Are you keen on trying ice fishing this winter season?
Yes, even with the cold weather approaching, you can absolutely enjoy your favorite outdoor sport! Just be sure to check out these best ice fishing reels that you can use this time of year. We have gathered 12 of the finest in the market today, which can help you make the most out of your ice angling experience.
Have a look at these top recommended products and be sure to keep reading because we have included a buying guide and some FAQs to help you select the right one to purchase.
- Top 12 Best Ice Fishing Reels
- 1. KastKing Summer and Centron Lightweight Ice Fishing Spinning Reels – Best Budget Ice Fishing Reel
- 2. Abu Garcia ICEMAX Fishing Spinning Reel 4842-1331 – Best User-Friendly Reel
- 3. Pflueger MONICEB Ice Fishing Reel – Best Fishing Reel for Beginners
- 4. Fiblink Inline 4+1 Bearings Ice Fishing Reel – Decent Fishing Reel at a Solid Price
- 5. Eagle Claw In-Line Ice Fishing Reel – Best Ice Fishing Reel with Maximum Control
- 6. Okuma Ceymar Ice Fishing Spinning Reel – Best Small Reel
- 7. SHIMANO Sienna FE Ice Fishing Reel – Best Lightweight Reel for Panfish and Trout Fishing
- 8. 13 Fishing Black Betty 2015 Fishing Reels – Best Inline Ice Fishing Reel
- 9. Piscifun ICX 5 New Ice Spinning Fishing Reel – Best Ultra Smooth and Lightweight Reel
- 10. RUNCL Ice Fishing Spinning Reel Grim II – Best Reel with Extra Spool
- 11. Fishdrops Spinning Ice Fishing Reels – Best Freshwater Ultra Lightweight Reel
- 12. Daiwa D-Spin Spinning Ultralight Fishing Reel – Best Reel for White Bass and Crappie Fishing
- Buying Guide for the Best Ice Fishing Reels
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Words
Top 12 Best Ice Fishing Reels
1. KastKing Summer and Centron Lightweight Ice Fishing Spinning Reels – Best Budget Ice Fishing Reel
If your budget is a little tight, this ice fishing reel from KastKing is a great option for you. It is packed with excellent features without breaking the bank. In fact, any angler can turn into a pro by using this well-made and feature-rich reel that is sure to bring the fun in ice fishing.
The drag system is high-powered and can handle a maximum load of 17.5 pounds. The main shaft is metal, and there is a mesh drive gear with a pinion gear that’s precision-machined for an outstanding fighting power. With 9 premium quality ball bearings and a quick stop bearing, these guarantee the smoothest performance all the time.
The aesthetics and performance are certainly on-point. And guess what? It is pretty inexpensive, too! Sure there are other higher-end and pricier reels out there but for the price you pay for this one and the performance it offers, it cannot be beaten!
2. Abu Garcia ICEMAX Fishing Spinning Reel 4842-1331 – Best User-Friendly Reel
Tired of dealing with a fishing reel that’s hard to figure out? The ICEMAX is easy to use and great not just for beginners but even for pros. This reel comes with three ball bearings and a roller bearing that offers smooth and slick operation. There is also a cold gear lube that enhances performance even in the frigid weather.
We like how durable this reel is. The Ever-last bail system offers optimum durability combined with the machined aluminum material for the spool while keeping the reel relatively lightweight. With graphite for the rotor and the body, this reel is easy to work with and highly efficient.
Unlike other models, this reel comes with a nice little switch on the handle for ease of storage. Just one push of the button and it immediately folds up. Other models require you to wrestle with the nut and unscrew it to fold the handle. This is definitely something unique about this reel that anyone would love.
3. Pflueger MONICEB Ice Fishing Reel – Best Fishing Reel for Beginners
Are you just starting out with ice fishing? If you are a beginner who is hoping to explore more on the fascinating world of ice angling, this reel should be perfect for you. It offers a smooth, continuous, and worry-free clutch action each time. It grabs instantly, so there is no long wait at all.
The rotor and the body are both made of graphite, and it is a lightweight material that adds to the efficiency of the reel. There are also bail angles that minimize pulsing each time you reel. Overall, this reel gives a solid and steady reel feeling, and you can be sure it is one that should last you for a long time.
One thing to note about this product is the weight and size. It is definitely a bit heavier and larger than expected. Some people might be okay with it while others might think of it as a problem. There is also no switch for a back reel. It’s not a biggie for those who don’t even use back reeling, so you should think about it if this is a fishing technique that matters to you.
We are pretty much satisfied with what this ice fishing reel from Fiblink has to offer. The price is quite decent, so it should be perfect for those who just need an entry-level reel to help them get started with ice fishing.
