Best Ice Augers For Ice Fishing
Ice fishing is both a sport and a way to earn a meal. People have been taking part in ice fishing around the world for years. In some cultures, ice fishing is more than just a sport or pastime – it’s how they catch their food.
Before the invention of commercial ice augers, people were forced to dig through the ice by hand. People still do this today, but it’s not the safest way to get a hole in the ice. If you’re not careful, thin ice could crack, splinter, and send you under.
It’s a better idea to use an auger, even if it’s a manual one. They’re safer and more accessible than using a chisel, and a must-own for anyone who regularly ice fishes.
Ahead, we’ll take a look at the best augers to fit your needs as an ice fisherman. Having a good ice auger is as essential as any other ice fishing equipment.
Types of Ice Augers
There weren’t always a wide variety of selections in ice augers. When they first hit the market, manual augers were all there were. These were still easier than most ways of creating a hole but still weren’t the most efficient.
Now, there are a few different kinds of ice augers from which to choose. The best selection will depend on your needs. Not everyone will need the top-of-the-line, high-powered auger for their ice fishing expedition. If you can, it’s always nice to save some money – but not if ice fishing is a regular activity for you.
Manual Ice Auger
Choosing the right auger depends on what you’re doing. A manual auger is the toughest auger to use, but it will usually be a lot cheaper than the other options. If you’re drilling a lot of holes, you won’t want to use a manual auger. Drilling all of those holes will take far too long, and you’ll find yourself spending most of your day digging instead of fishing.
Most people prefer an electric, gas, or propane ice auger as opposed to a manual auger for most applications. There are, however, a few benefits to choosing a manual auger over the other options.
Manual augers are much lighter, so you won’t have to carry around a bulky piece of equipment from location to location. Additionally, manual augers are much quieter than electric, gas, or propane augers.
If you’re digging through thinner ice, the best option is probably a manual auger. Manual augers make far less sound than the other kinds of augers. This factor is important because, if you make too much noise, all of the fish will flee from the area and you’ll have a tough time catching anything. Even if drilling a hole is as easy as possible, it won’t matter if there aren’t any fish to catch.
Some people enjoy spending the extra effort on drilling a hole in the ice. If this is one of the only physical activities in someone’s routine, it’s easy to understand why they’d want to make the most out of their experience. Carrying the auger is easy, so most of the work comes in the drilling portion.
If you’re drilling through thick patches of ice, though, it’s probably worth it to buy another kind of auger. These are much faster and more efficient for most ice fishers. Everyone hits the age where they eventually need assistance digging through the ice. At this point, there’s no choice but to pick up a gas, electric, or propane auger.
Electric Ice Auger
Electric ice augers are a step up from manual ice augers. They’re quicker, easier, and more efficient than manual augers, but don’t have many benefits other than that. They’re not much heavier than their manual counterpart, so if you’re carrying the auger a long distance, it won’t be too tiring.
Electric augers don’t make too much of a sound either. Cutting through ice is always pretty loud, but electric, battery-powered augers won’t create the same sound as gas or propane augers. There’s less of a chance of scaring fish away with these augers, so for thinner ice, an electric auger would probably be better if you don’t like cutting manually.
There are several drawbacks to using electric augers. First of all, they are the least reliable form of an auger. Manual augers are the most reliable because they don’t rely on anything other than the user’s endurance and force. Electric augers, which many turn to after manual drilling gets too hard, provide many more opportunities to break-down and leave you stranded.
With gas and propane augers, you only have to worry about fuel and engine capabilities. There’s a lot more that can go wrong with electric augers. You need to charge the battery, which means if it loses charge you’re stuck on the ice with the holes you’ve already made.
When the battery starts dying, cutting through ice can be troublesome as well. With gas and propane augers, there isn’t any fall-off until you thoroughly drain the fuel. With electric, you’ll be able to tell when you’re running low, but that also means cutting holes will be near impossible until you get back to base and charge-up again.
If it’s too cold outside, there’s a high chance the battery will get too cold and won’t be able to function. The same is true for propane augers, but that doesn’t mean they’re wrong for all circumstances. If you fish in an enclosure, electric augers may be your best choice. You don’t have to worry about fumes, and the heat of the enclosure should keep your battery warm enough to function.
