Choosing a great line is essential. Along with your rod and reel, it forms one of the key pillars of your fishing setup. And, if you are ice fishing, it is going to need to be something special.
Ice fishing is rugged and demanding on all of your gear, line included! But I’ve got loads of great advice to help you pick something perfect.
I want to show you some of the best ice fishing lines in 2021. I’ll also talk you through the features you should be looking for.
Let’s dive right in.
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Table of Contents
- Ice Fishing Lines at a Glance – Quick Guide
- What are the Best Ice Fishing Lines? 6 Lines Reviewed
- How to Choose the Right Ice Fishing Line – Buyers Guide
Ice Fishing Lines at a Glance – Quick Guide
Pushed for time?
I get it. Here’s the quick guide to what you need in a good quality ice fishing line, think “highs and lows”:
- Low visibility.
- Low memory.
- Low cost.
- High abrasion resistance.
- High knot strength.
Provided you follow the above general rules, you should be in a really good place to pick a great line for ice fishing. Make sure you add it to your ice fishing gear list.
What are the Best Ice Fishing Lines? 6 Lines Reviewed
How to Choose the Right Ice Fishing Line – Buyers Guide
Looking to choose the very best ice fishing line you can?
Don’t worry, I get it. Here are all the things I consider when I’m choosing which ice fishing line to buy.
You could have the best line with the strongest knots, the best stretch, and excellent abrasion resistance.
If you never hook a fish, then all of the above is absolutely useless. Pick a line that doesn’t match the conditions, and you are going to struggle.
Here’s my advice when it comes to visibility. Choose an ice fishing line that is as low profile as possible. Fluoro is always a good choice, but if you don’t get on with it, consider looking at line technology that hides or disguises the line.
Colors matching the environment are always good, so blues and greens. Failing that, try reds and pinks. They actually turn invisible as the water filters out the red wavelengths of the light.
Also, consider when you are going to be fishing. If you enjoy fishing at night on the ice, you will need to choose a line that you can see.
If you don’t know what memory is in fishing line, allow me to explain.
If a line is left in a shape for an extended time (or in harsh temperatures), it will ‘remember’ that shape. We call this phenomenon ‘memory’.
Pigtails aren’t something you want to be fishing with. It spoils bait presentation, reduces bite sensitivity, and makes a tangle much more likely.
How do you guard against it?
Pick a line with low memory qualities. All of the suggestions above offer a large degree of anti-memory design.
Line stretch is a very personal thing.
I love a nice zero-stretch braid. It literally transmits every nibble and bump straight to your (cold) fingertips. This is something you are going to need when ice fishing. If you wear some nice warm thick gloves, you’ll find that these can mask the subtle clues you have got a bite.
In my opinion, the less stretchy the line, the better. Fluoro and braid both offer a degree of stiffness, meaning that they are great for bite detection.
They can both be a nuisance when it comes to knots, so if you are a beginner, go for a nice mono first and work your way up.
Oh, and before I forget.
If you are fishing using a tip-up, then it makes sense to go for a non-stretchy line. This way, you’ll immediately be alerted to ad fish biting as soon as it takes the bait, reducing the delay between the fish being hooked and you getting to your tip-up.
Never fished with a tip-up before? It isn’t for everyone, but some guys love them. Take a look here and see what an ice fishing tip-up is all about.
Knot Holding and Handling
Speaking of knots, listen up.
For the best knot strength, mono is the way forward. This is even more important in cold conditions where line tends to become more brittle. This also makes it the ideal line choice for fish that strike and pull hard, such as lake trout and perch.
If you choose braid, your standard knots just aren’t going to work. You’ll need to learn a few new ones.
Don’t worry, folks, I’ve got you covered. Check out this video for everything you need to know about tying knots in braid.
If you’ve gone to town with a heavy-duty ice chisel, then there is a good chance that your ice hole has a few jagged edges.
Do you know what two things don’t go well together?
