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What makes ice fishing line unique?
Favored for cold weather
The kind of line you will use for ice fishing differs in many ways from the kind of line you would normally use for open water fishing. These changes are made specifically to help the line stand up to colder conditions and to better catch fish during the winter. The best ice fishing line will be able to hold its own in lower temperatures and in more extreme conditions.
Different materials handle differently in the cold. Many ice fishing lines will be made with materials that reduce freezing and moisture build-up. This prevents ice from building up on your line and also keeps your line from getting too brittle.
Light and strong
Ice fishing line will also need to perform well given the vertical style required for ice fishing. This requires that the line stays tight and strong so that it can jig the lure and sensitive enough that you will be able to see when you get a bite. You will need a line that is light and sensitive and has low memory. A fishing line with a high memory will retain all of its coils, making it nearly impossible to keep your line without any slack. A line with too much slack will also make it terribly hard to jig your bait and lure in fish.
Clearer waters mean more visibility for your fishing line. Fish are also slower and more observant during the winter, so your line will have to work twice as hard not to be seen. This requires a line with lower visibility than your average fishing line.
Resistance to abrasion
The line will also need to have a good amount of resistance to abrasion, meaning it has to be tough. Your line will likely scrape up against the inside of your ice fishing hole a bit while wrestling with fish. The hole can have jagged bits on the edges left over from the violent motions of your ice auger. These jagged bits can catch onto and cut weak lines. So, you will need a line that’s light, yet tough, and has little visibility.
Types of ice fishing line:
Ice fishing line doesn’t denote any specific type of line, only that the line is specifically favored for colder conditions and ice fishing situations. The types of ice fishing line you will find include:
- Fluorocarbon – low visibility, sinks fast, high memory means lots of coils
- Monofilament – average visibility, sinks slow, low memory means fewer coils
- Copolymer – low visibility, durable, average memory
- Braided – high visibility, durable, low memory
The kind of ice fishing line that you will prefer and how strong it needs to be is largely dependent on what fish you will be going after, how clear the water is, and whether you will be fishing with a rod or a tip-up. Any of these lines will come in specific strengths. What strength you wish to use will depend largely on the fish you want to catch.
What to look for in ice fishing line:
The best type of ice fishing line for rods will be light, sensitive, strong, and have very little memory. The most common type of line you will find will be monofilament, as the monofilament line features the perfect balance of all the features necessary for the best ice fishing line. You will also find some copolymer and fluorocarbon lines, offering their own unique advantages and disadvantages
Tip-ups will take a much heavier line and are better for catching larger fish. The tip-up line will also be able to hold up to the tougher conditions found at the very bottom of the water. The best type of ice fishing line for tip-ups is much stronger and more durable than ice fishing line for rods. The line for tip-up will generally be braided, increasing strength. The line for tip-ups will also often be coated with a substance such as vinyl, increasing freeze resistance.
Best Ice Fishing Line for Rods:
#1. Sufix Ice Magic
Suffix Ice Magic comes in 1-8 pound strengths with prices ranging from $3.49 to $7.31 on Amazon currently. One spool includes 100 yards of line. This is a monofilament line. It will stay workable in cold environments. It is freeze resistant and prevents moisture build-up that can lead to ice. It is fast-sinking, which allows for a more natural presentation for your bait.
Sufix Ice Magic is a great option for ice fishing line. This line is simultaneously light and strong with very low visibility. Knots will hold well and the line itself is very easy to handle.
#2. Berkley Trilene Micro Ice Fishing Line
Berkley Trilene Micro Ice comes in 2-8 pound strengths with prices ranging from $3.99 to $5.97 on Amazon. One spool includes 110 yards of line. This is once again a monofilament line. It is low stretch and strong. The line is a light green color, which is so that you don’t lose sight of the line in the snow yet it retains low visibility in the water. The light green color will also help camouflage the line in certain waters, such as ones with a darker or greenish tint. Some people prefer a colored line for ice fishing, some people don’t.
Berkley Trilene Micro Ice would be a good choice.. The line is light and fairly durable, though it might be a little bit trickier to deal with when tying knots than the Sufix Ice Magic. The color is nice so that the line doesn’t get lost in the snow, but many fishermen may feel that the color makes the line slightly more visible to fish. Still, this line is strong and durable.
#3. Northland Bionic Ice
Northland Bionic Ice comes in 2-pound to 8-pound strength for $6.28-$7.07 currently on Amazon. There are also 3, 4, 6, and 8-pound strengths available at different price points. A spool includes 125 yards of line. This is another monofilament line tailored for performance in extremely cold environments. It is smooth, dependable, sensitive, and flexible. It comes in both clear and blue.
