Don’t miss out on another winter fishing trip, and check out what we think are the best ice fishing rods on the market. We review various rods, from budget-friendly options to high-end poles with all the bells and whistles. The fishing rod is the most crucial instrument for us anglers, so learn what features you should look for before purchasing one.

Hook and Bullet’s Best Ice Fishing Rods in 2021

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Spinning Combo - Best Ice Fishing Rods in 2021Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Spinning Combo
  • Rod powers: Medium to medium-heavy
  • Length: 28 to 30-inches
  • Blank material: Composite
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13 Fishing Wicked Longstem Ice Combo - Best Ice Fishing Rods in 202113 Fishing Wicked Longstem Ice Combo
  • Rod powers: Light to medium-heavy
  • Length: 25 to 31-inches
  • Blank material: Toray graphite
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13 Fishing Archangel Magnum-Light - Best Ice Fishing Rods in 202113 Fishing Archangel Magnum-Light
  • Rod powers: Ultra-light to magnum-light
  • Length: 25 to 29-inches
  • Blank material: Halocarbon
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St. Croix Rods Legend Black Ice Fishing - Best Ice Fishing Rods in 2021St. Croix Rods Legend Black Ice Fishing
  • Rod powers: Medium
  • Length: 24 to 30-inches
  • Blank material: Carbon
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13 Fishing Widow Maker - Best Ice Fishing Rods in 202113 Fishing Widow Maker
  • Rod powers: Ultra-light to medium-heavy
  • Length: 24 to 42-inches
  • Blank material: Carbon fiber
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Why Can You Trust Us?

I’m not only a writer for the Hook and Bullet team, but I am also an avid angler with numerous years of fishing experience. I have experience angling for many different fish species, from bluegill to flathead catfish. I enjoy fishing all 12 months out of the year, so you can say I know a thing or two about the sport.

When buying new fishing gear, I know what features are worthwhile and what makes a rod long-lasting. I’ve done several reviews, including helping anglers find high-quality bass and catfish rods. Thus, from this gathered knowledge and personal experience, I put together this product roundup. So, I can help you find the right ice fishing rod for your needs.

Best for the Budget

    Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Spinning Combo
    Ugly Stik’s spinning combo is affordable, durable, and can be used to target various species, from panfish to trout.

Why We Like It: If you’re looking for an inexpensive yet sturdy ice fishing rod, this Ugly Stik GX2 spinning combination is it.

You can use this rod to haul in monster trout in the winter. Or, it also makes a good children’s rod and reel in the summertime. The GX2 brings both sensitivity and durability to the table with its stout graphite/fiberglass rod blank. This composite material is a perfect balance, making it lightweight enough without sacrificing strength.

Furthermore, this medium-powered rod comes with a size-20 aluminum reel that features one ball bearing. Plus, you can configure the reel handle for right or left-handed reeling to meet your fishing preference.

Who Should Buy It: Anglers who need a budget-friendly, starter ice fishing rod for targeting small to medium-sized fish.

Best Rod and Reel Combo

    13 Fishing Wicked Longstem Ice Combo
    This ice-fishing rod and reel combo are available in various powers, from ultra-light to medium-heavy, to accommodate multiple fishing styles.

Why We Like It: 13 Fishing may have only been on the market for a decade; however, don’t let the age of this company deter you. 13 Fishing rods is a company run by anglers with products engineered by anglers. Their Wicked Longstem Ice combo is a testament to why their rods have grown in popularity amongst the community. This combo excels in ice fishing because of the solid Toray blank that gives it a sensitive feel with a rigid backbone.

In addition, the included Wicked aluminum fishing reel is built with good quality materials. The Wicked reel features 5-ball bearing to give you a smooth retrieve. Plus, it has instant anti-reverse, so you can quickly set your hook. Another highlight of this reel is it arrives pre-lubed with a defrost lubricant to keep your gear functional in even extreme weather conditions.

Who Should Buy It: Anglers looking for a quality light to a medium-heavy powered fishing rod and reel combo.

Best for Muskie and Northern Pike

    13 Fishing Archangel Magnum-Light
    13 Fishing’s Archangel rod is available in multiple powers; however, when landing large fish, we recommend the magnum-light to get the job done.

Why We Like It: The single-piece tapered design of the Archangel rod is sleek and functional. This rod screams quality and dependability from its highly-visible rod tip to its evolved foxhole hook keeper. We enjoy the Archangel magnum-light power when pulling in large species like muskie and northern pike. The magnum light gives you a stiff backbone for better handling and leverage while being sensitive enough to detect subtle bites.

However, you can also get this rod in an ultra-light or medium action for targeting smaller fish as well.

Who Should Buy It: Anglers looking for a heavy-duty yet lightweight rod for catching large fish species.

