Best Ice Fishing Reels – Reviews and Buying Guide 2018

Best Ice Fishing Reels – Reviews and Buying Guide 2018

When winter comes, it ushers in the cold, but it also comes bearing gifts. And one of these is ice fishing.

There is nothing as epic as an ice angler braving the cold, holding his or her fishing reel, waiting for a fish to eat the bait.

But what kind of fishing reel is he holding?

I have ten possible ideas: hence the ten best ice fishing reels reviews you are about to read below

What’s an Ice Fishing Reel?

Ice fishing is a winter sport – unless you travel to always-cold places like Alaska. An ice fishing reel as the name implies is the reel you use for ice fishing.

The best ice fishing reels are corrosion-resistant. They are also resilient in the punishing weather conditions one encounters while ice fishing.

You have three main choices of ice fishing reels: spinning reels, baitcasting reels, or inline ice fishing reels.

Spinning reels are popular because of their ability to handle different types of tackle while baitcasting reels are popular because of the improved sense of control and accuracy they give the experienced angler. On the other hand, inline ice fishing reels are liked because of their lack of line twist.

10 Best Ice Fishing Reels Reviews:

1. KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Fishing Reel Review:

KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Fishing Reel

If it is quality you are looking for, this spinning fishing reel from KastKing is just the thing – loaded with quality features, the reel will improve your ice fishing experience and make a great addition to your fishing tackle collection.

For instance, the spool is made of super light and strong CNC machined aluminum which has an even line lay, internal grooves for better retention of lube, and a greater fishing line capacity.

When wrestling with a fish, your equipment is just as important as your level of stamina, and the best ice fishing reels help you stick it out till the triumphant end. And that’s what you get with this reel. The inner parts are high quality, just what you require for hard-use ice fishing.

The spinning reel comes with a hardened metal main shaft, excellent mesh drive gear and precision machined pinion gear which increases your fish-fighting power. As a result, you will have a higher rate of success when ice fishing.

Equipment is not a substitute for experience, but an excellent reel can give a green angler pro-level confidence.

​Highlighted Features:

  • Powerful drag
  • Special components can endure hard use
  • High tensile strength graphite frame which resists corrosion
  • Superior drag system for intensive drag power
  • Precision pinion gear system
  • Unique design handle – right/left interchangeable

2. Goture Spinning Fishing Reel Review:

Psfun Spinning Fishing Reel

If you are making a list of the best ice fishing reels, this Psfun fishing reel will suit you just fine. This reel is the triumphant result of decades of research and development. You can, therefore, expect a high level of refinement and precision in operation.

And durability is a sure thing. The rugged graphite frame and rotor can withstand being rattled around on waves.

The spool is lightweight and made of double-anodized aluminum. The lightness of aluminum will ensure that you have an easier, more enjoyable time handling the reel out on the water. When aluminum is anodized, it becomes durable, easy to maintain, and resistant to corrosion. This fishing reel’s spool is double-anodized.

Thanks to the six sealed ball bearings, you will have as smooth an operation as one can hope for from a fishing reel. Also, the lightweight aluminum spools are fitted with ultra-smooth, oil-soaked, felt washers. It is certainly an ultra-smooth, precision-crafted fishing reel.

​Highlighted Features:

  • Corrosion-resistant construction and materials
  • Rugged graphite frame and rotor that can handle the rough conditions as waves rise and fall
  • Lightweight double-anodized aluminum spool
  • Multi-disk drag system with Japanese oiled felt drag washers
  • 6 ball bearings and one quick-set anti-reverse roller bearing
  • Ideal for both fresh and seawater

3. Sougayilang 13BBDK Spinning Fishing Reel Review:

Sougayilang 13BBDK Spinning Fishing Reel

This Sougayilang spinning fishing reel is one of the best ice fishing reels for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. In other words, it does not matter whether you are fishing in a pond, a lake, or the sea – the reel will give you excellent service in all these environments.

Not only that, but it is also ideal for handling a variety of fish species, ranging from the small to the medium-sized. It will help you bring fish like perch, trout, walleyes, bluegills, salmon, and crappies into your angler’s grasp.

