Best Ice Fishing Reels

Top 10 Best Ice Fishing Reels in 2021

Whether competing or casually angling, your catch quality and quantity are often affected by the fishing reel type you have. Before you head out to fish in the ice, you need to research deep to find the best ice fishing reel for your needs.

Ice fishing is one of the best ways to get outside and avoid some cabin fever during winter. It has become a common sport in the northern areas and is perfect for enabling anglers to enjoy their sport all year around.

Fortunately, this ice fishing reel buyer’s guide makes it easy for you. Below is an in-depth review of the best ice fishing reel’s available right now.

#1. KastKing Sharky III Spinning Reel

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This is the perfect addition to your angling tackling collection.

Key Features

  • The reel has a superior drag system providing reliable stoppage power
  • It also has a top-strength 2-color anodized aluminum spool coming with a power launch lip perfect for long casts
  • The spinning reel features a precision pinion drag system for fish fighting power
  • It has a corrosion-resistant high-tensile strength graphite frame
  • In addition, it has a lightweight, compact design for hassle-free casting
  • The reel features an attractive, practical finish
  • Most importantly, it has one immediate stop one-way anti-reverse bearing and nine quality ball bearings for extremely smooth performance.

Pros

  • The spinning reel has a nice aesthetic appeal
  • Smooth and reliable performance
  • High-powered drag system
  • Lightweight
  • Great value.

Cons

  • There is no con at this price and functional value.

Final Verdict

The KastKing Sharky III spinning reel provides immense value at a low price. As such, it has effortlessly become one of Amazon’s #1 best sellers for spinning wheels. The fishing reel looks superb, has a superior drag system, smooth operation, and is very affordable.

The KaskKing is the best option for anglers looking for an inexpensive fishing reel with the best features and functionality.

#2. Piscifun Carbon X Spinning Reel

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This is easily the best option for anglers looking for a budget reel.

Key Features

  • Piscifun spinning reel features a granite body design for added strength and durability.
  • It also has an alloy reinforced gear that functions silently, reducing the chances of spooking your catch.
  • In addition, the reel has a drag that features a sealed rubber ring hindering moisture entry, further making the reel corrosion-resistant and more durable.
  • It has firm precision brass gears.
  • In addition, it is designed with the help of a CNC machine to reduce slippage when tied to the spool.
  • The reel features a three-carbon drag system featuring a 26.5lb stopping power, making the reel ideal for saltwater and freshwater angling.

Pros

  • The reel is lightweight and operates in silence.
  • It is also flexible for saltwater and freshwater fishing.
  • Besides, it is strong and flexible.
  • It ensures superior performance.
  • Great value.

Cons

  • According to Proposition 65 of California Law, this unit could potentially expose you to hazardous elements.
  • The screws also seem a little soft, potentially leading to gradual stripping.

Final Verdict

Generally, this Piscifun ice fishing reel is perfect for its versatility, either in freshwater or saltwater. Moreover, it comes at a very friendly price, meaning it’s worth at least considering. It notably has a habit of feeling greasy with heavy usage.

However, if you are willing to overlook such minor issues, this is obviously a superb and practical addition to your fishing tool collection.

#3. 13 Fishing Black Betty

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This is one of the highly reliable fishing reels from the 13 Fishing Store collection.

Key Features

  • The Black Betty has a sturdy, reliable aluminum build, making it the perfect winter fishing reel.
  • With a super-free spool, it becomes easy to drop deep the lightest bats into the water.
  • Simultaneously, it provides reliably sufficient strength to reel back your catch.
  • It also features lightweight aluminum EVA knobs providing comfortable grips and better reel control.
  • The large spool coupled with an inline design works to remove line memory and twist.
  • In addition, the reel also has a carbon drag and anti-reverse system for increased performance.

Pros

  • It is lightweight.
  • The reel has smooth reeling.
  • Most importantly, it is incredible for deep jigging.

Cons

  • Unfortunately, it is a little bit more expensive compared to other similar designs and functional options.

