Best ice fishing reel- an expert’s guide & the ultimate 2019

With the growth in popularity of ice fishing in the past few years, there has been the production of some of the most innovative ice fishing gear exclusively for ice fishing. As a matter of fact, it’s now much easier for you to get your hands on some really good ice fishing equipment which wasn’t the case just a few years ago.

Before you choose one, you’ll want to look at various aspects such as sensitivity and weight among other things which is exactly where we’re here today.

We intend to ensure that you get the most from your ice fishing experience by reviewing 7 of the best ice fishing reels guaranteed to give you a huge kick for your buck. We’ll be backing this up with an in-depth buying guide as well that’ll definitely come in handy.

Let’s cut to the chase and get started already, shall we?

Top 3 of 7 ice fishing reels: Comparison table

Wouldn’t like to read all the way to the end to find what you need? We got you covered; below is a comparison chart of the best of the best that’s just as good as our reviews.


Product Name

Bearing count


Product link

Okuma Ceymar Spinning ReelOkuma Ceymar Spinning Reel

Okuma Ceymar Lightweight Spinning Reel

7Ball Bearings +1Roller Bearing

Eagle Claw In Line Ice Reel

4+1 bearing

Pflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning Reel

5 bearings

How did we pick out the best?

Since your utmost satisfaction is our #1 priority, we did our research pretty well before coming up with our reviews and buying guide. From contacting some of the most reputed brands in the manufacture of ice fishing reels to reaching out to first-hand users in the field, we were able to put together our list of the best ice fishing reels you could get your hands on in 2019. From their experience over the past years and internet research, our team of experts was able to collect the facts as far as ice fishing reels are concerned hence giving you a detailed buying geode that’s just as good for beginners as it is for experts.

The 7 best-reviewed ice fishing reels in 2019

Well, here’s what we came for, it’s about time we take a look at the best ice fishing reels in 2019. The best brands, the most durable and the best performing ice fishing reels just for you. Let’s get started right away, shall we?

1. Okuma Ceymar Lightweight Spinning Reel 

Okuma Ceymar Spinning ReelOkuma Ceymar Spinning Reel

Available in 5 different variations, this spinning reel from Okuma is just what every angler needs to have the best time this coming ice fishing season. Let's commence our reviews with this bad boy, shall we?

A smooth drag system

This is a multi-disc, oil felt drag system that has got a maximum drag pressure of 5 lbs. with this, the line will slip slowly out of the spool rather than breaking under the pressure. You’ll want to keep the drag just tight enough to prevent the fish from throwing away the hook or the line from snapping.

7 ball bearings + 1 roller bearing for a smooth operation

In order to give you a smooth operation, there’s a total of 7 ball bearings on this ice fishing reel which ensure that you get a smooth operation with each turn of the handle.

There’s also a roller bearing present with a quick set anti-reverse for ultimate reliability

A machined aluminum, 2-tone anodized spool

For the sake of durability, the spool is dual tone and made of machined aluminum. This is both lightweight and durable which is just want you to need to have the best time out in the ice.

But that’s not all…this bad boy also does have a precision cut brass pinion gear and a corrosion-resistant blade body for durability.

  • 7BB + 1 roller bearing for ultimate smoothness.
  • A quick set anti-reverse handle
  • Includes a multi-disc and oil felted drag system
  • You might want to grease it up a bit to reinforce its smooth operation

2. Eagle Claw In-Line Ice Reel, Black/Red

Eagle Claw In Line Ice ReelEagle Claw In Line Ice Reel

In addition to the ravishing aesthetics that you get to have with this bad boy out in the ice, the performance is definitely worth appraisal. From the drag to the reel body construction, you won’t be disappointed.

Here’s what you’ll be paying for.

A free spool release button

This is one of the most striking features of this bad boy. The fact that it comes with a spool release button allows you to have complete control. With this feature, you can let the line reel out at will. This could also allow you to let out the line to a specific depth if you’re targeting a specific species of fish

Smooth Teflon drag

The drag system, being one of the best is a smooth Teflon mechanism. This makes reeling in the line quite smooth and comfortable. As a matter of fact, it’s guaranteed to give you quite an easy time no matter how tough the struggle is

A nylon body and aluminum for the spool

For the sake of durability, the body is constructed from nylon and aluminum. The nylon is lightweight and will go easy on your wrist and forearm as far as fatigue is concerned. The aluminum, on the other hand, is lightweight and durable.

There’s more…

The aluminum is also anodized which prevents corrosion hence increasing the longevity of the reel

Reduced line twists

Being an inline ice fishing reel, it’s important that you don’t encounter any line twists which is catered for with the Eagle Claw. This saves you from any inconveniences you could encounter if this occurred

  • A smooth Teflon drag system
  • There’s a spool release button
  • A nylon & aluminum body construction
  • Though it’s not much of a big deal, the color appears to be more of pink-black instead of red-black

3. Eagle Claw In-Line Ice Reel

Eagle Claw In Line Ice ReelEagle Claw In Line Ice Reel

Yet another one from Eagle claw is an in-line ice fishing reel that’s going to go easy on you as far as the price is concerned.

