Fish Talk: The Essential Ice Fishing Gear

By David Fialkoff •  Updated: 09/02/21 •  5 min read

When you head out into the cold, having the proper ice fishing gear is just as important as staying warm! Think about it, hypothermia is when your body dips below 95 degrees. While you stay dry, you’ll want to have the essential ice fishing gear for a successful trip.

You might ask yourself, what is the ice fishing gear that’s essential? This guide will go over the different gear that’ll help you succeed this winter. Read on to explore the different ice fishing gear in order to reel in a big one this year!

1. Rods and Reels

First, you’ll need reels for your winter fishing. There are different options such as combos, in-line, and spinning reels. Combos are where you have a reel and rod sold together.

While combos might be tempting, it’s normally a better option to buy them separately. In-Line reels are becoming popular again in recent years. They handle light lines well.

Spinning reels are similar to open water spinning reels. Ice reels tend to be the smaller-sized reel in a series. They can work well with short ice rods and can handle very light lines.

2. Ice Fishing Clothing

The coldest place in the United States was Prospect Creek Camp in 1971 at -80 degrees F! When you’re fishing on ice, you’re exposed to the different elements out there. First, you’ll want to have gloves, boots, proper pants and jacket, and headwear. Some buy LED headlamps in order to see when it’s dark outside.

Choose pants and jackets that are windproof, insulated, and waterproof. For headwear, go with quality stocking hats.

There are ice fishing gloves that’ll keep you dry since they’re waterproof. Many will have flip open finger covers as well.

3. Live Bait Containers

Live bait is a popular choice for ice fishing gear. Live bait faces the problem of staying alive in colder temperatures.

Your best chance of catching fish is to have live bait such as minnows. Another option is a traditional minnow bucket. Other natural bait choices are grubs, spikes, and waxworms.

Don’t forget fishing jigs in your tackle bag. There are a few different jigs to choose from including spoon jibs, hair jigs, and baitfish imitating jigs.

4. Ice Fishing Electronics

When fishing on ice, ice fishing electronics allow you to mark hotspots and find fish faster. This can lead to a more successful time finding and catching fish.

A handheld GPS is a great option if your fish finder doesn’t have one. They can tell you the depth of contours below the ice, and where you’re located on the lake. Don’t forget about your ice fish finders as well.

For a portable fish finder, choose ice flashers. They’ll tell you the depth of your jig, when fish approach your bait, and the depth of the water. Many ice fishers will choose ice flashers since they detect ultralight bites and update faster than traditional fish finders.

5. Ice Fishing Auger

When it comes to ice fishing necessities, add an ice fishing auger to the list. You can choose from ones that power by gas, batteries, or manually powered options.

Before you begin, you’ll want to ensure that you have the correct blade size for the species of fish that you’re after. Pike or walleye will require larger holes, while panfish can go through smaller holes.

If you’re using a gas-powered auger, check the spark plugs before you go fishing. It’s a good idea to bring extra spark plugs as well.

6. Ice Fishing Chisels

A spud (or chisel), is a long-handled blade to make holes in the ice. It can also chip into the ice as well.

Also, you’ll want to bring along a deep ladle or slush scoop as well. This will let you pull slush and extra ice from the fishing hole.

7. Ice Shelters

On your fishing trip, you might want to stay overnight and use ice shelters or sleds. Some options are flip-up, hub, and cabin shelters.

Cabin shelters offer you a couple of flip-up hole covers. They can fit into an ice sled or small truck.

Cabin shelters are easily mobile as well. Consider whether you’ll need to add a sled or seats to the shelter.

The most expensive option is the flip-up shelter. The great part about these is that they have multiple features built right into them. Flip-up shelters collapse on top of a sled for a self-contained area.

Hub shelters are similar to hub grounds. The internal frame expands and locks into place to have walls and a roof.

If you’re someone who likes to move to different locations, hub shelters might not be the best option. They’re not as mobile as the other choices. The good news is that they’re the most affordable.

8. Fillet Time

After the catch, you’ll want to have a fillet knife, table, and bring along a cooler. A cooler is vital in order to bring your fish home and keep them fresh.

Exploring the Different Necessary Ice Fishing Gear

After exploring this guide, you should have a better idea of what to expect when it comes to ice fishing gear. Take your time picking out the right gear for you, and make sure that you stay warm!

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David Fialkoff

David Fialkoff is the founder of Spearfishing.Live, a site that's dedicated to the sport of spearfishing. He is a full-time digital marketer and loves to spend time chasing fish underwater on the weekends.