This article brings you some fantastic deals on ice fishing equipment with a list of the ten best ice fishing rod and reel combos under $50.
Why do seemingly normal people go out of their way to venture onto frozen lakes and stare into holes? Ice fishing, of course! Once reserved for the hardiest and most stalwart of characters, this wintry sport is increasing in popularity every year, thanks to gadgets and gear that make hanging out in the bitter cold more comfortable than ever.
No matter how nippy it is out there, however, you’re going to need something to fish with (unless you plan on staying in your ice shack and sipping hot toddy—and yes, that is an option). The most basic equipment consists of an ice fishing rod and reel. While the two items can be purchased separately, beginners and experienced anglers alike may find it more practical to acquire them as a combo.
Surprisingly, ice fishing is a relatively inexpensive pastime, and some of the best ice fishing rod and reel combos can be had for less than the cost of a decent surf and turf. If you’ve decided to brave the frigid temps and try your hand at this interesting diversion, we’ve got you covered. Each of the ice fishing rod and reel combos below will set you back less than $50. Let’s have a look.
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Reel & Rod Combo
Shakespeare Ugly Stiks are some of the most well-known and reliable ice fishing rods on the market, and the reasonably-priced 26-inch GX2 Ice Fishing Reel & Rod Combo is an ideal choice. With sturdy fiberglass and graphite construction, this rod is durable enough to drag up lake trout with a tip sensitive enough to detect soft nibbling.
Other notable features of the GX2 are the one-piece stainless steel guide, twist-lock reel seat with EVA handles, and an aluminum spool.
PLUSINNO Ultralight Winter Ice Fishing Rod & Reel Combo
PLUSINNO’s Ultralight rod and reel combo for ice fishing can be ordered in a 27 or 28-inch design, with each offering outstanding performance for serious anglers. The double-locking reel seat is a breeze to put together or disassemble. Even kids can do it. Plus, its extreme sensitivity means you will be able to feel every pull and nibble.
Friction and sticking are minimized, thanks to the stainless-steel guides with ceramic inserts, and the spinning rod has a soft EVA and cork handle, which is easy to grip even when it gets wet.
Berkley Cherrywood Ice Fishing Spinning Combo
If you’re looking for a durable but cheap ice fishing rod and reel, you can’t beat the Berkley Cherrywood combo. For less than $30, you’ll get a rod with the perfect blend of fight and give, along with a graphite spinning reel. Other features include instant anti-reverse, a 4+1 ball bearing system, and a ported aluminum spool.
Anglers who want to try out the Berkley Cherrywood can choose from the 24-inch ultra-light, the 27-inch light, or the 30-inch medium setups.
Fenwick Nighthawk Ice Fishing Reel and Spinning Rod Combo
Fenwick’s Nighthawk ice fishing rod and reel combo is another stellar choice with a 24-inch ultra-light or a 26-inch light option. The spool is machine ported and made with double anodized aluminum, and it features a smooth 3+1 bearing system.
This sturdy combo features a TAC and EVA handle design to give you an excellent solid grip and sports a smoked stainless steel frame with stainless steel inserts. With a solid glass construction blank, this popular ice fishing rod is an all-around bargain.
Shakespeare Glacier Ice Fishing Spinning Combo
The Glacier ice fishing spinning combo is another excellent choice from Shakespeare. It comes in 24-inch ultra-light, 26-inch light, or 30-inch medium options that feature an extended stem for extra clearance. Crafted from long-lasting solid fiberglass, it’s fitted with stainless steel guides and inserts and boasts an EVA handle with graphite sliding rings.
If you’re the type that grows impatient with tangles in your line, you will appreciate the design of this set. It has a 15 degree tilted orientation for a smoother line flow.
Eagle Claw Cold Smoke Ice Medium Spin Fishing Combo
Since 1938, Eagle Claw has been making top-quality fishing tackle for satisfied anglers worldwide, and this Cold Smoke Ice rod and reel combo does not disappoint. Although it’s super cheap, it is perfect for catching fish through the ice, thanks to the light and super-sensitive graphite S-curve rod blank.
Other features include USA-made Lazer Sharp Trokar Hooks, a 1+1 ball bearing spinning wheel, and an EVA handle for a comfortable and sturdy grip.
HT Enterprise Hardwater Spincast Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combo with Kit
This nifty grab and go ice fishing kit comes with two ice jigs, a snap-on spring bobber, line, and styro-float so that you will be ready for action right away. It’s 24-inches long and delivers maximum performance thanks to the durable fiberglass rod and HT-100D reel.
