14 Ice Fishing Essentials: List of Best Ice Fishing Gear You Need

Essentials for Ice Fishing

Ice fishing can be very fun and adventurous.

But it can also turn into a bad experience if you are not ready for it. Some items are very important, and you should never go out without them.

And, some items that are there to make you comfortable in summer, are an absolute necessity in the winter.

Here is the list of all the essential ice fishing gear. Of course, you can add more things when you pack your bag, but these are the basic ones.



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Best Ice Fishing Gear for Every Angler [Must Have List!]

I will start this list with one of the most important essentials for Ice fishing, which is there to save your life in case something goes wrong, and that one is followed by everything else.

So, lets begin ...

Essentials for Ice Fishing - Gear list

Float Suit for Ice Fishing

Falling into extremely cold water is very dangerous.

Your body will experience a shock, you will be breathing fast and gasping for air. The only way to stay on surface is having a float suit.

Ice fishing suit that floats consists of two parts, a jacket a and an ice fishing bib. Those two are a great outer layer, because for ice fishing, you need to wear 3 warm layers of clothes.

Ice fishing float suit is water resistant, so you will be protected from the elements while fishing, but that is not the primary function of this suit.

Float suits, unlike regular clothes, do not absorb water, and they are made from materials and fillings which are buoyant. Having a float suit enables you to get out of the water if you accidentally fall in.

When buying it, make sure it is comfortable, durable and that it doesn’t impair your ability to move freely. Choose reputable manufacturers, despite the fact those tend to be a bit more expensive.

Ice Fishing Rod

Another essential thing to bring on an ice fishing trip is an ice fishing rod.

While ice fishing is technically possible with a “regular” rod, having a specialized one will make it easier.

While fishing through an ice fishing hole, there is no need for casting and manoeuvring the bait (and live bait) in a horizontal way on long distances, like you would normally do when there is no ice.

Therefore, rods don’t have to be long ... 

Ice fishing rods are much shorter, usually 24 to 36 inches (60 – 90 centimetres). Having such a short rod enables you to stand near the hole, observe it and manoeuvre your bait vertically.

Ice fishing rods are made in different styles, actions, and length to be compatible with different lures and fishing styles.

A bit longer rods, a bit longer that 40 inches (100 centimetres), are sometimes used for ice fishing in shallow water, to make more distance between the angler and the fishing hole.

Essentials for Ice Fishing - Rod and Reel

Ice Fishing Rods Case

Many anglers carry their equipment around in buckets. Yes, buckets are useful to have, you can store stuff inside, keep the caught fish (like walleyes, panfish and other) in or even sit on it. But cases are there for a reason, especially in winter.

If you bought a high-end rod, you probably want to keep it protected.

Cases are there to isolate the rod from impacts, impurities, moisture and everything else that can have a bad influence on it, when the rod is not in use.

Cases are also useful to keep some other items inside, depending on a case model. Some can accommodate lures, lines and reels too. There are models available that can store multiple rods too.

Nothing will happen if you occasionally carry it around without a case, but constant negligence will shorten the lifespan of a perfectly good rod.

Ice Fishing Reel

With an ice fishing rod, you will need an ice fishing reel. Anglers prefer light reels, and ice fishing reels are quite affordable.

Bluegill, crappie and sunfish are among species frequently caught by anglers and those do not require some special equipment.

To be honest, a simple spinning reel will do the job, but many anglers prefer inline reels.

Inline reels are great for jigging, and they will eliminate the line twisting and tangling problem. Inline reels are also much better for smaller fish, but unfortunately, they are not the best choice if you are fishing for some larger specimens.

Inline reels, at least the quality ones, are a bit more expensive and beginners can have a hard time adjusting. If you are new in ice fishing, start with a spinning one and change for inline when you gain some experience.

Ice Fishing Line

So, ice fishing line vs regular line? Which one to choose?

Experienced ice anglers know that ice fishing lines have certain advantages over the regular ones.

