The 11 Best Ice Fishing Rods of 2022 for Any Type of Fish

Perfect your ice fishing skills with these high-quality rods

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Ice fishing attracts a rare breed of anglers. They have to have the patience endemic to the sport in any circumstance, but they also need to be able to embrace (or at least endure) the cold and sometimes harsh weather that comes with frozen lakes. That’s why the perfect rod is essential—it provides a much-needed advantage to make ice fishing easier and more productive. The right rod should cater to the size of your target fish species, and provide enough sensitivity to notice the mere hint of a strike, along with the strength you need to land that catch.

From ultralight rods to those that can handle 10-pound monsters, these are the best ice fishing rods and rod-and-reel combos.

Best Overall: Eagle Claw EC2.5 Inline Ice Rod

Eagle Claw EC2.5 Ice Rod

Eagle Claw

What We Like
  • Versatile

  • Well-balanced

  • Very sensitive

What We Don't Like
  • Not available in ultralight action

Built with a lightweight, strong carbon ice blank and a graphite body, the EC2.5 Ice Rod from Eagle Claw employs an extremely sensitive feel to make even the faintest of strikes noticeable. It's reinforced by a fluorescent-orange tip to help you notice small rod movement. That carbon also extends to the handle, and partners with a comfortable EVA butt grip. Tangle-free guides come with hard aluminum inserts to assure smooth reeling, and a mix of different power/action options makes it easy to find the perfect model for your target fish species.

Rod Sizes: 24 and 28 Inches | Action/Power: Medium-Light, Medium, Medium-Heavy

Best Budget: Cabela's Whuppin' Stick Ice Combo

Cabela's Whuppin' Stick Ice Combo

Cabela's

What We Like
  • Inexpensive and rugged

  • Ultralight to medium action/power

What We Don't Like
  • Some may want a more sensitive rod

Consider the Whuppin’ Stick Ice Combo the low-cost gateway into ice fishing. Cabela's provides both the rod and the reel at one inexpensive price. A durable fiberglass blank can handle most fish species, with corrosion-resistant stainless steel guides for smooth action, and a cushioned lock-down reel seat that is glove-friendly and easy to grip. The reel includes a rugged aluminum spool and a smooth-running, single ball bearing system for confident reeling.

Gear Ratio: 4.8:1 | Rod Sizes: 24, 25, and 26 Inches | Action/Power: Ultralight, Light, Medium-Light, Medium

Best Rod and Reel Combo: Ugly Stik Ice More Fish Kit

Ugly Stik Ice More Fish Kit

Pure Fishing

What We Like
  • The two lengths cater specifically to either pan fish or walleye

  • Good value

What We Don't Like
  • Somewhat limited in length and rod power

Built to perform, the Shakespeare Ugly Stik Ice More Fish Kit comes ready, out of the box, to lure and cast. Both graphite and fiberglass compose the rod, making it strong, light, and very sensitive, along with one-piece durable stainless steel guides to remove the risk of a pop-out. A full-length EVA handle amps the comfort, with a twist-lock reel seat that houses the graphite spinning reel and ported aluminum spool. Better still, Shakespeare integrated their Ugly Stik Clear Tip tech to provide extra strength where the rods need it, making it easy to notice the lightest strike.

Gear Ratio: 5.2:1 | Rod Sizes: 26 and 28 Inches | Action/Power: Light and Medium

Best for Panfish: Frabill Bro Series Straight Line Combo-28 Noodle

Frabill Bro Series Straight Line Combo-28 Noodle

Frabill

What We Like
  • Lots of options in terms of both action and lengths

  • Quick-tip option perfect for jigging

What We Don't Like
  • Kind of expensive

Panfish refers to smaller fish species like sunfish, crappie, and perch, so you want a rod that will provide the highest degree of sensitivity to notice the feignest of nibbles from these light fish. Enter the Bro Series Straight Line Combo-28 Noodle from Frabill. Crafted with ice pro Brian “Bro” Brosdahl, it comes with a solid cork handle with a durable, light graphite reel seat and a sensitive blank through-handle construction to provide the optimal feel.

