Winter will be here before you know it which means it will soon be ice fishing season again. If you happen to be in the market for a new reel for ice fishing, make sure you do your homework and find one that can withstand the harsh temperatures, is easy to carry, and that won’t have any problems with line twist. Here are a few tips on what to look for in the best ice fishing reel and a few reviews to help you start shopping.
The Ice Fishing Reels
Ice Fishing Reels Buying Guide
Type of Reel
Spinning reels - The most common type of fishing reel is the spinning reel which is perfect for catching fish that are small to medium-sized using a fixed spool found beneath the rod. These versatile rods are popular since you can use them for several types of tackle as well as live bait and artificial lures. They are not good for heavy tackles, and they are not as accurate as baitcasters. Seasoned bass anglers do not use them as much, but beginners tend to like them for their ease of use.
Baitcasting reels – Offering better accuracy and control, baitcasting reels are preferred by seasoned anglers. With spools that rotate as you cast, they take a little practice before you become proficient at casting effectively. After mastering how to use the baitcaster, your accuracy will improve allowing you to place a lure in the exact spot you choose, plus you will be able to quickly recover from a bad cast.
Inline ice fishing reels – The lack of line twist is the main advantage of an inline ice fishing line. Inline reels do not cause line twist when you are retrieving it. Line twist will compromise the integrity of the line, so you get better performance with an inline reel that has a line that is not likely to come unspun than with a spinning reel.
Number of Ball Bearings
Reducing the friction that occurs between the moving parts, ball bearings ensure the reel moves smoothly and freely no matter the winding and drag that is created. The more ball bearings that a reel has, the more smoothly it operates.
If a reel has two or three ball bearings, it would be appropriate for a light angler. Active anglers that go after larger fish will want at least five or more ball bearings in their reel.
Weight is an important consideration as it makes a big difference in how portable your reel will be. With a lightweight fishing reel, you can easily carry it with you on a fishing trip. And this will make it easier to hold as you wait for a fish.
When you have a reel which is too heavy, you will get tired fast and tend to lose your stamina, but if you have a lightweight reel, you can conserve your energy while you wait for the fish to come.
The design of the handle on your ice fishing reel will determine if you have enough control as some models let you switch the handle to the right or left side of the reel.
This is the perfect arrangement to give your dominant hand more control over the line no matter which one you are using.
Some models are also designed to specifically work for either right or left-handed use, so make sure you check before you order your reel to see what hand the reel will fit.
Also, make sure to see how well the handle sticks out from the reel as it needs to be thick and long enough to give you a good grip.
This type of hold is important as the handle needs to be easy to grip when you are wearing thick gloves as you don’t want to have to take your gloves off for a handle that is too thin just to keep a hold on your reel.
If you are looking for a steady ice fishing reel that is also strong, look for metal material construction. Metal tends to resist rust, abrasion, and corrosion, and it should also be lightweight so it won’t add more stress to your rod. A popular metal is graphite which is lightweight, yet strong so it won’t break or crack.
This type of reel will definitely be exposed to freezing temperatures, ice, and water, so you need to make sure your eel can withstand off these things. Make sure to look for a reel that is made of graphite or aluminum.
One of your main concerns when ice fishing is freezing, so make sure to look for a spool that is treated with anti-freeze lubrication so you can fish with fewer interruptions.
Responsible for handling the line on your reel, the spool measurement is based on the length of the line and how much it weighs. Weight is measured by the number of pounds that it can handle.
If you have a large spool, a high total weight is needed when you are getting into the deep areas of water where there is pressure that might be too strong.
You should also have an antifreeze system included in the spool, and it should be lubricated well, so it won’t lock up in frigid temperatures. Usually, the antifreeze will automatically coat the spool, but there may be cases where you have to add the lubricant yourself.
The gear ratio tells you the number of times that the reel can turn over as the handle rotates once. So, 1:1 ratio means that the reel is turning over once with each rotation of the handle and a 2:1 ratio means the reel has turned over twice.
Best Ice Fishing Reel Reviews
Fiblink Inline Reel Review
Featuring a drag system that is super smooth, the Fiblink Inline Reel also includes instant anti-reverse that gives you smooth reeling and for transitions.
The spool ejects easily from the reel with the free spool release button. It also includes 4 ball bearings giving you weighted action that is nice and smooth.
An ergonomic soft grip handle features comfortable EVA foam that stops sliding and slipping so you won’t lose your grip on your reel.
The Fiblink Inline Reel has a one-way clutch and a 2:7:1 gear ratio. Plus it comes with a CNC spool that is made of machined aluminum and a huge line capacity.
Eagle Claw In Line Reel Review
With a smooth Teflon drag, the Eagle Claw Inline Reel has a lot to offer. The spool tension is adjustable which is a great bonus feature. And, the spool is easy to take off your reel by using the free spool release button.
Made with an aluminum handle and nylon spool and body, the Eagle Claw Inline Reel includes a Star drag and line clicker and a 1575 inch reduced line twist. Other features include four ball bearings, a 2:6:1 reel ratio, and a line retrieve in/crank.
Frabill Straight Line Ice Fishing Reel Review
With tons of features that you will enjoy, the Frabill Straight Line has one feature most anglers will appreciate. The guarded spool reel allows you to grip the outside of the reel with your palm.
This lightweight reel is constructed of a composite, so it is easy to hold as well as very durable. Not only does the composite construction create an easy to use and hold reel, it adds durability and strength that can withstand frigid temperatures.
The 3.7:1 reel ratio gives you an incredibly smooth drag as well as instant anti-reverse. Additionally, for each reel revolution, you get 22 inches of line giving you incredibly fast retrieval.
The line feeds straight off the spool lessening line spinning and coiling with the large balanced spool that also maximizes your retrieval rate, and five ball bearings give you smooth retraction and fast casting.
Other features include a sub-zero lube that guarantees smooth operation even in the coldest temperature, a free spool that makes it easy to drop small jigs, an ambidextrous reel handle that is over-sized for incredible control, and an audible/silent bait alarm switch.
Celsius Blizzard Spinning Reel Review
For those looking for a high-quality ice fishing experience, the Blizzard spinning reel with extended yoke is worth checking out.
With a completely different look than many of its competitors, the Celsius Blizzard features an extended yoke that gives you a lot of space. That means you can even use this reel when wearing a warm pair of glove
The Celsius Blizzard Reel has a sturdy aluminum spool that has a coating of freeze-resistant lubricant that gives you smooth action that won’t stop because of the cold. It also features four ball bearings and anti-reverse for great performance and action.
Best Ice Fishing Reel Reviews Conclusion
The winner of the best ice fishing reel roundup is the Fiblink Inline Reel. This is a comfortable reel to use that gives you a smooth transition and reeling with the instant anti-reverse.
The drag system is impressively smooth and the easy to eject spool are features any angler will love along with the smooth weighted action from its 4 ball bearings.
A soft grip handle with EVA foam gives you an ergonomic grip that you can hold for long periods of time. Plus, the Fiblink Inline Ice Fishing gives you a huge line capacity and a 2:7:1 gear ratio. It is , hands down, the best ice fishing reel of this roundup.
Want to find out if you're a spinning or baitcast rod type of person? Check out our fishing rod review here. After you've selected the rod, you can take a look at our fishing reel review, where we take a look at some of the best spincasting, spinning and baitcasting reels on the market.