Top Ice Fishing Reels Reviewed and Compared
If you want to find the best fishing gear, but you don’t have time to go through the buying tips and reviews prepared by our research team, this short paragraph should tell you everything you need to know about the best ice fishing reel. After analyzing a lot of feedback coming from both amateur and professional fishermen, we have concluded that the Eagle Claw Inline is the best because it has a very simple design that is still powerful and durable enough to handle all of the challenges associated with ice fishing. It comes with a star drag system that many consider is easier to handle than a lever, and since it is constructed from Teflon you know that it will last. There are 4 stainless steel ball bearings and one anti reverse so you can enjoy smooth and easy casts and retrievals, even when fighting large fish in deeper water. It also has a 2.6:1 gear ratio so you don’t have to use as much energy. If the Eagle Claw Inline is not available, you should consider the Frabill Straight Line 371 as it is a reliable alternative both in terms of performance and quality.
Our top choices
The Eagle Claw Inline Ice Reel carries a simple design yet works smoothly. This powerful ice fishing reel is engineered to handle the rugged challenges of the hard water. An affordable option for beginner fishers, this ice reel doesn’t compromise on quality despite its pocket-friendly price. In fact, as many users have testified, this model offers real value for money. The ice reel has a tough nylon body and spool. It is fantastic for trolling and jigging thanks to the free spool feature that enables the angler to alter the spool tension and also drop the lightest jigs. This adjustability offers versatile use for a variety of applications, and is specially designed for freshwater use to catch walleye and bass.
With its 4 + 1 ball bearings, the ice fishing reel delivers smooth retrieves and effortless casting. You can easily cast the lure or bait at far distances and also reel in the fish once it is caught. It enables you to correctly retrieve your lure, to battle large fish more easily and to fish in deep water. The 4 + 1 ball bearings can rival the performance of any low-quality reel with a larger number of cheap ball bearings. The reel has a smooth and strong Teflon star drag that has a simpler design compared to a lever drag. The star drag system doesn’t have multiple drag controls and presets, so to increase the drag, you just need to turn the star wheel one way. To decrease pressure, turn the star wheel in the opposite direction.
The audible line clicker makes this the perfect piece of equipment for trolling crappie. The 2.6:1 gear ratio enables you to employ less effort going for deep-diving crankbaits. The line retrieval is 15.75 inches per crank, so you can bring in your catch fairly quickly while reducing line twist. The spool tension adjustment allows you to alter the tightness of the line as you reel in. The free spool release button protects from line breakage. This lightweight model has a line capacity of 4 pound test line for 45 yards, 2 pound test line for 210 yards and 1 pound test line for 270 yards. The aluminum handle ensures light weight and dependable durability for years of use.
Constructed with a simple design, this ice fishing reel offers smooth operations. It is designed to handle the demands of hard water fishing. Novice and seasoned ice fishers will surely appreciate that it is a USA-made product boasting superb quality and craftsmanship.
The reel is equipped with a free spool release button. This reduces the need to crank the handle repeatedly just to get more line out.
Thanks to the smooth Teflon drag, you can expect effortless retrieves for fishing. The line won’t get stuck when you accidentally release more line than needed. This enables distant casting and smooth reeling in.
The spool tension adjustment enables you to control how tight or loose the spool should be to release just the right amount of fishing line to fit the situation.
Enjoy reduced line twist thanks to the smooth-working 4+1 ball bearings. With the 2.6:1 gear ration, every crank of the handle generates 2.6 revolutions of the spool to release more line.
A buyer considers the star drag on the reel to be a bit tricky to adjust on the fly.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
With the Frabill Straight Line 371 Ice Reel, you can expect nothing less than precision performance. This ice fishing reel comes with both a long and short stem. For anglers wearing large gloves, the long stem offers maximum control. Fishers who prefer a more compact feel and who like to have the reel in the palm of their hand can opt for the short stem. The spool guarded reel enables an effortless palm grip. This fishing reel boasts a lightweight composite construction, ensuring users of awesome durability and strength. It also enables comfortable use during extremely cold temperatures, maintaining residual heat so the reel doesn’t feel too cold to handle. The reel boasts an anti-reverse feature, ensuring that the handle won’t suddenly turn backwards when the line is pulled from the reel during use of pressure or drag.
