What Equipment Do I Need for Ice Fishing: Essential Ice Fishing Equipment

A lot of people ignore this fact, but your ice fishing gear is meant to be different from your regular fishing gear suited for summer. Reason? The weather, of course. Besides, you have to keep the ice shards and the type of fish in ice-cold water in mind. Not only that, you have to be mindful about your clothing and protection against the weather as well.

Ice Fishing Gear List

Your essential ice fishing gear has to include this non-negotiable equipment as following-

  1. Ice augers
  2. Terminal
  3. Lures and baits
  4. Accessories
  5. Rods, reels, and combos
  6. Underwater cameras
  7. Sonar
  8. Carrying bags
  9. Ice fishing garments
  10. Gloves
  11. Shelters and sleds

Your must has ice fishing gear should consist of the following things –

  • Ice Spinning Reels

These reels are usually a little smaller than the regular spinning reels made for open water. These reels are specifically designed to be operated with ice rods and to handle lightweight lines. Thus, they provide you the maximum comfort while ice fishing.

  • In-line reels

These reels used to be a popular choice for a lot of anglers before the smaller reels took over all the attention. But recently, a few of the updated designs are coming back among the fishing enthusiasts for their improved performance and the ability to hold the lightweight lines effortlessly.

  • Combos

Sometimes going for combos makes it more budget-friendly for you than purchasing separate rods and reels. Although that decreases the chances of getting the best rods and reels available in the market, this can come in handy if you are a beginner or go fishing occasionally.

  • Tip-ups

We consider the tip-ups to be one of the most important pieces for your complete ice fishing gear. These are the small planks with a spring-loaded flag that are to be set on the ice holes for putting multiple baits. In ice fishing, they are especially useful as it is less stressful to let the rod set and forget. Plus, the tip-ups also help you to get bigger fish on bait.

  • Ice fishing line

Your fishing line might differ depending on the types of fish you are catching. You might require little to no stretch on your spool. The dark-colored spools are generally used for large fish like lake trout, pike, etc.

Ice fishing checklist: clothing

Your regular winter warm clothes may not be perfect for going on an ice fishing trip. When you plan a fishing trip, you need extensive research done beforehand. So, cross-checking with your wardrobe will help you to figure out whether or not you have something missing.

  • Waterproof Boots

A pair of waterproof boots are necessary when you go on ice fishing. We recommend you take a pair of insulated boots to give you added comfort and warmth over the socks. As you understand that keeping your body temperature right is one of the crucial things you need to keep in mind while in ice fishing, cold feet can be the first thing to drop your temperature down.

  • Headwear

Good-quality hats are essential for ice fishing to protect yourself from extreme cold and cold-induced headaches. We prefer the fleece or faux fur-lined hats to provide better insulation, similar to the boots. That way, the cold does not get through the ears. If you already own a balaclava, that is a much better option and perhaps it is the perfect opportunity to invest in one if you don’t have it in your closet.

  • Hand And Leg Warmers

These tiny yet mighty pieces of fabric can ensure bonus insulation if the temperature drops even further. They barely need any space to be packed and are very cheap. In case your boots are non-insulated, these can keep your feet warm without adding much weight.

  • Gloves

Even if you miss or forget to pack the hand warmers, gloves are a must-have that you cannot leave out even by mistake. And there are designated ice fishing gloves that are waterproof, as well as designed to handle the fishing line easily. We suggest going for the ones that give you coverage till the wrists of your hands and can be slid under the jacket sleeves.

  • Outerwear

Proper ice fishing jackets and pants are needed for the utmost comfort and warmth. These are usually windproof, waterproof, and insulated to protect you from extremely low temperatures. You also need some canvas pants and jackets to be comfortable if you are fishing from a permanent shelter.

  • Led Headlamp

Since the sun sets quite early during the winter, you will need some light sources after sundown. You should consider multiple light sources like- lanterns, flashlights, LED headlights, etc. Led headlamps are very useful in that case as you keep your hands free from holding the lamps.

While you compile extensive fishing gear, take a look at the ice auger checklist.

  • Hand Powered Augers

These are lightweight and quiet augers that are used in a drilling motion by hand. A lot of people assume this to be a strenuous process, but it is not that laborious. The sharp point makes it very easy to scoop off even from the thickest layer of ice. Besides, it gives you a nice warm-up drill before your fishing session.

  • Gas-powered

These are an upgrade from the previously mentioned manual augers. These augers have an added gasoline engine over the auger shaft. No surprise, that these are a little more expensive, as well as more efficient than the plain hand-powered ones. You can drill holes on ice much quicker without any hassle. If you plan on purchasing one, look for a 4-strokes one that delivers the smoothest performance.

  • Electric Augers

You will find two types of electric augers in the market. 1) the hybrid ones; which can be attached to a cordless drill to drive the blades, and 2) the true electric augers; which are run by rechargeable lithium batteries. Both types are very popular these days among anglers. But, a minor limitation you will face with a hybrid auger is that they are best suited for large-sized drills, whereas the true electric ones give you a smooth, noise-free, and powerful performance paired with a very lightweight feeling.

Things You Should Consider Before You Go on an Ice Fishing Trip –

Take a Friend or Guide If You Are Going For the First Time

Contrary to regular weather or summertime fishing, ice fishing is different as you have to adjust to an adverse weather condition. Handling the ice and cold water for the first time will not going to be easy, and some guidelines from someone experienced always comes in help.

Do Your Research Beforehand

Similar to visiting any destination, researching and being informed before going ice fishing is also very important. Keep notes of the nearby places, local stores, helplines, and some phone numbers in case of emergency. Also, keep in contact with the nearby hospitals

Try To Communicate With the Locals

In this case, as well, you need to be well informed in how the locals act upon the visitors. Language and their openness to the visitors are very important factors to consider. If the locals are quite friendly, then you can ask them for recommendations, and even better you can seek help in case of emergency. However, if you find them to be quite reserved, keep the communication for information purposes only. We highly recommend going to a place with friendly local people when you are going ice fishing for the first time, so that you can access all the necessary support with less time and hassle. Prepare beforehand and be respectful of their customs.

Always Pick the Right Clothing Keeping the Weather in Mind

We suggest you invest in some high-quality warm clothes for the most comfortable fishing experience. If you suffer in the cold weather even before you get started fishing, the rest of the trip will become very strenuous for you.

One common mistake that you should avoid is to wear your skiing or regular cold-weather outfits. Ice fishing can be much colder than going skiing or walking. Besides that, be attentive to keep your feet warm too. Cold feet will not let you stay warm no matter how many layers of coats you are wearing.

Take All the Safety Measures

Depending on the region, the thickness of ice layers will differ from place to place. So it might get tricky to measure the depth of the ice layers. That is why, always take the safety tools in your fishing trips, as well as the first-aid kit.


Q:When Is the Best Time for Ice Fishing?

A: usually, early mornings are the best time of the day to go on ice fishing, it is even better if you can go before sunrise. As of the best time of the year, March is ideal if you are living in the USA.

Q: What Is The Ideal Bait For Ice Fishing?

A: live baits like- wax worms, maggots, fly larvae, minnows work well for ice fishing.

Q: How Deep Should I Ice Fish?

A: Generally, 8-20 feet-zone of a water body is ideal for ice fishing.


In ice fishing, experience is very valuable, and starting with utmost safety is non-negotiable. That is why our most important tip for you to go with a friend or a guide when you are going on ice fishing for the first time. That will help you to land on a great experience and learning opportunity.

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