But this combo really excels at the variety of action options to help you narrow the rod to a specific type of panfish, ranging from ultralight up to medium light, along with a quick-tip option that makes jigging intuitive and easy. The highly responsive 3.7:1-geared reel includes a spool guard to accommodate a palm grip and long and short stems to handle heavier gloves. The line feeds off the free spool to eliminate coiling, and the durable reel itself won’t feel cold in frigid temps, making it easy to rig. 

Gear Ratio: 3.7:1 | Rod Sizes: 18, 25, 30, 32, and 35 Inches | Action/Power: Microlight, Ultralight, Light, Medium-Light, and Quick Tip

Best for Larger Fish: Fenwick HMG Ice Spinning Rod

Fenwick HMG Ice Spinning Rod

Pure Fishing

What We Like
  • Fast action

  • Rod tapers at the tip for jigging

What We Don't Like
  • Not suitable for smaller fish

  • Those who like shorter rods need not apply

Bigger fish require more rod power, and the Fenwick HMG Ice Spinning Rod delivers, with action options that start at medium and lengths that reach up to 38 inches. The solid graphite rod tapers at the tip to generate more action when using lighter jigs, while the premium cork handle with TAC trim makes it easy to land a strike, even when wearing thick gloves. And the lightweight stainless steel guides come with aluminum oxide inserts to let the line flow smoothly during casting and retrieval.

Rod Sizes: 26, 27, 28, 30, 38 Inches | Action/Power: Medium-Light, Medium, and Medium-Heavy

Best for Trout: Fiblink Graphite Ice Fishing Rod

Fiblink Graphite Ice Fishing Rod

Amazon

What We Like
  • Inexpensive

  • Very specifically targeted to trout and similar-sized fish

What We Don't Like
  • Not a one-quiver solution for all fishing options

Fiblink ran a lightweight, durable graphite rod blank through the handle of their Graphite Ice Fishing Rod, making it one of the best to use when hunting trout. The ergonomic solid cork handle provides a sure grip (even when wearing gloves) and has been shaped for comfort, feel, and performance. Offered in two sizes, when hunting trout go with the medium-powered 30-inch length, which is still sensitive enough to notice subtle strikes, and powerful enough to haul in every catch.

Rod Sizes: 24 and 30 Inches | Action/Power: Ultralight, Medium-Light, and Medium

Best for Walleye: Abu Garcia Vendetta Ice Spinning Rod

Abu Garcia Vendetta Ice Spinning Rod

Amazon

What We Like
  • Solid strength-to-weight ratio

  • Glove-friendly design

What We Don't Like
  • A touch expensive

The latest from Abu Garcia, the Vendetta Ice Spinning Rod employs a light, highly durable carbon last for optimal sensitivity without sacrificing the strength you need. Rated with a moderate action, it also uses high-density EVA in the handles (rather than cork) that will provide hours of comfort, with an ergonomic, glove-friendly design that’s built to last season after season. Stainless steel guides use stainless steel inserts to provide easy line flow, and the wide loops make it easy to set up. 

Rod Sizes: 25, 27, and 30 Inches | Action/Power: Light, Medium-Light, Medium, and Medium-Heavy

Best Custom: Thorne Bros. Custom Ice Rod

Thorne Bros. Custom Ice Rod

Thorne Bros.

What We Like
  • Truly customizable rod options that cover the gamut of needs

  • Quick turn-around for a custom rod

What We Don't Like
  • As with most custom rods, expect to spend more than a standard rod

Off-the-shelf rods are great for when you’re learning the sport. But once you’ve mastered the basics—and understand what type of ice fishing you most love, it’s time to upgrade to a rod configuration that matches your particular needs. Thorne Bros.’ Custom Ice Rod lets you select everything—the rod blank material, lights, guide options, guide wrap and trim band colors—even the option to have a name or saying transcribed onto the rod if you so desire. Turn-around is two to three weeks, and if you don’t see everything you want in their easy-to-use online ordering form, you can reach out to them directly. As they proclaim, “If you can dream it, we can build it!”