The tool boasts a 3.7:1 reel ratio, which is coupled with an extra smooth drag, just like its 2.6;1its counterpart 2.6:1 ratio. It offers quick and easy retrieves and casting thanks to the 22-inch line retrieval for every crank. This unit offers ultra-fine free spooling with its 5 + 1 ball bearings. The spool is made large and balanced to optimize retrieve rates. The line is fed straight off the spool, which decreases the instances of tackle spinning and line coiling. The bait alarm switch can be made audible or silent, so you can choose what you prefer, Use the silent mode if you don’t want to spook your catch. The unit has an ambidextrous oversized reel handle that delivers optimal control.
The Frabill Straight Line 371 Ice Reel features the brand’s patented Sub-Zero lube that delivers smooth and efficient operation even when the weather is absolutely frigid. The free spool design is engineered for effortless dropping of the smallest jigs. Users love how the unit has no issues with line twist, line springing off the reel or with bails. The reel is a pleasure to fish with and is great to hold in the hand.
Thanks to its lightweight composite construction, this ice fishing reel offers the needed durability and strength to work nicely under the harsh conditions of the sport.
Your hands will still be able to work the device in frigid temperatures because of the unit’s composite build that does not feel too cold in your grip.
The spool tension can be adjusted to provide either a 3.7:1 or a 2.6:1 reel ratio depending on the situation. This enables you to obtain a smooth drag so every crank of the handle releases more line via more revolutions.
The instant anti-reverse feature helps prevent tangling and breakage of the line when more of it is released by mistake during use.
To allow a comfortable palm grip, this model features a spool guarded design. It comes with a 22-inch line retrieval for every stroke of the handle.
One common complaint from customers is loose screws floating inside the reel’s body when they received their order.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($56.18)
The Fiblink Inline is one of the most convenient and versatile ice fishing reels we’ve discovered while doing our research. In addition, it doesn’t even cost a lot of money as we’ve found that many online retailers prefer to sell it for less than fifty dollars, regardless of the fact that this product is brand new and relatively newly launched on the market. What makes the Fiblink Inline of the most popular options out there?
In short, the model comes with almost all the features one might need in order to enjoy ice fishing without having to stop from time to time and see what’s wrong with his or her reel. The brass gears, the aluminum star drag handle, as well as the shaft constructed out of stainless steel practically speak for themselves when it comes to estimating the durability of the item. What’s more, the reel has super smooth drag and is equipped with instant anti-reverse, thus allowing users to take advantage of the battle with the fish by either engaging the drag or the back reel.
While it might not come with the same number of ball bearings that can be found in various competitors, the Fiblink Inline still offers enough as it features five so that smooth casting is practically effortless. Both loading and unloading can be done with ease and retrieves can finally become a piece of cake.
This is a simple to use reel that does just what it is supposed to do without any inconveniences for the end-user. With its smooth performance and excellent value for the price, we believe it is worth taking into account if you haven’t yet made up your mind on an ice fishing reel that satisfies your needs. If you choose this option, you’ll also be getting a drawstring bag that can be used to protect the reel during transportation.
You’ll surely love installing this reel on your favorite ice fishing rod because of its ultra-lightweight design that does not add excess weight to your entire fishing rig.
Get a superbly smooth performance despite the reel’s simplicity in design. The smooth aluminum star drag system enables problem-free adjustments for consistent casting and retrieves.
This reel boasts brass gears, which are self-lubricating so you enjoy smooth turning with every stroke. The free spool release button offers quicker line release.
With the stainless steel shaft, the critical components of this fishing reel are protected from corrosion and chipping. These include the spool and gears.
You can leave the fishing rig unattended without worrying you won’t be able to know the fish are biting. The reel features a line clicker that alerts you to the presence of fish on the end of the line. The instant anti-reverse prevents the line from snapping or tangling.
A customer did not receive the instructions for use with their order.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
Frabill Straight Line 101XLA
The trouble with most ice fishing reels with this design is that they have many components made out of plastic. Luckily, this is not the case with this Frabill product as it boasts a lightweight composite construction. What this should tell you is that it is significantly more durable than many of its competitors, and the neat thing about it is that it won’t force you to break the bank.
Another advantage of this particular model is that if boasts an ambidextrous oversized handle. Both long and short interchangeable reel stems are part of the deal with this one, which means that you can customize it as best as possible. Some of the people who have chosen this unit say that they like the extension because it gives them more control when they use their gloves.