These lines can be mono, braided, or fluorocarbon, but what makes it different from other lines is that they are made to withstand very low temperatures. If you take a regular line that is suitable for summer, low temperatures will change the way material behaves, and the line will be prone to breakage.

Ice fishing lines also have special coating that prevents freezing. This, together with very low visibility, makes these lines superior when compared to regular ones.

For those who are wondering is it possible to catch a fish with a regular line when ice fishing, the answer is yes, however the experience will be quite different.

Ice Fishing Rods and Reel Combos

Certain manufacturers offer rod and reel combos, and those are very good for less experienced anglers.

If you buy a combo, you will save some money, you will be sure that you are getting a compatible rod and reel pair and you won’t have to spend time searching for separate items.

This option is great for a beginner too, because you will get the opportunity too see what works for you before upgrading for specialized, and more expensive, rod and reel.

Essentials for Ice Fishing - Combo

Ice Fishing Traps

While some anglers like to hold their rods and feel what is happening at all times, others are looking for more efficient ways of ice fishing.

So, how to cover more water and fish multiple holes at once?

The answer is easy. Use ice traps. Ice traps are actually devices that are both line holders and bite indicators. Baits (preferably live ones) are suspended under, and when the bite occurs, these devices will make a signal.

Ice fishing tip ups have flags that stand up. They are excellent for larger fish, and have adjustable triggers to prevent the flag from standing up for no reason.

Ice fishing tip downs are basically stands with integrated rods which use weight and balance to lower the rod tip when a fish bites. These work better with smaller fish because large predators like pike can easily move or tip them over.

Ice Fishing Boots

When it comes to essentials for ice fishing, boots are among the most important ones.

Boots have to be comfortable, warm and waterproof. You will be walking on ice, and the only thing that separates your feet from it are boots. Getting frostbites on your toes is a danger and by <getting suitable boots you are protecting yourself.

Additionally, you need to have creepers as an addition to your boots. Those are small, metal, spikes usually attached on a rubber which is then mounted on you boots. Walking on ice is dangerous, you can slip and fall and get severely injured. Creepers are there to increase friction and have an anti-skid function.

Essentials for Ice Fishing - Boots

Ice Fishing Chairs

Having a chair could seem irrelevant and you could wonder why is that an essential, but it is.

During summer, you can sit on the floor if you want. Maybe you like to stand and sit only for a few minutes at the time and think I don’t need a chair for this.

During ice fishing, a chair is there to separate you from the ice and help you keep your body temperature in a normal range. Being in contact with ice can rapidly decrease your temperature, no matter how good your clothes are.

When choosing a chair for ice fishing, choose the most stable one you can find. Everything will slip and move around on ice, so the best thing to minimize that lack of friction is buying a stable, wide-legged chair with rubber on the bottom of chair legs.

Ice Fishing Gloves

Fingers, like toes, can get cold quite fast and frostbites are possible. Having warm, and waterproof gloves, is a must

If you like, you can combine regular, warm, gloves with a waterproof outer glove. Some models, usually made from neoprene, have openings on thumbs and index finger, so you can slide your fingertips out to be able to do precise work, like tying knots.

Any kind of protection is better than nothing, but in my opinion, choose those with openings. Otherwise you will have to remove your gloves completely when you want to do something with your hands.

Avoid very thick models because those will influence your ability to move fingers, so even the tasks like reeling will become hard.

Essentials for Ice Fishing - Gloves

Ice Fishing Face Mask

Having a face mask is essential, especially if the day is windy.

Your face has thin, sensitive skin that gets cold fast, and frostbites, especially on the nose, are a real possibility.

Facemasks suitable for winter are thicker than summer ones, usually made from fleece or similar materials.

Choose models that enable you to breathe normally while they cover every part of your face, especially nose tip and ears.

Some models are similar to ski-masks, where the whole head and face is covered, except eyes.

If you choose models that are covering only face and neck, combine them with hats.

Ice Fishing Livescope

Fish finders are a great asset for ice fishing. It is impossible to see where the fish are and whether you are fishing in a good place.