Again, the choice between electric, propane, or gas ice auger depends on your need. If you’re digging through thick patches of ice in the dead of winter, an electric auger probably won’t be up to par. The same is true for the width of your hole. If you like fishing through wider holes, a battery-powered auger won’t be your best option.
If, however, you fish on warmer days or already have holes prepared, an electric auger will do just fine. More can go wrong with these augers, but if you keep an extra battery on hand, you should be fine. Electric augers can get you going faster and easier if all the conditions are right, but they’re far less versatile than the other selections.
Gas Ice Auger
Gas augers are best for better for bigger jobs than electric or manual augers. They’re far louder, and you run the risk of spooking some of your fish, but overall they’re much more efficient and reliable than the competition.
Gas augers are the most well-rounded option of the bunch. They can dig deeper and faster than electric augers, and don’t have the same environmental constraints. If you’re cutting a big hole without an enclosure, gas augers are among the best choices in the category.
In fact, you can’t operate a gas-powered auger inside an enclosure. For obvious reasons, this is unsafe and could lead to death. If you’re using an enclosure and a gas auger, make your hole before you set up the tent.
These augers make it possible for you to dig deeper into the ice than you otherwise could. If you’re fishing in the dead of winter, a gas or propane auger are your only options. Electrical augers might break down in the cold weather, and even if they’re working correctly they won’t go as deep as gas augers.
It’s fairly easy to ensure your gas auger will work when you get out to the ice. As long as you take care of the engine and keep some gas on hand, you should be good to go. Every piece of machinery will break down at some point, but gas augers a far easier to regulate when compared to electric augers.
The drawback with gas augers is that they’re usually the heaviest of the bunch. If you choose a gas auger, it’s a good idea to pick up a carrying case as well. This will limit the extra strain on your body, but it’s still a chore to transport these augers.
If you’re making smaller holes in the ice, it’s probably not worth the hassle of carrying around a gas auger. This is also true if you have to travel a long distance on foot. These machines are heavy, and even though they make digging easier, they’re no walk in the park to transport.
Propane Ice Auger
A propane ice auger has many of the same benefits and disadvantages of a gas auger. It’s the heaviest of the bunch, which means you’ll have to consider how far you need to carry the auger before committing to a propane-powered option.
Like the gas auger, there isn’t much other than a fuel source with which to concern yourself. You need to make sure you have enough propane, but after that, you’re good to go. Like the electrical auger, propane augers don’t perform well when it’s too cold outside. If you’re fishing during the coldest days of the year, you may need to let your auger warm in an enclosure before you drill your hole.
Like gas augers, propane augers are fairly loud and can scare fish away. That said, it’s also adept at digging larger and deeper holes. If you need to break through thick ice or prefer a larger surface for fishing, propane is an excellent choice.
Unlike gas, you can use a propane auger in the comfort of a tent. If you don’t like sitting in the cold wind but need an auger that can cut deep, wide, holes, a propane-fueled auger is probably the best option. Keep the weight in mind, though, because sometimes it’s better to go lighter if the ice isn’t too thick.
What to Look for in an Auger
The above characteristics should determine the best selection for your ice fishing needs. One of the most important elements to consider is weight. You’ll be lugging the thing around, and if it’s too heavy, you might find yourself ditching it later for a lighter option.
- Ice Auger Blade Size
- Weight of the Ice Auger
- Type of Fuel
Propane and gas augers are the heaviest in general, but even these vary in weight. If you don’t sacrifice durability, get the lightest option you can. This factor is dependent on how far you have to travel, but generally, a lighter selection is preferred in most cases.
Another factor you’ll want to consider is the size of the blade. Catching larger fish requires larger holes, so if you’re in a location with massive fish, you’ll want a blade that can handle the hole you need.
Ten-inch blades are ideal for typical use. This size covers most of the needs of regular ice fishers. Eight-inch blades are also common, but it’s usually better to opt for the bigger hole than the smaller one. Those two inches are essential and can result in a hole that is nearly 50% larger than holes made with 8-inch blades.
The ability to keep an edge is crucial as well. You won’t want an auger that will require sharpening after a few uses. Below we’ve considered all of these factors, and it’s usually best to avoid options that user ice auger reviews deem too dull. Find an auger that keeps its edge to prevent fruitless attempts at digging a hole.