Icy jagged edges and fishing line!
But here’s the answer.
Choose the best abrasion-resistant ice fishing line you can lay your hands on. This is where fluorocarbon really comes into its own! It will slip and slide along any surface easily. While it might be slightly more expensive in the short term, it means you’ll have to replace it less in the long term, so it might actually offer up a significant saving.
Braid doesn’t fare quite as well, so after each session, be sure to inspect your line to make sure that it isn’t wearing through.
Let’s face it.
The main thing that motivates us all is cost.
Most ice fishing lines seem relatively cheap, but when you consider that a single spool can cost as much as a whole spool of a regular fishing line, you will want to get as good a value as possible.
I try and find a large spool where I can. Not only does it allow me to spool more reels with a single pack, but it also allows me to fish consistently with the same line on each reel.
Still, got questions?
Don’t we all!
Here are the things I always get asked about ice fishing lines:
Does ice fishing line make a difference?
Don’t get me wrong, you might catch using regular lines, but it will lack all of those great qualities discussed above.
Ice fishing line will allow you to fish memory and tangle-free. It will also give better bait presentation and bite detection.
When faced with these facts, why wouldn’t you choose an ice fishing line? It isn’t particularly expensive either and is made for your exact type of fishing.
Give it a go. You won’t regret it.
What are the pros and cons of Fluoro, Braided, and Mono line for ice fishing?
Ah! The endless debate. As to which is best, I’ll leave you to decide, but here is a really quick at a glance chart showing you the typical qualities of each type of line:
|Stretch||Very Stretchy||Medium Stretch||No Stretch|
|Knot Holding||Strong||Less Strong||Strong|
|Memory||Prone to memory||Good||No memory|
Does line color matter for ice fishing?
Line color does matter when ice fishing, but perhaps not as much as you’d think.
Well, by its very nature, ice fishing takes place in lower light conditions.
Don’t forget, even on the brightest days, you’ve got a thick layer of ice covering the water’s upper surface, meaning it is pretty dark down there.
Don’t let brightly colored lines put you off. As the line sinks, certain light wavelengths are filtered out, meaning the line naturally blends into the background color.
Here’s a quick video demonstrating this principle:
There is an obvious solution if you still don’t have confidence that the fish can’t see your line.
Pick a clear fluorocarbon. It is utterly invisible!
What size line do you use for ice fishing
The size of line you use depends on a couple of things.
First, you need to consider the size of fish that you are hoping to catch. When ice fishing for larger fish, you are well-advised to go for a thicker line. As a general rule of thumb, I like to choose at least double the poundage of the heaviest fish I can expect to catch.
When ice fishing for lake trout expected to be around 3lb, I’ll opt for a minimum 6lb line.
You don’t gain as much suspension as when you’d use a bigger rod.
This all depends on the venue and how deep you need to fish when it comes to line length. I find that 25 yards are plenty for ice fishing.
You don’t need to cast. You are standing right on top of the fish! And it is doubtful you are going to be fishing in 75ft of water.
When looking for an ice fishing line, the optimal for me is to try and find a 75-yard spool. This lets me kit out two reels and gives me a little spare if I suffer a breakage.
What is the best ice fishing line?
For the money, I’d say the best ice fishing line would be something like the Berkley FireLine Micro Ice Fishing Line. It offers low stretch, low visibility, and all of the great features that I discussed above.
If you don’t like the look of the Berkley, Sufix is a really well-known ice fishing brand, and their lines are also really great quality (although they tend to be a little more pricy).
While both of the above brands are superb, provided you stick to my buying guide above, I’m certain you’ll be able to find something that is really great.
Ice fishing line can be a tricky purchase. Not only does it need to tick all the boxes when it comes to hooking and holding fish, but it also has to contend with the hostile environment presented when ice fishing. All of my suggestions above are great examples of the best ice fishing lines of 2021, and you will catch using any of them.