There is no doubt about it ice fishing is awesome!
However, all that fun and excitement that ice fishing brings comes to a screeching halt if you don’t have the right equipment.
One such vital piece of equipment is a good ice fishing reel.
A faulty reel not only will cost you some fish, but it will definitely take the joy out of ice fishing.
In this post, we will present some of the best reels for ice fishing. In fact, we will present our top 12 options.
So let’s get to it.
What is the best ice fishing reel?
Here is a quick preview of what I think to be the top 12 reels for ice fishing:
- 13 Fishing Free Fall Ghost
- 13 Fishing Free Fall XL
- Eagle Claw In Line
- TICA SS500 Cetus Trout Fishing Series
- Celsius Blizzard Spinning Reel
- Piscifun ICX5 Spinning
- 13 Fishing Descent
- Fiblink InlineReel
- Pflueger Trion
- Ellen Archery Inline Ice reel
- KastKing Centron 500
- Abu Garcia Max Ice Fishing
To learn more about these amazing reels, please continue reading below…
13 Fishing Free Fall Ghost
- Graphite Frame
- Gear Ratio: 2.5:1
- 3 +1 stainless steel ball bearings
- 6.6 ounces
- Freefall trigger
- Max Drag 6.6 pounds
- Right hand and left hand models available
Does the 13 Fishing Free Fall have what it takes to be considered the best?
We think it just might, and after reading about all the great features this reel has to offer, we think you will feel the same.
It is made of a super-light graphite body. It has a gear ratio of 2.5:1.
The best feature is the free fall trigger system. Once you pull the trigger the spool goes into a free spin mode.
Located right behind the reel is the tensioning spool which will allow you to adjust how fast the bait falls. Once you let go of the trigger the reel is engaged and you can begin your retrieval.
This unique feature really sets it apart from the competition and helps to get your lure at the desired depth very quickly.
13 Fishing Black Betty Free Fall XL
- Graphite frame
- Bearings: 3 + 1
- Max Drag: 9.9 pounds
- Gear Ratio: 3.0:1
- Weight: 7.2 ounces
Are you a serious ice fisherman looking to catch some serious fish?
If so, you might want to check out the 13 Fishing Free Fall XL.
Like the Free Fall Ghost, you have control of your lure’s drop speed. However because the XL is equipped with a magnetic braking speed, it allows for your lure to get down to the strike zone at a quick rate.
In addition, it features a palm pad making it comfortable to both use and hold. It is also equipped with a freefall performance window allowing you to manage your fishing line in the best way.
Lastly, it is just built for bigger fish. With a max drag of 9.9 pounds, it is just built for catching big fish.
Eagle Claw In Line
- Nylon body and spool
- Free spool release button
- Gear Ratio: 2.6:1
One feature that really makes this reel stand out from the rest is the free spool release button.
With a push of a button and the reel goes into a free spin, completely removing the drag. This feature is great for ice fishing. It allows you to easily drop a very light lure down the fishing hole without the dreaded line twist.
This reel has a 2.6:1 gear ratio meaning it will bring in about 15.75 inches of line per crank.
This reel comes set-up for a left-handed retrieval, but can very easily be switched to a right-handed one.
Learn how to switch from a left-hand inline reel to a right-hand inline reel in the video found here.
Watch the video below to learn more about the Eagle Claw In-Line:
Enjoy reading: Can I use my baitcasting reel for ice fishing?
TICA SS500 Cetus
- Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
- Weight: 6.3 ounces
- 6 ball bearings
Many would say that the TICA SS500 Cetus Trout Fishing Series is the best ice fishing reel and I would have a hard time disagreeing with them.
Weighing in at 6.3 ounces this reel may appear to be tiny, but don’t let that fool you. It is a very rugged, well-balanced and yet super smooth reel.
Equipped with 6 precision ball bearings gives it a nice silky smooth drag as well as 1 mini roller bearing giving it that instant anti-reverse feature. It also has a nice gear ratio of 5.2:1.
The best part is this reel isn’t limited to catching small fish, but you can catch larger fish with is such as walleye and trout.
- Elongated yoke for easy handling
- 4 ball bearings
- Anti-free lubrication
Warm gloves are essential when out on the ice, but gloves can be very cumbersome while trying to hold onto a small fishing rod and reel.
The Celsius Blizzard Spinning Reel was designed with ice fishermen in mind. As you can see from the above photo this reel has an elongated yoke.
This feature makes it much easier to hold onto while still keeping your hands toasty warm.
Made from a very durable aluminum this reel was built to last under the harshest fishing conditions. It also contains anti-free lubrication meaning you will no longer need to worry about your reel seizing up while on the water.
This reel also contains an infinite anti-reverse feature as well as 4 ball bearings, giving it a very smooth drag.
Piscifun ICX5 Spinning
- Graphite Body
- Weight: 6.35 ounces
- 5+1 high quality sealed bearings
- Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
- Max Drag 12 pounds.
Another great spinning ice fishing reel is the Piscifun ICX5 spinning reel.
The body is made from very strong graphite and yet it only weighs 6.35 ounces. One handy feature is that the handle folds allowing for easy transport.
It is equipped with 6 ball bearings giving it that much desired liquid-smooth drag. In addition, the bearings are sealed meaning that they are protected from the cold harsh elements.