But with a low price comes some disadvantages. Keep in mind that this reel is crafted from plastic. It is not quite the ideal material of choice by some ice anglers but it is lightweight without a doubt. So if you want to pack light, this is a good option for you. And yes, we like the color of this reel!
Now if you want to get the drag all dialed in, it IS possible. Yet, you cannot expect it to be super smooth. This is why you have to really nail it, or it is easy to mess the whole thing up and then you need to set it up once more just when you have that prized fish spooling you. Otherwise, we think this reel works okay.
5. Eagle Claw In-Line Ice Fishing Reel – Best Ice Fishing Reel with Maximum Control
Control is the name of the game with the Eagle Claw. This fishing reel comes with a nylon spool and body, which is perfect for flexibility. There is a smooth as silk Teflon drag, and this makes fishing fun and easy. With a spool release button, that makes everything much easier while giving you control at the same time.
What we like most about this fishing reel is the control. The spool memory problem is a thing of the past with this reel, and there are no twisting issues either. It’s lightweight, the price is great, and it does the job well.
Just be sure that the tension is right before you drop a hefty lure. The problem with not setting it straight is the backlash, and you certainly would not want that. There is a learning curve involved but once you have it all figured out, it should work like clockwork without a doubt.
6. Okuma Ceymar Ice Fishing Spinning Reel – Best Small Reel
Forget the bulk and the heft. This spinning reel from Okuma is just as how you want it to be – small and compact. This unit comes with a smaller size, which offers a maximum drag pressure of 5 pounds. It is perfect for your ultra light fishing rod, which should be fine for trout fishing.
The spool has a two-tone anodized material, and it is made of machined aluminum. The anti-reverse feature is also easy to set and the pinion gear is machine-cut brass with exceptional accuracy. As for the monofilament capacity, it is from 0.12 to 0.22.
Keep in mind that this reel is quite small. Okay, it is VERY small. So you will only be able to pair it with a certain type of fishing rod, specifically the ultra-light. If what you look for is a reel that is in the 1000 range, this product is not for you.
7. SHIMANO Sienna FE Ice Fishing Reel – Best Lightweight Reel for Panfish and Trout Fishing
When you are planning to do some freshwater fishing or perhaps even inshore fishing, this reel is right for you. The body is quite compact, which helps maintain reel balance by moving the oscillation gear a bit closer to your fishing rod. Plus, there is a proprietary Propulsion Line system, allowing you to make longer distances each time you cast.
The Dyna-Balance prevents wobble when you retrieve, and this promotes greater smoothness and sensitivity. There is also a nice Super Stopper II system to this reel, and this allows for a quick anti-reverse without any backlash to worry about.
We think this reel works and does the job quite well. But some people claim that the ball bearings are slowly becoming a concern because it is very light and with only a few ball bearings. Other than that, it should be suitable for trout or panfish.
8. 13 Fishing Black Betty 2015 Fishing Reels – Best Inline Ice Fishing Reel
This is a good quality fishing reel from 13 Fishing, which is made of 6061 aluminum that is CNC-machined for superior toughness. There are also other features to this reel including the bait alarm, anti-reverse, and a carbon drag system that is just so smooth.
Engaging the free spool is also easy, you can count on it for even very light baits. With an improved internal gear cover, this reel does its job well without a doubt. It also features a very responsive frame design that lets you fish with a pencil- or pistol-grip style without having to rub the spool’s rim.
Just keep in mind that this reel has an operation that cannot be switched. Some people get confused by what the left/right means but you have to realize that when you see the LH label, it means it is for left-handed operation only.
9. Piscifun ICX 5 New Ice Spinning Fishing Reel – Best Ultra Smooth and Lightweight Reel
If weight is a concern with your spinning reel, then it is time to switch to this option. The Piscifun offers a durable body that is made of graphite – both for the rotor and the body. You can expect it to be very tough and sturdy enough to handle the toughest and most frigid weather.
There is a smooth retrieve to this reel. With 5 + 1 bearings that are sealed and premium quality, combined with an anti-reverse feature, there is no doubt about the overall performance. The Zinc alloy material for the drive gear also adds to the smoothness of performance even when you need to battle a big fish underneath the ice.
We recommend this fishing reel for general fishing styles and techniques. In fact, it is perfect for panfish and walleye because of how smooth its action is while maintaining its lightweight quality.
10. RUNCL Ice Fishing Spinning Reel Grim II – Best Reel with Extra Spool
Balance and smoothness are two of the main selling points of this fishing reel from RUNCL. There are 10 + 1 stainless steel precise shielded bearings, which are very strong and sturdy. You can expect to experience the most balanced and smoothest operation at all times.
We like the EVA knob with an ergonomic design and high density for that secure grip. There are also washers made of triple carbon fiber, and this improves the drag by up to 30 percent. This is why this reel can handle a bigger catch without any issue at all.