Rod Sizes: 20 to 32 Inches, in Inch Increments | Action/Power: Choose from 12 Thorne Bros. Rod Options, Including Panfish and Medium-Heavy Walleye Rods

Best Ultralight: Shimano Sienna Ice Combo

Shimano Sienna Ice Combo

Cabela's

What We Like
  • Inexpensive

  • Power ratings come in a variety of lengths

  • The rod can be purchased solo

What We Don't Like
  • If you go with ultralight power, it’s only suitable for panfish and other small species

When Shimano designed their Sienna Ice Combo rod and reel, they streamlined the grip and added a rear seat to cut down on excess materials, making the rod feel more comfortable and more balanced to enhance sensitivity—an essential feature in an ultralight rod. EVA wraps around the handle for durability and glove-friendly control, and an elongated high-visibility section at the tip helps you notice subtle bites. Aluminum oxide coil guides cut the weight further, ideal for fishing with lighter lines.

The combo also comes with the brand's Sienna Spinning Reel, which boasts a graphite frame and rotor with a three-in-one bearing system outfitted with Super Stopper II instant anti-reverse tech to make it easy to land the most stubborn of fish. Do note that the Sienna does come in a wide range of power options; go with one of the ultralight options.

Gear Ratio: 5.6:1 | Rod Sizes: 24, 28, 32, 36, and 40 Inches | Action/Power: Ultralight, Light, Medium-Light, Medium, Medium-Heavy

Best Medium Action: Clam Jason Mitchell Dead Meat Rod

Clam Jason Mitchell Dead Meat Rod

Cabela's

What We Like
  • Strong

  • Durable

What We Don't Like
  • This longer-than-average rod is suitable for fishing while standing, and might prove restrictive if fishing in a hut or shelter

The cold-weather equivalent of Clam’s Jason Mitchell Meat Stick Rod, the Jason Mitchell Dead Meat Rod comes with wider guides to keep the line from freezing while ice fishing. The fiberglass blanks provide solid strength without sacrificing sensitivity, and high-visibility graphics make it easy to notice the slightest of strikes, while the split handle comes with P-cork and an EVA butt for hours of comfortable fishing and seasons-long durability.

Rod Sizes: 40 and 48 Inches | Action/Power: Medium

Best Medium Heavy: Berkley Lightning Rod Ice Combo

Berkley Lightning Rod Ice Combo

Cabela's

What We Like
  • Four-bearing ice-specific reel

  • Glove-friendly reel system

What We Don't Like
  • No light action

The Lightning Ice Combo from Berkley comes with an ice-specific reel that boasts a smooth, four-bearing system and an extended, glove-friendly reel stem, along with a one-touch folding handle for easy transport. Fiberglass blanks add both strength and sensitivity, and a full-cork handle works with a down-locking reel seat to amplify the comfort. Available in four power ratings, for big fish go with the medium-heavy model, which can support a line rating of up to ten pounds.

Gear Ratio: 5.2:1 | Rod Sizes: 24, 28, and 32 Inches | Action/Power: Ultralight, Medium-Light, Medium, and Medium-Heavy

What to Look for in an Ice Fishing Rod

Size

Shorter than average fishing rods, ice fishing rods typically measure in around 25 to 28 inches, making them easy to use while seated or while fishing inside a shelter or hut. Shorter rods do provide less shock absorption than longer rods, meaning the effort to reel in the fish will fall to your arms, rather than the rod itself. But if you plan on fishing on the ice while standing, a longer road is more forgiving, absorbing head shakes and hard hook sets. Longer options are also more forgiving and help you land bigger fish with less physical effort. Rods in this category can be as long as 40 inches.

