The 9 Best Ice Fishing Rods of 2021

Perfect your ice fishing skills with these high-quality rods

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 at Amazon

"Lightweight yet stable in cold temperatures, this rod has all the versatility an angler would want."

Best Budget: Schooley Spring Bobber Pole Package at Amazon

"In addition to boasting an affordable price point, this rod may be one of the easiest to use."

Best for Panfish: Abu Garcia Veritas 3.0 Ice Spinning Rod at Cabelas

"The EVA handle registers the most modest of tremors, making this rod ideal for panfish."

Best for Trout: Fenwick Elite Tech Ice Fishing Spinning Rod at Amazon

"With three different line ratings, it’s easy to create the ideal rod to catch the type of trout you want."

Best for Walleye: Frabill Combo Straightline Bro at Amazon

"A solid graphite blank delivers both strength and flexibility, so you can pull in your catch easily."

Best Lightweight: Clam Straight Drop Combo at Amazon

"The glass rod helps shave off the ounces and a lightweight spring bobber helps register when fish are biting."

Best for Saltwater: Fiblink Saltwater Spinning Rod at Amazon

"Built to handle the most disagreeable saltwater fish species with a line weighting of up to 50 pounds."

Best Rod and Reel Combo: Eagle Claw EC2.5 Carbon at Cabelas

"Perfect your skills with this rod's tangle-free guides and EVA butt grip for precise jigging."

Best Custom: St. Croix Custom Ice Fishing Rod at Amazon

"Available in three different blank platforms, you can build this rod to fit your specific needs."

Unlike fly fishing or traditional cast fishing, ice fishing focuses on the simplest of pleasures: dropping the lure directly through a hole in the ice covering a frozen lake, jigging the rod to attract fish, and patiently waiting for the tip of the rod to register a bite. Ice fishing rods are equally simple, often lighter than an open-water rig, with advanced materials that provide both flexibility and strength, clean reels engineered to avoid tangles, and straight-drop architecture to make even the least experienced angler the opportunity to pull in a catch.

Here are the best ice fishing rods available.

Best Overall: Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2

Courtesy of Bass Pro Shops 

Constructed on a lightweight, reinforced graphite body that provides stability in cold temperatures, the Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combo provides all the versatility an angler would want. In addition to three different rod lengths (26, 28, and 30 inches) and a choice of light, medium, and medium-heavy rod power options, this combo delivers perfect balance and a lighter feel to handle a variety of fish species.

A hybrid graphite/fiberglass blank also lends the best features of each material, making the rod both flexible and strong. The ported, cold-forged aluminum spool runs on a single ball bearing and flows freely, with a size 20 spinning reel crafted specifically for ice fishing. The twist-lock reel seat includes glove-friendly EVA handles and stainless steel guides provide seasons-long durability.

Best Budget: Schooley Spring Bobber Pole Package

Schooley Spring Bobber Pole Package

 Courtesy of Fish USA

In addition to boasting an approachable price point, the Spring Bobber Pole Package from Schooleys may be one of the easiest rods to use while ice fishing. With lengths that vary from 21 to 26 to 40 inches, all versions are capable of fishing at any depth and come with a bobber, line, and lure designed to detect the slightest bite. The Del-Mar reel has an adjustable drag to help dial the optimal action and has been mounted against the body of the pole to let an angler choose a side crank or an overhand position.

Best for Panfish: Abu Garcia Veritas 3.0 Ice Spinning Rod

Abu Garcia Veritas 3.0 Ice Spinning Rod

 Courtesy of Cabelas

Angling for panfish—that is, fish species that typically don’t grow larger than the size of your average frying pan—requires an ice fishing rod that emphasizes finesse over power, so you can feel the slightest of nibbles and react quickly. The Abu Garcia Veritas 3.0 accomplishes this thanks to a lightweight graphite blank with a fast, sensitive tip and a robust midsection that’ll help land the fish when they strike.

The stainless-steel guides include aluminum-oxide inserts for a smooth glide, and a precise micro-click reel hook keeps things tight. The sensitive touch of the Veritas 3.0 is further reinforced with a high-density EVA handle design that registers the most modest of tremors—even through thick gloves—without sacrificing the lift you need to reel in your catch. The rod comes in three lengths and power rankings, but we recommend that you go with the lightest weight for pan fishing.

