11 Ice Fishing Gear Essentials: In-Depth Guide for Beginners

Ice fishing is a popular winter activity that requires the right gear to ensure a successful and comfortable experience. Whether you're a seasoned ice angler or a beginner, having the right ice fishing equipment can make all the difference in catching fish and staying warm on the ice. In this article, we'll go over 11 essential items to add to your ice fishing gear list: 

1. Warm Clothing

  • Baselayers: The first layer of clothing you'll need for ice fishing is a good set of base layers. These are the layers closest to your skin and are designed to keep you warm. Look for base layers made from moisture-wicking materials like polyester. 
  • Mid Layers: The next layer of clothing is your mid-layer. This layer should provide additional insulation to keep you warm in cold temperatures. Look for mid-layers made from materials like fleece which can provide excellent warmth without adding bulk. We especially recommend heated layers that could provide a lot of warmth with half the bulky layers. 
  • Outer Layers: The final layer of clothing is your outer layer. This layer should be water resistant and windproof to protect you from the elements. Look for jackets and pants made from breathable materials like our Heated Down Jacket.


In addition to your base, mid, and outer layers, you'll also need some accessories to stay warm and comfortable while ice fishing. Here are a few things to consider: 

  • Hats: A warm hat is essential for keeping your head and ears warm in cold temperatures.
  • Gloves: Look for gloves that are waterproof and insulated to keep your hands warm and dry.
  • Boots: Good quality winter boots with insulation and a waterproof membrane are essential for keeping your feet warm and dry.
  • Socks: Look for wool or synthetic socks that can wick away moisture and provide insulation.
  • Ice Cleats: Ice cleats can provide traction on slippery surfaces, making it easier to walk on the ice and reduce the risk of slipping and falling.

Top Ice Fishing Clothing:

  • Baselayers: Under Armour Men's ColdGear, Columbia Men's Baselayer Midweight Long Sleeve Shirt, or Terramar Men's Thermasilk Crew 
  • Mid Layers: Venture Heated Midlayer Shirt, Venture Heat Fleece Jacket, Venture Heat Fleece Vest, Venture Heat Puffer Vest
  • Insulated Jacket: Frabill I3 Jacket, StrikerICE Men's Climate Jacket, or Eskimo Keeper Jacket 
  • Waterproof Bibs: Frabill I2 Bib, StrikerICE Men's Climate Bib, or Eskimo Roughneck Bib.
  • Scarf: Venture Heat Packable Heated Down Scarf
  • Hats & Gloves: Carhartt Men's Acrylic Watch Hat, The North Face Men's ETIP Gloves, or Glacier Glove ICE BAY Gloves
  • Neck Gaitor: Smartwool Neck Gaiter, Turtle Fur Heavyweight Fleece Neck Warmer, or Carhartt Men's Fleece Neck Gaiter 

2. Ice Augers

  • Manual ice augers: Manual ice augers are the most affordable option and are powered by hand. They typically feature a T-shaped handle and a spiral blade that drills through the ice. Manual ice augers are lightweight and easy to transport, making them a good option for anglers who move frequently on the ice.
  • Gas-Powered Ice Augers: Gas-powered ice augers are the most powerful and efficient option, making them a popular choice among serious ice anglers. These augers use a small engine to power the blade, allowing them to drill through the ice quickly and easily. Gas-powered ice augers are heavier and more expensive than manual augers, but they can save a lot of time and effort. 
  • Electric Ice Augers: Electric ice augers are a newer option and are powered by a rechargeable battery. They offer a good balance between power and convenience, as they are lighter and easier to transport than gas-powered augers, but can still drill through the ice quickly. Electric ice augers are typically more expensive than manual augers and gas-powered augers. 