Here’s what makes it worthy of our reviews

Nylon body, aluminum handle and spool construction

Most importantly, an ice fishing reel should have a long-lasting build. In the case of this one, the handle has got aluminum which will definitely last a while. In addition to this, the fact that its aluminum means that it's corrosion-resistant and quite light. The rest of the body is made of nylon that is durable and lightweight as well.

A spool tension adjustment

With the spool having an adjustable tension, you can have the friction set as you prefer depending on the type of jigs or lures you’re using

4+1 ball bearing count

As for the bearing count, it’s not really the highest one could get on a fishing real but definitely bound to give you a decent performance as far as ice fishing is concerned. Reeling in your catch won’t be a problem whatsoever

  • There’s a free spool release button
  • Includes a spool tension adjustment
  • Durable build quality
  • Its only made for left-hand retrieve

4. Abu Garcia ICEMAX 4842-1331 Ice MAX Spinning

Abu Garcia ICEMAX 4842-1331 Ice MAX Spinning Fishing ReelAbu Garcia ICEMAX 4842-1331 Ice MAX Spinning Fishing Reel

Renowned for having some of the best-performing fishing reels, Abu Garcia gives you yet another outstanding product exclusively meant for ice fishing. Have a look below at what the Abu Garcia ICEMAX 4842-1331 packs under the hood.

Both left handed & right handed

Most ice fishermen will definitely appreciate this feature. By being able to use it left handed or right handed, you can use switch your dominant hand without having to do mechanical adjustments. You could use it interchangeably, you can switch hands to minimize fatigue.

3+1 Ball bearing count

The bearing count is quite decent for a lot of fish species. Provided you observe the 100/4lbs line pound recommendation, it’s going to be worth every penny.

Foldable design

Despite being able to switch the handle, you can fold it up just by the push of a button which is so convenient as compared to other reels that require you to take apart the whole fishing reel.

  • The handle is foldable simply by just the push of a button
  • 3+1 high performance and durable bearings
  • Can be used both left handed and right handed
  • The back switch is a little weak and you may want to go slow on it.

5. Pflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning Reel

Pflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning ReelPflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning Reel

Looking for something to take you through each day of this ice fishing season without having to break the bank for it, well, this is definitely it. Let’s find out what the Pflueger MONICEB Monarch has in store for us, shall we?

A durable ball bearing system

I couldn’t emphasize enough on how keen one should be on the ball bearings. These play quite a huge role in ensuring that you get a smooth experience each time you reel in your catch Afterall, right?

You’ll be getting an amazing 5 ball bearings each of which is made of steel and to add icing to the cake is corrosion resistant- this means you don’t get any rusting or quality deterioration whatsoever regardless fo the waters you’re fishing in.

Durable reel construction

The durability of the ball bearings is complimented by a perfectly constructed graphite body which is also the case for the rotor.

This is also durable for use out in the ice and more so lightweight which makes this just one of the best reels you could get your hands on.The bail, on the other hand, is made of aluminum is also just as durable as the rest of the reel an

  • Includes 5 corrosion-resistant ball bearings
  • Lightweight graphite and rotor construction
  • A thick aluminum bail wire for durability and prevention of mist-shaping.
  • Though smooth, it lacks an anti-reverse feature.

6. Goture Small Spinning Fishing Reel

Pflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning ReelPflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning Reel

If you’re liking for an all-season ice fishing reel that will go easy on you as far as the price is concerned, this is definitely bound to do the trick and what’s even better is that it does come in a rather compact size.

Do take a closer look at what it’s got…

3+1 ball bearing count

Included in the reel are 3 super smooth ball bearings and in addition to this a single one-way clutch roller bearing. With the 4 of these, there’s really no better way to get a smooth operation

Left & right hand exchangeable

Being one of the features that most manufacturers tend to overlook, the interchangeable handle will be quite convenient. All you’ll have to do is unscrew the nut holding the handle in place, screw it on the desired side and that’s pretty much it, you’re good to go.

Still, at the handle, it is collapsible as well with a rubber knob which makes it easy to store away once you’re done fishing.

Compact design

Now here’s something that you won’t enjoy with just any other ice fishing reel. The design is compact and more so pocket-size portable. This could work perfectly well for entry-level handlers since coupled up with other features such as a switchable handle, make it amazingly easy to use.

Durable construction

The spool is made from high tensile aluminum, the handle a CNC alloy, the body and rotor are made of hollow zinc, the bail wire aluminum and the main shaft is reinforced with steel.