Best For Portability
Out of the four options, the best for portability is the hand auger. It’s the lightest of the bunch by far, and if you have to walk a far distance, it’s not going to tire you out. These are the best for thinner ice because they’re quiet and won’t scare any of the fish out of the area.
Of course, the hand augers require manual labor once you get out to your spot. If the ice is too thick, it can be a drag, but some people like the extra exercise they get before fishing. It keeps you warm and gives you a sense of accomplishment once you finish the hole.
If you want portability without the hand crank, electric augers will be the best option. They aren’t as reliable, but they’re lighter than propane and gas augers, so you won’t have trouble lugging them across frozen lakes. It’s up to you, but if you want a portable option, you’re looking for electric or hand augers.
Best Ice Auger For Deep Digging
The best selection for digging deeper, wider holes is the gas auger. Propane augers are a close second here, and if you’re drilling in an ice fishing shelter, they’re the better choice. Still, gas augers are the most reliable and versatile of the bunch.
As you can guess, deeper, wider holes mean less portability, but sometimes there is no other choice. If the fish are too large for electric or hand augers, you need to upgrade to an auger that uses gas or propane.
Eskimo Hand Auger
If you’re on the market for a hand auger, this Eskimo ice auger is an excellent selection. You can choose the size of your blade, so if you only need smaller holes, you can walk away with quite the bargain. The size range is 6-inch to 8-inch so that they won’t be drilling the largest holes. Still, for a hand auger, this is one of the best options on the market.
As most hand augers are, this product is easy to assemble. Its blade keeps an edge for much longer than other manual augers, so you won’t have to sharpen the product after only a few uses. As far as depth, the Eskimo hand auger can tackle some of the toughest ice in the business.
You’d probably still want a gas or propane option for the deepest and hardest of ice, but this auger will go much deeper than other hand augers. It takes a bit of work, but after a few cranks, you’ll start to see substantial progress.
The only reported negative of this product is the durability of the top handle. Some users have reported that the handle falls off after heavy use. This factor isn’t unusual with hand augers, but you should consider this if you’re looking for a durable replacement for your current hand auger.
- Selection of blade sizes
- Easy to assemble
- Tackles thicker ice easier than other hand augers
- Blade keeps its edge
- Can be a bit jerky when you’re new
- Some users reported hand crank falling off after heavy use
Another Eskimo auger option is the Quickfish. This auger runs on propane and comes with all the advantages and drawbacks of that genre of auger. Like many of the Eskimo products, you can choose the size of your blade based on which fish you’re targeting.
The first use may take a few pulls, but after that, this reliable machine starts automatically. I love this feature because I’m continually standing outside, pulling away with my current auger. There’s no question whether or not this one will start.
There’s hardly any assembly required with this product, which is fantastic because some of the others need a complicated assembly process to keep it going. Even for a propane auger, the Quickfish cuts through the ice extremely fast. There’s no waiting around for this product, and you’ll have two holes made by the time another auger will cut one.
The Quickfish is considerably heavier than some of the other propane options, which is a bit of a drawback. Carrying this auger around can be difficult, so if you’re traveling a long distance, it might not be the best choice.
Some of the parts on this auger are made from plastic, which can compromise the durability of the auger. It won’t jeopardize the value of the machine, but it’s certainly a concern if you want to get a decade’s use out of the Quickfish.
- Choose from 8-inch blade or 10-inch blade
- Starts easily, usually on first pull
- Hardly any assembly required
- Very fast at cutting through ice
- Heavier than similar options
- Some plastic components, which is a durability concern
This ION ice auger is among the best on the market. Unlike some of the other electric augers, this product can handle the ice in colder weathers. I prefer electric augers for their portability, but in colder months they can be too slow. With the ION, the time is cut-down significantly, meaning you can start fishing sooner in the winter months.
The battery life lasts a long time as well, which is a common complaint with electric users. Batteries that die after an hour can kill a fishing expedition, so it’s essential to buy an electric ice auger that can hold a charge.
The drill on the ION is also superb. It’s only eight inches wide, so it’s not the best for bigger holes, but if depth is your concern, then this product has you covered. With the attachment, the auger can reach 46 inches down. That should be deep enough for most fishers.