The solid and smooth drag is another reason to consider this alternative, although some buyers argue that it might be a bit difficult to set. Last, but not least, it should be noted that you are likely to enjoy the perfectly balanced, large spool.
All in all, this choice appears to offer more than enough value for the money, so you ought to bear it in mind if you’re in the market for an affordable fishing reel.
Lightweight and durable, this fishing reel features a composite construction that makes it capable of withstanding the elements in ice angling.
Its large and balanced spool optimizes every crank of the handle to ensure a consistent retrieval rate. This eliminates the need for a backing line to use with the reel.
With the ambidextrous oversized reel handle, working and control of the reel are more effortless. You won’t need to worry that turning the crank will be very difficult because you can get a good grip on the device to complete the task.
The reel stems offer interchangeability between short and long ones. You can match the reel to the fishing situation because of the reciprocal elements.
Because the line directly feeds off the spool, any coiling of the line and unexpected spinning of the tackle are effectively prevented.
One user finds the drag to be tricky to adjust although it does work smoothly.Click to see the price on Amazon!
No. 8 Tackle Co. CGi Cold Gear Inline
If you haven’t made up your mind on a particular ice reel until now, perhaps you should check out the specs of this unit as it seems to be constructed to serve ice fishers as best as possible. You won’t have any trouble handling the product as it boasts a lightweight carbon frame. Besides, it comes with a high-spin free spool which takes the cake when it comes to offering you the precision you might require.
In fact, this reel can be used with small-sized baits, unlike so many of its competitors. If you’re wondering how the model will do in terms of drag performance, you really have nothing to worry about as it comes with a star drag adjustment.
Also in regards to reliability and balance, you may want to know that this reel has been outfitted with as many as five ball bearings and an instant anti-reverse. When it comes to reviews gathered by this unit, it’s worth noting that many ice fishers emphasize how well this reel performs even in the coldest weather. They also praise the smoothness of the drag and the release button.
All in all, if you’re looking for excellent value for the price, be sure to consider this alternative as it might be just the choice you may have been searching for.
Customers will love the composite construction of this ice fishing reel. The product is suitable for the demanding conditions under which it will be used because of the build. The soft touch finish makes the unit easy and comfortable to handle.
The star drag adjustment reduces the load of line release and retrieves by making them smoother and less ‘heavy’.
You won’t need to worry about accidental impacts because this model comes with an integrated fender, which protects the critical components of the device.
Reeling in the catch and releasing the fishing line become less problematic thanks to the 5 smooth working stainless steel bearings, which are also resilient to corrosion.
To add to the innovative features of this model, the dead stick spool clicker allows you to know the fish are biting in the water. Moreover, the reel’s instant anti-reverse keeps the line from breaking and getting tangled if you accidentally release too much.
Because they consider the drag a bit weak, one customer opts to place their palm over the spool to put greater pressure on the fish.Click to see the price on Amazon!
If you have been considering taking up ice fishing but don’t really know how to be prepared for it, you’ve come to the right place. We have put together a short yet informative buying guide that can help you make the right choice when it comes to gear and best practices. Also, we took the time to explain just what ice fishing is and why it significantly differs from other fishing techniques. Here’s all you should know.
What is ice fishing?
Whether it is a hobby or a job, the whole point behind ice fishing is that it is defined by socializing as much as it is defined by mastering the craft. More often than not, you might see several men or women gathered around the hole in the ice, talking and drinking anything from hot tea to beer.
One might tend to think that this technique is as simple as digging a hole in the ice and then waiting for the fish to show up. All in all, the practice has a long history and requires a lot of consistency in order to be perfected.
Ice fishing was first used by the Ojibwa Indians, who used to catch fish through ice holes using spears. The same people eventually changed their ways and started using a piece of wood as a decoy in order to attract the fish. The first rods they invented were made of willow. Dave Genz was the one who took the method to a whole new level in the 1980s, when he invented a portable fish house.
There are several techniques to this fishing practice. Some users prefer a light fishing rod with small, vividly colored lures, or jigs with actual bait, such as fat heads or wax worms. In this case, the angler does all the job, as he or she needs to lift the pole from time to time in order for the jig to occur.
Other users prefer tip-ups which can be made either of plastic or wood. There is a spool of line attached on the tip-ups and a piece of metal connects the spool to the flag. The user then puts a black line on the spool and places a swivel at the end of it. Subsequently, a hook is attached to the swivel, and the bait goes on the hook. The bait can go one, two, or even three meters under the ice, according to the preference of the user and according to the theory he abides by. Compared to the other techniques, this one is considered to be less intensive.
