Our picks for the Best ice fishing reels in 2018
Types of Ice Fishing Reels
The reels used for ice fishing differ from regular reels only slightly. Spinning and inline reels are the most popular choices on the ice. Since ice fishing does not involve much casting, you generally can make do with smaller reels that hold less line.
Spinning reels are likely the most common type of fishing reel used today. If you are after bigger fish like pike and walleye, you might want to stick with a trusty spinning reel.
Inline reels are a modified version of fly fishing reels. These reels are becoming more and more popular with ice anglers since they reduce twisting in the line. Inline reels, in their simplicity, tend to provide smooth and continuous performance no matter what the temperature. They are also excellent choices for jigging.
Considerations When Choosing an Ice Fishing Reel
The primary things you want to look for in the best ice fishing reels are durability, a quality design that works well in cold weather, anti-freezing technology, and ball bearings.
Durability is of great importance when choosing an ice fishing reel since the reel will be exposed to extreme temperatures and lots of use. Plastics and light-weight materials can easily crack in these conditions.
The design of the reel should also be of interest since you know you will be using it with gloves you’ll want a larger handle and easy to operate controls like the drag. Many reels feature foam handles which are easiest to deal with while wearing ice fishing gloves. You will also want to see how easy it is to switch from right to left handed retrieving.
Many reels have an anti-freeze feature, or some sort of treatment applied the spool to prevent freezing.
Ball bearings allow the reel to have a smooth movement while casting and retrieving.
Best Ice Fishing Reels Reviews
1. Fiblink Inline Ice Fishing Reel
Weighing just 5.8 ounces, the ultralight Fiblink inline ice fishing reel is a sharp looking choice for your winter fishing. Its simplicity makes it user-friendly and joy to use, from its star drag system to its free spool release. The Fiblink features ball bearings and a super smooth drag. The large plastic star handle is easy to use with gloves, and the shaft is made of strong stainless steel. The gears are brass for extra durability.
The Fiblink features a 2.6:1 gear ratio and 4 + 1 ball bearings. It can hold 45 yards of four pound test, 110 yards of two pound test, or 270 yards of one pound test fishing line. And, the reel has one year warranty.
Not only does the Fiblink inline reel have an eye-catching design with red spool, but it is also loaded with great features. While its spool is made of plastic, it’s worth a try if you want to get a starter inline reel for your ice fishing adventures.
- Sharp looking design
- Large handles easy to operate with gloves on
- Line clicker can be turned off
- Plastic materials are less durable than metal and may become brittle in the cold
- Some users have trouble operating the drag feature
- Gets mixed reviews for smoothness and quality
2. Eagle Claw Inline Ice Reel
The reel holds 45 yards of four pound test, 110 yards of two pound test, or 270 yards of one pound test fishing line. It features a gear ratio of 2.6:1 and 4+1 ball bearings. Therefore, the Eagle Claw Inline ice reel have free spool release button. It weighs seven ounces and is available in black, graphite, or white colors.
On the other hand, this reel has a minor drawback – it is made for left-hand retrieve. So, in case you want to switch it for right-hand use, you will have to do some mechanical work. But, it is not a rocket science. Just watch this video.
The Eagle Claw inline ice fishing reel is an interesting looking reel, and it’s priced right. While it lacks some of the popular features of other reels, it has the Eagle Claw name.
- Great value for an inline reel
- Specifically made for ice fishing
- Smooth and effective drag system
- Plastic construction
- No anti-freezing features
- Designed for left-handed retrieve (little mechanical work needed for right-hand retrieve)
3. Abu Garcia Ice MAX Spinning Reel
The Abu Garcia is a small spinning reel perfect for ice fishing. The extended reel stem provides great comfort even if you are using gloves. On the other hand, the reel is treated with cold gear lube for maximum performance in the cold weather.
Abu Garcia Ice MAX spinning reel also features Rocket Spool Lip Design™ that allows better control over the line. The reel holds 100 yards of four-pound test fishing line and has 3 ball bearings with an additional instant anti-reverse bearing.
Ice fishermen love the folding handle on the Abu Garcia Ice Max that lets it fit in tight rod cases for storage. The reel has a less advanced bearing system than others on our list, but it still has a smooth enough action to be very user-friendly.
- Very small and lightweight design
- Extended reel stem
- Smooth action
- Can switch between right and left handed retrievals
- Folding handle
- Plastic design
- Holds slightly less line than its competitors
4. Pflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning Reel
The Pflueger MONICEB is one of the Amazon choices for ice fishing reel. It features five corrosion resistant stainless steel ball bearings and a graphite body and rotor. The bail is thick aluminum adding to this reels sturdy feel. Of course, the stem is extended for more comfortable fishing with gloves on.
The Pflueger holds 180 yards of two test, 110 yards of four test, or 85 yards of six test fishing line. It weighs 6.1 ounces and has a gear ratio of 4.2:1.
The Pflueger reel has a reputation for being high quality, and its graphite construction should make it one of the strongest and most durable reels on our list.
- Lightweight and sturdy graphite construction
- Smooth action
- Heavy duty bail
- Extended stem
- Right/Left hand retrieve
- No anti-reverse switch
5. Okuma Ceymar Lightweight Spinning Reel
This lightweight spinning reel from Okuma comes in a variety of sizes. It features a precision elliptical gearing system with a ratio of 5.0:1 and a 7BB + 1RB bearing system. For ice fishing, you will want to go with the C-10 or C-30 models. The C-10 reel has a line capacity of 210 yards of two pound, 110 yards of four pound, or 70 yards of six-pound test line. The drag can apply five pounds of force with its oiled felt drag system.
Even though the Ceymar reel from Okuma is the most expensive on the list, this reel is so well made and so smooth you won’t regret it a bit. The reel reviews on Amazon show that it is one of the best spinning reels out there, and folks love it.
- Multiple sizes available
- “Blade Body Design” makes them smaller than competitors spinning reels
- High-quality design
- Advanced bearing system
- EVA foam handle for extra grip
- More expensive than other choices
- Smaller sizes may affect the balance of your rod
There are many great choices on the market for ice fishing reels. Newer materials have made reels smoother, more durable, and better than ever. So, think about how you like to fish on the ice, and which reel most suits your style and, of course, your ice fishing rod. But, you really can’t go wrong with any of these choices, so what better time to expand your tackle box in preparation for the long winter ahead?