  • 3+1 ball bearing count for super smooth operation
  • Exchangeable and collapsible handle for flexibility and portability.
  • Palm-sized design and durable build quality
  • You might want to grease everything to have the drag working perfectly well

7. Domybest Baitcasting Reel

Pflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning ReelPflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning Reel

Just as the name suggests, this ice fishing reel does have the best interest of the fisherman in mind. Yes, it’s got amazing aesthetics but there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Let’s find out whether it’s the best ice fishing reel for you, shall we?

Release adjustment

With this bait casting reel, you get a release bottom which allows for the smooth adjustment of the release force. Considering it is going to depend on the weight of the lure to release the line, the release button makes this reel quite a reliable option since you can let it down slow just as you desire.

A 10-ball bearing count

For the ball bearings, I’d say this baitcasting reel is quite a huge bargain and definitely worth having this ice fishing season.

With as much as 10 of these, the performance will be amazingly smooth. They are also built to last in the ice fishing environment so you don’t need to worry about their longevity

Durable and sturdy construction

This baitcasting reel features corrosion resistance, a metal thickening design and the use of aviation-grade materials as well as surface treatment process which enhances its intensity.

  • Release button for smooth adjustment of the release force.
  • Durable material construction
  • 10 ball bearings for a smooth performance.
  • The handle is made of wood and may feel too small

Getting the best ice fishing reel- what to look for

With a lot of brands now in the ice fishing reel market and considering there’s obviously a loot that you’ll need to look into so as to get the best, it’s important that you know exactly what to look at so as to get it right.

Well, we’ve got you covered on this. Here’s all you’ll need to consider.

Which type of reel should you go for?

How you cast your reel while out in the ice greatly determines the kind of results that you get from your ice fishing. Normally, the best ice fishing reels will offer you either of two options.

The first is a baitcasting reel. With this one, the reel simply uses the weight of your bait in order to pull the line deeper in the waters. This could be a really viable option for you if you’re targeting the larger fish which would demand that you use heavier than average bait.

For the spinning reels, the bait in use is smaller and it’s best usable for targeting fish that thrive in shallow waters. Spinning reels normally work with the anti-reverse setup. This basically ensures that your line always remains in place if you strike a catch.

An anti-reverse feature

More on the anti-reverse, this is a feature that you’ll really need especially in ice fishing. With the anti-reverse feature, the handle will not spin backward only when you want to reel it in on your own.

The anti-reverse feature should be strong enough for both baitcasting and spinning reels since it prevents your reel from coming apart or seeming too difficult for you to use.

The material construction

Ice fishing is unlike any other fishing seasons and with this year’s ice fishing season and the rest to come, you’ll definitely be needing a specially-designed ice fishing reel.

You'll most likely not want to be restricted to one ice fishing ground hence you'll need to have a fishing reel that is rust, corrosion and abrasion resistant. Most importantly, you should only go for the fishing reels that have an anti-freeze system on the spool. It is also important that you go for a fishing reel that is light enough too- you the last thing you want is being forced to put up with too much weight.

The design of the handle

As far as the handle is concerned, it’s all about going for something that gives you the most control. The first feature that I'd recommend you look into is whether or not you can switch the handle from left to right. You'll be stuck on one spot and might take a time before you strike a catch which may result in wrist and forearm fatigue hence being able to switch the dominant hand is quite handy.

The protrusion of the handle from the reel should also be long enough to give you a firm hold. In addition to this, it should be thick enough as well which ensure that it is easy to grip even if you have gloves on

The spool design

The spool is majorly responsible for handling the line on the ice fishing reel and these are normally measured with regard to the amount of weight that it can be able to handle at a time.

The number of pounds is basically the amount of weight that a spool can take and if you have a larger spool, then you’ll want it to have a high total and vice versa. When venturing deep waters during ice fishing, the pressure in the area might be too much and you’ll need a spool that’ll be able to take on a lot of weight without giving in.

Also, if the spool does not have an anti-freeze coating out of the box, you might be needed to add some lubricant to it manually in order to increase its longevity and keep its performance optimal

The gear ratio

Finally, one more thing that you should definitely not overlook is the gear ratio. This is basically the number of turns the spool makes with one turn of the handle.

Depending on the type of fish you’re targeting, you may or may not require a high gear ratio. Large fish, for instance, call for you to go for a reel with a small (but not too small) gear ratio for you to have a stable hand while reeling it in. on the contrary, smaller species would be well handled with a reel that’s got a high gear ratio.

Conclusion- the final word

There are obviously innumerable features that you’ll need to consider while searching for the best ice fishing reels, right? I’m pretty sure that you’ve got a clear perception now of all the things that define the best ice fishing reel and even better, you have the best of the best simply a click away.

So, here’s what you should do…

Depending on your needs and what you intend to get from your fishing expedition, you should know exactly which ice fishing reel to pick out. Either of the ones we’ve reviewed above should work perfectly well. Most importantly, take your time while shopping for one to ensure that you only get the best.

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