The Best Ice Fishing Rod of 2021: Top 8 Tested & Reviewed

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

Last Update:

The Rundown

Best Overall: 13 Fishing Widow Maker (click to view)
“The Widow Maker is made from a 39-ton solid graphite blank that delivers incredible durability without losing sensitivity. It’s excellent for panfish, perch, small walleye, and trout.”

Best Premium Option: St. Croix Mojo (click to view)
“The Mojo features an EVA handle that won’t hurt your hands after a day of holding it over your hole. It is deal for anglers who want the most customization on their rods and want the perfect tool for the job.”

Best Budget Option: Fenwick Elite Tech (click to view)
“The Fenwick Elite has a powerful backbone, comfortable grips, and a durable rod blank at a bargain of a price. Ideal for anglers looking for durability without skimping on quality.”

Check Other Models on Amazon

Getting into ice fishing can be tricky for everyday anglers. While you can use any standard rod for ice fishing, you’re much better off getting a rod specifically made for it. 

You’ll need to consider the fish you’re going after before choosing the right rod for you, but there are a few things to always look for. Try for a short length around 28 to 29 inches, comfortable handles, and durable line guides.

With all the ice fishing rods on the market, narrowing down which one is best for you can be difficult. So we’ve put this list together to help you decide which one is tailored for you and make an informed purchase. 

Sources researched
14
Sources researched
Customer reviews
18,150
Customer reviews
Hours spent testing
29
Hours spent testing
Products tested
8
Products tested

Ice Fishing Rod Recommendations

Top 8 Ice Fishing Rods

Best Overall

13 FISHING Widow Maker 25' Light Hardwater Evolve Reel Seat Ice Fishing Rod

13 Fishing Widow Maker

The best sensitivity available

Durable rod blank and line guides

Best Premium Rod

St. Croix Rods Mojo Ice Fishing Rod

St. Croix Mojo

EVA or Cork handles

Graphite dust blank and stainless steel line guides

Best Budget Rod

Fenwick Elite Tech Ice Fishing Casting Rod, Blue, Cork, 30' - Medium - 1pc

Fenwick Elite Tech

Exposed blank cork handle

Fuji reel seat

star
star
star
star
star_border

Best Portable Rod

Emmrod Portable Ultra Small Mini Stainless Steel Material Elastic Fishing Rod and Reel Combos, Aluminum Alloy Handle Fishing Pole with Line for River, Lake, Reservoir, Raft, Ice Fishing and So On

Emmrod Ultra Small Rod

Ridiculously portable

Full aluminum rod construction

star
star
star
star
star_border

Best Portable Combo

Abu Garcia Veritas LTD Ice Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

Abu Garcia Veritas Combo

Folds for convenient storage

Ergonomic reel seat design

Most Popular Combo

Shakespeare USGXICE28MCBO Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Combo, 28-Inches, Medium

Ugly Stik GX2 Combo

Ugly Stik proprietary clear tip

Lightweight reel made for ice fishing

Most Comfortable Handle

HT Enterprise IBP-26M Ice Blue Professional 26' Medium Cork Rod

HT Enterprises Ice Blue

Custom cork and EVA handle

E-Z Ice Out design

Most Trusted Series

Shimano Convergence Ice 1 Ice|Spinning Fishing Rods, 1pc Power: Ultra Light | Action: Fast [CVSE24UL], Length: 24'

Shimano Convergence

Lightweight zirconium guides

Reel seat perfectly matches Shimano reels

star
star
star
star
star_border

Best Ice Fishing Rods

  1. Best Overall: 13 Fishing Widow Maker
  2. Best Premium Rod: St. Croix Mojo
  3. Best Budget Rod: Fenwick Elite Tech
  4. Best Portable Rod: Emmrod Ultra Small Rod
  5. Best Portable Combo: Abu Garcia Veritas
  6. Most Popular Ice Fishing Combo: Ugly Stik GX2
  7. Most Comfortable Handle: HT Enterprises Ice Blue
  8. Most Trusted: Shimano Convergence

13 Fishing Widow Maker Ice Spinning Rod

Best Overall Ice Fishing Rod: Great all-around ice rod that punches above its weight class.

