I think we are all on the same page if I say that if you can’t get to the fish you can’t catch them?
If you are ice fishing, then you are going to need to get through the ice before you catch anything.
And for that you’ll need to have an ice auger. The best ice augers of 2020 come in different formats, but they’ll all get you through the ice and into the fish in no time.
I am going to look at some products and help you choose the right one for you.
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This electrically powered auger offers rock-solid performance and reliability. By the time you have depleted the battery, you’ll have more holes than you will ice.
What do I mean?
The manufacturer claims that for a single charge you’ll be able to chew a big hole through 16” of ice around 100 times.
Let’s do the math…
That’s 1600 inches of ice, or if you did it all in one go, 53 feet! There are parts of the world where that would put you beneath the earth’s crust! That’s one hell of a journey!
An ice augers efficiency isn’t just dictated by the power of its motor. You wouldn’t want to dig with a motor-powered spoon, would you? The blades and efficiency of the auger itself do quite a lot of legwork. Fortunately, the stainless steel Lazer blades make light work of even the densest ice.
Here’s the clever bit…
This auger has a reverse function, so once you are done cutting, flip the switch and it will pull the slush and ice out of the hole so you have a clear fishing space. Neat huh? This auger is feature-packed and is a really great solution.
How great? Well take a look at it here, it’ll take you two minutes.
I really like the ability to take ice out of my fishing hole at the flick of a switch.
The use you get from a two-hour charge is astounding.
The auger weighs around 25lb. This isn’t the lightest in our line-up.
For a high-quality electric ice auger that performs, this makes for a great choice.
For a no-nonsense and traditionally powered solution the Eskimo Quantum is ideal. It’s powerful. Really powerful. The 33cc two stroke engine will motor through anything that you put in its way.
The stainless-steel blades are custom engineered for durability, which you are going to need if you meet any small rocks, grit, or fauna on your journey through the ice. The steel handlebars are covered in a soft yet hardwearing foam. Which you are going to need. When this thing is in full swing, the vibration can be quite powerful (but it might get the blood back into your hands at least).
Is it reliable?
Starting gas engines in cold weather can sometimes be hard work, but Eskimo have thought of that. An easy to reach primer button gets your cylinders injected and ready to go before you pull the ripcord.
You won’t need a separate can of gas as the tank is transparent, giving you the ability to see if you need a quick top up before heading out onto the ice.
A heavy-duty ice auger. It will do the job, no if’s or buts.
I really like the Mitten grip pull start, you won’t have to take your gloves off to fire it up.
The noise and vibration are a good reason to consider other augers.
This is a solid performer overall. Eskimo are a quality brand who have 50 years in the game, so I trust them. If you really want a gas auger then this is one of the best there is.
If either reliability or weight saving is on your mind then go back to basics.
What do I mean?
I mean an auger that is absolutely fail-safe. It runs on a special kind of fuel called… Elbow grease. It’s entirely man made and 100% reliable. Otherwise known as the power of your arms.
Hand augers can take longer, but I actually really love using them.
Do you know why?
Because if I’ve been walking for half a mile across a frozen lake, I can get a little chilly. 5 minutes of cranking this thing round and I’m like an oven. This is a man’s solution, make no mistake.
The blades of this auger are powder-coated, reducing ice build-up, which will otherwise increase your effort level. The chunky rubber grips will give you a firm hold whether you are wearing gloves or being a real tough guy and going barehanded.
It’s portable, lightweight and pretty easy to use actually. The carbon steel blades are as effective as our previous suggestions in cutting the ice. It just takes a little longer. This is proof that if you choose the best manual ice auger, you can still get the job done without too much effort.
This is 100% failsafe. If you have the muscle and the will, you will always get a hole in the ice.
It is light enough to carry a long way.
Compared to a powered auger, it’s really hard work.
If you use it with bare hands, you will get a blister.
It’s a simple and effective solution. There’s no luxury involved, but then why would you expect there to be? It does the job. Period.
This auger is a budget offering that offers battery-powered ice cutting at a slightly lower price point. At 22lb it is a lot lighter than our previous offerings so might be handy if you are going to go a long way out onto the ice.
And the features?
The chunky handholds make the auger easy to grip and put a bit of force into when the going gets a little tough. The LED panel display tells you how much battery you have got left so you don’t need to worry about ‘running low on juice’ before you start your session.
This auger gives less vibration than gas-powered models, so the only thing making your hands numb will be the cold.
You’ll be able to cut an 8” hole with this little beauty.
Is that it?
No, not quite. If you take longer trips or are planning a bit of an expedition then you can consider the option of a larger battery. Obviously, this will add to the weight of the auger, but not significantly.
As electronic augers go, this one offers good value.
