3 Best Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combos

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Hey there my icy fishing enthusiasts and welcome to my post as we check out my three best ice fishing rod and reel combos to warm up the fishing exploits this year. Ice fishing presents unique challenges to anglers who find pleasure fishing under extreme temperatures.

In addition, due to the fact that you are fishing in extra cold temperature, specialised equipment such as ice fishing rod and reel combos can present significant advantages when on the ice. And as with anything there are plenty of different options available so to help you out I have had a good look around and come up with some good options below.

Let’s check them out…

My three recommended ice fishing rod and reel combos

I will review these in more detail below but if you just want to get moving without all the carry-on, my recommended products are listed here for your convenience:

02/18/2024 09:57 am GMT Lasso Brag

What are ice fishing rod and reel combos?

Ice fishing rod and reel combos describe fishing equipment that has been customized by manufacturers to withstand the elements when ice fishing. Of course these can be purchased as a separate rod and reel however purchasing as a combo allows for properly matched rods and reels with guaranteed balance and function.

Newbies to the art of ice fishing also benefit from rod and reel combos because they do not need to figure out which gear will match the other.

Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combos - rod and reel combo

What should you be looking for?

Below highlights some aspects to consider as you look for a good ice fishing rod and reel combo:


  1. Build materials
  2. Rod power
  3. Rod action
  4. Length
  5. Additions

Build materials

Choosing a blank material is a significant consideration for any angler regardless of where they fish with the most common manufacturing materials being graphite, fiberglass, and carbon fiber. Although graphite is often more expensive than fiberglass, it offers m

ore sensitivity and is lighter.

Properly engineered graphite blanks are known for their sensitive tips and the backbone required to set hooks for the big fish. On the other hand, fiberglass ice fishing rods bend more than graphite along the blank. This feature leads to smooth hook sets, and top-notch blanks will have the backbone to handle massive fish. One known advantage of fiberglass rods is they are more durable than graphite as the latter can become more brittle in cold temperatures.

More and more however, as technology improves carbon fiber has become popular as it is extremely lightweight, durable and sensitive enough to handle ice fishing as well.

Rod power

The amount of force required to bend the blank is referred to as its power. For this characteristic, the most common classifications are ultra-light, light, medium, and heavy. When selecting an ice rod, match the power to the target species, just as you would when picking a rod for open water.

For smaller fish such as panfish, go light, and then increase the power for larger species such as trout or walleye. However, experts agree that choosing a too stiff rod is the most common mistake anglers make. You will surely land a sizable fish, but it could be overkill when considering the average fish species targeted while ice fishing.

Rod action

Rod action is necessary because it influences how you present lures to fool a fish. Most ice anglers prefer fast- and medium-action rods since they are aiming for sensitivity and strength. Fast-action rods bend primarily at the tip, medium-action rods flex to the center of the blank, and slow-action rods flex to the bottom of the handle.

For ice fishing, look for fast or fast medium for extra sensitivity.

Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combos - combo in holder


Ice fishing rods are typically short, ranging from 14 to 42 inches, but some are longer than others. Longer rods absorb more shock due to handshakes and lure jiggles, but anglers may struggle to use them in tight or small spaces. On the other hand, smaller rods lack adequate shock absorption, so your hand bears the stress during a fish tackle. They are, however, suitable to use in ice fishing quarters.


  1. Guides: It is imperative to take note of the number of guides on a rod. This is because the more guides there are, the more evenly the rod bends and absorbs shock. Moreover, choose guides with larger eyes because they pass the line easily and do not assimilate ice quickly.
  2. Handles: The handle of your preferred ice fishing rod handles your performance. In the market today, the least sensitive materials are foam and plastic. Most ice anglers would go choose a cork handle because it conducts vibrations from the blank and warms your hands easily. Some rod manufacturers also make high-tech graphite handles for maximum sensitivity.


  1. Type
  2. Anti-ice system
  3. Drag
  4. Construction material
  5. Weight
  6. Additions


There are two types to choose from when it comes to ice fishing reels: a spinning reel and an inline reel. These are differentiated as below:

  1. Inline ice fishing reels offer several advantages, one of which is less twisting which makes them a popular choice among ice anglers. Aside from this, they are smooth and consistent and can withstand the elements effectively. One downside of these reels would be they do not hold as much line as other types of reels however ice fishing generally requires less line than regular fishing.
  2. On the other hand, spinning reels are better suited to handle larger fish. These are an excellent choice for ice fishermen who use live bait. The drag adjustments on these reels are superior to those on inline reels.

Anti-ice system

If you are not adequately prepared, the harsh winter environment can negatively impact the functionality of your fishing equipment. This is why in buying ice fishing reels, a primary consideration is the product’s ability to endure extreme temperatures.

As the name implies, the anti-ice system refers to the materials used in your reel to prevent it from seizing when frozen. In this regard, inline reels outshine the spinning reel.