Fishing gear can be a big pain to carry around when it is too heavy. As a result, anglers will often subconsciously put off fishing opportunities simply because of dreading the tiring weight of their reels. The Sougayilang spinning fishing reel is different.

It is lightweight and portable; and as such, it is just the thing to take with you on vacation or on a fishing trip with friends. It will easily fit in your fishing box, the boat hatch, or in a backpack.

Yes, it will induce less fatigue than other fishing reels, and here is another reason: the reel has excellent balance. It, therefore, ensures a smooth operation that will make the weight easier to bear, especially when you are struggling with a fish.

​Highlighted Features:

  • Fully adjustable cast control with sound
  • Aluminum spool with high-tensile gear
  • S-curve oscillation system ensures good line winding
  • 12 + 1 ball bearings
  • CNC machine cut metal
  • Collapsible handle with left/right being interchangeable

4. Piscifun Rapid A Baitcast Reel Review:

Piscifun Rapid A Baitcast Reel

Does your current fishing reel cause you fatigue? It is about time you switched to a lighter one then. This reel weighs less than 7 ounces. It is made of graphite, machined aircraft-grade aluminum. Aircraft-grade aluminum is one of the lightest metals used in manufacturing.

Believe it or not, this reel weighs just slightly more than an apple. It is built on a one-piece aluminum frame, having aluminum alloy gears and shaft. With this lightweight reel, a sensation of freedom will burst through your joints as your muscles remember the fatigue caused by heavier reels.

It may be light, but it is packed with experience-enhancing features. For instance, the V-grooved, ported machined Duralumin spool; the 9 stainless steel ball bearings and a powerlock anti-reverse bearing; Piscifun’s Magnetic Braking System; a ceramic line guide that eliminates line friction; and the smooth, powerful drag system with six alternating stainless steel washers which help you tame even the most aggressive fish.

​Highlighted Features:

  • High-strength aluminum alloy frame which provides durability and corrosion-resistance
  • 9 stainless steel ball bearings (including 2 Japanese NMB BB) and one corrosion-resistant instant anti-reverse bearing, provide corrosion protection and ensure a smooth operation
  • Super strong zinc-aluminum alloy gears and shaft provide durability needed for fishing in punishing conditions
  • Compact bent handle and star ensure an optimal, ergonomic experience
  • Available in either left-handed or right-handed orientation

5. PiscifunKylinBaitcasting Fishing Reel Review:

PiscifunKylinBaitcasting Fishing Reel

Seawater is highly corrosive. To fish in it, you will need a reel specifically built for saline water. If that’s what you are after, try this Piscifun fishing reel. It has a high-strength aluminum alloy frame which guarantees the durability required for saltwater fishing.

And the side-plate is made of graphite. As a result, the reel is less likely to get all scratched up as would a reel that lacks such protection. Considering the rough handling fishing equipment receives (banging against the side of the boat or against rocks in the water or against other fishing gear), this is a big plus.

The drag mechanism on your fishing reel enables you to set how much resistance your fish feels when it pulls on the line. The trick of excellent fishing is setting the drag tautly enough to fatigue the fish and loose enough to prevent the line from breaking.

This reel has a superb carbon fiber drag system that provides smooth, consistent drag pressure across the entire drag range.

​Highlighted Features:

  • Titanium-coated ceramic line guide minimizes friction and enhances durability
  • High-speed 6:3:1 gear ratio provides fast line retrieve for picking up line quickly without boredom or exhaustion
  • 9 stainless steel ball bearings and one roller bearing ensure corrosion protection and super smooth operation
  • Manually adjustable magnetic brake controls the initial, intermediary, and final stage of the cast to give you a perfect landing every time
  • Double-anodized V-grooved spool is free-floating for virtually zero
  • Both left-handed and right-handed anglers will find reels that perfectly suit them.

6. Fiblink FBTRE18-RN Inline Ice Fishing Reel:

Inline ice fishing lines are steadily winning over the hearts of anglers, making them switch from the spinning reels they are so used to. Inline reels come with several attractive advantages.

For instance, there is no line twist. When you are reeling in the line of a spinning reel, the line twists, thus compromising its integrity. With the Fiblink inline ice fishing reel, this will not happen.

