Best Ice Fishing Rods: Short Rods that are Long on Performance

The change in seasons means that fall is upon us and it’s time for winter fishing gear. Although cold weather does not mean that fishing is over, it will make you more excited to fish for crappie and pike.

Although it may seem simple, not all ice fishing poles are created equal. It can be difficult to choose the right one for you. We’ve seen a rise in quality options as ice fishing becomes more popular. However, there are still plenty of bad ice fishing rods.

Remember to match your rod with your prey. Many anglers forget that ultralight and lightweight rods of 6-8 pound weight can win trophies.

Ultralight rods work well for small walleye and panfish. You should consider a medium/light rod if you are targeting whitefish, perch or monster wallies. If you want to skip the tip-up and fish for pike, muskie or lake trout using a rod, you will need a medium/heavy, to heavy stick and a really strong line.

If you want to detect light strikes, you will need to perform fast to ultrafast actions on your ice rod regardless of its power.

Best Ultralight Ice Fishing Rods

  • St. Croix Mojo –Our Choice!
  • Berkley Cherrywood HD
  • Frabill Bro Quick Tip
  • 13 Fishing White Noise Ultra-Light
  • Shakespeare’s Ugly Stik
  • Shakespeare Wild Series
  • Fenwick Aetos
  • Fenwick Elite Tech

The Best Medium-light to Moderate Ice Fishing Rods

  • Haat Medium SpinningOur Choice!
  • Frabill Fins-S Pro
  • Abu Garcia Venerate
  • Fenwick Elite Tech

The best medium-heavy to heavy ice fishing rods

  • JawJacker Ice RodOur Choice!
  • Celsius Black Ice
  • Haat Medium-Heavy Baitcasting

The Best Ultralight to Lightest Ice Fishing Rods – Reviewed

St. Croix MojoOur Choice!

Amazon

Length24

MaterialCarbon

Power/actionUltralight/Fast

Handle:Cork/EVA foam

Guide materialStainless steel

St. Croix makes top-quality rods for all anglers, species and environments. Their Mojo ice fishing series is no exception. You won’t find a stronger rod or one that is more sensitive than the Mojo ice fishing series. This rod is not as expensive as casting rods but it’s one of our most budget-friendly options.

You get a lot for your money. The Mojo is a rod that will make even the most timid strikes feel solid, sensitive, and strong. Comfort is a key feature of the Mojo, thanks to its combination cork/EVA handle, which allows for many grip styles. This rod is a great choice because of this premium feature.

Your line will remain cool and free from abrasion thanks to three primary stainless steel guides.

Pros

  • Ultra sensitive
  • Strong
  • Amazing handle
  • Guides that are useful

Cons

  • It’s not the cheapest option

Berkley Cherrywood HD

Length 24

Material Fiberglass

Power/action Ultralight/Fast

Handle: Cork

Guide material Stainless steel

Berkley’s rods have been a summer staple, and the Cherrywood series is highly-respected for its strength and sensitivity. Berkley’s Ice Fishing version is the same quality, but at a very affordable price. We prefer graphite, but this fiberglass rod delivers.

The stainless steel guides are the same as the warm-weather sibling but only two of them plus a tip are included. You can feel the smallest nudges beneath the ice, which is more sensitive than the composition might suggest. It doesn’t lack backbone, but it has a great feel. These rods are strong and can catch fish too small for their tiny size.

Cherrywood has a cork handle that is both warm and comfortable to the touch.

The only problem is that the stainless guides don’t hold up well enough to be tested on ultralight ice rigs.

Pros

  • One of the cheapest rods that we reviewed
  • Sensitive
  • Strong
  • Great handle
  • Decent guides

Cons

  • Guides may not be as strong as those of their competitors.

Frabill Bro Quick Tip

Length30″

Materialgraphite/fiberglass

Power/actionQT (Quick Tipp) is essentially ultralight, with slower than normal action

Handle:Cork

Guide materialtitanium

Frabill is a well-respected name in ice fishing and has built its reputation almost exclusively on the winter season. They offer winter anglers rods that are specific to their sport and can be used for any species or technique. The Bro series, named after Brian Brosdahl, an ice fishing legend, is a premium rod designed for panfish.

The rod measures 30 inches and has four titanium main guides. These guides will pamper your line during the fight. This mixed-material rod, unlike many others, is strong where it counts, and sensitive at its tip. Although they are a little stiffer than other rods, Frabill’s Bro Series rods have more backbone that you might think, which allows you to take small pike and fat panfish to the hole.

This rod is relatively short in its cork handle and features a strong graphite seat.

Pros

  • Ultra-sensitive tip
  • Strong
  • Great handle
  • Excellent guides

Cons

  • Ultralights may be more rigid than you expect.

