The 5 Best Ice Fishing Reels – [2021 Reviews]

Use a quality reel to improve your odds of success, we look at this year's top ice fishing reels

Our Editors independently research, test, and rate what we feel are the best products. We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

Having the best ice fishing reel will improve your chances for success while out at the pond or lake.

While having quality line that can handle cold conditions and pressure is essential, you must a quality reel to go along with it. A reel must give you control over the line while being able to hold up to freezing weather.

There are many options to consider when looking for an ice fishing reel. Here are some great reels for you to consider with each having its own advantages and features.

Best Ice Fishing Reels

 13 Fishing Black Betty Fishing ReelHimenlens Ice Fishing ReelPflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning Reel
editors choice
Type of Reel:BaitcastingRaft WheelSpinning
Ball Bearings:8+12+2+1 4+1
Features:Carbon drag system made from with CNC machined aluminum Smooth drag system with CNC machined aluminum spoolGraphite body and rotor with aluminum bail

For more of my ice fishing gear recommendations, have a look through these popular Outside Pursuits guide links: Ice Fishing Shelters, Ice Fishing Augers and Ice Fishing Boots.

Quick Answer: The 5 Best Rated Ice Fishing Reels For 2021

  1. 13 Fishing Black Betty Fishing Reels
  2. Eagle Claw In Line Ice Reel
  3. Pflueger MONICEB Monarch Ice Spinning Reel
  4. Himelens Ice Fishing Raft Wheel 4+1
  5. Himelens Mini Ice Fishing Reel

Our reviews of the top rated ice fishing reels with our buyers guide will help you choose the right one for you.

Ice Fishing Reel Reviews

13 Fishing Black Betty Fishing Reels

13 Fishing Black Betty at a Glance:

  • Shallow spool secures line quickly
  • Ergonomic handle fits on either hand
  • Steel body resists corrosion
  • Lasts in both freshwater and saltwater surfaces

13 Fishing makes this ice fishing reel as a lightweight 7-ounce model designed with ice fishing in mind. It offers eight stainless steel ball bearings plus a roller bearing with an instant anti-reverse setting.

The carbon fiber drag washers inside the drag system produce a smooth layout. The washers keep the drag pressure in check, so you have more control over your catch.

The S-curve slider system creates an even layout that allows pressure to move out evenly without any impacts on how well the line is cast.

The Black Betty is a solid reel made from CNC machined aluminum that allows anglers to use a pencil grip. With a good combination of quality, performance and value, the 13 Fishing is the best ice fishing reel.

Eagle Claw In Line Ice Reel at a Glance:

  • Simple line insertion feature keeps tangling from developing
  • Nylon body fits both right and left handed users
  • Smooth drag system lets line come out quickly

The nylon body with carbon fiber look of this Eagle Claw reel creates a gripping appearance. The nylon spool can handle more line at a time. An alloy grip runs alongside a series of stainless steel bearings.

A 2+2+1 layout for the bearings produces a smooth layout with an automatic stopping and reverse feature. All parts are fully secured by the detailed body with a powerful cover all the way through.

Two sets of brake pads come with the reel. The pads stop the reel before it can move too far and create enough abrasion without wearing out the line.

The lightweight design gives you a secure body on your reel that does not add too much pressure and offers a comfortable layout all the way through.

Pflueger MONICEB Monarch at a Glance:

  • Extended handle offers a comfortable grip on either hand
  • Secure body attaches well on to your rod
  • Bearings are fully secured and require little maintenance
  • Easy to use line insertion system prevents tangles and other commonplace issues

Pflueger made this next ice spinning reel with a 5-bearing system. The stainless steel bearings resist corrosion and are perfectly sealed inside the reel to allow a smooth layout. The bearings mix well with the graphite body. The graphite body keeps the weight down to 11 ounces.

The aluminum bail offers a rigid wire to keep misting from developing. The aluminum wire surface especially creates a strong layout that supports even the coldest temperatures.

Himelens Ice Fishing Raft Wheel 4+1 at a Glance:

  • Resists water
  • Aluminum drag and handle creates a smooth layout
  • Weighs around three ounces at its largest size
  • Easy to install onto your rod

Himelens made this ice fishing reel as a more simplified model. The dynamic gold-plated body supports a 4+1 ball bearing system. The one-way clutch offers an easy to follow control system that is easy to use.

The alloy grip supports two sets of brake pads while the anti-reverse setup keeps the line under careful control.

You can find this model in three different sizes. The S-70 is the largest and best option for ice fishing. It supports 110-yards 16-lbs lines.

