Fishing

The Best Ice Fishing Rods

Two men ice fishing at sunset

As you go over your gear checklist this ice fishing season, make sure you inspect your rod for damage. The most important tool for hard water fishing success is your rod and even the smallest nick can compromise its integrity. To make sure you don’t lose a lunker this season, it may be time to upgrade or replace that old rod.

Many fish have lighter bites during the winter months, so you need something with ample sensitivity, but enough backbone to stand up to a trophy fish. Here are some of my favorite options for the winter ice season.

Northland Cherry Picker Rod

red ice fishing rod
Image by Gander RV & Outdoors

This is a fantastic choice for pan-fishermen targeting crappie, bluegill, and perch. With an ultra-fast action, you’ll feel the lightest bites from the smallest fish. Although some of these ultralight ice rods lack any kind of power, the Cherry Picker has a solid backbone to ensure a firm hookset. In addition, the red color makes it a breeze to locate on the ice.

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Clam Jason Mitchell Mackinac Rod

clam baitcast ice rod
Image by Gander RV & Outdoors

If it’s big fish you’re after, the Mackinac is a fantastic choice. Tame big pike, lake trout, salmon, and even muskies with its medium heavy action, ultra-tough spiraled guide wrap, and graphite blank. An elongated handle also reduces fatigue when jigging the large lures you need for these species.

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Fenwick AETOS Rod

spinning ice fishing rod
Image by Gander RV & Outdoors

Walleye, trout, and bass are no match for the 25-inch version of the AETOS rod. A high-modulus graphite blank can detect the lightest walleye nibble and the medium action offers enough power to battle a feisty brown trout. I really like hidden real seat for an extra-comfy cork grip.

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St. Croix Mojo Rod

red ice fishing rods
Image by Gander RV & Outdoors

In my opinion, you won’t find a better quality fishing rod for the money than a St. Croix. At $50-60, the Mojo is a fantastic price for a rod that will last a lifetime. It features a top-quality carbon blank, providing extreme durability and sensitivity. The split-grip handle also reduces rod weight and increases sensitivity even further, making the 24-inch ultralight version absolutely deadly for panfish.

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Beaver Dam Titanium Tip Rod

Titanium spinning ice rod
Image by Gander RV & Outdoors

The Titanium Tip rod offers a lot of versatility for multi-species fishing. With its adjustable tip, you can either extend the built-in titanium spring bobber for detecting light bluegill bites or retract it for jigging a larger spoon for walleye or trout. Some anglers may also like the built-in rattles in the reel seat which can transfer subtle vibrations down to your lure to drive fish crazy.

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Shakespeare Ugly Stick GX2 Rod

Ugly stick spinning ice fishing rod
Image by Gander RV & Outdoors

The incredibly durable Ugly Stick fishing rod, beloved for its indestructible flexibility, also comes in an ice fishing model. Constructed with a combined graphite and fiberglass blank, its rugged toughness is matched with supreme balance. The synthetic EVA handle is also comfortable and easy to clean.

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13 Fishing Snitch Rod

orange and black spinning ice fishing rod
Image by Gander RV & Outdoors

Never miss a bite with the Snitch’s brightly colored flex-core tip. It’s uniquely designed to act similarly to a spring bobber for visual bite detection, but also offers excellent tactile sensitivity so you can feel it as well.

You can also keep fishing on the coldest nights with stainless steel line guides that resist freezing. Altogether, the Snitch is an excellent choice make sure you don’t miss any action this ice season.

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Are these ice rods not quite what you’re after? Check out our full selection of rods to fill any of your ice fishing needs.

The best ice fishing rods

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