Drag system

As with any other type of fishing, the drag rating is an important specification you should also consider. The drag of a fishing reel is its ability to release a little bit of line when a fish strikes or is being pulled in. This is in place to reduce the chances of a bigger fish snapping the line as it fights. In general, the more you pay for a reel, the better the drag system should be regardless, if the reel you are looking at doesn’t have a drag system on it – put it down.

Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combos - man fishing in ice

Construction material

The below zero degrees temperature will definitely affect your reel’s performance and durability. With that in mind, it is only logical to buy ice fishing reels that are heavy-duty because they are built from winter-resistant materials.

Your ice fishing reel should be more specialized than a standard reel. Durable materials, such as aluminum and graphite, are ideal for ice fishing. Not only can these materials withstand more punishment, but they are also corrosion-resistant, which is what ice fishing anglers are looking for.


The reel that you bring with you for ice fishing must be lightweight because it will affect your performance. If your reel is lightweight, it will fit more comfortably in your hand, not hurt your wrist, and give you a long-term holding. This is especially important when wearing thick gloves etc. as you fish.


  1. Handle: Ice fishing reels are equipped with oversized handles since you will operate them using hand gloves.
  2. Ball bearings: You should always pay attention to the number of bearings on your preferred fishing reel. Remember that the more bearings it has, the smoother it will run. Regardless of the drag load, the bearings will ensure a smooth and free operation.
  3. Anti-reverse: This feature is a mechanism that prevents you from winding the wrong way and twisting your line.

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above and my own experience, I recommend the following options:

1. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel & Rod Combo

This initial ice fishing rod and reel is made from a lightweight graphite body and equipped with a durable cold-forged aluminum spool. It comes in three sizes: 26 light, 28 medium, and 30 dense medium and offers a great combo to be added to your ice fishing arsenal. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Shakespeare
  • Rod length: 26, 28, and 30 inches
  • Rod material: Reinforced graphite
  • Rod action: Not indicated
  • Reel type: Spinning
  • Reel construction material: Aluminum
  • Rod and reel combo weight: 0.45 pounds

Other inclusions:

  • EVA rod handles
  • Anti-reverse feature
  • 3 – 4 guides, depending on the rod’s length

Why have I chosen it?

This first ice and reel combo for ice fishing has is lightweight and straightforward to operate with sensitivity that enables you to catch the smallest of fish while also being strong and flexible enough to bring up the big tough ones. Furthermore, the rod pole is firm but sensitive on the tip, which allows you to detect light nibbles even if the fish are suspicious or show interest in your lure. Ugly Stik is a well-known and trusted brand and well worth the effort here.

2. ST.CROIX ROD Premier Ice Fishing Rod & Reel Spinning Combo

This next rod and reel set is another from a well-known stable with strong guides on the rod and a reel with an aluminum spool and folding arm for a light and smooth feel. The handles for the rod and reel are perfect for ice fishing since they allow you to gain control without sacrificing comfort. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: St. Croix
  • Rod length: 28 inches
  • Rod material: Solid carbon
  • Rod action: Fast action
  • Reel type: Spinning
  • Reel construction material: Aluminum
  • Rod and reel combo weight: 0.37 pounds

Other inclusions:

  • Reel is applied with special grease for extreme cold
  • 3-ball bearing system
  • Cork handle

Why have I chosen it?

The rod blank is made from solid carbon, giving it a lightweight feature whiled the guides are all stainless, making them long-lasting. This rod is accompanied by a PIC 500 spinning reel and is lubricated with a cold-temperature-specific grease. This is a great option for beginners and experienced ice fishers alike.

3. 13 FISHING FreeFall Inline Ice Fishing Combo

This final rod and reel combo is a dynamic package that combines the power of a high-sensitive and ultralight ice fishing rod and a reel outfitted with an anti-reverse and free fall drop system. Added to this is the smooth retrieval of the reel, thanks to its 3 + 1 bearing system. See its specifications below:

  • Brand: 13 Fishing
  • Rod length: 25 – 27 inches
  • Rod material: Parallel composite construction
  • Rod action: Not indicated
  • Reel type: Inline
  • Reel construction material: High strength composite
  • Rod and reel combo weight: 0.60 pounds

Other inclusions:

  • High-density Japanese split-grip handle
  • FreeFall performance window
  • 3 + 1 bearing system
  • Soft-touch handle knobs
  • Four stainless steel guides

Why have I chosen it?

The final rod and reel set is a high-performance rig that is ideal for ice fishing thanks to its robust, light composite frame, 3+1 bearing system and 2.5:1 gear ratio. Furthermore, the integrated reel has a unique free fall trigger that allows you to hit your target depth accurately. A great option for inline reel specialists.

02/18/2024 09:57 am GMT Lasso Brag


There you have it, my three best ice fishing rod and reel combos for your cold fishing excursions. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual, let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time

Have fun


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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.