Consider the Ice Fishing Inline Reel

By Andy Whitcomb

Dec 11, 2020

One-reel type for ice fishing is the inline reel. Here is how it differs from a spinning reel.

If you live in the north, it may be just about time to break out the ice fishing equipment. Because you normally don’t cast but just lower the lure or bait into the hole in the ice, the reel may have a tendency to be overlooked and undervalued. (One long winter I did try casting into the hole from a distance and although there is a fun, golf-like element to the activity, the edge of the hole is rough on light line so not recommended.) Here then, are a couple of inline ice fishing reel pros and cons.

The first pro for an ice fishing inline reel has to do with its simplicity. Like a fly fishing reel, it is mainly a spool which lets you efficiently gain control of light, cold fishing line. In comparing ice fishing inline vs. spinning reel aspects, the spinning reel has more moving parts that may not like to work in cold weather such as the bail and a more complex reel handle.

Another pro when considering inline ice fishing reel pros and cons, is the reduced line twist. Spinning reels are notorious for creating line twist. With the inline reel, the line feeds straight out instead of uncoiling and it is in a larger diameter spool, which helps reduce line memory. Most ice fishing tips stress using light line and, by keeping the line with fewer loops and as straight as possible, bite detection is increased.

If there is a con with the ice fishing inline reel, it might be that when purchasing ice fishing rod and reel combos, that inline reel is going to be committed to that tiny ice rod. However, a spinning reel can be repurposed on a micro rod during the rest of the year for continued fun with trout, sunfish, and yellow perch.

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.