There’s nothing worse than forgetting something when you’re heading out to the lake for a day of ice fishing, and having the correct gear is equally as important. In this post, we are going to show you our ice fishing gear list, so you can be prepared for the ice fishing season.
There are many ice fishing rods that are a jack of all trades for species like panfish, but if you really want the best ice fishing experience there are certain rods that are designed with a specific species in mind.
Rods can be tailored for species like walleye in mind, and in recent years rods intended to catch crappie known as “noodle rods” are all the rage.
For other panfish, the fly style of ice fishing rods is incredibly popular and our favorite type of rod to use for most panfish.
Our favorite ice fishing rod: 13 Fishing Freefall Ghost combo – Radioactive Pickle.
Like with rods, there are reels that serve different roles when ice fishing and two common reel types are used today.
The first and most common reel used for ice fishing is a standard spinning reel, and they are smaller than your standard spinning reel.
The other commonly used reel that is becoming very popular is the inline ice fishing reels, some of which are closer to a fly reel than a spinning reel.
Spinning reels can be used for any species, but are very popular for fish like crappies and walleye, while the inline reels are more popular for bluegills but can also be used for any panfish species.
Our favorite ice fishing reel: 13 Fishing Freefall Carbon
Ice Fishing Clothing
While ice fishing tackle is important, ice fishing clothing is arguably the most important gear for ice fishing, as without the proper clothing you won’t last long on the ice in frigid temperatures. Let’s take a look at our recommended clothing for ice fishing.
Keeping your feet warm is quite possibly the most difficult thing to do when ice fishing, and having a good pair of boots is going to help you stay out longer and keep you comfortable. In most cases, it’s your ice-cold feet that cause you to call it quits early and miss out on a potential feeding window.
Most anglers agree that high rubber boots are the way to go, as they don’t absorb any water or moisture like leather boots, and even waterproof leather boots will wear on and absorb moisture over time.
Drilling holes will have water flow and splash over your feet, and rubber boots will create a barrier against this moisture, whereas boots with laces will get frozen solid.
Our favorite ice fishing boots: Muck Boots Arctic Pro
Right up there in levels of importance with boots are bibs. Bibs keep your core body temperature warm and stable, and they waterproofing of ice fishing bibs means that they won’t absorb water in the legs when drilling ice holes.
When your kneeling near an ice hole while fishing, you knees will get wet fast, and most ice fishing specific bibs will feature extra padding and material in the areas of the bibs that are likely to see significant wear.
There are many ice fishing specific bibs on the market today that are very high quality, and will last you for years.
Our favorite ice fishing bibs: StrikerICE Apex Bib
Glove might not be constantly used on the ice, as anglers prefer to go barehanded to feel the rod for light fish strikes, they are still needed for those times where you need to warm them up.
Nearly any insulated glove can do the trick, but there are gloves that are designed with the sole purpose of ice fishing in mind, and most are completely waterproof.
Our favorite ice fishing gloves: IceArmor Clam Neoprene Ice Fishing Gloves
Ice augers have come a long way in recent years, and no longer are anglers forced to lug large, unwieldy, and heavy gas engine ice augers around on the lakes.
Today, many ice augers like cars, have gone electric, and they are much lighter and they still have the power to easily drill holes, albeit less of them but still enough for a day of fishing.
Our favorite ice auger: StrikeMaster Lithium 24V Lite-Flite Auger
Ice Shelters & Sleds
For those brutally cold days, or when you just want to take a break from the cold, a portable ice shack can be a lifesaver.
One thing to keep in mind is that portable ice shacks can be a bit on the heavy side, so you will probably want to use them if you have something to haul or tow it with like a truck or ATV.
Today there are also ice shacks that can fit into a carry bag with a strap, and these are known as pop-up ice shelters, if you don’t need a built-in sled with your portable ice shack these might be the best option for you.
Our favorite ice fishing shelter: Eskimo Outbreak
Tackle & Accessories
The lures used for ice fishing are almost always made for ice fishing with a few exceptions, and ice fishing jigs can also be used during the open water months. Like with ice fishing lures, companies have also created ice fishing-specific lines that can handle the unique frozen environment.
