The 10 Best Ice Fishing Reels For Any Angler (2021)

Kenneth ReavesEdited by: Kenneth Reaves
Michael DarmontReviewed by: Michael Darmont

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall: 13 FISHING D2.7-LH Descent Ice Reel
“Offering a steel line guide, a cushioned reel seat, and a fiberglass construction, the 13 FISHING D2.7-LH Descent Ice Reel is perfect for anglers in search of a high-tech ice fishing reel.”

Smoothest Performance: KastKing Summer/Centron
“With a compact, lightweight design, robust 17.5 lb. Drag System, and 9-ball bearings, the KastKing Summer/Centron is a quality ice fishing reel that operates in an extremely smooth manner.”

Most Versatile: Okuma Ceymar
“Featuring a multi-disc, pre-oiled drag system, a quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing, and numerous available sizes, the Okuma Ceymar is great for those in need of an ideally sized reel that suit a specific application.”

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To find ice fishing success, an angler’s gear must be up to the task of operating in a less than hospitable environment and a few such pieces of equipment hold as much value in this sense, like that of an angler’s ice fishing reel.

The vast majority of today’s premium ice fishing reels feature high-quality ball bearing assemblies, corrosion resistant internal components, and robust drag systems.

Additionally, these reels are typically designed in a manner that allows excess water to be shed, in a bid to prevent freezing.

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Best Ice Fishing Reels in 2021

13 FISHING D2.7-LH Descent Ice Reel

Best Overall: New age innovation at an economical price

13 FISHING D2.7-LH Descent Ice Reel

KEY FEATURES

  • Steel line guides for improved line dispersal and retrieval
  • Fiberglass construction for superior corrosion resistance
  • Cushioned reel seat for enhanced durability

For those in search of a high-tech ice fishing reel, which is highly refined in every form, the 13 Fishing D2.7-LH, should make the perfect selection. This reel features a cushioned reel seat, a solid fiberglass blank, and stainless steel guides. These features should be conducive to quality fishing, under a wide array of circumstances.

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The D2.7-LH features stainless steel guides, which facilitate efficient line retrieval and dispersal and keep an angler’s line free of line twists and other time-consuming dilemmas. Additionally, the reel’s guides prevent line from inadvertently becoming chaffed or damaged in any other way.

Most anglers are likely to find favor in the D2.7-LH’s fiberglass construction. Because fiberglass is not metallic in nature, it is not prone to corrosion. This can be of immense value, as corrosion of any type is a death sentence for any reel.

KastKing Summer/Centron

Smoothest Performance: Silky smooth performance, which you would have to experience to believe

KastKing Summer/Centron

KEY FEATURES

  • Compact, lightweight design for enhanced angler comfort
  • Robust 17.5 lb. Drag System for improved fighting power
  • 9-ball bearings for smooth, seamless operation

If you are currently searching for a quality ice fishing reel that operates in an extremely smooth manner, then KastKing Summer/Centron series reels should be worthy of your consideration. This series of reel utilizes a total of 9 heavy-duty ball bearings, which should provide a smooth, seamless operation, no matter the load imparted upon it.

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KastKing Summer/Centron series reels also feature a robust 17.5 lb. drag system, which should provide plenty of strength to pull even the most sizable of fish from below the ice. This system is complemented by the use of a hardened metal main shaft, perfect mesh drive gear, and precision machined pinion gear. The use of these rugged components also serves to further enhance the durability of reels within this series.

Anglers are also likely to appreciate the graphite frame construction of all reels within the KastKing Summer/Centron series. These frames are extremely rigid, yet lightweight enough to promote angler comfort.

Okuma Ceymar

Most Versatile: A reel that comes in numerous models, to meet the needs of every angler

Okuma Ceymar

KEY FEATURES

  • Multi-disc, pre-oiled drag system for extensive fighting power
  • Quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing for more efficient hook sets
  • Numerous available sizes for increased versatility

The Okuma Ceymar is available for purchase in an extensive array of sizes, which should be of significant value to those who are searching for an ideally sized reel to suit a specific application. This reel includes numerous high-end features, such as a multi-disc, pre-oiled drag system, a quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing, and high-torque pinion gear.

