4 Best Ice Fishing Rod and Reel (2018 Picks)

by | Aug 23, 2018 | Ice Fishing, Best Fishing Tackle, Reels, Rods | 0 comments

There’s no better feeling than when the tip of your fishing rod bobs down on your ice fishing rod, and within a split second, you feel the hook set and catch, and your reel comes alive, stripping line so fast you think it’s going to smoke. You’ve got one on!

Remember that one rod might not be suitable for all locations, conditions, and species of fish. So it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each ice fishing pole, and purchase one, two, or more, according to your own fishing needs.

Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combos 2018

The good news is that these days, you can adequately shop around online, reading detailed reviews and product specifications to find one that’s perfect for you. Likewise, matching it with a reel is easier than ever since many brands offer ideal rod-and-reel combo packages.

Rod and Reel Model FeaturesCheck Price On Amazon
The Frabill Ice Hunter Combo
27-Inch, Medium Light Action, Solid graphite blank for superior sensitivity, ...Check Price
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Combo
ice fishing rod and reel combo
26-Inch, 28-Inch, 30-Inch, Genuine ugly stik blank, EVA foam handle, Twist-lock reel seat, ...Check Price
Clam Dave Genz Split Handle Series Ice Fishing Rod
28-Inch, fast-action tip, cork handle and tail, ...Check Price
Berkley Lightning Rod Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combo
24-Inch, 28" ML, 28-Inch, 32" MH, Lightning Ice Combo UL Rod and Reel, Provided by Berkley, Ice Combos made for ice fishing applications, ...Check Price

Here are our picks for five great ice fishing rods to consider (in no particular order):

1. The Frabill Ice Hunter Combo

Light Ice Fishing RodPriced at only $39.99, this Ice Hunter rod from one of the most trusted names in ice fishing comes in a stout 38-inch heavy duty model. But while it has enough backbone to pull in some lake monsters, its tip is sensitive enough to showcase your angling skills. Its long enough to keep shock absorption on hook-sets, and even works nicely with braided line.

2. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Combo

ice fishing rod and reel combo

This rod is priced right even for a beginner or weekend warrior, but still boasts impressive balance and touch. But you’ll still find that it’s durable enough to bring in up to 6 pounders, including just about any pike or lake trout you can hook. It’s also easy to use with a comfortable EVA handle and grip and I love the twist-lock reel housing.

3. Clam Dave Genz Split Handle Series Ice Fishing Rod

split handle ice rod walleye perchClam honored Dave Genz with this serious ice rod for serious fish. If you’ve run into bigger fish that bending your rod like it’s a toothpick, you’ll love this big game hunter, as it can handle just about any larger predator fish with ease. But you also don’t have to adapt your fishing style to your rod size, not the other way around, because it comes in six sizes. This rod comes in an impressive graphite-wrapped fiberglass, and even the guides have stainless steel frames with chrome rings.

4. Berkley Lightning Rod Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

Ice Fishing Rod & Reel ComboIf you don’t want to break the bank on a rod and reel, but still find a durable and reliable stick, try this combo by Berkley. The first thing that you’ll notice is that its guides are a bit oversized, but that feature is intended to make sure they won’t freeze. But the extra-sized guides won’t become cumbersome since this rod is actually lightweight, as is the graphite reel. Beginning ice anglers also love that the reel comes with front frag and ball bearing drive. It’s plenty comfortable to work all day long and a great value for the money – as long as you’re not gunning for big or overly aggressive species.

Ice Fishing Rod Buyer Guide

Balance of rod and reel

Balance is extremely important when picking a great rod, since it needs to be touchy and responsive enough to register even the lightest bite.

But too often, ice anglers purchase a rod they think is suitably balanced but forget to factor in the weight and balance of the reel and even how it will feel with bait on-line.

If you don’t synchronize your rod and reel, it’s way too easy to misread a bite or mistime a hook, losing you fish in your cooler.

As a general rule, experienced ice fishermen recommend that if in doubt, go with a little bit lighter rod, such as a graphite model at first, so you don’t sacrifice comfort or sensitivity.

Fishing rod length

Your rod length should be determined by the conditions you’ll be fishing in.

For instance, while longer rods are more forgiving, absorbent, and offer better leverage, they’re also hard to operate in a cramped ice shed.

Short rods, however, will require more energy and strength when fighting a heavier fish, but they’re far easier to use in a one-man tent or when switching between holes.

To get the best of both world, go graphite if you’re choosing a short rod over a longer one, because fiberglass models may not have enough strength and durability to do the heavy lifting.


While it’s often forgotten, the number of “eyes” or guides your rod has, and their quality, makes a significant difference. Rods with more guides bend more evenly, giving them better performance and shock absorption. Never buy a rod with less than 4 guides, and 5 or 6 are ideal.

You should also look for guides that taper in size towards the tip, and some anglers love oversized guides because they don’t freeze up, although they can be more expensive.


There’s nothing worse than getting hit hard but then the hook doesn’t set properly, or the rod and reel aren’t strong enough to bring in a big one. Match your rod, reel, and line to the species you’re going after – and what others are catching where you’re setting up.

Tip speed

You’ll appreciate a tip that’s fast enough to make your lure dance and jump – and the fish will appreciate it, too!