e fishing is a rewarding sport, but you do not want to be on the cold ice without the right preparation. You need the essential ice fishing gear to pierce through the ice and fish comfortably (comfort is relative). Once you’re through the ice, you need the best ice fishing tackle to start catching fish. This list provides the basic gear to get started ice fishing, and our favorite ice fishing tackle and bait to get you landing Walleye, Perch, Panfish and Pike.
1. Five Gallon Bucket
The 5 gallon bucket is the body of your ice fishing operation. It keeps the bait fresh, stores the tackle, facilitates transportation of gear, and provides you with a seat. This is a critical component of the process, even experienced anglers who utilize shelters that provide advanced capabilities beyond the bucket find use for it in one way or another. Recommendation: Frabill Sit-N-Fish Bucket . The bucket contains insulated Styrofoam bucket to store your bait without freezing it as well as a seat snap cover.
2. Ice Auger
Your tool to break through the ice and fish. A 4-5 Ft. adjustable, 6-8 Lb. hand auger with a 6″ diameter is an effective and affordable way to get started. Best used on < 1 Ft. of ice, a sharp hand auger can cut through the surface in less than 30 seconds. We recommend a 6″ to get started because the smaller diameter provides less resistance. If you are targeting trophy predators ( > 5 Lbs.) we would recommend an 8” diameter. While capable of handling thicker ice, the effort and time to drill > 1 Ft. will make you less efficient in comparison to using a more expensive power auger. The hand auger is a practical way to get started. Recommendation: Strikemaster Mora Hand Auger (6″ Diameter, 48″ – 57″ Adjustable Handle).
3. Ice Scoop
The classic ice scoop is a critical component for effective ice fishing. After you drill your hole, a sizable portion of slush will fill up the channel. Slush hinders dropping your line and landing fish. After you drill your hole, lower the scoop horizontally, then slowly scoop vertically letting the water filter through and discard the slush to the side. We recommend a metal scoop as plastic scoops become hardened and fragile in colder temperatures. Recommendation: Berkley Ice Metal Scoop
4. Rod & Reel Combo
A 28″ Medium Power Rod maintaining a 4-8 Lb. Line Rating paired with a Size 20 Spinning Reel is a basic, versatile combo. Spool the combo with 6 Lb. Fluorocarbon Ice Line. This combo is light enough to moderately feel Panfish while also giving you the opportunity to target modestly sized predators like Walleye and Pike. The Fluorocarbon line is essential as the heavier make-up prevents twists and curls that build ice on your line. The clearer consistency provides a lower visibility presentation vs Mono-filament or Braid. Fluorocarbon is more economical for ice fishing due to the shorter spooling length (50 yards for this combo) relative to open water.