13 FISHING Widow Maker 25' Light Hardwater Evolve Reel Seat Ice Fishing Rod
Check Price on Amazon

Check Price on Bass Pro

KEY FEATURES

  • The best sensitivity available
  • Cork handles
  • Durable rod blank and line guides

13 Fishing is well known for its ultra-sensitive and balanced rods. The Widow Maker is no exception and provides the best sensitivity you can find in an ice rod. It comes in ultralight and light models and a few lengths but won’t have any problems with fish in the medium categories of rod powers.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Rod Features

The rod is made from a 39-ton solid graphite blank that delivers incredible durability without losing sensitivity. The wireline guides are diamond coated, and you won’t need to worry about putting stress on them or inserts falling out. It features 5A cork handles, and the comfort comes in handy ice fishing, where you’ll be putting most of the stress onto your hands and arms. 

Species to Target

This rod is excellent for panfish and perch, but you shouldn’t have any problems catching small walleye and trout. Be sure to go for the light power model or the longer rod lengths if you plan on going for medium-sized species. 

St. Croix Mojo Ice Spinning Rod

Best Premium Ice Fishing Rod:  A quality model for any size fish you’re targeting.

St. Croix Rods Mojo Ice Fishing Rod
Check Price on Amazon

Check Price on Bass Pro

KEY FEATURES

  • EVA or Cork handles
  • Graphite dust blank and stainless steel line guides
  • A model for every power you might need

The St. Croix Mojo Ice brings all the quality of the Mojo line to ice fishing. With a model for every rod power you need, choices in handle material, and proprietary component designs, this one rod can handle anything you want to go after. It’s an excellent choice for anglers who want the most customization on their rods and want the perfect tool for the job.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Rod Features

All of the handles are comfortable, but their style depends on the model. Lighter powers come in a split-grip variety, while the heavy power comes in a solid grip. Either way, the EVA handles won’t hurt your hands after a day of holding it over your hole.

The guides are stainless steel without inserts, while the rod is made from pressed graphite dust with a flat finish. The custom reel seat sits low on the rod, allowing you to put more stress onto the line and less on your hands.

Species to Target

You can target any fish from panfish and perch to pike and lake trout with these. Be sure to scale up your rod power based on the size of your target species. Light and ultralight models for small fish, while medium/heavy and heavy for the largest.

Fenwick Elite Tech Ice Rod

Best Budget Ice Fishing Rod: One of the best small trout and walleye rods available.

Fenwick Elite Tech Ice Fishing Casting Rod, Blue, Cork, 30' - Medium - 1pc
Check Price on Amazon

Check Price on FishUSA

KEY FEATURES

  • Exposed blank cork handle
  • Fuji reel seat
  • Medium and medium/heavy powers

For trout and walleye, it’s hard to beat Fenwick's Elite Tech Ice Fishing rods. These medium-power rods are an excellent choice for anglers looking for a durable rod without skimping on quality. They provide a powerful backbone, comfortable grips, and a durable rod blank at a bargain of a price.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Rod Features

The rod features a Fuji reel seat with an exposed blank design. The cork handles are trimmed in TAC and won’t rough up your hand on a long day holding the rod. The light guides lend the rod outstanding balance with most of its weight towards the handles, and the solid construction of the graphite rod blank gives it excellent durability. 

Species to Target

These rods are perfect for trout, walleye, and whitefish. You can go for panfish and perch as well, but the action and power of the rod make it perfectly balanced for mid-sized fish.

Emmrod Ultra Small Rod

Best Portable Ice Fishing RodIncredibly small and light, you’ll have no problems packing this rod into your backpack or along with you on hikes. 

Emmrod Portable Ultra Small Mini Stainless Steel Material Elastic Fishing Rod and Reel Combos, Aluminum Alloy Handle Fishing Pole with Line for River, Lake, Reservoir, Raft, Ice Fishing and So On
Check Price on Amazon

KEY FEATURES

  • Comes in a kit, combo, or just rod
  • Ridiculously portable
  • Full aluminum rod construction

This portable rod from Emmrod swaps out length for a coiled design to add flex to your rod. The total length gives you the ability to pack it into virtually any bag or container, and the ability to purchase it as a rod, combo or complete kit lets you get exactly what you need to get started. It’s the perfect choice for hikers, snowshoers, or people needing portable rods that they can rely on.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Rod Features

The tinny rod and reel combo weighs in at only ten ounces and is incredibly compact. It trades in length for a coiled spring design that bends and puts pressure on fish instead of a longer rod.