Northland Bionic Ice would be a pretty good ice fishing line to buy. It is strong and thin but possibly not quite as strong and durable as either of the previous mentions. The visibility will be a little higher, even compared to the blue Berkley Trilene Micro Ice. Still, the line will hold its own.
#4. P-Line Floroice
P-Line Floroice is available in 2-8 pound strengths with price ranging from $5.99 to $8.99 on Amazon. One spool includes 100 yards of line. This line is made from copolymer with silicon fluorocarbon coating. This makes the line slightly more durable and means that it sinks faster, but has higher memory than the previous three lines and quite a bit more visibility in the clear waters. It is very strong and freeze-resistant
P-Line Floroice would be another pretty good choice. You will definitely notice a difference moving over to the copolymer from the monofilament. You might very well get fewer bites due to the increased memory when compared to the other three options that are all monofilament lines. The bites you do get, however, will be easier to fight against and pull up given the slight increase in strength and durability. The line will also freeze slower than any of the previous three lines mentioned.
Best Ice Fishing Line for Tip-Ups:
#1. Woodstock Vinyl Tip-Up Line
Woodstock Vinyl Tip-Up Line is available in 30 and 50-pound strength for around $10.50 on Amazon. One spool includes 25 yards of line. The line is coated in black vinyl, which adds a great amount of freeze resistance. This is a very strong and durable line.
Woodstock Vinyl Tip-Up Line would be a great choice for tip-up line. This is an insanely strong and durable line with a color that doesn’t stand out too much. The vinyl coating will really make a huge difference when it comes to holding up against the ice.
#2. Sufix Performance Tip Up Ice Fishing Line
Sufix Performance is available 20-pound to 50-pound strengths with prices ranging from $8.62 to $9.01 on Amazon. One spool includes 50 yards of line. This is a braided line that is once again vinyl coated. The vinyl coating, as with the previous line, makes for much better resistance to freezing. This is a fast-sinking line with increased durability and high resistance to abrasion. The line changes color every 5 feet so you can keep track of depths.
Sufix Performance line would be a good choice of line for your tip-up. This is another very strong and durable tip-up line with a more pronounced color than the Woodstock Vinyl Tip-Up Line. The color changes every 5 feet would be a useful feature for determining the depths of the waters, but it might not make much of a difference depending on your style of fishing. The color could put off more temperamental fish and it could very well mean that you get a few fewer bites than with the Woodstock Vinyl Tip-Up Line
#3. Mason Tip Up Line
Mason Tip-Up Line comes in 15 to 30 pound strengths. This is another braided line, but this time it is teflon coated instead of vinyl. It is colored green.
Mason Tip-Up Line would be a pretty good line to get for your tip-up. The teflon coating won’t be as good as the vinyl when it comes to resistance to freezing and this may become apparent to you immediately upon first reeling it in from the cold waters. The green color doesn’t seem like the best option for most clear waters. There is a striking increase in visibility when compared to the previous two options that you can notice yourself just looking at the line through the hole. You will likely get the fewest bites with this line out of all the tip-up lines we’ve mentioned in this article because of this increased visibility. It will work, but not as well as the previous two.
Which ice fishing line was best?
Sufix Ice Magic is the best ice fishing line for rods. This is the perfect standard monofilament ice fishing line with a great balance of lightness, sensitivity, and strength. It is durable enough that it will take a beating from the ice and sensitive enough that you won’t miss any bites, no matter how light they are.
The Berkley Trilene Micro Ice is another good option that is strong and durable yet light and sensitive, but the blue color is a required taste that not all ice fishshermen will favor. Northland Bionic Ice is the third monofilament ice fishing line we mentioned and while it did a good job, it would seem to be the lesser of the three. This line may be a tad bit too brittle after pulling it out from the water and the visibility could be considered just a touch too high, leading to fewer bites. Finally, the P-Line Floroice would be a good option for anyone looking to eschew the standard monofilament ice-fishing line. This copolymer line with silicone fluorocarbon coating will sink faster and hold up longer, yet the visibility will always be a bit too high for a lot of ice fishermen.
Woodstock Vinyl Tip-Up Line would seem to be the best ice fishing line available for tip-ups. This seems to be just about the strongest and most durable tip-up line you can buy. The black color is perfect and the vinyl coating is really the best option for freeze resistance.
Sufix Performance would seem to be nearly as good, but the slight increase in visibility gives the edge to the Woodstock Vinyl Tip-Up Line. The Mason Tip-Up Line is another good option, but the teflon coating really doesn’t fare as well as the vinyl, and, once again, the visibility may be a bit too high for a lot of fishermen.