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Most anglers should find significant favor in the Okuma Ceymer’s multi-disc, pre-oiled drag system. This system utilizes felt-style drag washers, which are more than capable of providing sufficient resistance for smooth operation under any load.

The Okuma Ceymer spinning reel also features an anti-corrosive anodized coating. This is of significant value, as corrosion of any type can quickly render an otherwise pristine reel inoperable. As a result, anglers are likely to find the Okuma Ceymer to be extremely durable, in comparison to many alternative reels.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel & Rod Combo

Best Ice Fishing Combo: A two for one package to assist anglers in maximizing their enjoyment on the water

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel & Rod Combo

KEY FEATURES

  • Aluminum spool for reduced weight
  • Robust drag system for ample fighting power
  • Comes with Ugly Stick Rod for added value

If you are looking for an ice fishing rod and reel combo to make your life a little simpler, then look no further than the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 combo. The reel contained within this set is of size 20 construction, and features a single premium ball bearing, and is equipped with a rather robust drag system, which provides plenty of power for pulling trophy size fish from below.

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The Ugly Stick Reel also features a ported spool, which is extremely lightweight in nature and can easily dispel water that would otherwise lead to freezing issues. This eliminates a number of headaches and allows an angler to make more efficient use of his or her time on the water.

Anglers are also likely to find favor in the Ugly Stick reel’s durable aluminum composition. This promotes angler comfort, as the reel is light enough in weight, that hand, arm, and shoulder are of little to no issue.

Diwa Spinning

Best Drag System: This power you need when the fish of a lifetime is on the other end of the line

Diwa Spinning

KEY FEATURES

  • 55 LB drag system for unparalleled fighting potential
  • 14 stainless steel ball bearings for ultra-smooth operation
  • Compact, streamlined body for enhanced ease of use

The Diwa spinning reel is also of note for its first in class 55-pound maximum drag capacity. This capacity is double that of many similar reels available on today’s market and should be more than capable of powering trophy-size game fish up from beneath the ice. Additionally, the Diwa spinning fishing reel’s drag is designed to operate in an ultra-smooth manner, free of binding or dead spots.

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Most anglers should also appreciate the Diwa spinning reel’s lightweight, compact design. The Diwa spinning fishing reel utilizes an aluminum-alloy body, which is extremely lightweight, yet solid in construction. Weighing in at only 9.87 ounces, this reel should be perfect for any angler who intends to spend an extensive amount of time on the water and needs a reel that will not accelerate fatigue.

The Diwa spinning reel also utilizes 14 stainless steel ball bearings, which work together to provide anglers with noticeably smoother operation. This feature should find favor among those that fish on a rather frequent basis and expect the best out of all of their equipment.

Eagle Claw In Line Ice Reel

Most Lightweight: Subdued in size, yet not in power

Eagle Claw In Line Ice Reel

KEY FEATURES

  • Teflon drag system for enhanced line metering capabilities
  • Lightweight design for increased angler comfort
  • Free-spool release button for simpler depth acquisition

The Eagle Claw InLine Ice Fishing Reel should make the perfect selection for any die-hard ice fishing angler, who lives, breathes, eats, and sleeps ice fishing. This reel is specifically designed for ice fish and is outfitted with a number of helpful features, all of which provide duty-specific value for fishing in the coldest of climates. Some of the most notable of these features include a smooth Teflon drag system, clicker, and free spool release button.

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The Eagle Claw In Line Ice Fishing Reel’s specialized Teflon drag system provides a significant degree of fish fighting power, while still operating in a smooth, concise manner. This drag system also operates consistently, no matter the load that it is tasked with bearing. This can be especially helpful when battling trophy size fish, that would otherwise present difficulty for less robust drag systems.

The Eagle Claw In Line Ice Fishing Reel is also extremely lightweight. This reel weighs only .37-pounds, making it one of the lightest ice fishing reels currently available on today’s market. This should be appreciated by those that commonly jig when ice fishing, as hand and arm will be effectively minimized.

Piscifun ICX 5 Ice Fishing Reel

Best Budget Reel: Performance That Fits Every Budget

Piscifun ICX 5 Ice Fishing Reel

KEY FEATURES

  • Specialized spool for freeze prevention
  • Lightweight design for improved angler comfort
  • Folding handle for ease of transport

The Piscifun ICX 5 is likely to find favor among anglers who have faced frustrating reel icing issues in the past, and wish to circumvent such difficulties in the future. The Piscifun ICX 5 features a specialized spool, which sheds water, thereby resisting freeze up, as well as corrosion of any type. This not only adds to the Piscifun ICX 5’s level of functionality but also enhances its durability.

