“Fishing line is the most direct link between you and the fish”
Don’t make the mistake of hitting the ice this winter with that old fishing line from last year still clinging to your reel. For less than $10 in most cases, a fresh fishing line at the beginning of the season can be a make it or break it point in your fishing abilities and frustrations.
Now don’t make a second mistake by spooling up your ice fishing rig with any old standard fishing line. Isn’t fishing line just fishing line, though? Certainly not. Not all lines are created equal. Here’s why you need to be spooling up some fresh ice fishing line on your rig before you hit the ice this winter.
Comparison Chart of the Best Lines for Ice Fishing
Ice Lines vs. Standard Lines
So what’s the deal with ice fishing lines? Why not just use your normal fishing line? With ice fishing comes a completely different set of circumstances and gear requirements.
In ice fishing, the line memory is a big deal. Line memory is the tendency for the line to retain the coiled shape from being stored on the reel.
When it is cold out, your line is slower to straighten and wants to stay wound up. A line with high memory and lots of loops and kinks in it will have decreased sensitivity and hook setting power. Both of which are absolutely vital features for effective ice fishing.
Ice fishing is also tough on lines! The edges of ice fishing holes are sharp and have lots of line-shearing capabilities.
Fishing lines in ice fishing situations experience much more abrasion than lines in other fishing scenarios.
In designing ice fishing lines, most lines are either braided or engineered to be more rugged in order to withstand these tough conditions.
Most ice fishing lines are also designed for the challenges of freezing conditions. When line freezes, it can lose its flexibility and workability.
On top of that, it can even become brittle enough to break.
To combat this, most ice fishing lines are treated with compounds or engineered in a way to aid in shedding off the water, thus preventing it from freezing.
Ice fishing lines are generally available in three types of materials. These are monofilament line, braided line, and fluorocarbon. Let’s take a look at how they compare below.
Features of our Favorite Lines for Ice Fishing
Selecting a line for ice fishing rig is different than choosing a line for your conventional setups. There are different line characteristics to take into consideration when ice fishing. Let’s check out a few of the more important qualities to look at in a good ice fishing line.
Ice fishing lines are subject to contact with sharp icy edges. Lines with exceptional durability, like braided and fluorocarbon lines, are often favored for fishing through ice holes.
Ice fishing often means fishing for small fish in clear and calm water. Small lures and jigs are often the favored lures. Because of these reasons, low visibility and thin diameter lines are generally preferred to target smaller or wary fish.
When fishing for smaller fish with light lures, having a sensitive line is key. If you are not able to detect light strikes, you may be missing out on fish.
High sensitivity is generally a factor of reduced line diameter and lower stretch lines. Braided and fluorocarbon lines are generally considered to be highly sensitive and low stretch lines.
Obviously ice fishing is going to be cold. One problem anglers need to combat is having a wet line freeze on your reel. Your line can even freeze and become brittle and break, in some cases.
Monofilaments perform well in these situations as they naturally repel water. Other types of lines are often treated with hydrophobic compounds to assist in water shedding.
Reduced Line Memory
Line memory refers to a line’s tendency to want to return to a coil-like state after coming off the reel.
A high memory line, like braided lines, tends to leave lots of twists and loops in the line. When fishing with ultralight lures and jigs, this can greatly reduce your line sensitivity and ability to detect strikes.
Therefore, you will want a line with low-memory properties. Monofilament, when new, is a good example of a low memory line.
Quick Take - The Best Lines for Ice Fishing
These are our recommendations for the best lines for ice fishing:
Review of the Best Lines for Ice Fishing
Now you know some of the considerations to take when purchasing an ice fishing line. Some of these needs are very different than the needs of your everyday fishing line.
There are a whole plethora of ice fishing lines available on the market offering different traits and trade-offs. Let's go ahead and take a look at a few of the best on the market and see how they compare for your needs.
This line continues to top lists for ice fishing gear. Why? It is a well-priced line with simple, yet high-performance, functionality.
This monofilament line boasts an astoundingly thin diameter and low visibility not always found in monofilament lines. This lends itself well to fishing with even the tiniest of lures and jigs thanks to its thin diameter and natural ability to resist freezing and line memory.
Strength and abrasion resistance is always an issue with ice fishing and monofilament lines.
This line has increased durability and strength over similar diameter monofilament lines and will reduce your chance of losing fish while landing through the ice.
The nature of monofilament allows this line to sink quickly and offer ultra-realistic presentation. Being a line that is easy on the wallet, it is a no-brainer option to freshen up that line on your real.
This is the line if you are looking for performance monofilament line on a budget. Traditional mono-lines have decreased durability and abrasion-resistance.
This line has been designed to increase the durability factor of the line while retaining all the great benefits of monofilament. Easy on the wallet, high performance, and a positive consensus across multiple sources make this line a sure bet for your lightweight ice fishing rig.
The only fluorocarbon line to make the list is this line by Berkley. This 100% Fluorocarbon line offers exceptional traits preferred for ice fishing.
Low stretch, high sensitivity, and virtual invisibility underwater make this line great for many ice fishing scenarios. You can count on this ultra low stretch line for solid hook sets.
This line is designed to reduce line memory, a problem with some fluorocarbon lines. This also lends itself to the increased workability of the line in cold conditions.
This line is available in two-pound to six-pound test and is a good line for ultralight fishing applications when line visibility and sensitivity are paramount.
For an invisible and highly sensitive, ultra-light ice fishing line, this is a solid contender. This fluorocarbon line offers top-notch traits in ice fishing that lend itself well to solid hookups on wary and small-bodied fish.