Price

As with all outdoor gear, you can spend a lot in perfecting the ideal ice fishing set-up, but—thankfully—entry-level rods are very affordable, starting as low as $20 for a rod-and-reel combo. Just make sure the action aligns with your target fish species. Higher-cost rods come with more performant, lightweight, and durable materials. And custom rods, hand-made models that cater to every variable, hover at the highest price. Note as well that some rods come without reels, so if it’s not a combo, expect to also shell out for an ice reel.

Action/Power

This stat refers to the force needed to bend the rod, and range from ultralight to medium-heavy. The desired action should be dictated by the species of fish you’re targeting—go light for smaller fish like panfish, and then upgrade the power for larger species like trout or wall-eye. That said, experts agree that the most common mistake is going for a rod that’s too stiff; it might help land a monster fish, but it’s overkill (and a struggle) when you consider the average fish species targeted while ice fishing. Rods with more action (read: bend) also makes it easier to jig and will help you catch light strikes by witnessing the tip bending as the fish makes contact with the lure.

FAQs

Can I use my regular fishing rod and reel for ice fishing?

If you have a shorter overall rod with a lightweight to medium-heavy action, you could probably get away with your existing setup. But there are drawbacks. Ice fishing reels tend to be smaller than conventional fishing because the line is presented vertically—the reels don’t need to hold as much line. Lighter rigs also make it easier to jig for hours on end, so if your kit is heavy, expect fatigue. The cold weather endemic to ice fishing also means that you’re be wearing gloves, so before you head out be sure you can easily operate the rod and reel with gloves on. A rod and reel that’s easy to rig and control on a warm summer’s day may be impossible with 100 grams of Primaloft insulation between your hands and the controls. And be sure your guides aren’t particularly narrow in diameter—cold temps mean that the line could freeze on the rod if there’s not enough space between the line and the guides.

What other gear do I need?

If you go with a solo rod, you’ll need to outfit your kit with an ice-specific reel as well as the other gear for ice fishing—the lure and the line, for starters. A net is also a no-brainer. Given the cold environs, you’ll also need a solid clothes layering system to keep you warm, including a wicking upper and lower base layers, additional mid-level insulation, and ideally waterproof/breathable insulated pants and jackets with a hood, and a warm hat. Gloves are essential; look for three-in-one models that come with an outer insulated waterproof layer and a lighter-weight glove liner that can be worn solo, which will provide you with a bit of protection while executing more dexterous moves like setting up the rig. Warm, winter-ready boots or shoes are also essential, ideally with aggressive treads to handle navigating on snow and ice. After-market strap-on spikes are also great to provide sure footing on slick surfaces. Beyond that, we vote for a high-quality insulated bottle to carry warm liquids. And if you want to get fancy, you can also buy a portable shelter that will protect you from the elements and add a bit of warmth when out on the ice.

Why are ice fishing rods so short? 

Compared to regular fishing, ice fishing rods are indeed smaller, in large part to cater to the particulars of the sport. Unlike warm-weather angling, chances are good that you’ll be seated while ice fishing, so a medium- to short-length pole (an average of 25 to 28 inches) is easier to handle since you’re not standing and are thus closer to the hole. You’ll also probably be fishing inside a hut or shelter, and shorter rods are easier to maneuver in confined spaces. But if you don’t plan on fishing in a shelter or while seated, a longer rod may be more comfortable.

Why Trust TripSavvy?

Nathan Borchelt is a freelance contributor to TripSavvy. He has been working in the travel and outdoor industry for more than 15 years as a writer, photographer, editor, and product manager. His personal passions gravitate toward skiing, scuba diving, hiking, backpacking, trail running, biking, and perfecting the après adventures that follow such exploits. He co-authored a guidebook to his hometown of Washington, D.C. His travels have taken him to South and Central America, Canada, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe, the Caribbean, Mexico, and all over the continental United States.

Was this page helpful?
Continue to 5 of 11 below.
Continue to 9 of 11 below.