13 Fishing White Noise Ultra-Light

Length 27

Material graphite

Power/action Ultralight/Fast

Handle: Cork

Guide material Exclusive “Evolve Series” series

13 Fishing’s in-line reels are well-known if you have ever spent time on the ice. The White Noise Ultra Light is a great rod and tackle option.

This rod’s heart is made up of a sensitive, strong graphite blank. This is a great start, but braided lines will give you the best feel.

It has a cork handle that is long and comfortable, as well as three main guides made in 13 Fishing’s “Evolve” pattern. Although we don’t know the exact material, we are certain about its performance. It is smooth, cool and frictionless.

The White Noise 27-inch is strong enough to withstand a serious fight and sensitive enough to make light strikes. We wouldn’t feel intimidated by larger fish if we had the right line. If you hook a pike or walleye, you can be sure it will do its part if this rod is used to its full potential.

Pros

  • Extremely sensitive
  • Strong
  • Excellent handle
  • Excellent guides

Cons

  • Braided line is not as sensitive

Shakespeare’s Ugly Stik

Length 26

Material Fiberglass

Power/action Light/fast

Handle: EVA foam

Guide material Stainless steel

Shakespeare’s Ugly Stik is a classic, and has earned a reputation for its toughness in all iterations. These rods may not be a favorite for everyone, but they are often associated with iron-cast durability and finesse.

If you are averse to the brand, this rod of 26 inches might make your decision change. The rod is sensitive enough to pick up the smallest of strikes. If you hook a big fish, your line will be able to take it in much faster than this rod. If you are unsure what might be nibbling on your lure, you can spool some 6 pound test to test your tackle. This rod is versatile, and although it wasn’t the most well-constructed of all the rods tested, we think it’s one of the strongest.

The Ugly Stik’s four primary guides are made of stainless steel-Shakespeare’s single unit Ugly Tuff. The handle is made from EVA foam and has a soft, long-lasting EVA foam. Although we don’t recommend this reel as a combo, it is more than capable of catching the biggest fish.

Pros

  • Extremely sensitive
  • Incredibly durable
  • Good handling
  • Guides that are useful

Cons

  • It is not the most sophisticated feeling or action

Shakespeare Wild Series

Length23

MaterialFiberglass

Power/actionUltralight/Moderate

Handle:Cork

Guide materialStainless steel

Shakespeare is an expert on fiberglass blanks, and their Wild series is a refinement of the Ugly Stik that made them so famous. We think the Wild ice rod, 23 inches in length, is just as good as its premium counterparts.

The fiberglass rod is both sensitive and stiff and offers a great balance of rigidity and feel. We like the rod’s backbone, which is as refined as the top-end options. The tip is aided by four primary stainless steel guides. This reduces the force on the line by up to 25% compared with rods that have one guide. This is a great feature and the rod is well worth another look.

This package includes a long cork handle. While it is not as innovative as St. Croix’s, it should offer all-day comfort for about one-third the price.

Pros

  • Extremely sensitive
  • Strong
  • Good handling
  • Amazing number of guides
  • It’s affordable

Cons

  • The reel seat is only OK when compared to the competition

Fenwick Aetos

Length 25

Material graphite

Power/action ultralight/extra-fast

Handle: Cork

Guide material Stainless steel

Fenwick provides premium quality rods for ice anglers. They have a great selection of specialty rods and have a strong reputation for quality. You’re likely to have seen their name on the ice and heard people swear by their products. The Aetos are a reason so many anglers love them, as we discovered in our reviews.

The 25-inch Aetos, built around a graphite blank is extremely sensitive. It should be easy to detect nibbles and turn them into quick hook sets. The rod is extremely fast, so you can expect to have a lot of curve during fights. These rods are extremely thin, so don’t be afraid to catch big fish.

The Aetos features a cork handle, and two stainless-steel guides before the tip. We have one complaint: an extra guide would be helpful.

Pros

  • Extremely sensitive
  • Strong
  • Good handling

Cons

  • We could use an additional guide

Fenwick Elite Tech

Length 25

Material graphite

Power/action Ultralight/Fast

Handle: Cork

Guide material Stainless with zirconium inserts

Fenwick’s Elite Tech rod is more expensive than its Aetos. However, it is not clear if this translates into better performance.

The graphite blank of this Elite Tech is strong and sensitive, making it one of the most competitive. The Elite Tech 25-inch will give you the best fishing experience, even deep in the water. It’s great, and even better: the Elite Tech is ultralight and fast, with plenty of power for hard fights and big fish. There are no complaints, we’re sure.

The cork handle is comfortable and generous, with a high quality feel. The premium guides are our only problem. The zirconium inserts may be too much for ice fishing. They’re something we would expect to see on summer spinning and casting rods. We are also a little concerned about how fast they will clog with ice. This rod is a pleasure to hold.