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Anglers are also likely to be pleased with the Piscifun ICX’s graphite composition. Graphite is known to be a superior choice for reel manufacturing, as it is extremely lightweight, yet tough beyond compare. Graphite is also naturally corrosion resistant, thereby extending the durability of reels that utilize it in their design.

The Piscifun ICX 5 also features a deluxe quick folding handle, which can be folded inward in preparation for transport. As a result, anglers can travel about with little restriction, as they make their way to the lake.

Pflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning Reel

Most Reliable: A reel that can be counted on, no matter the circumstances

Pflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning Reel

KEY FEATURES

  • Graphite body for superior durability
  • Quality ball bearing arrangement for smooth operation
  • Robust drag system for significant line control

If you are currently searching for a reliable workhorse of a reel, which can be depended upon from day to day and week to week, then the Pflueger Moniceb Monarch ice spinning reel should be worthy of a closer look. This reel features a high-quality stainless steel ball bearing system, a corrosion resistant aluminum bail, and a graphite frame. Together, these features provide anglers with a reel that can be used to much success, without fear of untimely failure.

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The Pflueger Moniceb Monarch’s corrosion-resistant ball bearing system is ideal for moderate to heavy use, and effectively reduces rolling friction in a bid to streamline operation. As a result, the Monarch operates smoothly, free of any rough spots, or periods of hesitation.

Additionally, many anglers are likely to be pleased with the Monarch’s reliable drag system. This system is designed to adequately meter line dispersal rates, while under a load, such as that which is encountered when fighting a fish of epic size.

Fiblink Inline Ice Fishing Reel

KEY FEATURES

  • CNC machined spool for enhanced durability
  • Aluminum star drag for ease of adjustment
  • Free-spool release for simple depth acquisition

The Fiblink Inline should be the perfect selection for any angler who is currently searching for a classic-style ice fishing reel, that is designed to incorporate numerous modern features. This reel features a premium CNC spool, an aluminum star drag, and a solid one-piece foot. Together, these features culminate to provide anglers with a top-notch ice reel for the ages.

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Many anglers should find significant favor in the Fiblink Inline’s specialty CNC machined spool. This spool promotes superior line lay, thereby minimizing the risk of time consumptive line twists and tangles. In turn, this prevents a number of efficiency-robbing headaches.

The Fiblink Inline also features a free-spool release button, which allows an angler to drop their lure to whatever depth they desire, in a matter of only seconds. This gets your bait in the strike zone sooner, thereby increasing your odds at success.

Frabill Straight Line 371 Ice Fishing Reel

Best High End Reel: A reel that is limitless in both performance and features

Frabill Straight Line 371 Ice Fishing Reel

KEY FEATURES

  • Ultra-lightweight design for superior angler comfort
  • High-quality bearing assembly for smooth operation
  • Anti-reverse bearing for unparalleled responsiveness

If you are an experienced ice fisherman, who is looking to upgrade to one of the best ice fishing reels currently available, look no further than the Frabill Straight Line 371. This reel is of a lightweight composite design, which is both durable, and comfortable for anglers. In fact, the Frabill weighs only ½ pound in total.

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The Frabill Straight Line 371 also features a 5+1 ball bearing assembly, which promotes ultra-smooth operation. Additionally, the use of a high-quality anti-reverse bearing prevents unintentional line backfeed, thereby enhancing hook set efficiency.

Most anglers should be happy to know that the Frabill Straight Line 371 also comes pre-lubed from the factory. This lube provides superior wear protection without freezing. This lube is viable until temperatures drop well below zero.

What Should I Look For When Buying The Best Ice Fishing Reels

Body Design

A reel’s body serves as its point of attachment with an angler’s rod, and should therefore be extremely strong and resilient.

The body of a reel is as important as a tree’s root. Without a solid foundation, even the highest quality components will be of little use. A reel’s body must be rigid and durable, as it is forced to endure a significant amount of abuse throughout its service life.

Spool

A reel’s spool serves as the single point of connection between a reel and its line.

