Man ice fishing on a cold winter day.

Ice Fishing for Beginners: Tools and Equipment You Should Have

If you’re new to ice fishing, you’re in for a fun challenge that can be a great experience or a nightmare.

You’ll be facing the elements like never before, and standard fishing gear just won’t cut it.

But, if you’re determined to bring home some perch, crappie, pike or walleye, keep reading to learn what you need to have a successful season on the ice.

Ice Fishing Rod, Line, and Reel

If you’ve been fishing in warmer climates, you’re probably used to the longer fishing pole with the spinning reel.

Those a great for casting into a river or lake, but ice fishing requires something a little more compact.

An ice fishing rod can be 24 to 36 inches long and gives the fisherman the leverage needed to hoist a huge a pike out of an ice hole. The right rod and line can make the job easier, so you don’t exhaust yourself on the first catch.

Unlike standard fishing line, ice fishing line is built to brave freezing water and jagged ice. When trying to pull up a larger game fish, a regular line could snap due to the frigid conditions, but an ice fishing line is more durable.

Ice fishing line is braided and sometimes treated with anti-freezing compounds to reduce line memory as well as keeping the line from freezing to the rod.

An ice fishing reel is more compact with a smaller winding radius. Centerpin and float reels are considered the best option for ice fishing. These types of reels allow the angler to palm the reel to control line tension. As such, the fisherman can feel a light nibble.

Lures and Bait

The only way to get a fish to bite is with bait, a lure, or a combination of both. If you’re using live bait, you want to use the bait your fish prefer. Check into the type of fish you’ll be trying to catch if you’ve never fished that location before.

You can bounce a jig up and down in the water if you don’t want to use live bait, or if the bait method isn’t working for you. There is a variety of spoons, lures, and jigs available for the specific types of fish you’re after.

Tackle Box

You’ll need something to carry all your lures, hooks, weights and other gear.

As with anything, you want something you can lug easily, as you’ll probably be moving around the ice, making new holes for better action.

You don’t want to be weighted down by heavy gear when you have to pack up everything. A backpack tackle box can free up your hands for other essential items, like pushing your shelter to the next spot.

Ice Auger

You can’t ice fish without a hole, so this should be at the top of your ice fishing gear list.

An ice auger is used to drill into the ice. As a beginner, you’d probably be fine with a manual auger. But, a motorized auger is better for drilling multiple holes quickly.

Motorized models come in gas and electric. Beware the gas models that produce hot metal exhaust; they can melt your bib and jacket if you’re not careful.

Ice Shelter

While some ice fishermen can sit on a bucket and brave the blistering wind that sometimes plagues the sport, others prefer a warmer space.

An ice shelter (or ice shanty or shack will keep the wind off your face, allowing you to stay on the ice longer.

You no longer have to lug a wooden shack onto the ice and leave it there for the entire season.

Now, there are lightweight, portable models that fold up easily and can be moved in a snap. This type is great for moving from hole to hole for better action.

Warm Clothing

You won’t last long on the ice without the proper clothing. Devout ice fishermen swear by a bib, a separate jacket, and ice boots. Frozen fingers and frost-bitten toes are the bain of beginners.

When looking for clothing, consider moisture wicking underwear on your skin, soft wool over that, and thicker wool to on top. Cotton absorbs moisture which will lead to getting cold faster.

Your bib and jacket go on top. A good pair of ice boots should have a thick, rubber sole to keep the bottom of your feet as high off the ice as possible. Safety experts also recommend ice creepers (boots with spiked soles).

And, don’t forget your gloves.

Find Your Ice Fishing Gear

When you’re ready to get out on the lake for some fun on the ice you want to have everything you need.

Head over to our products page to find the best spoons and hard bait for your ice fishing needs.

Share this post