Top Ice Augers

  • The Strikemaster Lazer Hand Auger (Manual)     
  • Clam Outdoors Drill Auger Conversion Kit (Manual)     
  • Eskimo Quickfish Portable Electric Auger (Gas-Powered)    
  • X Electric Ice Auger (Electric) 

3. Ice Fishing Rods & Reels

Ice fishing rods are designed to withstand the cold temperatures and harsh conditions of ice fishing, as well as provide the angler with the sensitivity needed to feel even the slightest bites from fish. Here are some things to consider when choosing an ice fishing rod:

  • Length: Ice fishing rods typically range in length from 24 to 36 inches. The shorter length provides more control when fishing in small holes or tight spaces. Longer rods can provide more leverage and casting distance but can be more challenging to manage in tight spaces.
  • Power and Action: Power refers to the rod's ability to handle the weight of the fish, while action refers to the sensitivity and flexibility of the rod. Light power and fast action rods are ideal for smaller fish, while heavier power and slower action rods are better suited for larger fish.
  • Materials: Ice fishing rods are typically made from graphite, fiberglass, or a combination of the two. Graphite rods are lightweight and sensitive, while fiberglass rods are more durable and can handle heavier fish.

Top Ice Fishing Reels

  • St. Croix Avid Ice Jigging Rod
  • Frabill Panfish Straight Line 101 Ice Fishing Combo
  • Fenwick Elite Tech Ice Fishing Spinning Rod
  • Fishing Reels for Ice Fishing

When it comes to ice fishing reels, there are two main types: spinning reels and inline reels. Spinning reels are the most popular type of reel for ice fishing, while inline reels are becoming increasingly popular due to their ease of use and sensitivity. Here are some things to consider when choosing an ice fishing reel:

  • Size: The size of the reel should match the size of the rod you are using. A larger reel may provide more line capacity and be better suited for larger fish, while a smaller reel may be more comfortable to use for extended periods.
  • Gear Ratio: The gear ratio determines how quickly the line can be retrieved. A higher gear ratio provides faster retrieval, while a lower gear ratio provides more power.
  • Drag System: The drag system controls how much resistance is applied to the fishing line when a fish is hooked. A smooth and reliable drag system is essential for landing larger fish.

Top Ice Fishing Rods

  • Shimano Stradic CI4+ Ice Fishing Reel
  • Abu Garcia Ice Max Spinning Reel 
  • Pflueger President XT Spinning Reel 

4. Tip-Ups

Tip-ups are a popular type of ice fishing gear that can help anglers catch more fish in a shorter amount of time. Tip-ups are fishing lines that are set up over a hole in the ice and attached to a flag that pops up when a fish bites. Here, we'll take a closer look at tip-ups and offer some tips for using them effectively. 

There are several types of tip-ups available on the market today. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Traditional Tip-Ups - Traditional tip-ups are the most common type of tip-up. They consist of a wooden frame, a spool for the fishing line, and a flag that pops up when a fish bites.
  • Automatic Tip-Ups - Automatic tip-ups are a newer type of tip-up that use a spring-loaded trigger to automatically set the hook when a fish bites. They are more sensitive than traditional tip-ups, but also more expensive.
  • Electric Tip-Ups - Electric tip-ups are the most high-tech type of tip-up. They use a motor to automatically set the hook when a fish bites, and can also be set to reel in the fish once it's caught. They are the most expensive type of tip-up, but also the most efficient.

Top Tip-Ups

  • Frabill Arctic Fire Tip-Up
  • HT Enterprise Polar Therm Extreme Tip-Up
  • Beaver Dam Original Tip-Up

5. Shelters & Sleds

There are two main types of ice shelters: 

  • Flip-Over Shelters - Flip-over shelters are compact and easy to transport, making them a popular choice among ice anglers who move frequently on the ice. These shelters feature a hinged design that allows them to be set up quickly and easily. Flip-over shelters typically have a sled base and a canvas cover that can be flipped up for fishing or down for transport.
  • Hub-Style Shelters - Hub-style shelters are larger and more spacious than flip-over shelters, making them a good option for anglers who plan to spend extended periods of time on the ice. These shelters feature a frame made of metal or plastic poles that connect at the center, creating a dome-shaped structure. The frame is covered with a fabric shell that can be set up quickly and easily.