The vast majority of today’s reels feature spools of aluminum construction. These spools are lightweight, yet extremely hearty by design, and are more than capable of standing the test of time, even under the most demanding of circumstances.

Handle

A reel’s handle serves as the point of input for any force asserted by an angler.

The exact style and form of a reel’s handle vary from one particular model to the next. However, a handle needs to be easy to manipulate, and offer comfortable grips.

Bearing Number

The number and quality of ball bearings used in a reel’s construction directly affect the unit’s ability to operate in a smooth seamless fashion.

A reel’s bearings facilitate its rotational movement while preventing excess free-play and wobble. Assuming that all bearings are of premium quality and absolute uniformity, a reel with a higher bearing count will operate in a smoother fashion than a similar reel with fewer bearings.

Drag Capacity

A reel’s drag capacity dictates its ability to battle fish of sizable proportions, without line slip or other problematic conditions.

A reel’s drag system uses a series of drag washers to create resistance, which meters outward line dispersal. The resistance associated with these washers is controlled through a reel’s drag adjustment and can be manipulated by an angler at any time.

Anti-Ice System

If a reel’s spool freezes solid while waiting for the next bite, a world of frustration will result.

Many ice fishing reels prevent freeze-up through the use of a specialty designed spool, which allows water to drain, as opposed to collecting and freezing. However, a number of anglers also choose to use various non-toxic chemical treatments on their lines to further assist in these efforts.

Durability

If a reel lacks in durability, it is highly unlikely to stand up to the rigors of ice fishing for any lengthy period of time.

Much of a reel’s durability lies in the quality of its internal drivetrain components, bearings, and drag system. If all such components are built to a high degree of structural integrity, a reel will likely last for decades. If not, there is a good chance that you will find yourself in search of a replacement reel in the near future.

Material

At the end of the day, a reel is only as strong as the base material used to construct it.

The material used in the design of ice fishing reels varies from one model to the next. However, some materials are far more popular than others. Today, graphite is among the leading materials used in reel design, because of its durable, yet lightweight characteristics.

Design

The overall design of any ice fishing reel is vital, as the quality of such plays a key role in operational efficiency, or a lack thereof.

A reel’s design should be laid out in a manner that is conducive to smooth, seamless operation. A reel’s frame must be rugged in nature and all components attached to this frame should be of the utmost quality, for the unit to function in an optimal manner.

Questions & Answers

What Type Of Reel Should I Use For Ice Fishing?

In the majority of cases, small spinning reels are used for ice fishing. These reels are most commonly within the 1000-3000 size range. This tends to be the perfect size range for wrangling fish of varying sizes, as small fish can be landed quickly, while sizable fish can be played out through strategic frag adjustment.

Additionally, many anglers choose to use ice fishing specific reels. These reels are very similar to standard fishing reels. However, many ice fishing reels are designed to shed water, that would otherwise lead to freezing and poor performance.

Can I Use A Regular Reel For Ice Fishing?

A regular reel can certainly be used for ice fishing. Most reels that are used for this purpose are of the spinning type and are rather subdued in size. Most commonly, these reels fall within the 1000-3000 range in size. However, larger reels can be used when specifically pursuing sizable fish such as pike.

The technical differences between ice fishing reels and regular spinning reels are relatively few and far between. However, ice fishing reels are typically built in a manner that allows water to shed from their spool, thereby preventing spool freeze-up in extremely cold conditions. This can be of immense benefit in far northern climates where winter temperatures can dip into the negatives.

Can I Combine Ice Fishing Reel with Regular Rod or Do I Need A New One?

Ice fishing reels can be used with standard rods. However, there are numerous advantages to the use of an ice fishing rod that should be given heavy consideration. While standard rods are most often 5-7 feet in length, ice rods are much shorter. These rods are designed in this fashion in a bid to provide greater sensitivity and control, especially considering the relative size of any hole that you will be fishing through.

In the majority of instances, it can be difficult to control your line when standing a full 6-7 feet away from your hole in the ice. This not only complicates lure and bait presentation, but it also becomes more tedious of a chore to keep your line from skimming the rough edges of your ice hole. In turn, line damage can result.  On the other hand, shorter ice fishing rods place an angler within 1-2 feet of their hole, where sufficient line control can be achieved in a much easier fashion.