Final Verdict

The Black Betty is one of the most reliable reels that gives you a pleasant fishing experience. Unfortunately, it is quite expensive compared to other models and spinning reel brands in the market. Despite this challenge, it is guaranteed to be reliable and function beyond expectations.

#4. DAIWA Crossfire Spinning Reel

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This ice-fishing spinning reel saves you big bucks without compromising on functionality. It is a favorite among many customers, especially due to its brilliant and pleasing design.

Key Features

  • The spinning reel has an ultra-light design, weighing less than a pound, making it easy to work with.
  • Moreover, it is also designed from a blend of aluminum and ABS material.
  • The reel features a twist buster system that hinders line twisting.
  • Its front-mounted drag is impressively smooth and easily adjustable.
  • It features a gyro spin that guarantees proper alignment within the internal components despite your working conditions.
  • Its ball bearings ensure all the reel’s internal componentry are running seamlessly.
  • In addition, it has four marked bearings that allow for easy, smooth running and easy balancing.

Pros

  • One of the its best attributes is its reliable budget option.
  • Moreover, it is also perfect for deep jigging.
  • The reel is light on the hands.
  • Most importantly, it guarantees smooth operation.

Cons

  • Its drag is not entirely as smooth as other equally priced spinning reel options.

Final Verdict

The Daiwa Crossfire is a reliable choice that every true angler would love to try out. This reel should comfortably give you an enjoyable fishing experience with a smooth throw and a relatively reliable drag. Luckily, it is well priced, making it a budget-friendly ice fishing spinning reel option for anglers on a budget.

#5. PENN Pursuit III Fishing Reel

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This spinning reel provides an excellent value for money for every type of ice fishing angler.

Key Features

  • The spinning reel has a tough granite build that increases its strength and durability.
  • It also features improved corrosion resistance that rivals the common aluminum reels.
  • The reel has a stable design that assures users of superior comfort and utility.
  • This unit is rugged and has an anodized aluminum spool featuring line capacity rings to reinforce and ensure durability.
  • Its line capacity rings are placed at unique intervals, thus increasing the reel’s performance by providing the spool the proper line amount.
  • The spinning reel has an oiled felt drag system, a performance-enhancing feature that keeps the drag lubricated. The system also provides a considerable drag pressure without compromising smoothness.
  • With an instant anti-reverse system, it is easy to stop back play, unlike in the traditional racket-style systems.

Pros

  • The machine has smooth reeling.
  • Great value.
  • Ergonomic handle design.

Cons

  • The oil might dry.

Final Verdict

With a sturdy and durable construction as well as a seamless gearless system, this unit offers an ultra-lightweight design and reliable corrosion resistance, among other practical features. The spinning reel is an excellent value for money for ice fishing anglers.

#6. Frabill Straight Line 371

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The brand has been manufacturing quality products since the late 1930s, and the Frabill 261 is one of the modern inventions from the brand providing superior solutions.

Key Features

  • The reel features a stylish design.
  • In addition, it has an ergonomic handle design, making it easy to use.
  • At 0.8 ounces, the spinning reel is extremely lightweight, making it ideal for extended use.
  • The unit is designed with robust and top quality reliable materials that guarantee strength, performance, and durability.
  • It has an innovative spool adjustment contributing to a smooth drag experience and a superb anti-reverse performance.
  • 22″ line retrieval per revolution.
  • Five plus one ball bearing featuring an ultra-fine free spooling.
  • Composite construction that doesn’t feel cold in freezing conditions.

Pros

  • The reel is ideal for rugged and icy conditions.
  • Besides, it works extra smoothly.
  • It has a high-quality material construction.

Cons

  • Unfortunately, it may require a lot of adjustment.

Final Verdict

The Frabill Straight Line Spinning reel is a reliable choice among the top ice fishing reels we recommend. Though it is a little expensive than some better choices, it still functions as expected, providing value for your investment.