Best for Panfish

    St. Croix Rods Legend Black Ice
    Don’t miss another bite by employing the St. Croix Rods Legend Black Ice rod, equipped with an adjustable, high-tension strike indicator.

Why We Like It: This St. Croix rod is ready to be hooked into some monster slabs with its built-in strike indicator. With this high-tension, fully adjustable, and replaceable spring bobber, you’ll be able to see even the most subtle bites from panfish.

In addition to a super sensitive spring bobber, the rod’s solid carbon blank creates a well-balanced and lightweight feel. Then, along with the blank, you’ll find its stainless-steel guides, which are corrosive-resistant and won’t wear out your line.

Who Should Buy It: Anglers in the market for a quality ice fishing rod for panfish or other small fish species.

Best for Trout

    13 Fishing Widow Maker
    The Widow Maker is a durable, sensitive, comfortable trout rod with high-end features.

Why We Like It: If you are looking for a trout rod this winter, consider checking out the Widow Maker by 13 Fishing. Its solid Toray blank is rugged, sensitive, and lightweight. For example, you’ll be able to detect trout from the moment they strike, throughout the fight, up to the landing. Also, the cork handle on the Widow Maker makes it comfortable to hold for long periods. Plus, you can customize it by purchasing it in a split-grip or Tennessee handle.

Who Should Buy It: Anglers who need an ice fishing rod for trout fishing.

Why Should You Use an Ice Fishing Rod?

A person holding a St. Croix ice fishing rod over an ice hole.

Image Credit: St. Croix Rods on Amazon

Although you can use a regular spinning rod for ice fishing, a specialized rod can be more effective, and here’s why. Ice fishing rods are much shorter in length than an everyday one. This characteristic is important because it makes the rod easier to handle while on the ice, from presenting jigs to fighting fish. Also, since you’re not casting long distances, you don’t need the extra length. Last but most importantly, ice fishing rods are typically engineered with increased sensitivity.

What To Look For in an Ice Fishing Rod

A person ice fishing over an ice hole.

Image Credit: Ugly Stik on Amazon

Power and Action

Like any other fishing rod, you should always examine its rated power and action before purchasing. You’ll find various options from ultra-light to extra-heavy when looking through rod powers. This power rating refers to how resistant the rod is to bending when weight is on the line.

Then, a rod’s action indicates where the blank flexes when you have a fish on. For example, rod actions range from extra-fast to slow. Generally, extra-fast rods will only bend at the tip, whereas a slower rod will bend evenly at the middle of the blank.

Rod Length

As we mentioned above, an ice fishing rod should be shorter than your average day one. Typically, ice fishing rods will be anywhere from 24-inches to 36-inches in length. This stouter profile makes the rod easy to maneuver.

Blank Material

Next, you want to ensure you read a rod’s product specifications to determine what materials are in the blank. Here are some common blank materials and their advantages:

  • Carbon fiber – Increased sensitivity, lightweight, and super durable.
  • Graphite – Sensitive, rigid backbone, lightweight, and faster action.
  • Fiberglass – Long-lasting, inexpensive material, and more suitable for softer presentations.
  • Composite –  Blended rods give you the best features of each material used for a cheaper price point.

Rod Sensitivity

Sadly rod sensitivity isn’t something you can immediately gauge when you’re at the store. It’s one of those things you just have to find out on the water. However, faster action rods will generally be more sensitive than slower ones.

While ice fishing, having a rod with increased sensitivity is crucial because you want to feel even the most subtle strikes. During the wintertime, fish are more lethargic, their movements are slower, and their strikes are less prominent.

How We Picked

Regardless of your experience level, picking out a new fishing rod can be a daunting task. It’s even more difficult when the market is heavily saturated. However, when it came time to write this review, a few key characteristics helped us find the best of the best. You’ll notice all of these rods we included in our review share these valuable features:

  • Increased sensitivity
  • Multiple lengths and power options
  • Durable materials
  • Being lightweight
  • A balanced feel

We believe these five things make up a quality ice fishing rod. In addition to their shared traits, we painstakingly went through countless consumer reviews to ensure they were satisfactory.

Our Favorite Ice Fishing Rod in 2021 is…

All of these fishing rods we included in this roundup perform fantastically. However, we felt there was one that outfished the rest. This rod is the 13 Fishing Archangel. You can purchase the Archangel in an ultra-light to magnum-light power, so you can find the right one to meet your needs. We also enjoy this rod’s other qualities, including sensitive, heavy-duty halocarbon blank and diamond-coated guides. Plus, if anything happens to your rod, you’ll be protected by a one-year manufacture warranty.

If this article has benefited you, please consider sharing it on social media. Or, if you enjoyed reading this review, then you might also want to check out these three ice fishing methods to use this winter.