In addition to ice shelters, sleds are another important piece of equipment for ice fishing. Sleds are used to transport gear and equipment across the ice, and can also be used as a base for a flip-over shelter. Here are some popular types of sleds:

  • Pull Sleds - Pull sleds are the most basic type of sled and are typically made of plastic or wood. These sleds are lightweight and easy to pull across the ice, making them a good option for anglers who don't have a lot of gear to transport.
  • Cargo Sleds - Cargo sleds are larger and more heavy-duty than pull sleds, making them a good option for anglers who have a lot of gear to transport. These sleds are typically made of high-density polyethylene and feature a molded-in hitch system that allows them to be pulled behind an ATV or snowmobile.

Top Shelters & Sleds

  • Eskimo Quickfish Portable Ice Shelter
  • Clam Outdoors X400 Thermal 4-6 Person Ice Fishing Shelter
  • Shappell Jet Sled

6. Ice Fishing Line

The type of line used for ice fishing can make a big difference in the number of bites you get. Here are some factors to consider when choosing an ice fishing line:

  • Test strength - Ice fishing lines are typically much lighter than those used for warm weather fishing, with test strengths ranging from 1 to 10 pounds. The lighter the line, the more bites you're likely to get, but also the higher the risk of losing a fish.
  • Material - Monofilament and fluorocarbon lines are the most common types of lines used for ice fishing. Monofilament is cheaper and easier to handle, while fluorocarbon is more expensive but has less visibility in the water.    

Top Fishing Lines

  • Berkley Trilene Micro Ice
  • Sufix Ice Magic
  • P-Line Floroice
  • PowerPro Ice-Tec

7. Electronics

  • Fish Finders: Fish finders are a great tool for beginners to use when ice fishing. They can help you to locate fish and determine the depth of the water you're fishing in.
  • Underwater Cameras: Underwater cameras can be a helpful tool for beginners who are just starting to learn about ice fishing. They allow you to see what's happening beneath the ice and can help you to identify different types of fish and structure. 
  • Handheld GPS Devices: A handheld GPS device can be a useful tool for beginners to mark their fishing spots and navigate on the ice. 
  • Flashers: Flashers are electronic devices that use sonar technology to detect fish and display their location on a screen. They are a bit more advanced than fish finders, but they can be a great tool for beginners who want to take their ice fishing to the next level.
  • Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combos: While not an electronic device, an ice fishing rod and reel combo can be a great investment for beginners. Combos are designed specifically for ice fishing and are often more affordable than buying a rod and reel separately.

Top Electronics:

  • Humminbird PiranhaMax 4 (Fish Finder)
  • Lowrance Hook2-4x (Fish Finder)
  • Aqua-Vu Micro Stealth 4.3 (Underwater Camera)
  • Marcum VS485C (Underwater Camera)
  • Vexilar FL-8SE (Flashers) 
  • Frabill Panfish Popper Pro (Rod & Reel Combo)
  • Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 (Rod & Reel Combo)

8. Baits & Lures

  • Jigs: Jigs are one of the most popular and effective baits for ice fishing. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, and can be tipped with live bait like wax worms, spikes, or minnows. 
  • Soft Plastics: Soft plastics can be a great alternative to live bait, and they come in a wide range of colors and styles. They are also more durable and can be reused, which makes them a cost-effective option.
  • Spoons: Spoons are another popular and effective bait for ice fishing. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and can be used to target a wide range of fish species.
  • Tungsten Jigs: Tungsten jigs are becoming increasingly popular among ice fishermen because they are denser and sink faster than lead jigs. They also transmit vibrations well, which can help attract fish. 
  • Live Bait: Live bait can be a great option for beginners who are looking for a simple and effective way to catch fish. Some good live bait options for ice fishing include wax worms, spikes, minnows, or leeches.

Top Baits & Lures

  • Northland Fishing Tackle Buckshot Rattle Spoon (Jig)
  • Lindy Frostee Jig (Jig)
  • Berkley Gulp! Ice Minnow (Soft Plastic)
  • Clam Outdoors Maki Mino (Soft Plastic) Acme Kastmaster SpoonJohnson ThinFisher SpoonVMC Tungsten Fly Jig (Tungsten Jig)
  • Clam Outdoors Drop Tg Tungsten Jig (Tungsten Jig)

9. Ice Scoop

An ice scoop is used to clear ice chips from the hole, making it easier to see when a fish is biting and to prevent the hole from freezing over.

