The 8 Best Ice Fishing Reels To Consider In 2023 (Tested & Reviewed)

best ice fishing reels

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Winter is coming! It’s time to take out your top ice fishing reels and prepares for one of the most accelerating events of the season. But wait, how good are your ice fishing reels? A few years ago, I made the mistake of relying on my old spinning reels only to end up disappointed. I realized a lot has changed with new and improved ice fishing reels available. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much information regarding these new reels, so I decided to test eight of the best ice fishing reels in the market and write this guide to help anglers like you choose suitable fishing reels. 

Larry Stark

Professional fisherman, who loves to review new fishing gadgets.

Our Top 3 Favorite Best Ice Fishing Lures

Best Overall Ice Fishing Lure

Pflueger Trion

Pflueger Trion

Best Rated Ice Fishing Lure

Daiwa BG

Daiwa BG

Best Premium Ice Fishing Lure

Shimano Vanford

Shimano Vanford

8 Best Ice Fishing Reels Of 2023: Our Review

1. Pflueger Trion – Best Overall Ice Fishing Reels
2. Daiwa BG – Best Rated Ice Fishing Reels
3. Shimano Vanford – Best Premium Ice Fishing Reels
4. Okuma Ceymar – Best Budget Ice Fishing Reels
5. Piscifun ICX II – Best Durability Ice Fishing Reels
6. Shimano Sedona – Best Lightweight Ice Fishing Reels
7. Pflueger President – Best Performance Ice Fishing Reels
8. Abu Garcia Revo SX – Best Smoothness Ice Fishing Reels


Best Overall Ice Fishing Reel

Pflueger Trion

Pflueger Trion

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Pflueger Trion is a versatile spinning ice fishing reel with incredible features like a large line capacity, a smooth and consistent drag system, and a lightweight and durable graphite body for a reel in its price range. It provides a smooth and efficient performance thanks to the six-ball bearing system. 

  • Model: TRI20X
  • Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Weight: 0.5 lbs. 
  • Retrieve Rate: 22.4”
  • Max Drag: 6 lbs.
  • Ball Bearings: 5+1
  • Line Capacity (mono) (lbs/yds): 2/200, 4/100, 6/80
  • Line Capacity (braid) (lbs/yds): 6/250, 8/190, 10/160



OVERVIEW: The Pflueger Trion is versatile for freshwater and saltwater fishing and offers a combination of functionality and affordability. When purchasing Pflueger Trion, it’s best to consider your budget, the type of fish you target, and your fishing style, as the reel is suited for casting and trolling fishing techniques. I loved the versatility and affordability of Pflueger Trion, which is a must-have for professional anglers. 

FEATURES: Pflueger Trion offers competitive specs for a reel in its price range. The anti-twist line roller, corrosion-resistant stainless steel ball bearings, and lightweight graphite reel body provide efficiency, making it one of the best ice fishing reels. 


Best Rated Ice Fishing Reel

Daiwa BG

Daiwa BG

WHY WE LIKE IT: The durable and corrosion-resistant solid construction of Daiwa BG makes it ideal for inshore fishing and saltwater environments. It has incredible reel features like an anodized machined aluminum spool, machined aluminum housing, and a sturdy screw-in handle, making it stand out from other ice fishing reels in its class. The smooth operation and powerful drag system provide an efficient and enjoyable fishing experience. 

  • Model: BG5000
  • Reel Size: 5000
  • Gear Ratio: 5.6:1
  • Weight: 1.4 lbs. 
  • Max Drag: 22 lbs. 
  • Line Capacity (braid) (lbs/yds): 40/440, 50/330, 65/240
  • Line Capacity (mono) (lbs/yds): 16/330, 20/280, 25/220
  • Ball Bearings: 6+1
  • Line Retrieve: 47.4”



OVERVIEW: One key reason to buy Daiwa BG is its strength and durability, making it possible to fish in saltwater. When buying this inline reel, you should consider the water-resistant design allowing for extended saltwater fishing. A high maximum drag makes it possible to reel in big fish species. I found Daiwa BG reliable for offshore and inshore fishing. If you’re looking for alternative products, check out our article on the best saltwater fishing rods

FEATURES: Daiwa BG saltwater spinning reel offers an outstanding balance of performance and features compared to other spinning reels in its price range. The braid line-ready spool and waterproof drag are notable advantages. It suits ice-fishing anglers looking for a dedicated reel. 