Its aluminum construction gives it reliable durability and power. Also on offer is a complete fishing kit with lures and hooks and a solid reel for ice fishing. 

Species to Target

For this rod, sticking to smaller fish is a brilliant idea. Panfish, perch, and small trout are ideal targets for this portable rod. However, if you want to target bigger fish, swapping out the reel and line is your best option, as the rod can handle it, but the included reel and line can not.

Abu Garcia Veritas Spinning Ice Combo

Best Portable Ice Fishing Rod Combo: A solid combo through and through that can collapse for easy storage.

Abu Garcia Veritas LTD Ice Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo
Check Price on Amazon

Check Price on Bass Pro

KEY FEATURES

  • Rocket Line Management
  • Ergonomic reel seat design
  • Folds for convenient storage

One of the best ice fishing combos you can find is the Abu Garcia Veritas Ice. Excellent durability in both the rod and reel, a collapsible handle for easier storage, and Abu Garcia proprietary designs make it an exceptional choice for beginners and expert ice fishers.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Rod Features

The handles are made from high-density EVA and have a one-touch button to collapse for easy storage. The rod blank is made from 24-ton graphite and features stainless steel guides with zirconium inserts. 

The reel has a slow oscillation and an even line lay thanks to its Rocket Line Management system. It comes in both an ultralight and a medium/heavy power.

Species to Target

If you go with the ultralight model, anglers stick to panfish and perch. Going with the medium/heavy power model opens up nearly any species you want, including pike, lake trout, and large walleye. 

Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel & Rod Combo

Most Popular Ice Fishing Rod Combo: One of the most popular combos, thanks to its low price and durability.

Shakespeare USGXICE28MCBO Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Combo, 28-Inches, Medium
Check Price on Amazon

Check Price on Bass Pro

KEY FEATURES

  • Ugly Stik proprietary clear tip
  • Unmatched durability and warranty
  • Lightweight reel made for ice fishing

Ugly Stik has a long history of being durable, sensitive rods that can handle any fish you throw at them. This combo comes with a perfect-sized ice fishing reel designed for the ice, making it ready to go once you pick out your line. The excellent warranty and durability of the rod, as well as its low price point, make it one of the best-selling ice fishing combos available.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Rod Features

The rod is a classic Ugly Stik blank with a clear, extra sensitive tip. All of the guides are solid stainless steel without inserts. It comes with an aluminum size 20 spinning reel designed for ice fishing. The reel itself is ported to keep weight to a minimum and keeps the combo from becoming unwieldy. 

Species to Target

The rod is a medium/heavy power, so it’s an ideal choice for going after mid-sized pike, large walleye, and lake trout. Be sure to use a heavy enough line to handle larger fish, but rest assured both the rod and reel will handle those fish with plenty of power.

HT Enterprises Ice Blue Fishing Rod

Ice Fishing Rod With Most Comfortable Handle: The custom handle on this rod makes it a joy to use and extremely easy on your hands. 

HT Enterprise IBP-26M Ice Blue Professional 26' Medium Cork Rod
Check Price on Amazon

Check Price on FishUSA

KEY FEATURES

  • Ice-free performance guides
  • Custom cork and EVA handle
  • E-Z Ice Out design

Not only are the handles on the HT Enterprises Ice Blue easy on your hands, but the rod itself performs as well as any rod on the market. The specialized rod tip picks up the smallest bites, making this one an excellent choice for anglers light placed, targeting panfish and other small species from the ice.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Rod Features

The rod tip is sensitive like a spring bobber and can pick up on the slightest bites. The full handle is cork and EVA foam, making it easy to slide out of a rod holder and highly comfortable to hold for extended periods. Models IB-18 through IB-36 have large, spinning reel guides to keep the line ice-free and the other models have snake guides to optimize line power against the rod.

Species to Target

The best model of this rod is the ultralight, making it an excellent choice for targeting panfish and other small species. It’s specially made to pick up on tiny, tentative bites, so even on the small fish, lightly placed, you’ll be able to feel them bite and fight once hooked.