  • Plastic Ice Scoops: Plastic ice scoops are lightweight and affordable, making them a great option for beginners. They are also easy to clean and won't rust.
  • Metal Ice Scoops: Metal ice scoops are more durable than plastic scoops and can handle heavier loads of ice. They are also more expensive than plastic scoops.
  • Combination Ice Scoop and Chisel: A combination ice scoop and chisel is a useful tool for beginners who are looking to break through thicker ice. These tools typically have a scoop on one end and a chisel on the other, making them versatile and practical. 

Top Ice Scoops

  • Eskimo 26500 Grizzly Flip Ice Fishing Sled (Plastic)
  • Frabill Ice Scoop (Plastic)
  • Clam Outdoors Ice Scoop (Metal)
  • Strikemaster Lazer Hand Ice Auger (Metal)
  • Rapala Ice Chisel and Scoop (Combination)
  • Frabill Ice Chisel and Scoop (Combination)

10. Emergency Gear

  • Ice Picks: Ice picks are an essential piece of safety gear for ice fishermen. They are designed to help you climb out of the water if you fall through the ice. 
  • Personal Floatation Device (PFD): A personal flotation device, or PFD, is a must-have for anyone who is going out on the ice. It can help keep you afloat in the event that you fall through the ice. 
  • Emergency Blanket: An emergency blanket can help keep you warm and dry in the event that you get wet.
  • First Aid Kit: A first aid kit is an essential item for any outdoor activity, including ice fishing. It should include basic medical supplies such as bandages, gauze, and antiseptic wipes. 
  • Whistle: A whistle can be a lifesaving tool in the event that you become stranded on the ice. It can help rescuers locate you more quickly.

Top Emergency Gear:

  • Frabill Ice Picks HT Enterprises Ice Rescue Picks
  • Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest (PFD)
  • Stohlquist Men's Ebb Life Vest (PFD)
  • Swiss Safe Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets
  • Grabber Outdoors Original Space Brand All Weather Blanket 
  • Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7 Medical Kit 
  • Coleman All Purpose Mini First Aid Kit
  • Fox 40 Sonik Blast CMG Whistle
  • Acme Tornado T2000 Pealess Whistle

11. After the Catch Gear

After catching fish while ice fishing, there are a few things that beginners should consider bringing with them to properly handle and prepare the fish:
Fish Basket or Bucket: A fish basket or bucket is a great way to keep your catch organized and prevent them from freezing to the ice. 

  • Fish Cleaning Tool: A fish cleaning tool, such as a fillet knife, is essential for preparing your fish for cooking. 
  • Cooler: A cooler is a great way to keep your fish fresh while you're on the ice. 
  • Ice Packs or Dry Ice: Ice packs or dry ice can help keep your fish cold and fresh while you transport them home.

Top Tools:

  • Frabill Aqua-Life Portable Aerator
  • Berkley Fishing Bucket
  • Rapala Fish 'n Fillet Knife
  • Morakniv Fishing Comfort Fillet Knife
  • YETI Hopper BackFlip 24 Soft Sided Cooler
  • Coleman Xtreme 5 Wheeled Cooler
  • Arctic Ice Tundra Series Ice Pack
  • Pelican Elite Cooler Ice Pack

Remember to also check local regulations regarding fish limits and catch-and-release rules. If you plan on releasing the fish, be sure to handle them gently and release them back into the water as quickly as possible.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, these are the 11 ice fishing gear essentials that you would need for any ice fishing trip. This may seem like a lot but just remember that for each section, you should select the proper gear that best fits your ice fishing needs. We hope this served as a helpful guide on what kind of gear to add to your checklist for your next ice fishing adventure. So, grab your gear, head out onto the ice, and get ready to catch some fish!

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