Best Premium Ice Fishing Reel

Shimano Vanford

Shimano Vanford

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Shimano Vanford reel is one of the best Shimano spinning reel available on the market. It is known for its high-quality construction, durability, and innovative features. The reel operates quietly and has impeccable vibrations for bite detection. With its advanced technology and superior performance, the Shimano Vanford reel is a top choice for anglers.

  • Model: Vanford F 1000
  • Gear Ratio: 5.1:1
  • Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 2/270, 4/160, 6/110
  • PowerPro Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 10/95, 15/85, 20/65
  • Max Drag: 7 lbs. 
  • Weight: 0.3 lbs. 



OVERVIEW: In my experience, I put the Shimano Vanford reel to the test and found that it exceeded my expectations in terms of construction, durability, and performance. The reel’s sleek design, lightweight construction design, and precision engineering, coupled with its advanced features and functionality, make it a top choice for anglers. It delivers smooth and reliable performance in any fishing environment, thanks to its higher gear ratio, while its durability and longevity ensure it can withstand the rigors of frequent use. Additionally, it is suitable for large fish species. As a fisherman, I am thoroughly satisfied with the Shimano Vanford reel’s performance.

FEATURES: The Vanford reel has a durable HAGANE body that can withstand different fishing environments. Advanced reel features like the Long Stroke Spool improves casting distance and accuracy. The X-Protect technology and waterproof drag system make the reel versatile for saltwater and freshwater fishing. 


Best Budget Ice Fishing Reel

Okuma Ceymar

Okuma Ceymar

WHY WE LIKE IT: Okuma Ceymar spinning reel has outstanding features like the precision machine cut brass pinion gear and a lightweight design providing a smooth and accurate casting. The longevity of the reel is another benefit, thanks to the Cyclonic Flow Rotor that keeps the water away from the reel. Okuma Ceymar is a must-have for anglers looking to invest in durable and reliable ice fishing gear. 

  • Model: C-30
  • Gear Ratio: 5.0:1
  • Max Drag: 13 lbs.
  • Weight: 0.54 lbs.
  • Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 6/200, 8/160, 10/110
  • Braided Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 10/135, 15/105, 20/65
  • Bearings: 6+1
  • Line Retrieve per Crank: 25” 
  • Material: Aluminum handle



OVERVIEW: After experimenting with and trying out the Okuma Ceymar extensively, I can confidently say that it exceeded my expectations in terms of performance and durability. The lightweight and comfortable design truly enhance the overall fishing experience, especially for anglers planning to spend long hours in the water. The high line retrieve line rate and max drag power are significant factors to consider when purchasing this ice fishing spinning reel. Additionally, the reel’s ease of use makes it the perfect choice for both novice and experienced anglers alike.

FEATURES: Okuma Ceyma offers a balance of performance and features like a corrosion-resistant graphite body, a multi-disc drag system, and an Elliptical gearing system. Although expensive, the fishing reel has outstanding features and specs that make it stand out from the competition.


Best Durability

Piscifun ICX II

Piscifun ICX II

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Piscifun ICX II inline reel is known for durability, thanks to the reinforced metal body and rotor. The reel has an incredible line capacity caused by the CNC-machined spool, reducing its weight and making it one of the best ice fishing reels. The ICX II can withstand harsh winter fishing conditions thanks to its anti-reverse functions and smooth drag system. 

  • Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Weight: 0.39 lbs. 
  • Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 2/110, 3/85, 4/70
  • Bearings: 5+1
  • Max Drag: 12 lbs. 



OVERVIEW: In my experience, I put the Piscifun ICX II spinning reel to the test and found that it exceeded my expectations with its exceptional performance and user-friendly interface. The Piscifun ICX II spinning reel is ideally suited for ice fishing, thanks to the reinforced metal body and rotor, which is durable, lightweight and can withstand harsh winter conditions. Thanks to the CNC-machined aluminum spool, the impressive line capacity allows you to target fish in deep water without experiencing added weight. The ICX II is reliable and the best ice fishing reel for ice fishing enthusiasts. 