Himelens Mini Ice Fishing Reel at a Glance:

  • Available in separate setups for left and right handed users
  • Offers three sizes with the largest supporting a 135-yard 16-lbs test line
  • Reduces the line twist produced
  • Basic line layout has a simplified arrangement for securing line

This fifth option among the best ice fishing reels is smaller in size as it has a 1:1 gear ratio and a 1+1 stainless steel ball bearing system. It offers a metal body and alloy grip while keeping the drag system smooth and easy to follow.

The aluminum drag and handle provides you with a smooth layout. The metal body keeps the reel light in weight as it is only 1.73 ounces in size at its heaviest.

How to Choose the Best Ice Fishing Reel For You – Buyers Guide

You have plenty of options to choose from when finding the best ice fishing reels for your requirements. But when finding such reels, you have to take a look at several key points as you find a great model.

Best Ice Fishing Reels

How Do You Cast?

Ice fishing reels come as spinning or baitcasting reels. A baitcasting reel uses the weight of your bait to pull on your line and spool. Such options are best for when you’re aiming to catch larger fish and you require stronger or heavier bait.

A spinning reel works with smaller bait in mind and uses an anti-reverse setup. The layout ensures that your line will not spool off of your reel if you catch a bite.

Ball Bearings

The ball bearings in your ice fishing reel secure inside its main body. Such bearings support a smooth glide within your reel. This keeps the line stable and capable of moving out well. A reel operates smoother if it has more ball bearings.

Stainless steel bearings are best for being durable and easier to control. They are not likely to rust or corrode.

Anti-Reverse Support

An anti-reverse system should be reviewed in your ice fishing reel. This keeps the handle from spinning backward while in control. The anti-reverse design should be organized to where the line can only move backward when you aim to reel it in on your own.

You must have control over the reverse feature so you are not at risk of the reel slipping apart or being far too difficult to use.

Handle Design

Look at how the design on your ice fishing reel looks so you have more control over the layout. Some models allow you to switch the handle to the left or right side of the reel.

The arrangement is ideal for giving you more control over the line with your dominant hand regardless of which one it is.

Some models are designed specifically for left or right handed use in mind. Check when ordering your reel to see what hand fits onto the reel.

Look at how well the handle protrudes from outside the reel. It needs to be long and thick enough for you to have a good grip. Such a hold is critical as you need something that is easy to grip even as you are wearing thick gloves.

You do not want to have to take off your gloves or use something too slim just to keep a hold on your reel.

Reel Construction

Metal materials are regularly used to keep an ice fishing reel steady and strong. The metal needs to resist corrosion, abrasion and rust. The compound should also be light in weight, so it does not add far too much stress onto your rod.

Graphite is quickly becoming a popular choice among metals. The surface is strong and still light in weight. It does not crack or break apart quickly.

Spool Plans

The spool is responsible for handling the line on your reel. The spool is measured based on how long the line can be and how much weight it can handle.

The weight is measured based on the total number of pounds it can handle at a given time. A high total is required if you have a larger spool although it should still be strong when getting into the deepest spots of icy water where the pressure in the area might be too strong.

An antifreeze system should also be included in the spool. It needs to be lubricated well, so it will not lock up in cold temperatures.

In most cases, the antifreeze setup is automatically coated onto the spool but in other instances you might have to add lubricant yourself on occasion.

Gear Ratio

Take a look at the gear ratio. The ratio refers to the number of times when the reel can turn over while the handle rotates once. For instance, a 1:1 ratio means that the reel turns over once with each rotation of the handle. A 2:1 ratio means the part turns twice.

How We Researched

To come up with the top ice fishing reels we researched a variety of sources for reviews such as REI, Dicks Sporting Goods and Bass Pro Shops along with our own personal experience.

We also consulted online magazines for product research and reviews to get as much unbiased information as we could. To help weed out fake reviews we used to make sure we only looked at genuine reviews.

With so much quality gear available, we had to narrow it down based on what we felt were the best options for the price.

To help narrow down the selection our authors used their personal experience along with recommendations from charter captains and tour guides.

After extensive research, we came up with our list to help you choose the right one for you.


I hope this guide was helpful in picking the best ice fishing reel to fit your needs. If you want to comment or recommend a reel I didn’t include, please use my contact form to get in touch. If you are looking for guide to learn how to ice fish, see our beginners guide here.

Have fun and good luck!

Notice: is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. earns fees from products sold through qualifying purchases by linking to Amazon offers a commission on products sold through their affiliate links.

Richard Remick

Richard is the founder and the chief editor of Outside Pursuits. Passionate about the great outdoors, Richard spends much of his time in Colorado enjoying skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, cycling, hiking, and camping. When at home in Florida, he is most often found in the water. He loves water sports such as paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving. He is a certified scuba diver. Because of his wealth of knowledge and experience, Richard has been invited to contribute articles to many outdoor-focused websites, such as Florida Rambler, and has been profiled on travel websites such as JohnnyJet.
Back to top button