Therefore, you will get the most out of the line when you use it. And since the line never spins in circles, when the bait is presented to the fish, it will look more natural. Needless to say, you will have greater success catching fish with it.

Thanks to this reel’s smooth drag, you will have greater success in fighting a fish without breaking your line doing it. And by reducing the friction between the moving parts, the four ball bearings also ensure that the reel operates smoothly.

​Highlighted Features:

  • Smooth drag and instant anti-reverse
  • Reduced line twist; line clicker
  • Spool tension adjustment; free spool release button
  • Aluminum alloy star drag and handle; brass gears; stainless steel shaft
  • 2:7:1 gear ratio
  • 4 + 1 ball bearings
  • Line capacity: 6/180, 8/120, 10/100

7. Celsius Blizzard CEL-310P/CP Spinning Reel:

The name tells it all: Celsius Blizzard. This fishing reel was designed with the ice fisher in mind. The most pointedly ice-fishing-friendly feature is the extended yoke. This yoke is longer than what you get in a typical fishing reel.

Thanks to the longer yoke, you as the ice angler will find it easier to hold onto it with your gloves on – that way, you can keep your hands warm even as you fish. Otherwise, you would either have an uncomfortable fishing experience (gloves on) or a stark freezing one (gloves off).

The spool is made from high-quality, durable aluminum, and is meant to withstand and survive the toughest conditions of ice fishing. As such, it is built to last.

​Highlighted Features:

  • Ideal for ice fishing
  • Extended yoke to enable you to keep your gloves on when handling it
  • Durable aluminum spool
  • 4 ball bearings

8. Sougayilang A6 Spinning Fishing Reel:

This is the second ice fishing reels review from the Sougayilang brand. Like the first one, it is also a spinning fishing reel and just as versatile. By versatile, I am referring to its ability to operate both in freshwater and saltwater. For that reason, you don’t have to purchase two different reels, one for the fresh and one for the saline water.

As I have said, ball bearings reduce the friction produced when the moving parts come into contact with each other. When ball bearings are many, your fishing reel will operate smoothly, and that’s one of the great benefits of this reel.

It has twelve ball bearings. While two or three is good enough for light fishing only, twelve make the reel ideal for intense ice fishing.

The power drive gear is equipped for high strength. As a result, you will have no trouble when bringing in an aggressive fish. It enables the angler to have more success even with their most strenuous fights.

​Highlighted Features:

  • 5:2:1 bait runner reel
  • Machined aluminum spool
  • Instant anti-reverse computer-balanced rotor in strong aviation composite material
  • Interchangeable (right/left), quick-folding handle made of aluminum die-casting material
  • S-curve oscillation system for excellent line winding
  • Coiled bail spring

9. 13 Fishing 60612015-RH Black Betty Fishing Reel:

This is widely reputed to be the best inline ice fishing reel on the market today. There are several reasons for its popularity – for instance, its unmatched construction. It comprises bar stock CNC machined aluminum construction.

As such, you have the best equipment you can have for operating in the tough environment one encounters when ice fishing.

The three main advantages of using inline ice fishing reels rather than spinning reels are: no line twist, better bait presentation, and truly getting the best out of your line strength. You see, the lines of spinning reels get twisted as you reel in, but the inline reel does not pose that problem.

And since the line of an inline ice fishing line does not spin around in circles, the bait looks more genuine/natural to the fish.

And advantage three: since the line is not being twisted when you are retrieving it, you will get the most out of the inline fishing reel as compared to the spinning reel. In this three ways, this reel is better than the spinning fishing reels I have reviewed in this article.

​Highlighted Features:

  • Carbon drag
  • Instant anti-reverse
  • 2:7:1 gear ratio
  • 18-inch line retrieve per turn
  • Bar stock CNC machined aluminum construction

10. Shakespeare Alpha WF30 Spinning Fishing Reel:

Spinning reels are the most common type of fishing reel used by anglers. As such, there is always a high demand for them, and the best have to distinguish themselves from the rest. This last ice fishing reels review looks at the Shakespeare Alpha WF30 which qualifies as one of these excellent specimens.

It will give you an advantage when you are going after small to medium-sized fish such as bass, crappie, and redfish.

The spool comprises machined anodized aluminum and a graphite body. For that reason, it is resistant to corrosion.