#7. Fiblink Inline Ice Fishing Reel

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It is obviously one of the outstanding and good-looking ice fishing reels in the market. The reel features a black body and a sizable orange spool, making it easily stand out from other fishing reels in terms of appearance.

Key Features

  • The reel features an oversized handle with extra-grippy knobs to increase grip when in use.
  • A simple button allows you to adjust the spool extension.
  • The unit is designed with graphite increasing the reel’s firmness and durability.
  • Its gears are made with high-quality brass materials, ensuring extended durable use.
  • Four plus one ball bearings.
  • Instant anti-reverse and super smooth drag.
  • Reduced line twist.
  • With a stainless steel shaft, it is more rust-resistant.
  • 2:7:1 gear ratio.
  • At 5.8 ounces, this ice fishing reel is lightweight, making it ideal for extended use.

Pros

  • Left or right-hand options.
  • Flashy design.
  • Powerful gear ratio.
  • Lightweight design.

Cons

  • The reel does not have Fender.

Final Verdict

With one of the best looks you would not expect to find on an ice fishing reel, this unit makes ice fishing an exciting experience. With a 4.3 out of 5-star rating on Amazon, the ice fishing reel is reliable, functional, and a favorite among anglers.

#8. Pflueger MONICEB Monarch Reel

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Key Features

  • The reel’s build is made from graphite for strength and extended durability.
  • Its 4:2:1 gear ratio makes its retrieve rate reliable.
  • With five ball bearings there is an increase in the reel’s smooth functioning even under heavy loads.
  • Its ball bearings are also sealed to ensure the reel does not freeze up under frigid conditions, making the unit extremely reliable.
  • In addition, the ball bearings are designed with stainless steel, making them corrosion resistant.
  • Its bail wire is designed with aluminum and hinders the reel from bending in high temperatures by providing extra support.
  • Most importantly, the reel has a 6lbs maximum drag.

Pros

  • Smooth drag and retrieve.
  • Reliable bearing system.
  • It handles frigid conditions pretty well.
  • Luckily, it is incredibly lightweight making it easy on the hands.

Cons

  • The reel lacks an anti-reverse switch.
  • Unfortunateltely, it is not as durable as some other top options.

Final Verdict

Though it lacks an anti-reverse switch like the conventional reels, it is still reliable and functions exceptionally well. For most users, the lack of an anti-reverse switch is not as much of a deal-breaker and is compensated well by the reel’s ease of use.

Overall, it is a favorite among serious anglers who enjoy moderately long hours of ice fishing.

#9. Abu Garcia ICEMAX Spinning Reel

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The ICEMAX is a favorite among most winter ice fishing anglers. It has been designed specifically for frigid conditions. Owing to its design, this ice fishing reel is guaranteed to last you a few winters.

Key Features

  • The ICEMAX reel is designed with cold gear lube specifically intended to remain fluid once temperatures drop significantly.
  • The rotor and body are designed with sturdy graphite, ensuring the reel remains lightweight and agile in freezing conditions.
  • In addition it features an aluminum spool featuring Abu’s Rocket Spool lip design. This design helps to control the line coming off the spool in an effort to minimize twists and knots.
  • The retrieve is surprisingly smooth despite having a low three plus one ball bearing count.
  • Its spool provides a very sizable line capacity.
  • With an extended stem, it becomes easy for quick and straightforward winding, even with a single touch collapsible handle and thick gloves.
  • The reel also has a 6lbs maximum drag.
  • In addition, it has a 22.5″ per crank retrieval rate.

Pros

  • The spinning reel is durable.
  • It has a long stem for ice and has a handle switch for storage.
  • The reels is easier to handle with better precision and control.
  • Moreover, it is highly resistant to freezing conditions.

Cons

  • Unfortunately, it has a low bearing count.
  • Small maximum drag.

Final Verdict

The ice fishing reel fits all its amazing features into a customer-friendly price point. With a line management system allowing you to utilize different line types, this reel is unlike other reel brands. It also features a machined aluminum spool that is lightweight and guarantees durability.

