The snow is beginning to fall, which means one thing for winter anglers: ice fishing. Pretty soon the lakes in your neck of the woods will look like villages, with ice shanties and snowmobiles spreading for acres.

The ice may not yet be thick enough to walk all over or drill a hole through, but smart anglers know that now is the time to take inventory of their ice fishing gear and make a list of what they need to stock up on now so they don’t waste a minute once the lakes freeze. 


Ice fishing rods tend to be pretty particular in design and use. At first glance, they may be confused with smaller, novelty versions of freshwater tackle, but that’s not the case. Most ice rods are extremely sensitive, but have enough backbone to muscle even bigger fish—pike or trout—through the drilled hole. Solid options here include the Clam Mackinaw series or St. Croix’s Premier series.


You need to pair your ice rod with a small reel, too, such as Bass Pro Shops’ TinyLite ($19.99), which is an inexpensive, popular reel for ice fishing. You can buy the rod and reel separately, but there are plenty of premade combos available, such as Frabill’s Njord ($24.99) or Abu Garcia’s Veritas ($39.99), both of which combine the durability and feel you’d expect from reliable fishing rod with the features you’ll need in an ice rod and reel.


Jigging is a popular tactic for ice fishing. The erratic action that a jig offers triggers even the most lethargic fish to bite. One of the most trusted names in fishing is Rapala, and their Jigging Rap jigs spin in tight circles when fished vertically, pulling fish from long distances and depths. Sometimes you need a bit for movement from a jig, and Moonshine’s Silver Minnow is the way to go when darting action is what the fish want. These jigs use glow-in-the-dark paint and realistic motion to entice strikes..


You’ll need an auger to make those holes in the ice. When more than a few holes are necessary, most turn to power augers to make short work of drilling, but the Ion 40V Electric Auger lets you drill without worrying about losing power or fuel. The 40V lithium ion battery gives you plenty of juice to power through the ice quickly and quietly. At $529.99, it may be a bit pricier than other models, but it’s worth it if you don’t want any hassle drilling dozens of holes in the ice this winter.

Check out this video of the Ion 40V in action.

Photo credit: Dreamstime