FEATURES: The ICX II has a durable and reliable construction, making it a great contender in the best ice fishing reel category. The smooth drag system ensures you fight and reel in the catch effortlessly. It’s a must-have fishing reel for serious ice-fishing anglers. 


Best Lightweight

Shimano Sedona

Shimano Sedona

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Shimano Sedona reel scores high points for high performance and a lightweight design. The G-Free Body design helps to reduce angler’s fatigue by shifting the center of gravity close to the rod. The result is comfortable and extended fishing sessions. The HAGANE body is lightweight and durable, with the 3-D printed handle offering a comfortable grip. 

  • Model: 2500
  • Gear Ratio: 5:1
  • Weight: 0.79 lbs. 
  • Max Drag: 20 lbs. 
  • Mono Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 6/200, 8/140, 10/120
  • PowerPro Line Capacity (lbs/yds): 10/150, 15/145, 30/100
  • Ball Bearings: 3+1
  • Line Retrieve: 36” per crank 



OVERVIEW: The ultralightweight design is the key reason to buy Shimano Sedona 2500 spinning reel. Its weight makes it perfect for anglers planning longer fishing trips. It’s best to consider the gear ratio, drag system, and durability when purchasing the Shimano Sedona spinning reel. The spinning reel offers a higher gear ratio for fast retrieval, a proprietary gear system to help fight larger fish, and durable construction for longevity. It’s the best ultralight spinning reel I’ve used for ice fishing.  

FEATURES: Shimano Sedona 2500 spinning reel stands out from its competition due to its lightweight construction. The HAGANE gear is durable and reliable, making the spinning reel ideal for targeting large ice fish species. A lightweight electric fishing reel is another option you can consider if you’re looking for the best electric fishing reels.


Best Performance

Pflueger President

Shimano Curado K

WHY WE LIKE IT: Pflueger President has been every angler’s dream due to its consistent and smooth drag pressure caused by the sealed drag system. The reel is ideally suited for harsh saltwater fishing. It’s also versatile for different fishing applications because of the braid-read spool and a lightweight graphite rotor and body. 

  • Model: PRESSP30X
  • Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Max Drag: 10 lbs.
  • Line Capacity (braid) (lbs/yds): 10/250, 14/180, 20/125
  • Line Capacity (mono) (lbs/yds): 6/220, 8/160, 10/120
  • Weight: 0.45 lbs.
  • Ball Bearings: 10+1



OVERVIEW: .Pflueger President stands out due to its high-quality construction and durability. The corrosion-resistant body and rotor make it ideal for freshwater and saltwater fishing. When deciding to purchase Pflueger President, it’s best to consider its versatility. The reel is suited for different fishing techniques, has an impressive line capacity, and is lightweight and of ample size. It’s the best spinning reel for ice fishing I’ve tested. 

FEATURES: Pflueger President is a great reel in its price range due to its smooth drag system, high line capacity, and lightweight design. The corrosion-resistant material makes it uniquely qualified for saltwater fishing. The durable construction allows for larger fish species. 


Best Smoothness

Abu Garcia Revo SX

Abu Garcia Revo SX

WHY WE LIKE IT: Abu Garcia Revo SX has exciting features like the AMGearing system that provide exceptional smoothness. It also makes fighting and catching fish easier, thanks to the Carbon Matrix drag system delivering reliable and consistent drag pressure. The lightweight construction is perfect for extended fishing sessions without experiencing fatigue. 

  • Model: 1365347
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Weight: 1 lbs.
  • Line Capacity (mono) (lbs/yds): 8/175
  • Line Capacity (braid) (lbs/yds): 10/180
  • Max Drag: 11 lbs.
  • Retrieve Rate: 30” per turn



OVERVIEW: We experimented and tried the Abu Garcia Revo SX reel ourselves, and our experience says that it is an exceptional fishing gear that provides a silky smooth and effortless casting experience. The HPCR stainless steel bearings provide a smooth reel casting and retrieving experience, making landing and fighting big fish species possible. The compact and lightweight design attracted us the most, allowing for extended fishing periods.

FEATURES: The Revo SX reel stands out from its competition by offering an outstanding balance of smoothness, durability, and strength balance. The corrosion-resistant construction, excellent drag system, and high-line capacity make it uniquely qualified for different fishing techniques. It’s also easy to use and perfect for novice and serious anglers. 