This braided line is one of the smallest diameter and lowest visibility on the market. This ultra-thin line provides these features while still retaining exceptional strength expected of braided lines.
This all means an ultra-sensitive line that offers the absolute minimum stretch. These are all exceptional traits of a proper ice fishing line.
The 832 Ice Braid is an eight strand braid composed of seven strands of ultra-strong Dyneema and one strand of performance fiber by GORE. The line is wound with technology designed to maintain consistency and roundness along the line length.
Due to its ultra-thin diameter, the 832 Ice Braid will sink quicker than other comparable lines. The hydrophobic nature of this line reduces issues with lines freezing out of the water, a common issue among braided lines.
This braided line is available in varying strengths from four-pound all the way to fifty-pound test and is sure to meet your performance expectations.
If you are going for ultra-thin, strong, and low stretch; this might be your line. The R8 precision braid lends itself to an ultra-consistent line designed to be abrasion resistant, low stretch, and strong.
Braided lines are generally characterized by higher visibility, but this line does a good job of staying incognito underwater. This is a highly sensitive performance braided line for dedicated ice anglers.
One of the preferred monofilament lines for ice anglers is the Trilene Cold Weather Line by Berkeley.
The improved design of this line increases many of the coveted features the monofilament line brings. The line is designed to have drastically increased workability and strength in frigid and cold conditions.
Couple this design with the monofilament’s natural tendency to sink well and have very little memory and you have a solid ice fishing line.
The line is featured in a blue color which helps to reduce underwater visibility but increases the visibility for the angler over snow or ice.
Being a monofilament line you can bet that this purchase will be easy on the wallet. This line is available in strengths from two-pound all the way up to twelve-pound line test.
The Berkley Trilene Cold Weather Line represents an excellent budget line with good ice fishing performance. It comes fitted with many reviews of anglers who have used this line for years and continue to do so. This is likely due to the performance of the line in cold conditions on a budget price.
Like the previous line by Suffix, this Ice Braid line offers superior strength and abrasion resistance compared to other lines.
The easiest way to lose a fish is by cutting your line on the ice. A strong braid such as this Suffix Ice Braid aims to reduce that loss.
The problem with most braided lines is their tendency to hold water and freeze. This line is a seven braid line and is designed to be hydrophobic, assisting in the shedding of the water. This also increases the line’s workability in cold conditions.
Though the previous Sufix 832 line only is available up to 50-yard spools, this line by Suffix is available in 75-yard spools. You have the option of line strength in five different categories from six-pound. to thirty-pound test.
If you are looking for a heavy-duty ice fishing line while still maintaining a somewhat small diameter, check this one out. Not the thinnest on the market but being a braided line it offers superior abrasion resistance and strength-to-diameter ratio. Conventional problems with braided lines freezing is mitigated with a hydrophobic design to decrease water retention in the line.
Sufix Ice Magic offers a performance ultralight monofilament line different from the other Sufix braided lines.
Being a monofilament line, it naturally sheds water well and even has a hydrophobic additive. This makes the Ice Magic an excellent line if frozen lines and line workability have been issues in the past.
The high visibility, orange fluorescent line makes strike detection easier. Additionally, being a monofilament line, you can expect quicker sink rates and more natural lure presentation than other lines.
Of course, with these benefits comes the trade-off of decreased abrasion resistance and a larger diameter-to-strength ratio.
Available in a weight range of six-pound. test at the upper end, all the way down to ultra-thin one-pound test, this is a great line for ultralight applications.
Looking for a good performance ultralight line? Look no further. The Sufix Ice Magic meets nearly all the expectations desired of ultralight lines. Quick sink rates, high visibility, and increased workability make this a full-featured line.
So long as you don’t plan on catching exceptionally large fish and be cautious of the line against sharp edges, the Sufix Ice Magic line should meet angler expectations and is great for those on a budget.
Ice Fishing Line: How and When to Put on the New Stuff!
Be sure to freshen up with a new spool of fishing line before ice fishing season hits. For a couple of bucks, it will help ensure your odds at consistent hookups and reduced frustrations.
You generally want to replace that fishing line at least once a season. I usually do mine at the beginning of the season.
Last season’s fishing line likely has abrasions on the line, that may make the line feel almost like sandpaper when running your fingers along it.
Additionally, the line is going to have a high memory from sitting on the small spool of ice fishing reels for a year or so. Remember, you want the ice fishing line, in particular, to have low memory.
Start by laying your new spool of line on a flat surface. It should usually be oriented with the main advertising surface upward.
Then, run the end of the line through your rod guides and to your reel.
Next, attach the line to the spool of the reel with a slip knot.
Now, you want to begin reeling in line onto the spool.
Keep in mind, while doing this, also maintain tension on the line by holding the line against the rod with your left hand. This ensures the line goes on tight and well fitting.
Reel in as much line as you feel comfortable putting on your reel and you are basically ready to hit the water!
It is clear that ice fishing requires a special set of gear. This is particularly the case with this type of fishing line. Not just any old line will do for the rigors of ice fishing.
From sharp ice edges to lightweight lures, and frigid conditions, ice fishing lines are designed to handle all the challenges of life on the ice.
The type of fish you plan to catch and style of fishing will dictate which line you ultimately need to decide on.
Armed with this knowledge though, your decision should be easy. Now go get some fresh ice fishing line spooled up to ensure optimal chances of you hooking into fish this coming winter.
Have fun out there and remember to stay safe out there on the ice.