Lets take a look at our favorite ice fishing lures and lines to help you choose which ones to bring on your next ice fishing trip.
There is a wide variety of lures for various species and due to ice fishing being fishing out of a hole, they are all vertical presentations.
Most are small simple jigs for panfish, others are classic vertical jigging spoons, and some are unique designs that swim in circles or have erratic actions when jigged.
Live bait has always been the most popular form of bait to use on most ice fishing jigs, but in recent years soft plastic presentations have taken the ice fishing world by storm.
It’s hard to list one specific lure as being our favorite, so we will have multiple that include different types of lures for various species.
Our favorite ice fishing lures:
- Rapala jigging rap (walleye, perch, crappies, pike.)
- Northland Tackle buckshot spoon (walleye, perch, crappies, pike.)
- Northland Tackle Impulse Bro’s Slug Bug (panfish.)
- 13 FISHING Bernie Soft Plastic Panfish Baits
Ice fishing lines are designed to handle the cold temperatures and rigors of ice fishing, with abrasion resistance from ice being a major concern.
There isn’t much else to say about ice fishing lines except for the design features to battle low temperatures and ice abrasion, other than typically having very low visibility for clear and cold waters.
Our favorite ice fishing line: Sufix Ice Magic
Ice Fishing Electronics
Ice fishing electronics have really changed the game, and technology keeps getting better and better. No longer do ice anglers have to sit at a hole and wonder if there is any structure or fish beneath them, and it only takes seconds to know what is below with a modern ice fishing fish finder.
Flashers were the first ice fishing sonar units to be accepted into the ice fishing community, and although more modern sonar units have taken the reigns, flashers still have a very prominent role to play on the ice, and many of the modern units today feature a flasher mode.
I still prefer using an old-school flasher in most cases, and it helps me see the activity levels of any fish that investigate my jig, and they are very precise in showing exactly where the fish are in relation to my presentation.
Favorite ice fishing flasher: Garmin STRIKER Plus 5
Fishfinders today for any type of fishing are comparable to space-age technology when compared to the first flashers used on the ice decades ago.
The transducers of some models feature side-imaging with 360 degree rotation, and have a definition that can show the fins of a fish moving.
Top of the line ice fishing units might not be the cheapest piece of gear you will own, and to be honest it will likely be the most expensive, but once you become proficient with a high-end sonar fish finder, you will never want to fish without one again.
Our favorite ice fishing fish finder: Garmin Panoptix LiveScope
Ice fishing cameras had a boom in popularity about 15 years ago, and since then the hype has worn down with most serious anglers choosing to use sonar electronics over fish cameras.
Fish cameras still definitely have advantages in that you can actually see things like what species of fish are in the immediate vicinity, or for seeing what the bottom makeup is beneath your hole, or what weed types are present.
You can also see in real-time how a fish is responding to your lure and bait presentations.
Our favorite ice fishing camera: Aqua-Vu AV 715C Underwater Viewing System
Safety should always be the top priority when ice fishing, particularly in the early and late season, or when fishing around inlets like creeks where the ice is thinner than the rest of the body of water you are fishing on.
There are a number of safety tools that are available to ensure you have a chance at getting out of the water if you break through the ice, and others that help prevent that from happening in the first place.
Safety spikes are great for helping you pull yourself out of the water in the event you break through the ice.
Spuds are great for testing the thickness of the ice as you walk along, and cleat attachments for your boots provide traction and help avoid nasty slips and falls.
Ice fishing clothing like the bibs we mentioned above is also constructed with safety features like high-vis patches and materials made to keep you afloat and not sink when falling through.
Here’s our checklist of must-have safety equipment for ice fishing:
- Frabill Deluxe Retractable Ice Picks
- Eskimo CH12 64-inch Multi-Faceted, Triple-Action Chipper Head Ice Chisel
- Shaddock Fishing Ice Cleats
Ice Fishing Gear List: Final Thoughts
There you have it, our ice fishing gear list full of what we consider to be essential ice fishing gear, or favorites. Be sure you have the proper gear you need before your next ice fishing trip.