gear lube which prevents the reel from freezing at even the most frigid temperatures. Again, this reel has been constructed from machine-made aluminum and also includes a robust bail system.

If you are a seasoned ice fishing campaigner, factors like good control and accuracy will matter to you. You get a Rocket Spool Lip design you will find the reel very flexible and easy to control.

No matter, if a large fish bites the bait, you will be able to retrieve it with effortless ease. The critical factors like anti-reverse and a significant number of ball bearings are also present. Therefore, you always have superior control over the operations while you are fishing with this reel.


  • The reel is resistant to freezing temperatures.
  • The construction of the reel is from high-quality materials.
  • Anglers will always have superior control.


  • The reel length is a tad short. So, if you intend fishing for greater depths, you may not be successful.

Final Verdict

That’s it; now you have all the information about the best quality ice fishing reels which are not going to burn a hole in your pocket along with giving the convenience of using.

You can choose from any of the reels above, and I assure, you will not return empty-handed. Your catches from the upcoming ice fishing excursion may well become the talk of the town.

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