How To Pick The Right Ice Fishing Reel (Buyer's Guide)

An ice fishing reel is not a typical baitcasting reel. Here’s how you choose the best ice fishing reel.


The weight of a fishing reel is crucial and impacts your fishing experience. Always choose a lightweight spinning reel if you prefer a longer ice fishing trip. 

Ball Bearings

A spinning reel with more bearings means smooth operation, better durability, and less friction. However, you should focus on bearing quality than quantity, as high-quality bearings prevent the reel from jamming or sticking when casting or retrieving the line. 

Drag System

A drag system helps control the resistance after the fish has caught the bait. An efficient drag should handle large fish without breaking the line. The drag system material is equally important, with many preferring aluminum and carbon fiber. 

Reel Construction Material

Reel construction materials determine its durability and performance. Graphite, carbon fiber, and aluminum are the most commonly used construction materials. Graphite and carbon fiber materials are expensive and lightweight. Aluminum is affordable and corrosion-resistant. 

Consider Rod Size

There should be a balance when paring ice fishing reels and rods. Smaller reels pair well with shorter ice fishing rods. Larger reels pair well with longer rods. 

Gear Ratio

A gear ratio measures how fast a spool turns when you turn the handle. A higher gear ratio means the spool will turn many times faster. A lower gear ratio means the spool will turn fewer times and be slower. A gear ratio of 5:1 is considered optimal. 


Fishing reel handles are used to retrieve the line and fish. There are two common handles – knob and straight handles. The knob-style reel handle provides more leverage and grip, with the straight handles famous for comfort. 

Anti-Ice System

The anti-ice system is a feature in high-end fishing reels to prevent ice from building up around the line or reel. It comes in handy when fishing in lower-waters, where moisture and water can freeze around the reel. 


The anti-reverse function is common in many ice fishing reels to prevent the spool and handle from turning backwards when the fish pulls the line. The anti-reverse also prevents the lines from tangling, complicating the fishing experience. 

Spinning vs Inline Fishing Reels

Many anglers struggle to know the difference between spinning and inline reels. Here they are:

Spinning Reel PROS:

  • Spinning reels have an incredible casting distance. 
  • They’re easy to use, making them perfect for novice anglers.
  • They’re versatile for ice, saltwater, and freshwater fishing. 
  • Spinning reels are affordable compared to the competition.

Spinning Reel CONS:

  • Spinning reels are prone to line twists.
  • They can’t handle thick or heavy lines. 
  • They have a limited drag, making them unsuitable for targeting large fish species.
  • They have a low retrieval speed to target fast-moving fish.

Inline Reel PROS:

  • They’re not prone to line twists
  • Inline ice fishing reels are compact and lightweight
  • Inline reels have a quick retrieval 
  • An inline ice fishing reel is sensitive to slight movement and bites

Inline Reel CONS:

  • Inline reels are limited to ice fishing
  • An inline ice fishing reel has a limited line capacity
  • They require a bit of a learning curve to use
  • Inline reels are expensive compared to other reels.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ice fishing reels differ from other reels due to their higher gear ratio, allowing anglers to retrieve their catch from deep waters. The anti-freeze system helps to prevent the line from freezing. 

To rig an ice fishing reel, you need to follow these steps:

  • Attach the reel firmly to the rod.
  • Tie the line to the spool snugly to prevent tangles using an arbor knot.
  • Use a double uni knot or blood knot to add a leader to the end of the fishing line.
  • Use Trilene or Palorma knots to add a lure or bait to the leader or end of the line.
  • Adjust the drag to match the target fish. 

Using any reel for ice fishing is possible, but it may be less enjoyable and unproductive. You should have alternative measures to deal with freezing temperatures freezing the fishing lines since the reels lack anti-freeze capabilities. 

Here’s how you put a line on an ice fishing reel:

  • Thread the fishing lines through the guides, ensuring no line twist or tangles. 
  • Use an arbor knot to tie one end of the fishing line to the spool. 
  • Wind the line evenly around the spool using the taut.
  • Add a backing, which is optional, but prevents the line from slipping on the spool. It also increases the line capacity you can load on a spool. 
  • Cut the line and tie it to your preferred terminal tackle.