We do think that the reel is a bit on the heavy side. But there is an extra spool included, which makes it an outstanding value for the price you pay. It really does the job when you need to catch a bigger fish without having to worry about the reel giving out.
11. Fishdrops Spinning Ice Fishing Reels – Best Freshwater Ultra Lightweight Reel
Great for freshwater fishing, this reel does its job perfectly well and offers a solid performance each time. It is very light as it is made of machined aluminum for the spool, which is CNC-machined for precision control. The handle is also aluminum with a comfortable EVA material for the knob.
If you want a reel that can be for left-hand or right-hand, then this product works just fine. We also like how strong it is with a new and improved body structure design. Plus, with a one-way design for the clutch system, this adds to the smoothness of the reel overall.
Do take note that this reel is specifically for freshwater fishing. Do not use it for saltwater fishing as the components will become rusty. Other than that, everything else about this reel works.
12. Daiwa D-Spin Spinning Ultralight Fishing Reel – Best Reel for White Bass and Crappie Fishing
Are you ready to do some crappie fishing? Or what about bass fishing? If this is the case, then you should be all set with the Daiwa D-Spin fishing reel. It is an ultralight reel that comes with a very smooth and efficient ball bearing drive for superior performance.
The unit comes with a composite housing, and there is a digigear design that optimizes the power, durability, and speed of the reel. Casting is smooth and easy, and you should be able to do your white bass or crappie fishing without any problem at all.
One thing to note about this product is that you may want to remove the other washer in the spool as there are two in there. Otherwise, the whole thing works as expected, which is the best thing about this product for the price you pay.
Buying Guide for the Best Ice Fishing Reels
Now you have learned more about our top picks for the best ice fishing reels. But the question is, what makes one reel better than the other? What are the features you should look for in a top-quality ice fishing reel to buy?
Here are the basics you should look for in our buying guide for you:
1. Material and Construction
You need to make sure that your reel is highly durable and solid. This is why we recommend that you look for a graphite material for the reel, which is a super solid material that should last for years.
It is also important that you check the material’s capability to withstand freezing. A freeze-resistant reel is essential as this can prevent damage to the motor and handle. Otherwise, you may need to pause your fishing once the reel fails to work because it is completely frozen!
The bearing is the heart and soul of your reel. Depending on the number of fish and fish species you want to catch, you need to make sure your bearings are up to the challenge.
First of all, the bearings must be crafted from stainless steel. This is a very sturdy material that makes it much easier for you to catch your fish because of how durable it is. Then, you want to check the number of ball bearings. The more ball bearings there are, the better the performance you can expect from it.
It is essential that you look for a handle that is comfortable and with an ergonomic design. You will need to use the handles all the time, so it is best that you can expect optimum control. Your reels will also run with the handle, so you have to make sure it is well-made.
Another thing to take note of is the design for the handle. There are models intended for right hand or left-hand use. Be sure to check this feature to make sure the handle works perfectly well with your hand.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are there different types of ice fishing reels out there?
A: Ice fishing reels come in a variety of types such as inline, bait casting, and spinning reels. The most common among these four is the spinning and the inline.
If what you look for is a continuous and smooth performance, then you should choose an inline reel. But if you prefer a reel that is a breeze to operate with pro experience in your ice fishing, then you can never go wrong with a spinning fishing reel.
A spinning reel is highly flexible and easier to use, this is why many ice anglers prefer to use this over the other types. You can also use various spinning reel options, which is another plus point to it.
But then their performance is reduced in freezing and very frigid climates. It can also take some time for you to thaw the reel, which is a bit of a drawback to this type of reel.
On the other hand, an inline reel comes in various diameters. They are also getting better, although they are not as smooth as spinning reels.
As for a baitcasting reels, they come with spools with an adjustable design, allowing you to switch from left to right. It is a bit heavy, though, and will require expertise to use it. This is why it is not always the reel of choice by ice fishing aficionados.
Q: How many ball bearings should you get for an ice fishing reel?
A: This largely depends on your preferred fishing performance. But one thing is for sure – with more ball bearings, the performance is also much better.
Q: What does an ice fishing reel do?
A: Basically, an ice fishing reel is responsible for holding the line and rewinding it once you have lured a fish. You may need to bring your rod to check if the reel matches the specifications of your rod.
Q: Do you really need an anti-reverse bearing?
A: This can be a good feature to consider when you want to eliminate the hassle of the reel turning backward. With this feature, you will know for sure if the reel is actually engaged or it is not.
Finding the perfect ice fishing reel requires a lot of research and familiarization with the basics.
After checking what your best options are and learning more about the right features to look for, you should be good to go in finding the best ice fishing reels that will work best for your unique fishing techniques and requirements.
So please feel free to compare the different features we have presented to you today and take your pick from these 12 products we have featured, which may be just what you need for your upcoming ice fishing trip.