Shimano Convergence Ice Spinning Rod

Most Trusted Ice Fishing Rod Series: With the same quality rod blank as the open water models, you can feel comfortable using these rods on any fish that takes your bait.

Shimano Convergence Ice 1 Ice|Spinning Fishing Rods, 1pc Power: Ultra Light | Action: Fast [CVSE24UL], Length: 24'
Check Price on Amazon

Check Price on FishUSA

KEY FEATURES

  • Lightweight zirconium guides
  • Reel seat perfectly matches Shimano reels
  • 10 different models

The Shimano Convergence line is a trusted option for offshore saltwater fishers to crappie fishers. With quality rod blanks, a perfectly matched reel seat for their reels, and a model to choose from for any size fish you’re after, it’s hard to go wrong selecting a convergence rod for your next ice fishing trip.

CLICK TO SEE MORE

Rod Features

The rod tip is a sensitive carbon section, so you never miss a bite, and it is brightly colored to make it more visible in low-light conditions. Lightweight zirconium guides help the rod balance and are precisely placed on the rod for optimized control. The rod also comes in ten models, from ultralight up to heavy powers. 

Species to Target

You can target any species with the Convergence. Make sure to match the rod power to the fish you’re after. Panfish and whitefish can go on the ultralight, trout, and walleye on mediums, and pike and lake trout on the heavy.

How To Choose The Best Ice Fishing Rods

Rod Size

You can use any length rod to ice fish, but longer rods are unwieldy inside ice shacks and tents. A typical rod length is between 28 and 29 inches, with a solid range between 25 and 35 inches. A longer rod can work fine if you’re fishing in the open, but remember, a shorter rod makes it easier to reach into the hole and grab your fish.

Rod Power

Rod power ranges from ultralight to heavy. Deciding which power you need can be confusing, but you typically just need to base it off the size of fish you’re targeting or might get hooked into. A medium power rod is a good choice regardless, as the middle power can handle most fish. Just remember that targeting big fish like pike and lake trout might require a larger rod to haul them in.

Comfortable Handles

Whether you use a rod holder, sit your rod down, or hold it all day, comfortable handles are significant for ice fishing. Since you usually use shorter rods, more pressure is put onto your hands and arms when you’re fighting a fish. With rough or uncomfortable handles, this can turn a fun day into a nightmare and leave you with more pain than it’s worth for your trip.

Questions & Answers

What is the best ice fishing rod?

The best ice fishing rod depends on the size and species of fish you’re targeting. You want to look for an appropriate rod power for your target fish.

For panfish, use an ultralight rod for panfish and a light power rod for perch. The 13 Fishing Widowmaker Ultralight and light models are the best choices for these powers.

Light and medium rods are the best for smaller walleye, most trout, and whitefish. Your best option here is the Abu Garcia Venerate.

Medium to heavy power rods works best for lake trout and pike. For these, the best rod is the St. Croix Mojo Ice Heavy.

Remember that using the right gear for your target species is essential for your safety when ice fishing.

What size rod is best for ice fishing?

Typically a 28-inch or 29-inch rod is the ideal length for ice fishing. Longer rods give you more leverage but are hard to maneuver in the ice shacks and tents you’ll likely be fishing from. The trade-off is your arms bear more of the weight when lifting fish from the bottom.

Are ice fishing rods different?

Ice fishing rods are different from regular fishing rods, primarily due to their short length. Being shorter lets, you sit right above the hole you’re fishing, makes it easier to reach into the hole to grab a fish, and makes it easier to use in confined spaces like ice shacks. 

What are carbon fiber rods?

Carbon fiber rods and graphite rods are nearly identical, as they’re both made from carbon strands. They tend to have more flexibility and sensitivity than fiberglass rods. For a small game like panfish, carbon fiber rods tend to work better, while fiberglass rods give you the leverage you need for larger fish.

What is the best ice fishing rod for walleye?

The best rod for walleye is the St. Croix Mojo Ice Rod. It retains all the sensitivity you expect in their rods while being one of the few ice fishing rods available that has the power for larger fish like walleye. While it could be overkill on panfish, it makes catching walleye, pike, and large trout much more fun.