Relatively light weight design that should deal with most situations.
I’m not quite sure it’s as reliable as the Strike Master. For a budget solution, however, it is a good ice auger for the money.
This auger represents an affordable entry-level solution if you want something powered. It is quiet and will cut a hole in a short amount of time.
I’ve already shown you one quality auger from Eskimo. Well, here is another. Granted it will be a little more work, but with such good build quality, you should make light work of the ice.
What makes it good?
What, aside from 50 years of producing ice fishing augers? Well…
A pommel handle will ensure a consistent hole. Just put your leading hand on top, press down and wind until you break through. Going through thick ice can be a tedious and often difficult task with a hand auger. The twin stainless steel blades will stay sharp ensuring optimum ice cutting in the shortest possible time
Is it heavy?
No, not at all. The weight of the auger is just a fraction over 7lb. You can hang it from a backpack or sled, for easy transport as the handle is removable.
The blades stay sharp for a long time, so you don’t lose efficiency.
I liked the additional blade cover, keeping the cutting edge in top condition when I wasn’t using it.
The cross bolt system on the handle could potentially slip whilst drilling, and sometimes you do require a bit of force to make your way through the ice.
There’s only so much technology can go into a hand auger, and it’s more about build quality than anything. I’m pleased to say this is pretty well built.
Eskimo are that confident that they have produced two models of the F1 Rocket. The 8” and the 10” version. This auger is certainly eye-catching. It looks built for speed and is really easy to use.
What makes it easy?
The throttle is controlled with your fingertips so you can nail the ideal cutting speed without ever stopping work. The speed from the engine is transmitted directly to the cutting surface with an all-metal bearing, meaning no loss in power or ‘play’ in the blades.
It looks thin, is it?
You bet, but in a good way. The majority of the Rocket auger is made from durable and corrosion-resistant aluminum. Provided that you look after it. It should last you a good while.
And the best bit, it is super light. Weighing in at only 22lb.
The rocket auger shares some other key characteristics with Quantum. One thing you may notice is the presence of a muffler guard. When you burn fuel in an engine, it can become hot, very hot in fact. If you happen to touch the wrong spot, you can end up with a nasty burn. A muffler prevents this. And gives you a great place to warm your fishing gloves.
The Rocket weighs less than some electronic augers, that alone makes it worth the money.
It shares many features with the quantum series.
It is slightly cumbersome to carry.
For a powered auger that competes on weight with electronic equivalents, this could represent the best of both worlds. For the money possibly the best electric ice auger on our list!
Eye-catching good looks and lots of power. If you thought the performance of our other electrically powered ice auger was good. You need to check this out.
Remember when we did the math? Well, this heavy-duty auger will cut through 60 ft of ice on a single charge.
That’s a lot of ice!
And because you’ll be cutting through a lot, you’ll want to be as comfortable as possible. The ergonomic handlebar grips are positioned in such a way as to avoid arm strain. The augers 8” blades guarantee a nice smooth hole, which is vital for ensuring your line stays intact when you hook a fish.
This auger’s performance does come with a bit of a penalty. The strength of motor and length of battery life has resulted in a marginal increase in weight. But for the amount you gain, think it is worth it.
If you find that the ice is a bit thicker than you expected, you can utilize the included extension which will afford you another 15” of cutting power. Basically, there is no job too big or small for this workhorse.
The handlebar design is unique to the line-up and it really does make a difference.
The powerful brushless motor performs just as well as a gas-powered system.
The weight of the auger just a touch heavier than I would have liked, but with such power in your hands, you may have to make sacrifices.
Ok, so it’s a little heavier. But think of the energy you will save by not having to cut a hole by hand. As this auger is super-efficient, you’ll be in the water with your bait so much quicker.
How to Choose the Best Ice Auger (Buyers Guide)
If you have never bought an auger before or have struggled for years and are looking to make this right choice this time round, I’ve got the answers.
We’re going to look at the features that go into the best ice fishing auger.
Read on to learn all that you need to know…
Types of Ice Augers
Essentially, you are going to find three types of ice fishing auger. You’ll find examples of each in our product review above.
The simplest and most affordable solution is a hand auger. This is simply a large drill bit, with handles strategically placed so you can turn it and cut the ice. This can be time-consuming, but as I said in the review, they are foolproof and guaranteed to work every time.
Too hard? Well here’s a solution…
The other two types of auger are both powered, either by gas or battery. Both are easier to use as they cut through the ice quicker. However, they weigh significantly more and as a result may not be quite as portable.
Sounds good so, so apart from weight there are no downsides, right?
Actually, there is. Firstly, consider reliability. If you can’t get the auger started or it has run low on battery, you aren’t going to be able to fish. Fortunately, manufacturers aren’t in the habit of making augers that won’t work.