Pros

  • Extremely sensitive
  • Strong
  • Great handle

Cons

  • Although the guides might seem a little small, they are full of encouragement and icing

Our Pick: The St. Croix Mojo

It was difficult to choose from the many outstanding rods that made it into our final selection. We wouldn’t be ill-prepared for any of the finalists. Depending on what we had planned for our ultralight adventures we might choose another option.

The Mojo was our favorite. Because it is high quality, St. Croix is our favorite. It is made from carbon fiber and is light, strong, stiff, flexible, and sensitive. It has excellent guides and a great handle making it the best of the bunch in terms of what it can offer. Although it is more expensive than some of the other rods, we feel you get what you pay.

The Shakespeare Wild Series is an excellent competitor at a lower price. If that is important to you, then give it a shot. It is tough, sensitive, and comfortable. This gives you a premium experience for a small budget. We also loved 13 Fishing’s White Noise. As long as you use mono, it’s easy to go wrong with this rod.

No matter what you choose, these short rods offer long-lasting performance.

The Best Medium Ice Fishing Rods – Reviewed

Haat Medium SpinningOur Choice!

Length 36″

Material Composite

Power/action Medium/fast

Handle: Cork

Guide material N/A

Eric Haataja is a well-known ice fishing guide who has also held the record for designing and engineering Haat rods. He was fed up with the commercially available options and decided to create the perfect tool for anglers to make memories on hardwater.

Haat’s medium spinning rod features a composite blank that is tuned to detect a nibble and the backbone to ensure hookset. This premium product is of exceptional quality, but you will have to pay a high price.

The Medium has a comfortable, long cork handle that is ideal for large fish fighting. This rod is the most versatile of all the ones we tested. It offers plenty of muscle-building space and allows you to use it as a long, comfortable handle.

Although we don’t know what the guides are made of, stainless steel is a good choice. They are as strong and smooth as you can hope for, regardless of the material.

This rod is great, but it has a problem.

Pros

  • Amazing sensitivity
  • Excellent backbone
  • Amazing handle
  • Amazing guides

Cons

  • It’s expensive!

Frabill Fins-S Pro

Length 30″

Material Carbon

Power/action Medium/fast

Handle: Cork

Guide material Stainless steel

Frabill is an expert on ice fishing and has the right rod for anglers who want to target large walleyes and small pike.

Frabill’s Fin-S Pro, made from carbon fiber blanks, offers incredible strength and sensitivity. The medium power of the Fin-S Pro gives you enough backbone to muscle fish while the flexible tip allows you to feel every little nudge from your lure. This combination is impressive, especially considering the price.

Fin-S pro has a cork handle with enough space to hold two hands. Because large walleye can weigh up to 20 pounds, you’ll need it. If you are tying into a large walleye, a little more handle may be helpful. However, unless the big pike takes your bait we believe this handle will provide enough muscle for you.

This rod comes with four stainless steel primary guides. This rod is a good choice to protect your line against excessive strain due to its length of 30 inches and the excellent spacing between them.

Pros

  • Tip very sensitive
  • A strong backbone
  • Excellent guides

Cons

  • For larger fish, a bit more control would be helpful

Abu Garcia Venerate

Length 29

Material Carbon

Power/action Medium/fast

Handle: Cork

Guide material Stainless steel with zirconium inlays

Abu Garcia is a well-respected brand in the rod & reel industry. If you enjoy baitcasting, then you will know their name. However, that doesn’t mean they haven’t been able to tackle ice fishing. Their Venerate icerods are well worth a look.

The Venerate medium is provided with a carbon fiber blank that gives it a strong backbone and makes the tip sensitive enough to light strikes. Although it is not the most sensitive tip, it should work well for any size panfish. As they eat your lures, large walleyes, small pike, and trout will easily notice it.

The Venerate has a cork handle that is long enough to help you catch big fish. This feature is very popular. The rounded tip of the handle will easily find a spot against your stomach when the rod bends under strain. This is an important point to remember as you weigh your options.

The quige quality is also excellent. The four primaries are well-spaced, made from premium materials, and have the right spacing. The zirconium inserts are probably too much for an ultralight. They will work well on medium rod-smoothing friction and dissipating heat.

Pros

  • A strong backbone
  • Great handle to fight big fish
  • Amazing guides

Cons

  • You could make the tip a little more sensitive

Fenwick Elite Tech

Length27

Materialgraphite

Power/actionMedium-light/fast

Handle:Cork

Guide materialStainless steel with zirconium inlays

Fenwick’s Elite Tech comes in a variety of power options. The ultralight also made it to our list. Fenwick also increases its power as you increase it.

This rod is similar to its lighter counterpart, but it features a graphite blank. Serious panfish anglers hunting for trophies may want to check out this rod. The Elite Tech 27-inch will ensure that you don’t miss strikes, even when deep jigging. Its backbone is remarkable, especially for a light rod.