This is a great value for those who are just starting out, and it also makes a superb all-in-one gift for the aspiring ice-fisherman or woman in your life.
Quantum Ice Spinning Reel and Ice Fishing Rod Combo
For the serious bargain hunter, this spinning reel and rod combo from Quantum is sure to satisfy. Ideal for panfish and trout, the rod is medium power, 28-inches long, and made of solid carbon. One feature that stands out with the Quantum is that you can easily change it to a right or left-handed rod without any tools.
The set is warranted for a period of one year from the date of original retail purchase against defects in workmanship or materials, so you can purchase this combo with confidence. We especially like the green reel, which stands out among a sea of look-alike rods.
Jinsheng Zhuoyu Ice Fishing Rod & Reel Complete Kit with Equipment Bag
While adults can use this kit too, it’s the perfect kit for kids who are just starting out with ice fishing. At 20.5 inches, the rod is shorter than most, and it comes with an AC100 fishing reel, 90M fishing line, 15.7 Inch folding ice fishing spoon, 10 PCS JIG Soft Lures, and more.
It all packs up neatly into an easy-to-carry fishing gear bag, and while this is not a top-of-the-line combo, it is a basic, decent set that gets the job done.
Berkley Heritage Ice Combo
This is our second low-cost ice fishing combo on our list from Berkley. This one has a smoked full cork handle with a twist-down reel seat, stainless steel guides and inserts, and is crafted with durable 100% fiberglass blanks.
This three-bearing system features a lightweight ported aluminum spool and is 26-inches long. It’s ideal for catching bigger perch, walleye, and crappie, and is an excellent all-around choice for ice fishing rod and reel combinations.
How to Shop for the Best Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combo
If this is your first time selecting an ice fishing rod and reel, you’ve probably noticed similarities across different brands. However, while they all do the same thing—catch fish under ice—there are a few ways in which they can differ. Below are a few considerations to help you find a combo that works best for your needs.
There are two kinds of ice fishing rods—spinning and baitcasting. These two types have caused many a heated debate among experienced anglers, so let’s just say that the choice ultimately boils down to personal preference.
Newcomers to ice fishing may find spinning rods easier to use since they accommodate lightweight lines and lures. The reel, reel seat, and the line guides on a spinning rod are mounted on the underside. Baitcasting rods have the reel, reel seat, and line guides mounted on the top, and are generally more powerful, and are better suited for heavier lines and lures.
If you need help choosing between the two, most experts recommend starting with a spinning rod.
The length of an ice fishing rod can vary, but they are almost always a lot shorter than those used for other types of angling. This is because you are dropping lures and hooking fish through a hole in the ice rather than casting your line. A short rod is also more practical when you are sitting inside a small shelter without a lot of elbow room.
As a general rule, the heavier the fish you are attempting to catch, the longer your rod needs to be. You can catch panfish with a standard 28-inch ultra-light model, but for trout, pike, or walleye, you might want a medium rod up to 30 inches.
The action of a rod refers to how much it bends when something is hanging from the time. Fast action rods are stiffer, with less flexibility, while slow-action rods bend more. As a rule of thumb, the more rigid the rod, the more suitable it is for catching heavy fish, and slow-action rods are better for catching small fish.
If you are confused about the weights you see—ultra-light, light, medium, or heavy—this refers to the amount of power needed to catch a specific species and weight of fish.
Rods for ice fishing are made from fiberglass, graphite, or a mix of both. Fiberglass is heavier and has less action, so it’s generally less sensitive. Graphite rods are more lightweight and have less power and more sensitivity. Again, your choice will boil down to personal preference.
Reel and Spool
Your ice fishing rod spool is what your line will wrap around, and it needs to be sturdy enough to accommodate the type of line you choose. The same goes for your reel. Both should be coated with something that prevents them from freezing in sub-zero conditions; otherwise, you’ll find yourself pretty frustrated when temperatures plummet.
You may have noticed there is a lot of emphasis place on the handle of ice fishing rods. While some are made of plastic, EVA foam and cork are preferred since they are both comfortable and warm. As a side note, cork can also contribute to the sensitivity of one’s rod.
Once you know the basics regarding what to look for, it should be a simple matter of selecting the best quality ice fishing rod and reel set that works for your needs. However, as you’re shopping around, don’t forget to consider comfort and ease-of-use.
It’s easy to forget when surfing from the warm glow of your living room that when you’re hanging out on a frozen body of water, it’s not all mulled cider and donuts. Your gear should be easy to set up and use in harsh conditions, ultimately contributing to your overall enjoyment while ice fishing.