Secondly, there is the issue of noise and vibration, particularly with gas augers. If you are willing to tolerate those things for an easy life then go for it. I find that a nice middle ground is a battery-powered ice fishing auger.
Consider Hole Size
Depending on the species and your style of fishing you need a big enough hole to fish through. The smallest size you will need should be around 6”, and with our selection you’ll be able to cut up to 10” depending on your choice of auger.
Whilst we are talking holes…
A nice feature is the ability to clear the hole of slush and snow deposits. If you are able to reverse the direction of the auger you can use it to unwind any debris out of the hole at a touch of the button.
Look at Handle Size and Position
If you are using the auger a lot… (Hint. you will be) then you are going to want something that is easy on the arms and the hands. With a hand ice fishing auger, you are kind of limited. With the powered versions look for handles that are angled or covered in softer material in order to ensure that you get maximum comfort.
Padding isn’t too necessary if you are going to be wearing gloves, but you still want a grippy covering. If you are worried about grip, I’ve got some great suggestions for gloves that offer both grip and warmth over here, check it out.
Think About Weight
If you have a fishing sled, then weight might not be a big issue. A few lb.’s here or there isn’t going to make a difference.
If you prefer to be a bit speedy and mobile, go for an ice auger that weighs less.
An ideal compromise between power and weight is in the 22lb mark.
While We are on the Subject of Portability…
Try and find an auger that comes with blade guards or covers. It only takes one careless drop or bang and you have a chip in your blade.
What’s the big deal?
Whilst it doesn’t sound oh so serious, don’t forget an auger cuts using rotary motion. A chip or imperfection in the blade might just lead to a nice sharp ‘thread’ or ‘lip’ all the way around your ice holes, which will cut your line whenever you hook a fish.
This can be avoided, if you’ve decided to invest in the best ice fishing auger you can afford, then you’ll want to look after it. Why not check out this video showing you how to maintain your ice auger. These tips work for both powered and hand augers!
What size ice auger is best?
It isn’t always the case when fishing but, in this case, bigger is better. A bigger hole lets you fish without restriction, you don’t have to think about catching your line quite so much and it will allow you to fish for a variety of species.
You asked what size, so here’s the answer…
If in doubt, go for a 10” auger. You are probably going to need a powered auger to cut a hole that big, but once you see the difference you will probably find it hard to go back to smaller, hand-dug holes.
Do hand ice augers work?
Of course, they do! But full disclosure, they work better at certain times of the year.
Well because the ice thickness varies over the winter. For thinner ice a hand auger is quite a good tool. However, if you are anything like me you are going to be moving around looking for the fish.
That means cutting a new hole, often. With thicker ice this is going to take a lot longer, and those extra 15 minutes soon start adding up. Unless the ice is thinner (and I mean less than 12”) or you only want to drill one hole, powered will be the way to go.
How do you use a hand auger for ice fishing?
So you’ve had your heart set on being a true mountain man in the wild, and you arrive on the lake with your best hand ice auger…
You want to know how to use it right?
Don’t worry I’ve got you covered. To avoid you wasting energy and valuable fishing time here’s a really quick video on how to use a hand auger.
How do you make an ice fishing hole without an auger?
With difficulty. It can be done, but isn’t optimum. An axe or crowbar will work. It will also be counterproductive, as by the time you’ve made a big enough hole the fish will be scared witless.
Want to see how much hard work it is? Watch this video and you’ll be begging for a trusty hand auger.
Our recommendations are all pretty good and shouldn’t let you down. It truly does depend on how much you are going to be using it, how far you are going to travel and your style of fishing.
But if I had to commit…
I really liked the Eskimo rocket. It had plenty of cutting power and was packed with clever features which meant that I rarely had to take my gloves off, even when using it.
How far apart should ice fishing holes be?
You want a minimum distance of 4 feet. When fishing in open water, if you tangle lines with a fellow angler you just both reel in and sort it out on the bank. With ice fishing, well, you’ve got an ice sheet in your way. To avoid snags and tangles, keep a decent distance apart. A more optimum distance will be 6 feet. If you can afford to spread out do so.
I know there may be a temptation if your buddy is catching, to try and ‘muscle in’ on a spot that works. However, by being smart you might actually find a better area.
Regardless of what you choose, it pays to remember your end goal. You aren’t there to drill holes all day. You are there to catch fish.
Any on my list of the best ice augers in 2020 will all enable you to do that with ease… It just depends on what your definition of ‘easy’ is? Have you had a good or bad experience with an ice auger? Or want to share a top tip. Put it in the comments below and I’ll add it to the list.