The Elite Tech has a cork handle that is large enough to hold the fish it was intended for. Although the grip space for big walleyes may seem a little tight, it will be handled by the rod. Line stress will not be an issue with four primary guides made from high-quality components. Zirconium inserts are a great addition to ultralight ice rods. They’ll keep your line in place when you tie into big ones.

The only problem we have with the small guides is their susceptibility to ice buildup.

Pros

  • Great sense of sensitivity
  • Excellent backbone
  • Great handle shape

Cons

  • Although the guides are not very large, they encourage icing
  • Large fish may require a larger handle

Our Pick – Haat Medium Spinning

You’ll need a stronger rod, longer handles and smoother guides when you upgrade to medium rods. You’re asking your rod for the ability to handle the stress of big, aggressive fish, so make sure it has all the necessary features to land them.

We chose the Haat Medium spinning rod. It’s not cheap, but if you have a tight budget, the Abu Garcia Venerate is a great rod. Haat is a great place to get your money’s worth, ounce for ounce and dollar for dollar.

This rod shouts “fight’s ON!” It has the handle, backbone and sensitivity to help you land big fish. Haat has been there, done that and knows rods like no other. Try it. It will be a great decision.

The Best Heavy Ice Fishing Rods – Reviewed

JawJacker Ice Rod

Length31

Materialgraphite

Power/actionmedium-heavy/fast

Handle:Cork

Guide materialCeramic

JawJacker’s Ice rod costs less than the average, but that shouldn’t deceive you. It is of top quality.

This graphite-blanked rod measures 31 inches and has the power to tackle even the largest fish. It also retains sensitivity at its tip. It’s impressive but it is not its only virtue. JawJacker’s handle is long and made for muscle. This is a crucial point to remember when you are tying into a bad-boy pike.

Our favorite feature is the five-that’s correct-five-primary guides made of high-grade ceramic. It’s hard to find anything more smooth or stronger than this at any price. With so many points to distribute stress along the line, we can fight almost anything, as long as it isn’t too heavy.

Pros

  • Great blank-both strong, and sensitive
  • Excellent guide material
  • Five primary guides
  • Excellent handle

Cons

  • The ideal handle would only be a little longer

Celsius Black Ice

Length30″

MaterialFiberglass

Power/actionmedium-heavy/fast

Handle:Cork

Guide materialchrome

Celsius’s Black Ice is a rod that is tough enough to take any beating. You can rest assured that your rod will not snap because it is made from a fiberglass blank.

This rod measures 30 inches and has enough spring to absorb shocks and fight big pike, muskie or lake trout. Although we would prefer a little more cork handle to fight these giants, the Celsius should be able to hold two hands.

The three main guides are made of chrome, which is a nice, smooth material that will pamper your line as it’s being stretched to breaking point. Because there are not enough guides, we would like to see them. High visibility tips are useful for spotting bites and the action is quick enough to catch the prey you want.

Pros

  • Blanket very strong
  • Excellent guide material

Cons

  • Too many guides
  • Handle could be larger

Haat Medium-Heavy Baitcasting

Length45

Material Composite

Power/action medium-heavy/fast

Handle: Cork

Guide material N/A

Because of its top-flight features, the Haat rod was our number one pick for medium power. This holds true even if you go up in power. Haat rods are unbeatable, according to our calculations.

This 45-inch rod’s heart is made of a composite blank. It’s soft and sensitive at its tip, but it’s also extremely strong throughout its length. It’s easy to see the strength and durability of this rod and its backbone. This rod has even been used in salt to kill sharks. This is a huge feat, as sharks are fierce fighters.

The handle is made of cork and has a long length for leverage. You’ll need all of the cork if you have 100 pounds to play with. To get more power, you will bury your heel in your stomach. The handle of the Haat is as good as they come.

Six primary guides were chosen to prevent line stress, making it easy for you to enjoy your fishing adventures. This is simply the best.

This rod can accept a baitcasting line, which is the best set-up for large fish. This can prove to be a problem if you don’t own one or are not familiar with them.

Pros

  • Amazing blank-amazingly strong and incredibly sensitive
  • Amazing guides
  • Six guides are the primary ones
  • Amazing handle

Cons

  • A baitcasting reel is necessary

Our pick – JawJacker Ice Rod

It was hard for us to choose, but we were able to place the JawJacker in first place.

The JawJacker Ice Rod has all the qualities that anglers want: it is strong, flexible, well-handled and designed for fighting. The JawJacker Ice Rod’s blank is powerful and sensitive. It can tie into the largest fish. The handle design and guide quality will allow you to catch big fish. There’s so much to love about that.

The Haat rod is better overall, but it is also more expensive. A strong baitcasting reel is also necessary. A Haat is a great choice if you have one. If you don’t have one or aren’t familiar with baitcasters we recommend the JawJacker.

Lewis
Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.