Ball bearings in a fishing reel are crucial for reducing friction between the moving parts. It is this reduced friction that enables the reel to move freely and smoothly in spite of the load created from your drag and winding.

The more ball bearings a reel has, the smoother is its operation. This one does not have many – just three. That’s good enough for light fishing, but not for constant, heavy use.

​Highlighted Features:

  • 3 ball bearings
  • 5:2:1 ratio
  • Machined anodized aluminum spool and graphite body
  • Select silent anti reverse/left or right retrieve
  • Line capacity: 4/240, 6/200, 8/170 lb/yds

Ice Fishing Reels Buying Guide:

Different factors determine a reel’s suitability for a particular angler. In this section, I will tell you about the things you need to keep in mind when you are buying ice fishing reels. Without further ado, the factors to consider are:

1. Type of Reel

In the above reviews, you have encountered three main types of ice fishing reels: spinning reels, inline reels, and baitcasting reels. The ones not represented in the reviews include spin cast reels and trolling reels.

Spinning reels

The spinning reel is the most common type of reel available on the market. It is ideal for catching small to medium-sized fish. It has a fixed spool beneath the rod, with a line drawn out by the weight of the lure, bait, or tackle.

Spinning reels are popular because of their versatility. You can use them to cast different types of tackle, and this includes artificial lures and live bait. They are useful for light tackle and bait.

However, they are not ideal for heavy tackles. And they do not have the accuracy of baitcasters. Seasoned bass anglers do not use them much.

But if you are starting out as an angler, the spinning reel is a great choice thanks to its versatility and ease of use.

Baitcasting reels

Baitcasting reels offer greater control and accuracy. For that reason, seasoned anglers are more likely to purchase baitcasters than spinning reels. With this reel, the spool rotates as you cast. It takes some practice before one can be proficient at casting effectively.

Once you have mastered how to use the baitcaster, your accuracy will soar. You can then put a lure in the exact spot you wish to put it. It also enables you to swiftly recover bad casts

The main drawback of using a baitcast reel is that it takes time before one can learn how to cast correctly. This can be quite frustrating for a beginner, and that’s why it’s better to start out with a spinning reel which is easier to use.

Also, baitcasters are only used for lures, and are, therefore, lacking in the versatility you find in spinning reels.

Inline ice fishing reels

The main advantage of an inline ice fishing line is the lack of line twist. While spinning reels cause the line to twist when you are retrieving it, inline reels do not. The twisting of the line compromises its integrity; for that reason, the line of an inline ice fishing reel will give better performance than that of a spinning reel. And the line is unlikely to come unspun.

2. Number of Ball Bearings

Ball bearings in a fishing reel reduce the friction produced between the moving parts. Therefore, they ensure the reel moves freely and smoothly despite the load created from your drag and winding.

If you had two reels, one with 4 ball bearings and the other with 2, the one with 4 ball bearings would spin longer than the one with 2. And if both were under the same drag, the reel that has more ball bearings would operate more smoothly than the one with less.

And if the two were constantly winding, the one with fewer ball bearings would be first to give in since it would generate more friction.

The point is this: the more ball bearings a reel has, the more smoothly will it operate. Two to three ball bearings are on the lower side and are appropriate for a light fisher. But if you are an active angler or if you go after big fish, you will need at least five or more ball bearings in your fishing reel.

3. Weight

Weight is a crucial factor, especially for the sake of portability. A lightweight fishing reel will be easier to carry when you go on a fishing trip.

It will also be easier to hold when you are waiting for a fish. For the most part, fishing is not an exciting activity. Ninety percent of the time is spent standing around holding your reel, waiting for a fish to bite the bait.

If your reel is too heavy, you will fatigue quickly and lose your stamina. On the other hand, a lightweight reel will enable you to conserve your energy and wait until the fish comes.

Final Verdict

Don’t wait for winter to come. Be prepared and buy an excellent ice fishing reel in time for ice fishing season.

And even if you don’t buy one just yet, it wouldn’t hurt to do some window shopping and figure out which one is most appropriate for you.

Just take the ten reels in this post as a baseline and go shopping!

  • Updated March 9, 2018
  • Ice
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