Ice Fishing Gear List for Beginners

a woman carrying all her ice fishing gear out to her spot

Even in the winter months, put your fishing license to use by learning how to ice fish. Like nearly all hobbies, it’s best to go ice fishing with an experienced angler a few times or spend time speaking with a SCHEELS Ice Fishing Expert to learn all the safety guidelines. Once you’re ready to build up your ice fishing collection, use our ice fishing gear list to help you get started.

1. Ice Rod & Reel Combo

a ice rod and reel inline combo being held by fisherman

An ice rod and reel combo is a great starting point for a beginner ice angler because the rod and reel are sold together. It’s important to know that an ice rod is smaller than a typical fishing rod because you don’t need to cast, and the shorter length makes it easier to maneuver inside the shelter. 

There are two types of ice combos to choose from—inline and spinning. We recommend a spinning combo for beginner anglers because it’s easier to use, less expensive, and has the ability to quickly switch from left to right hand.

Our Expert Explains: What Is Tip-up Fishing?

mike an ice fishing expert holding a fish

You’ve likely seen anglers using tip-ups when out ice fishing. Tip-up fishing allows anglers to have more lines going at one time across a larger area. Doing so helps them understand the mood of the fish and the best strategy for the day. Once beginner anglers get more comfortable on the ice, this is another great strategy to try out. 

2. Ice Line, Tackle & Bait

Without ice line, tackle, and bait, your new ice combo won’t get much use. Monofilament ice line is one of the most popular types of ice fishing line for beginner and experienced anglers alike; however, with four main types available, it’s important to understand what the best ice fishing line is for your technique and target species. 

When it comes to using tackle and bait, trial and error is the way many anglers learn what works. Mike, an Ice Fishing Expert, explains some of his best beginner ice fishing setups.

3. Ice Auger

a man drilling a hole with an ice auger

An ice auger is one of the more expensive items on our ice fishing gear list, but it’s also a necessity as you can’t always count on open holes. Typically, beginners start with a hand-powered ice auger as they are the most affordable type of ice auger.

4. Ice Fishing Clothing & Footwear

Before going ice fishing, remember the golden rule of dressing for winter weather: You can always take layers off but you cannot put layers on that you don’t have with you. 

Here’s how one of our experts layers for a day on the ice:

  1. Baselayer: The first layer you’ll want to wear is a baselayer top and bottoms. When choosing a base layer, find a layer that’s marked as a midweight or heavyweight.
  2. Midlayer: The next layer will be a fleece jacket or sweatshirt and a pair of sweatpants to help offer a layer of insulation.
  3. Outerlayer: The final layer is designed not only to provide warmth but also protection from the wind and other elements. An ice fishing jacket and ice fishing bibs are ideal because there are plenty of pockets for easy-to-access storage as well as flotation technology for safety.
  4. Ice Fishing Boots: When looking for a pair of ice fishing boots, be sure to pay attention to the amount of insulation and outsole traction. We recommend wearing boots with at least 400 grams of insulation to keep your feet warm when stationary.
  5. Warm Socks: An often forgotten but critical part of your layering system is a good pair of ice fishing socks. It’s best to look for socks with Merino wool to help wick away moisture to keep your feet dry and warm.
  6. Cold Weather Accessories: Don’t forget your hat and mittens when going ice fishing. These are a must-have when walking out to your favorite spot and setting up your shelter.

5. Ice Shelter

two kids fishing in an ice house

Some anglers decide to forgo a shelter and spend their day outdoors on a fold-up ice fishing chair or padded bucket, while others prefer to set up an ice shelter for greater comfort and protection from the cold. If you are fishing in extremely cold weather, you may need to have a portable heater on hand too. After a few outings, you’ll get the feel of which way you prefer. If you’re going to invest in a shelter, it’s important to choose an ice shelter that matches your ice fishing strategy, whether it be a hub or flip-over style.

6. Ice Skimmer & 5-Gallon Bucket

An ice skimmer and a five-gallon bucket are simple items that will make your time on the ice easier. You’ll want an ice skimmer to remove slush from your hole after drilling and a five-gallon bucket to keep your fish fresh, use as a seat, or to even carry your small ice fishing essentials.

7. Ice Fishing Electronics

a man looking at his ice fishing fish finder

When ice fishing, you’ll see two different types of fish finders used—flashers and digital locators. A fish finder for ice fishing isn’t a must-have for beginner anglers, but if you’re with a more experienced angler, seeing how one works and learning the systems is a great idea as you’ll find out which type of ice fishing finder you enjoy using more. 

8. Travel Mug & Snacks

Although last on our ice fishing gear list, adding a travel mug and some snacks to your haul is just as important as remembering the ice rod. Having a good variety of snacks keeps you on the ice longer and enjoying a hot beverage will keep you warmer. 

With our ice fishing gear list, you’ll be set for the season ahead. If you have additional questions about ice fishing, stop into your local SCHEELS to speak with an Expert today!