The next method is good old spear fishing. If you’re planning on trying it, you might need to check with your local legislation, as this technique is allowed in several states in the U.S. just for rough fish.
Both the equipment and the practice have changed greatly over the course of just twenty years. The main difference between ancient ice fishing techniques and the one used nowadays stand in the equipment and gear that can now be bought to make a fisherman’s life easier. The Ojibwa Indians sure did not have access to the best reels for ice fishing, nor did they employ fast and powered augers. All of this and more is available to the person starting out with ice fishing.
Buyers now have access to lighter gear, good augers, and battery-operated units. Let us not forget about the vast array of flashers that can be bought on the market today, which are even more precise compared to regular fish finders. In addition, some users find that they perform better with the help of an underwater camera.
Most consumers prefer drilling multiple holes, so they do not risk waiting for an entire day for the fish to bite the bait. Furthermore, ice anglers can utilize some of the best ice fishing reels mounted on relatively short rods. This gives the user the freedom to jig the bait according to the movements of the catch.
Ice Fishing Reels Described
Buying an ice fishing reel may look like a daunting task for some consumers, as the variety on the market seems to be overwhelming. There are several core considerations when purchasing the best ice fishing reel for the money.
These types of reels can be split up into three main categories: spinning, casting, and baitcasting reels. The spinning ones have high gear ratios and give the right results with a light-duty fishing line. They’re the best choice if you are targeting small fish.
The design of spincasting reels is closed. Thus, the line has a lower risk of becoming damaged or tangling. This type can be utilized successfully when targeting medium-sized fish.
Baitcasting reels might not be as affordable as the other two types we’ve already mentioned. However, they are more versatile, as they have fast gearing and give users the freedom to utilize more line. This is what makes retrieving large fish a breeze when using a baitcaster.
A rod that has been designed with ice fishing in mind measures about 24 to 36 inches. This means that it is considerably shorter compared to the rods used in other types of fishing. The dimension of the rod has a lot to say about the way an ice fisher casts, as this is completely different from the technique used by a user fishing in rivers or the sea.
The vast array of rods for ice fishing that can be found on the market is made of composite material. Most rods are sold with their corresponding reels.
Lures are very important when it comes to this fishing method, as they have to be very colorful and glow in icy water. Some people might prefer using live bait, but it’s still recommended that one associates it with jigs and lures. Tackle can be made with different materials and is quite affordable, as it can often be found to cost as little as five to ten dollars.
Products that are no longer available
The Fiblink Ice Fishing Reel comes with an ultra lightweight design plus extra smooth performance to make your angling experience more productive. It has a computer numeric control (CNC) machined aluminum body that ensures a precisely designed system. The spool is configured to handle large line capacity. The 6 ball bearings ensure smooth and easy loading, unloading and retrieves. The One-way clutch provides problem-free control. The drag system is made to work exceptionally smooth. Thanks to the instant reverse, this fishing reel won’t allow the line to snap easily during use of drag or pressure as the line flows easily from the spool.
The free spool release button delivers precise control so the line doesn’t break. The non slip EVA foam soft grip makes it easy to reel the line into the spool while contributing to the fishing rod’s sensitivity. You won’t have to worry about fatigue while controlling this fishing reel. The EVA foam grip provides a comfortable, soft and secure grip even in the wettest conditions. The fishing reel offers ambidextrous use, thanks to its right and left handed raft wheel. The drag system is smooth and reliable. The unit boasts precision-machined brass gear with high strength, ensuring long term usability. The nylon body is designed with high strength, as is the spool. The bearing system has five stainless steel bearings that are resilient against corrosion and rust, plus one roller bearing to deliver an exceptionally smooth reeling in performance along with stability and optimal functionality.
The Fiblink Inline Ice Fishing Reel has a star drag system, which delivers superbly solid control over larger fish. The star drag system offers a basic design where a number of smaller metal and fiber drag washers are compressed against the gear. This ensures that when the fisher tightens the star wheel, the drag is released from the spool as the reel clicks out of gear, enabling the spool to spin freely. Simply turn the star wheel in one direction to decrease drag, and turn in the other direction to increase it. This type of drag configuration is what most anglers have grown comfortable and familiar with.
Other popular articles written by our colleagues:
A list of the most popular US fishing magazines