Tips to select the best ice fishing rods for walleye

By Tom Keer

Jan 17, 2018

Everyone needs new fishing rods, but here's what to look for in a walleye rod for ice fishing.

Non-fishermen go crazy when we say we need more ice fishing rods and, in particular, more walleye ice fishing rods.  They think we're just making up a reason to up more ice fishing gear.  The truth is that we need different types of hard water fishing rods that are suited to our purpose.  It's the same way we need different knives or skillets for cooking or a range of clubs when we go golfing.  The rule of thumb is to determine what kind of fish you'll target, what method you'll use when targeting them, and which rod is best suited for that type of fishing.

1. Where to find Walleye

Walleye are found a few feet from the bottom.  They like edges and drop offs as much as they favor points, bars, and rock piles.  In the early and late season they'll be in shallower water and in the middle part of the season they'll be deep.  It's best to have two different ice fishing rods for walleye, one with backbone for fishing around structure and depth and a second rod with sensitivity for shallower water finesse.

2. Ice Fishing Lures for Walleye

Jigging is most effective method, and you'll need sensitivity in skinny water so you neither pull your jig out of the strike zone or out of a fish's mouth.  Try flash spoons for vertical jigging and swimming lures on aggressive fish.  Best flash spoons are Al's Goldfish, Swedish Pimples or Kastmasters while popular swimming lures  include a #7 Jigging Rapala or a #2 Nils Master Jigger.

3. Determine the type of Rod

Walleye can be aggressive or they can be a finesse fish.  You'll want a rod soft enough so you can feel the jig swim but firm enough to provide lifting strength.  Super stiff rods offer great strength but reduced sensitivity.  Soft actions give great sensitivity but less strength.  Go with a medium to medium-heavy action works best as they have a good blend of sensitivity and power.

4. Fishing inside or outside of a shanty? 

If you're fishing inside a shanty then you'll break fewer tips with a shorter rod in the 24-28 inch length.  If you're fishing outside a longer rod of 30-36 inches is nice.  Check out the new St. Croix 48-inch Legend Black Ice rod.  While it seems super long for ice fishing it is ideal for flip-and-dip fishing in shallow water and it offers shock absorption when fighting big walleyes.

The ice is perfect so get a new rod and go!

Tom Keer
Tom Keer
Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at