What is the Best Reel for Ice Fishing?

You’re in the market for the best ice fishing reel, but you’re unsure which brand to get. Do you go Tica? Sportsman’s Guide? Celsius? Eagle Claw? Or

The list is numerous, and it’s continually growing. You don’t want to get one that will break your bank, but also don’t want to buy one that will break if you tried to reel in a 1lb catfish.

You’re in luck, because we’ve got a buyers guide and three reviews to help get you started and pointed in the right direction to start reeling in those big fish.

Buyers guide

Reels are small, geared contraptions that can affect many factors in your fishing experience. There are several types of reels available, so we’ll focus on just spincast, spinning, and baitcasting for ice fishing.

Spincast reels are very simple and easy to use, with a closed face design. They are a great beginner reel, but are not as accurate and lose distance compared to other reels.

They usually have lower gear ratios, so they’re tougher to use with fish that need to be retrieved quickly.

Spinning reels have an open faced design, and work best with light to medium line.

They are very popular reels, and perform a wide variety of uses. They work well to bring in bluegills, crappies, perch, and walleyes.

Baitcasting reels are another good, widely flexible reel design. They are designed to be workhorses and handle heavier lures while fishing bass, pike, and muskie.

Baitcast reels are revered as being for experienced anglers, but can be tamed with time and patience.

The gear ratio of a reel is an important attribute. The gear ratio of a reel will determine the speed at which the reel will return the line as you turn the handle.

The higher the gear ratio, the higher the speed. A 6:1 will be quicker than a 4:1, for example

The drag system of a reel is a vital characteristic to look at when you’re on the hunting.

It’s purpose is to control the amount of tension placed on the line, and determines how the line responds when a fish bites and starts fighting.

It needs to be subtle enough to respond to light fighting fish, but tight enough to withstand a heavy fighting fish’s wrath and not snap.

1. Ming Yang Black CL60

 Ming Yang Black CL60

Made by the Ming Yang company, the Black CL60 baitcasting reel is a 3 ball-bearing design.

It has anodized aluminum side plates, a plated brass frame, and a gear ratio of 4.2:1.

The model offers several line capacities, such as 180 yard max of 14lb line, 250 yard max of 16lb line, and 210 yard max of 20 lb line.

The manufacturer also notes line capacities of 250 meters of 0.40mm line and 320 meters of 0.35mm line.

The Black CL60 offers a one-way clutch anti-reverse bearing, and features an selective on/off bait clicker. One Amazon reviewer notes the clicker is nice and loud.

Another Amazon reviewer remarks how well it holds up to big catfish and heavy braided line. Other Amazon reviewers say how satisfied they are with this reel.

The manufacturer also notes that the unit is equipped with a dual centrifugal and mechanical brake system for casting.

2. Celsius Blizzard Spinning Reel

Celsius Blizzard Spinning Reel

The Celsius Blizzard features 4 ball bearings, 1 more than the Ming Yang CL60. With infinite anti-reverse, this reel is designed for responsive tension and smooth casting.

The manufacturer notes it has an extended reel yoke for extra room if you were to wear gloves, which is excellent for ice anglers and a very important design feature.

Celsius also notes the aluminum spool as having an anti-freeze lubrication to keep the line flowing and returning smoothly in the cold.

One Amazon reviewer notes both the extended reel yoke and anti-freeze features both worked very well.

Celsius does not list line capacities for this model, but being a spinning reel it will work best with lighter pound lines.

This model is very light, weighing in at only 4.8 ounces.

3. Eagle Claw In-Line Ice Reel

Eagle Claw In-Line Ice Reel

The Eagle Claw in-line ice reel offers a smooth teflon drag system to provide a tight response to fish fighting.

The manufacturer notes a spool tension adjustment on this unit.

This model has a lower gear ratio than the Ming Yang and Celsius Blizzard, coming in at 2:6:1.

It’s important to note that this model is out-of-the-box be a left hand retrieve, but can be switched to a right hand retrieve, according to Eagle Claws website

One Amazon reviewer had several issues with the drag system while using 2 lb test, noting the drag is not very smooth.

Another Amazon reviewer felt it was a decent ice fishing reel, but removed half the handle to decrease the reel’s heaviness and more agile.

Although the manufacturer does not list the maximum line weight in the product description, one Amazon reviewer notes it as up to 4 pounds.

Whether you decide on the Celsius spincasting reel, the Eagle Claw In Line reel, or the Ming Yang baitcasting reel, each one offers unique characteristics for your preferred ice fishing needs.