#10. Goture GTS Spinning Reel

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Key Features

  • The reel features a graphite rotor and body build as well as a hardened metal shaft, meaning it is more durable and lightweight.
  • In addition, it also has a machined aluminum spool that holds up reliably in frigid conditions and holds plenty of line.
  • With a solid maximum 10lb drag, it is extremely smooth and is guaranteed to stop or sizable pike or trout instantly.
  • Its drag features a multi-disc system.
  • The reel also features drag washers that perform well against corrosion.
  • Moreover, it has a fast and smooth retrieve owing to the reliable 5:1:1 gear ratio.
  • With six ball bearings, it becomes easy to support loads effortlessly.

Pros

  • The reel has a smooth, powerful drag.
  • It casts well.
  • In addition, it is made from high-quality materials and provides great value for its worth.

Cons

  • Unfortunately, it requires maintenance and tends to rust in saltwater.

Final Verdict

The ice fishing reel performs well and looks good on paper. However, it does not long unless accorded regular proper care. However, considering how affordable it is, this is not often much to be worried about. With proper usage and regular care, this ice fishing reel is guaranteed to fulfill all your ice fishing needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What reel-type should I use for ice fishing?

There are three types of reel types in the market used for ice fishing. These include spinning reels, bait casting reels, and inline reels.

Inline reels and spinning reels are the most commonly preferred reels for ice fishing. On the other hand, bait casting reels are mostly used in deep water angling or for extremely sizable catches such as trout.

Between inline and spinning reels, spinning reels are the most common ice fishing reels. Consider a compact, lightweight spinning reel model sitting below a 2500 model number, which is the perfect choice for fishing that creates a nice balance.

Can you use a regular reel for ice fishing?

Yes, you can. However, a regular reel is not designed for such conditions and may not last for long. The gearing on a fishing reel should use unique lube that does not freeze.

This lube is common in ice fishing reels. In addition, ice fishing rods come with extra features allowing anglers to use with gloves, especially due to the frigid conditions.

Can I combine a regular rod with an ice fishing reel?

An ice fishing rod is designed specifically for freezing temperatures. You can try out the regular rod on your ice fishing reel, but it is not guaranteed to last long.

Ice fishing reels are designed with larger handles allowing you to use gloves when reeling in the catch.

Why should you use an inline ice fishing reel?

An inline reel has several advantages over regular reels. Firstly, the lines do not get tangled. Inline reels are the ideal choices when it comes to jigging baits.

In addition, they feature impressive line speed control on the bait drop. As such, you can fish without straining your reel.

Also, all inline reel models have a free spool mechanism, allowing the spool to freely spin without too much effort.

How do I get rid of line tangles on an ice fishing reel?

Ensure you change the lines every fishing season. After changing, spool on a fresh line for the whole winter season for moderate work. This line should come off the spool accordingly and onto your reel while remaining intact. Ensure you are using the line intended for ice fishing.

Moreover, avoid reeling catch with a slipping drag always. Lift your line from the whole and allow it to continually whirl. Most importantly, ensure the line is tensile. Secure the tag limit to any firm objects and get away a few several yards.

Should I use artificial lures or live baits when ice fishing?

Typically, live baits outdo artificial lures when fishing. You can begin using a few maggots as bait then advance to a full hook depending on your intended catch preference.

How do I know there is fish underneath ice?

If the ice surface is littered in snow, inspect for holes that appear to have recently been drilled. Such is a clear indication that there have been some ice fishing activities around there recently.

What other equipment should I carry to ice fishing?

Aside from the common tip-up and rod, you may need a few other necessities, including small jigs, a seat, some warm clothes, and a fishing pole. You may also need an auger to drill fishing holes, depending on your ice fishing location.

If you are ice fishing in a shantytown or community spot, an auger may be unnecessary since you can request an angler to drill holes to suspend your bait.

Does an ice fishing reel require maintenance?

Like any tool, a fishing reel requires regular maintenance and proper care to ensure normal functioning.