The reverse feature on the ION is fantastic, mainly if it gets stuck in the ice. I’ve been out on the lake multiple times and had to wrench my auger free. Each time I’m terrified it will break. While it takes some getting used to, the reverse feature can be crucial in some situations.
When compared to other electric options, this auger is a bit heavier. It’s 21 pounds, so it’s still lighter than gas or propane options, but that’s considered heavy for most people looking for an electric auger. It might not be enough to dissuade someone from buying this auger, but the weight is still a concern for most users.
- Has a reverse feature
- Long-lasting battery life
- Works well in colder weather
- Long drill and included attachment for deeper cuts
- A bit heavy for a battery-operated auger
- Some users reported durability concerns
- Only 8-inch drill
Strike Master Lazer Hand Auger
This Striker ice auger is another hand auger for those who like the portability of these types of augers. This product is a bit smaller than some of the other manual augers, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your size. Smaller individuals will probably like the size of this auger, while taller people may have trouble with it.
Unlike some of the other hand augers, the Strike Master Lazer Hand Auger is covered with powder-coated paint to reduce the buildup of ice on the blades. With a lot of hand augers, the ice can get you stuck and prevent you from drilling further. This paint prevents that effect so that you can drill smoothly without any problem.
Unfortunately, the biggest drawback of this product is the durability of the blade. The blade doesn’t keep an edge as long as some of the others, which can be a massive inconvenience when you’re out on the ice. You can sharpen the blade, but this product takes a considerable more amount of care than other hand augers in the same price range.
- Adjustable from 4 to 8 inches
- Adjustable handle
- Less ice build-up than others
- Cuts easily
- A bit smaller than most
- Blade doesn’t hold an edge for as long
The XtremepowerUS V-Type is a versatile auger that you can use for more than just ice fishing. Most of these augers are exclusive to ice fishing, which means you’d need to buy a new one if you want to dig holes in your yard. This gas-powered auger is great for cutting through ice and dirt alike, so you can use this auger for multiple needs.
The ten-inch blade is fantastic for making larger holes, and you can upgrade to 12 inches if you need it. It cuts cleanly and starts quickly after one pull. For most applications, the power of this machine will fit your needs.
Unfortunately, the fact that this auger is for more than ice drilling works against it when you’re only using it for fishing. The blade isn’t durable enough to handle thick ice in the dead of winter. Even though it’s gas-powered, it can’t get through tough patches of ice as others can.
Durability is another concern here. Some users have reported that the V-Type breaks down after heavy use. If you need something for ice fishing and home repair, this is a solid selection. If you’re only interested in augers for ice fishing, though, you might want to look elsewhere.
- 10-inch blade
- Not just for ice fishing
- Fantastic power for most applications
- Cuts thin ice very quickly
- Some users reported durability concerns
- Not the best for harder ice
Jiffy Model 60
This Jiffy ice auger is a gas-powered option that cuts through deep ice like butter. The power in this auger is impressive, and it’s able to cut through even the toughest of ice quickly. If you’re looking for an auger to use during the coldest months of the year, this product should serve your needs.
As far as I can tell, this auger almost never gets stuck in the ice. It drills deep, wide holes quickly, to allow for maximum fishing time. There are a few drawbacks to this machine, but it’s still among the top options for ice fishing augers.
The blade keeps its edge through heavy use, and durability isn’t a concern here. Some of the other gas augers seem to break down over time, but the Jiffy Model 60 keeps going strong.
One of the biggest negatives, though, is the fact that this auger is extremely heavy. Lugging this thing around is a serious chore, so you wouldn’t want to go too far unless you have something with which to drag your tools. Gas-powered augers are usually heavy, but this one has to be one of the heaviest on the market.
Another drawback of this machine is the noise it makes. Thick ice is no problem for it, but it makes quite the racket getting there. Experienced fishers know that noise can be the difference between a successful day of fishing and a loss, so keep this in mind if your fishing location is usually sparse. The fish will usually return, but it might take a bit more patients than with other augers.
- Cuts smoothly
- Starts easily – usually after one pull
- Great power
- Blade keeps its edge
- Much heavier than other options
- Very loud
Eskimo Shark Z71
If you fish in colder climates, the Eskimo Shark Z71 is a fantastic selection for your auger. The power is nearly unmatched in this auger, and it cuts through thick ice without any problems. Some of the other augers that boast this kind of power can get stuck in thicker ice. With the Shark, you’ll hardly notice.