Not all fish finders are able to perform in icy conditions, so the best one you can have, is Garmin Panoptix LiveScope.

Live scope will scan and show you what is below the surface in all directions.

Livescope Forward sonar will show you fish shoals in all directions, while Livescope Down sonar will display live,moving, images to see if the fish react to your bait.

This device is extremely durable, dependable and easy to use.

Numerous functions are available and easy to set up by using a large touch-screen.

If you are serious about ice fishing, and you can afford it, ice fishing livescope is something you should have.

Essentials for Ice Fishing - Livescope

ATV for Ice Fishing

And last, but not the least, is an ATV for ice fishing.

Getting around the large ice surfaces can be hard, and driving is easier. Depending on ice thickness, you should choose your vehicle. ATV is light and it can go to places where cars and trucks can’t.

ATV is a great asset not just for your transportation, but for transporting ice fishing tackle and gear too, especially for multi-day trips.

Additionally, it’s a safety thing too, if someone gets injured, you can drive that person to safety.

ATV for ice fishing needs adequate tires. Make sure you buy ones that are certified to do the job.

To make it usable for ice fishing, you can do some modifications by yourself too. Mount and auger holder, add front and back cargo boxes, add a sled for additional load and use it as a trailer, add a windshield if there is none, and go for heated handles.

For your own safety, add a flotation device. In some locations, that is mandatory.

And to protect your ice fishing ATV, bring a cover for it, so you can mount it over the ATV when not in use.

Ice Auger [Electric or Hand Auger]

Ice fishing is a form of fishing which is usually done on a frozen body of water. The most common technique used to catch fish is to drill a hole in the ice, insert an ice fishing auger, and wait for the fish to be attracted by the bait.

An ice auger is an ice fishing tool which has a cylindrical blade at one end and a handle at the other end. It can be used for cutting through ice or snow, or for drilling holes in it for fishing purposes.

The blade may have teeth along its edge so that it can grip the ice and cut through it quickly.

Essentials for Ice Fishing - Auger

Ice Fishing Sleds

Ice fishing sleds are essential equipment for ice fishing trips.

These sleds provide an efficient way to transport all the necessary gear and equipment across the frozen lake. Designed to be pulled by hand or with the help of an ice fishing ATV, these sleds make it easier to navigate over the icy terrain.

With large capacity and sturdy construction, ice fishing sleds can accommodate fishing rods, bait, tackle boxes, and even portable ice fishing shelters. They are designed to withstand the harsh weather conditions and provide a stable platform for anglers to set up their fishing spot.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced ice angler, investing in a good quality ice fishing sled is a wise choice.

Other Basic Ice Fishing Equipment [Shelter, Safety Gear and More]

There are a few more additional items you could find useful, and those are:

Food and water – When temperatures are high, you will sweat a lot and feel the water loss. So naturally, you will drink more. This is why dehydration is even more dangerous in winter. Many people don’t feel thirsty, so they do not drink plenty of water, which is a mistake. The same goes for food. You need fuel to keep warm. It will help you stay focused and safe on the ice.

Spare clothing and sunglasses – spare clothing is there in case you get wet and sunglasses will protect your eyes from bright light, ice reflections and wind.

Ice-scoop – bring a small ice scoop to remove ice that forms over your ice fishing hole.

Ice fishing tent – these are required in harsh weather and longer trips.

First-aid kit – except for conventional first aid kit, bring blankets and ropes too.

Essentials for Ice Fishing: What Every Angler Needs


List of ice fishing gear can be quite long, but here I mentioned the essentials for ice fishing that every angler should have.

Being well prepared is important for fishing success, but more importantly for personal safety.

It is better to have extra things that you may never use than to desperately need them when you have none.

And one more thing, if you are going on the first ice fishing this winter, and you are excided and worried about all of the equipment, like rods and clothes, don’t forget to bring an auger!

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us


I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind Slo-fishing.si and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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