Caring for and maintaining your ice rod and reel may seem hard and tiring, but it is essential if you want to increase your tools’ life expectancy. Regular maintenance also helps to ensure your tools are ready for the next ice fishing season.

How often should I maintain my ice fishing reel?

Experts recommend servicing your fishing reel at least once every 12 months or more, depending on usage frequency. You can service the reel yourself.

However, if you are not confident in servicing it yourself, consider taking the reels to a professional to conduct expert service.

How do I clean my fishing reel?

  • Take the reel apart. Number each part to make the reassembling part easy. Use tweezers for handling springs and wire clips. Remove your line from the reel’s spool.
  • Tape or strip the line. Secure the fishing line using masking tape or strip it from the spool before removing the spool. If you skip this step, the fishing line will be trapped between the frame and the spool.
  • Rinse the reel using clean water before cleaning your spool.
  • Use a cleaner if available and applicable.
  • Scrub using a small paintbrush or toothbrush.
  • Rinse the cleaner using running water.
  • Dry thoroughly to avoid rust. Use a soft cloth and a blower to ensure maximum drying.
  • Apply oil and grease.
  • Reassemble the parts carefully.

Do I need to oil my ice fishing reel?

Yes, you need to. Some fishing reel models will still require oiling even after purchasing before the first use. Some of these reels come with insufficient lubrication. Reels are designed with different parts, the most important ones being the moving parts.

Can I use Vaseline to oil my ice fishing reel?

If you don’t have any recommended fishing reel oil in hand, you can use Vaseline to lubricate your fishing reel.

Why is my ice fishing line no longer reeling in?

If your fishing reel does not reel in anymore, look out for a couple of problems; tangled line and askew cast-bait. Fortunately, fixing either of these issues is achievable using hand tools, whether at home or on fishing grounds.

Why is my fishing line going backward?

Your fishing reel could be spinning both ways due to several reasons. The most obvious reason is that your anti-reverse is affected greatly. If not, then chances are your drag is broken or not set right.

There could also be something wrong with the bail. Talk to a fishing reel expert to diagnose the equipment and repair it accordingly.

Does salt water ruin an ice fishing reel?

Salt hastens the rusting process of metal parts and may reduce the lifespan and performance of your fishing reel. Other elements affecting a fishing reel include dirt, sand particles, and fish blood and guts.

However, some ice fishing reels are designed to be rust-resistant and can be used in saltwater and freshwater.

What happens if my reel gets wet?

Unless the reel is designed with paper, wood, or alternative soluble material, water will unlikely cause damage. Ensure you dry the reel out once you return home.

How do I buy the right ice fishing reel?

Below are factors to consider before buying an ice fishing reel:

  • Spinning reels vs. inline reels. There is no obvious winner when choosing between the two, except if you have specified fishing needs and requirements. Generally, an inline reel allows you a continuous and smooth performance despite the temperatures. However, spinning reels are easier to use and the ideal choice for beginner ice anglers.
  • Line capacity. Ensure your reel can hold sufficient line to catch the fish you want without struggling.
  • What you are catching. When it comes to ice fishing, there is not much diversity. However, as a general rule, spinning reels are perfect for larger fish since they have better drag. On the other hand, inline reels are ideal for smaller fish.
  • Weight. The lighter the reel, the more flexible your fishing and handling will be.
  • Corrosion and durability. Look for a durable reel designed with corrosion-resistant and sturdy materials. The ideal choices include aluminum, brass, stainless steel, or graphite.
  • Anti-freeze feature. Check for a reel that has an anti-ice system or anti-freezing coating on its spool.
  • Gear ratio. The gear ratio is linked directly to the retrieve rate. The higher the gear ratio, the more turns you get and the quicker the line returns.
  • Drag. The drag should be sufficiently smooth and strong.

Bottom Line

When shopping for the best ice fishing reels, you need to take your time to discover the varying features of recommended options to find what exactly you want. The above are the top expert-recommended best ice fishing reels available right now.