Like many of the gas and propane augers on this list, the Shark starts quickly and easily after one pull. Some of the other augers we didn’t include will take multiple pulls each time, leaving you wondering if you forgot to put gas in the machine.
The see-through gas tank on this machine is an excellent feature. I’m always wondering how much fuel I have left, but with Eskimo products, you never have to worry.
The blade on the Shark holds its edge for a long time. Where other augers get dull and less effective, the Shark continues to cut through thick patches of ice with ease. You’ll eventually have to sharpen the edge, but not sooner than any of the other options on the market.
- One of the most powerful augers on the market
- High RPM
- Starts quickly and easily every time
- Blade holds its edge
- Very heavy
- Handles are a bit weak
The ION X is ION’s newer auger option that’s available with a 10-inch blade. Most of the other electric options only go up to eight inches, so if you want to cut a wider hole with an electric auger, the ION X is probably the one you’ll want to use.
Much like the other ION electric auger we covered, this auger provides smooth, deep cuts that are usually reserved for gas-powered augers. On top of that, the 10-inch blade will improve the size of your hole if you’re looking for bigger fish.
As is the case with most ION products, the battery life is exceptional. The battery will last for hours, and it’s unlikely that you’ll have to leave your fishing hole to find a charge.
Because of the 10-inch blade, the ION X is considerably heavier than some other electric options. It’s still not as heavy as gas or propane augers are, but if you want a lightweight auger, this might not be the selection for you. Still, for the quality, the ION X produces, a little extra weight is a small price to pay.
- Exceptional battery life
- Smooth, deep cuts
- Reverse feature
- Available in 10-inch blade
- A bit heavy for a battery-powered auger
- Some users reported durability issues
Eskimo Sting Ray
Eskimo is one of the leaders in all things ice fishing, which is why they have so many available options when it comes to ice augers. The Eskimo Sting Ray isn’t going to be as impressive as their Shark and Quickfish models, but it’s still a good option for the price.
The Sting Ray has the classic Eskimo power, with quick and easy cutting we’ve come to expect from the brand. Unlike many of the other options, the Sting Ray is quite light compared to other gas-powered augers. If you’re traveling a long distance, it won’t be too much extra weight to bring along with you.
The downsides of this auger include blades dulling over time, but this appears to be on a case-by-case. Some users reported digging dozens of holes with this machine, while others say it burned out after heavy usage.
Unlike the other Eskimo augers, this model seems to have a bit of trouble starting. Many other Eskimo gas augers start after one pull, but this one usually takes a few to get going.
- Quick, seamless cutting
- Great power
- Lightweight for a gas auger
- Some users reported that blades dull over time
- Engine can be hard to start
Best of the Bunch
Everyone’s auger needs are different. Ice depth, distance, and surroundings all contribute to what kind of auger you’ll need. For that reason, there are a few options that we consider to be at the top of the list.
If you want a hand auger, your best bet will probably be Eskimo Hand Auger. The blade of this auger stays sharp, and it cuts through ice that other hand augers can’t. You can choose from a variety of blade sizes, so if you only want to make a small hole, this auger is a perfect fit.
If you like the portability of hand augers but don’t want the hassle, your best bet is an electric ice auger. Out of these selections, the best we’ve found is the ION 19150. It cuts far deeper than other electric augers when the attachment is on.
While the ION is a bit heavier than other electric options, it still serves as a portable auger that can slice through thick ice. This electric alternative can even rival some of the weaker gas and propane augers.
If you prefer gas or propane, the Eskimo Quickfish. It’s heavy, but it provides a deep, wide cut that other types of augers can’t match. The auger starts quickly and cuts fast, which will allow you to cut multiple holes in the time it would take other augers to cut one. This auger uses propane as fuel, so you have to keep it warm, but other than that it’s one of the most reliable options we’ve found.
Overall, we love the ION electric auger, though this won’t be the best option for everyone. All ice fishers have their preferences when it comes to what type of auger to use. If you’re toying with the idea of trying an electric option, though, ION is a fantastic choice.