Best for Trout: Fenwick Elite Tech Ice Fishing Spinning Rod

The Elite Tech Ice Fishing Spinning Rod from Fenwick lets you choose from three different line ratings—2 to 6 pounds, 4 to 8, and 6 to 10—so it’s easy to target the ideal rod to match the weight of that trout you hope to land. You can also select from a medium-light, medium, or medium-heavy overall rod power. This sleek rod features a solid carbon blank for durability and sensitivity, wrapped around a glass core blank to cut down the rod’s weight. The handle is crafted of premium cork with a TAC trim. Better yet, the reel seat includes an exposed blank design that will accommodate most reels.

Best for Walleye: Frabill Combo Straightline Bro

Frabill offers their Bro Series Straight Line Combos in a handful of different lengths, but if your ice fishing ambitions are focused solely on walleye, opt for the 32 Medium Light, which is sensitive enough to feel small strikes but reliable enough to pull in your catch. A solid graphite blank delivers both strength and flexibility, with robust titanium main guides that provide smooth flow and serious durability, while the solid cork wrapped around the graphite reel seat offers an intuitive, confident feel. The reel includes a spool guard to promote a palm grip, with a lightweight composite construction that won’t get cold. Each revolution pulls in 22 inches of line, which feeds off-spool to remove line coiling and tackle spin.

Best Lightweight: Clam Straight Drop Combo

Clam Straight Drop Combo

 Courtesy of Cabelas

Select the ultralight model of the Straight Drop Combo from Clam and you’ll be armed with one of the lightest ice fishing rod and reel combos available. Glass rods help shave off the ounces, with an abbreviated EVA handle that comes with an ergonomic taper toward the blank to amplify sensitivity. The included lightweight spring bobber also helps register when fish are biting. Plus, the overall rod architecture lets you drop your lure, smooth and straight, off the spool line so that the line will twist less and prevent coiling.

Best for Saltwater: Fiblink Saltwater Spinning Rod

If your notion of ice fishing is less about cutting a hole in a frozen pond and more about braving the harsh climates of the ocean on a cold winter day, go for the two-piece Fiblink Saltwater Spinning Rod—a 7-foot tool built to handle the most disagreeable saltwater fish species. Constructed of a main carbon shaft along with an aluminum alloy reel seat, it features an EVA foam handle and fore-grips for added comfort.

This heavy-powered rod is plenty strong, with a line weighting of up to 50 pounds and lures that can range from 4 to 7 ounces—but the rod itself is very travel-friendly, weighing in at 13 ounces. Seven stainless-steel guide loops provide confident long-distance casts and reels, and you can choose from medium-heavy or medium rod lengths.

Best Rod and Reel Combo: Eagle Claw EC2.5 Carbon

Eagle Claw EC2.5 Carbon Ice Spinning Combo

Courtesy of Bass Pro Shops

The lightweight EC2.5 Carbon rod and reel combo from Eagle Claw provides supreme sensitivity and balance. Perfect your skills with this rod's premium tangle-free guides with hard aluminum inserts, an all-carbon handle with an exposed blank reel seat, and an EVA butt grip for precise jigging. It also comes with a size five spinning reel that boasts a sturdy graphite body and a six bearing reel system for a smooth glide and confident pull-back. And a bright fluorescent orange tip helps you notice the smallest of rod movement.

Eagle Claw also makes it easy to find the optimal setup for your fishing needs, with two-piece rod lengths that measure in at either 24 or 28 inches and three power variants—light, medium, and medium-light—with an overall fast action that can handle up to four pounds.

Best Custom: St. Croix Custom Ice Fishing Rod

When an off-the-shelf model won’t do, upgrade to St. Croix's Custom Ice Rod, which lets you build a rod that fits your specific needs. Designed to fish straight down and endure the coldest of temperatures, you can choose from three different blank platforms including solid carbon, solid glass, and a tubular carbon/glass combination. Each version is outfitted with recoil guides that have a black pearl finish specific for icy conditions. Split-grip handles and high-end cork makes the rod pliable and non-slip.

You can also select from a variety of lengths, power rating, and action. And while the Custom Ice Rod isn’t cheap, the high-end materials mean that the rods will last for many seasons to come.

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