Lastly, it has a gear ratio of 5.2:1 with a maximum drag of 12 pounds. With that being said, you definitely aren’t limited to just fishing on the ice you can also use this reel on open water as well.
13 Fishing Descent
- 5 stainless steel bearings
- Graphite/fiberglass frame
- Gear Ratio: 2.7:1
- Freefall dial
Are you tired of your ice fishing line coiling up every time you go to drop a lure down the hole?
If so, you need to start fishing with an inline reel. However, one concern you might have is that these reels tend to be a little pricey.
Well, you will be pleased to know that 13 fishing has come out with a very affordable inline reel it is the 13 Fishing Descent.
First, let’s talk about the price. This inline reel runs almost half the price of the previously mentioned Black Betty. If you are looking to save a few bucks this is definitely the model to check out.
What about the features? Did they make a lot of sacrifices to drop the price?
Let’s talk about the features.
The 13 Fishing Descent is made with a graphite/fiberglass frame making it extremely lightweight and thus easy to attach to your rod.
It has a good gear ratio of 2.7:1.
It also features a freefall dial allowing you to control how fast the lures drop. In addition, it has a dead stick alarm. This is a nice feature for those that don’t have any tip-ups or those who don’t like using tip-ups.
Simply put some bait on your line, drop it down, put on the alarm and it will start screaming when you have a fish.
Take a closer look in the following video:
- 4+1 ball bearings
- Gear Ratio: 2.7:1
- Weight: 5.8 ounces
Another great inline ice reel is the Fiblink Inline Reel.
This reel is ultralight. It only weighs 5.8 ounces making it extremely easy and comfortable to handle while on the ice. It has a good gear ratio of 2.7:1. It is equipped with a 4 +1 Ball bearing making the drag silky smooth.
The line capacity for this reel is 4/45, 2/110, and 1/270.
If you haven’t fished with an inline fishing reel before, this is a great starter inline reel.
Features: (based on 20 model)
- Graphite frame
- 7 ball bearing
- Max Drag 6 pounds
- Weight 6.3 ounces
Another reel designed to be used both on and off the ice is the Pflueger Trion Series.
This reel is made with a graphite frame and an aluminum spool making it super lightweight. It only weighs 6.3 ounces, making it easy to handle on the ice. In addition, it has a good amount of gear ratio coming in at 5.2:1.
The 7 ball bearing setup ensures you will have a smooth retrieval every time.
Lastly, it is available in both left-handed as well as right-handed models.
Ellen Archery Inline Reel
- 8+1 Ball Bearings
- Gear Ratio: 2.6:1
- Weight: 220 grams
- Anti-Corrosion treatment
To conclude this list, let’s take a look at Ellen Archery’s take on an inline reel.
As you can see from the picture above, the look of this thing will definitely get some looks. However, when out on the ice, looks mean very little. It is all about durability.
And that is exactly what this inline ice reel is all about. Durability. It is made with an all-aluminum body but has an anti-corrosive treatment in order to prevent rust.
It features 8+1 ball bearings. Yes, you read that correctly 9 ball bearings are in this thing, making it run super smooth.
Last it is equipped with a super smooth free spool feature as well as a gear ratio of 2.6:1.
KastKing Centron 500 Spinning Reel
- Graphite Frame
- Ball Bearings: 9+1
- Maximum Drag:17.5
Number ten on my list is the KastKing Centron 500.
I like this option a lot because not only is it extremely lightweight (perfect for ice fishing), but it is relatively inexpensive. Making it tempting not to buy just one, but maybe a few of them.
Let’s take a look at some of its features.
First, it is made with a sharp-looking graphite frame. The graphite frame helps to protect it from corrosion, but it also keeps it lightweight and easy to handle.
Next, it is equipped with 9 ball bearings and one anti-reverse ball bearing. With this many ball bearings, you can be confident that every time you give it a crank, it is going to be a smooth crank.
Lastly, let’s talk about drag. This ultralight spinning reel has a whopping drag of 17.5. That is a huge amount from such a small little reel.
With the above mentioned, what can we say about the KastKing Centron 500? Well, not only is it a great option for the ice, but it also makes a great freshwater spinning reel as well.
Abu Garcia Max Ice Fishing
- Graphite body
- Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
- Ball Bearings: 3+1
- Maximum Drag 6.6 pounds
Number 12 on the list is the Abu Garcia Max ice fishing spinning reel.
Like other spinning reels, the Ice Max is also made with a graphite body, keeping it lightweight and durable. In fact, it only weighs 6.4 ounces.
One feature that really stands out is the everlast bail system.
If you are like me and are tired of spending time bending bails back into place then this might be the best option for you.
In addition, it also features a collapsible reel handle making transport easy.
Now that we have talked a little bit about the build, let’s talk about the specs.
The Max Ice features a 5.2:1 gear ratio bringing in about 22.5 inches per crank. It has a maximum drag of 6.6 pounds, enough for ice fishing and ultralight fishing as well.
So…What is the best reel for ice fishing?
Much of it depends on your needs and preferences. As far as choosing a reliable fishing reel, you can’t go wrong with any of the aforementioned reels.
However, with that being said, I really like the 13 Fishing Black Betty.
Share with us your favorite ice fishing reel in the comments below.
(If you enjoyed reading this article, you may also enjoy reading: What is the best ice fishing line? )
Check out the following links all about our favorite sport, ice fishing: