Planning to try fishing by a frozen lake but don’t know what to pack and bring? Preparing for your catch of the day will be a lot easier with the right equipment! Here are some of our top picks on the best ice fishing gear for beginners like you.
Ice Fishing Gear Must-Haves for Newbie Anglers
1. Spud Bar
Before you attempt to make a hole for your fishing spot, you need a trusty spud bar or ice chisel. This will help you check the thickness of the ice you are working with.
It’s also a great way to determine if the ice you are walking on is thick enough to hold your weight. Make sure to always have this on hand if you want to stay away from risky, thin ice.
2. Ice Auger
The traditional way to drill a hole into the ice may be through a shovel or pickaxe, but an ice auger will spare you from all the hassle. It’s the most important item to have in your ice fishing gear!
For beginners, it is best to use a manual auger to help familiarize yourself with the process of drilling holes. Once you have more experience, powered augers will be easier to handle.
3. Ice Skimmer
Now that you’ve made a hole, it’s time to clear up the space. Depending on your mastery of how to use an ice auger, there might be some leftover slush that can get in the way.
A skimmer gets rid of all that extra ice and scoops them up in a jiffy. It usually comes with differently sized plates to match the diameters of your ice fishing holes.
4. Ice Fishing Rod and Reel
Your ice fishing gear won’t be complete without the main essentials: the rod and the reel! There are special types dedicated to ice fishing, so the standard freshwater rods won’t make the cut.
Sensitivity is a major factor you always need to consider when getting a rod and reel combo. This helps you ‘feel’ when fishes bite onto your bait, so choose a model with the appropriate settings.
5. Ice Fishing Line
The conventional fishing line might not survive the freezing temperatures you’ll be dealing with, so you need to complete your ice fishing gear with the proper line.
There are many kinds you can choose from, but a monofilament line is the best option for beginners. It’s a more versatile type that can help you get used to jigging and hook-setting.
Fluorocarbon fishing lines can be useful for baiting more fish, especially since it is nearly invisible underwater. If you want something that does not stretch and has more sensitivity, superlines are your best bet.
6. Tackle Box
You may have all the necessary equipment, but where are you supposed to store them? Every beginner should always have a tackle box in their ice fishing gear!
While some people use a simple backpack or plastic bag, a tackle box can be a lot more useful in keeping all of your stuff organized.
7. Lures and Baits
Choosing the right lures and baits can be a bit intimidating, but they’re not as complicated as you might think. Metal jigs are the perfect lures for beginners, especially those that are included in starter packs.
For live baits, wax worms and maggots are usually recommended. You can also try minnows, leeches, and spikes.
8. Fishing Bucket
You may think an ordinary bucket can do the trick, but multi-purpose buckets actually exist to improve your ice fishing experience!
Choose a bucket that has compartments for storing your fishing accessories, baits, and also your fresh catch. Most ice fishing buckets also come with a built-in seat to keep you comfy.
9. Safety Picks
When you are out in a fishing area, unexpected accidents may happen. During the worst case scenario when you fall into an icy lake, safety picks will spare you from drowning.
These picks are meant to be jabbed into the ice to help you pull yourself out. They also have floatable handles to make them easier to grab and wear.
10. Ice Fishing Suit
Some anglers usually forego this, but an ice fishing suit should always be welcome in a beginner’s list of essentials. It can actually be very reliable during long fishing hours!
Being exposed to cold temperatures isn’t the nicest thing in the world, so wearing the right suit can keep you warm while you wait for more fish bites.
11. Ice Cleats
Frozen lakes are notorious for being slippery; it can be quite tricky to maintain your balance while you walk. Ice cleats are the perfect footwear must-haves for your next ice fishing trip!
These cleats have small spikes underneath to help you secure your footing as you make your way along slippery surfaces. There are also wearable cleats available that can be worn with your usual shoes or boots.
If you’re planning to stay for a longer period of time, a portable heater is necessary in your ice fishing gear. It can be difficult to find warmth in the middle of a snowy area, so don’t forget to bring some extra batteries for your heat source!
13. Ice Fishing Tent
Aside from a heater, you may want to consider bringing an ice fishing tent during your trip. This will keep you toasty while providing you some shelter, especially when it’s snowing hard.
Most ice fishing shanties do not have floors, but if you have the budget, you can also opt for those with built-in bunks. As long as you have enough space, then you’re all set!
Want to know more about ice fishing gear? You can watch this beginner-friendly video by Wisconsin Wildman:
Choosing the right ice fishing gear can get confusing sometimes, especially if you’re a beginner. It’s always a good idea to ask your friends who have more experience, or you can also do your own research. You just have to make sure that you know all the essentials so you’ll be extra prepared!
Do you have any other ice fishing gear recommendations? Please share with us in the comments section below.
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