The 11 Need to Have Items of Ice Fishing Gear

Hitting the Ice with the Tools for Success

Maximize the Pleasure of Ice Fishing

Is ice fishing gear different from fair weather fishing? While ice fishing can be a great way to get outdoors during the cold months, it’s important to realize how different it is from fair weather fishing. There are a few tools and pieces of gear that are essential for ice fishing. Here is a list of equipment you’ll need to take the guesswork out of preparing for your ice fishing adventure.

Appropriate Clothing

You’re going to be exposed to freezing and below freezing temperatures, so it’s extremely important to dress appropriately. Good, waterproof gloves are essential, and seasoned ice fishermen recommend base layers to prevent body heat from escaping. Make sure you bring a hat that protects your ears from the cold, preferably a waterproof style to shield from precipitation and wind.

Hand Warmers

These are the trick of the trade! Hand warmers are very affordable, and you can slip them into pockets or your boots. There are single-use, rechargeable, and pouch style hand warmers available. These will make your experience much more comfortable and help to ward off the danger of frostbite.

ice fishing gear

Ice Augur

You’ll have to punch through the ice somehow, and luckily there are augurs specifically designed for ice that will make this a simple task. There are mechanized or manual designs available, and there are pros and cons to each. Mechanized versions are more expensive and convenient, while manual augurs are more affordable and labor intensive.

Rod, Reel, and Line

Conventional rods, reels, and monofilament line are just fine for ice fishing. Seasoned ice anglers advise against rods longer than 6’ since they can be unwieldy on ice.

ice fishing gear for beginners

Live Bait

Experienced anglers recommend live minnows or meal worms for successful ice fishing. Make sure to stop by your local bait and tackle to stock up on the way to your fishing spot. If you don’t have a supply source nearby, or prefer to not work with live bait, there are lures and jigs made specifically for ice fishing.

Tip Up

A tip up is a handy device that holds your fishing line and signals when you have a bite. It spans the width of the drilled hole, has a trigger that attaches to your line, and a signaling flag. So, when a fish bites your line, the trigger releases the flag to pop up and signal that you have a fish on the line. Tip ups are convenient because they are hands-free, and you can cover more ice if you want to.

Rod Holder

A rod holder is essential for hands-free ice fishing. There are several different designs available that can screw into the ice, clamp onto a chair, balance on a frame, or are attached to a tip up.


A lot of experienced ice anglers use a bucket as a seat, since it doubles as a carrier for fish or gear. If you’d rather bring a more comfortable seat, folding chairs and stools are great choices.


Propane heaters are the convenient choice here, since they’re portable and versatile. They are available in a wide range of sizes and capabilities, depending on how much you want to spend. Small, single person heaters are very lightweight, affordable, and can make ice fishing a much more comfortable experience.

Safety Gear

Ice fishing can be dangerous, so it’s best to be prepared for a worst-case scenario. Keep ice picks on you at all times in case you do fall through the ice, as well as a life vest or flotation suit. There are jackets and bibs available that have built-in flotation devices and are designed to keep you warm during ice fishing. There are convenient safety kits available that are specifically for ice fishing that eliminate some of the guesswork.

ice fishing shelter


Using a sled to haul your gear will come in very handy and save trips. Your fishing gear, augur, tackle box, bait, and chair can all easily fit on a sled, with room for a portable heater and snacks.

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