Ice Fishing Lines

Choosing the right ice fishing lines and learning how to set up your lines properly are two important parts of a successful ice fishing trip. Learn more in this section.

The primary difference between ice fishing lines and open water lines is that lines made for ice fishing are generally much lighter. These light lines can transmit even the most subtle winter bites to your rod.

Best Ice Fishing Lines

Fishing line for ice fishing, just like open water lines, are generally made from monofilament, braid, or fluorocarbon. Consider the species you plan to target, the ice fishing techniques you plan to use, and the water depth when selecting the best ice fishing lines.

When fishing for panfish species at depths over 20 feet, light braided line (4 to 6-pound test) can make it easier to detect bites and set the hook quickly due to the lack of stretch. Light monofilament line (2 to 4-pound test), on the other hand, is the most commonly used type of line when fishing through the ice due to durability.

If you plan to target larger species, such as largemouth bass or walleye, use line in the 8 to 10-pound test range. You may also want to use a fluorocarbon leader that will be less visible in clear water when fish are more finicky while offering more abrasion resistance. The additional abrasion resistance can be beneficial when reeling larger species up through the ice.

Rigging Your Ice Fishing Lines

Once you have decided on the best type and weight of line to use, you can start rigging your ice rods. All you need to do is follow a few easy steps.

  1. Decide if you want to use a tip up line or hold your rod while fishing. Some anglers prefer to hold the rod to feel any bites. However, if you want to set out multiple rods or just relax while waiting for the action to pick up, a tip up can be useful. When setting up your tip up, tie an arbor knot around the tip up reel and wrap the line evenly in a clockwise direction.
  2. Attach a barrel swivel and leader. You can use an improved clinch knot to attach a barrel swivel to your fishing line. Using a barrel swivel can be quite helpful when fishing through the ice because it rotates and prevents your line from twisting. For walleye, bass, trout, perch and crappie, attach 2 to 3 feet of fluorocarbon leader tied to your barrel swivel.
  3. Tie your hook or lure onto your leader. The type of hook and knot you use should depend on the species of fish you are targeting. When ice fishing for species such as yellow perch and bluegill with natural baits, you may want to use an Aberdeen hook in a size 6 or 8.
  4. If using natural bait, attach a split shot to your leader. Finally, use split shot to keep your bait positioned in the strike zone. If using a tip up, keep your tip up at a distance where the flag is clearly visible.
  5. Wait for your first bite and get ready to catch a fish through the ice. Remember to keep a close eye on your rod tip. Any movement of your rod tip could be a sign that an interested fish is taking a taste of your bait or lure.