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Ice fishing is not new. I’ve been throwing mono down frigid ice-bound holes since I was a boy.
My dad and grandfather didn’t have Sufix Performance Ice Fuse, Northland Bionic Ice Fishing Line, or Berkley Trilene Cold Weather Line.
No – nothing that fancy.
For that matter, nor did I when I was growing up.
We fished whatever line we preferred then, and we succeeded. We caught as many fish then as we do now. Truth be known, we probably caught more back then – decades ago.
What’s more, we didn’t need an ice-specific fishing line with a compelling high-tech name and the price premium that goes with it.
So why do I insist on buying specific ice fishing lines now?
Read on, and I’ll address this question. I’ll also provide a handy list of some of the best ice fishing lines available.
The Benefits of Ice Fishing Line
The main objective when selecting nearly all fishing equipment is this:
Will it help me catch more fish more often?
There are also other essential objectives to consider:
Will it add convenience? Will it add comfort and help me save money?
I have to be honest.
Do I catch more fish just because I use an ice-specific fishing line?
In the absence of scientifically collated data, I rely on memory. And my memory tells me no.
Using an ice-specific line has not directly increased the quality and quantity of my catch.
However, It is true that I catch more fish when fishing with seamless efficiency – when I am in the zone. You know exactly what I’m talking about.
Fishing with gear ideally suited to the application supports you in finding that zone and staying in it. And that includes fishing a line that’s optimized for conditions.
Let’s unpack that.
Fishing knowledge and skill are the bedrock of good angling, not rods, reels, lures, and fishing lines.
However, gear maximized for comfort, convenience, and efficiency allows the angler to focus on the hunt.
More time is spent fishing instead of rigging, adjusting, and doing running repairs.
In the case of ice fishing, a dedicated ice fishing line will help mitigate the issues of frozen lines and death by a million ice cuts.
You’ll fish more efficiently, staying in the zone longer, putting yourself in a position to catch more fish.
That’s the reason I look for the best ice fishing line.
How to Choose the Best Ice Fishing Line
There are many similarities between cold-climate fishing lines and regular fishing lines.
The most significant difference is that ice lines are engineered to hold the most desirable fishing line properties in icy conditions.
You will be told by the ‘experts’ that using an ice fishing line is crucial to a successful and enjoyable ice fishing experience.
It’s not true – it’s not crucial at all. But it certainly helps.
Especially when the temperature drops to very cold temperatures.
When using ice-specific fishing lines, you won’t need to adjust or compromise technique or manage the impacts of ice.
Ice Fishing Lines: are engineered to remain flexible and manageable in freezing temperatures. They have low memory and don’t coil or tangle easily in the cold. This characteristic is vital for maintaining sensitivity and handling while ice fishing.
Normal Fishing Lines: may become stiff and brittle in freezing temperatures, leading to reduced sensitivity and casting difficulties.
Ice Fishing Lines: Ice fishing lines often come in colors or coatings that are less visible underwater. This is especially important because fish can be more cautious and selective in cold water.
Normal Fishing Lines: Regular fishing lines come in a broader range of colors. Generally speaking, visibility is often less critical than it is in ice fishing.
Ice Fishing Lines: sensitivity is generally achieved by fishing light lines. However, a good ice line remains sensitive in arctic conditions, ensuring you’ll feel a timid winter bite.
Normal Fishing Lines: While some regular fishing lines offer good sensitivity, ice fishing lines are specially crafted to remain sensitive in icy conditions.
Ice Fishing Lines: Ice fishing lines are treated or coated to resist freezing. This feature prevents ice buildup on the line.
Normal Fishing Lines: Standard fishing lines are not specifically designed for freeze resistance. When using standard lines in the ice, anglers need to manage the impacts of ice on lines.
Diameter and Strength:
Ice Fishing Lines: These lines tend to have a thinner diameter for better control of baits and lures in the icy water. Despite their smaller diameter, they are often stronger and more abrasion-resistant to handle the demands of ice fishing.
Normal Fishing Lines: Regular fishing lines come in a wide range of diameters and strengths, often tailored to the needs of different fishing techniques and species.
To summarize, this is how you should prioritize ice line features to get the best performance.
1. Abrasion Resistance
Most ice fishing lines will have good to excellent abrasion resistance. Ice is sharp and will cost you fish – often prize fish. Abrasion resistance is a priority.
2. Freezing Resistance
Freeze resistance becomes more critical the colder the climate you fish. For mild winters, you can fish standard lines without trouble.
The further north you head during a freezing winter, the more weight you want to put on freeze resistance.
3. Water Absorption
If possible, you want to avoid water absorption. Coated lines help mitigate water absorption. I like a coated mono.
Line management becomes increasingly frustrating when it’s freezing and your mono has absorbed water.
You can’t go wrong with clear, opaque winter fishing lines and leaders. If you’re using braid, look for colors more sympathetic to the colors of the location you’re fishing.
5. Line Memory
It’s the same as any fishing line. Seek out fishing lines that have limited or reduced memory. Lines frozen in coils can be a pain to deal with.
A quality fishing line will have reduced or limited stretch. Braid has next to no discernible stretch. This is no significant concern for me. I recommend a healthy stretch.
When fishing live bait, which I do whenever I can, I prefer a more forgiving fishing line in the ice, as do many ice anglers.
Try a fluoro or a low-stretch mono if you’re working lures. I’m yet to see any significant benefit of braid over other line types.
More advanced fishing lines for cold conditions range between $10 and $20 for larger spools.
Popular hybrid lines are about 25% more than your average mid-point coated mono.
Specialized ice fishing lines, like those designed for extremes and specific species, are usually expensive, starting at $20 and often punching through the $40 mark for large spools of top-shelf ice line.
Top 7 Best Ice Fishing Lines
1. Berkley Trilene Micro Ice – Best Value Ice Mono
This monofilament line is a popular choice among ice anglers. It offers low visibility, high sensitivity, and good handling in cold conditions.
A great range of breaking strains ensures your technique and target species are covered.
This is a go-to standard that will perform admirably in most conditions. It offers excellent value for the dedicated angler with a limited budget.
2. Sufix Ice Magic – Best Mono Ice Line
Sufix Ice Magic will suit those anglers looking for performance over price concerns. It has a low memory, holding its form particularly well as the winter cold hits its extremes.
I like this mono because it delivers on its promise of excellent strength and abrasion resistance.
Anglers fishing challenging locations and sharp ice might find Ice Magic ideal for hunting a larger class of fish.
3. Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon – Best Fluoro for Cold Conditions
This fluorocarbon line remains nearly invisible underwater. It’s ideal for targeting finicky fish in heavy traffic.
It offers surprisingly good sensitivity, is low stretch, and has better than average resistance to freezing.
4. Seaguar AbrazX Ice – Best Premium Fluoro
- 100 Fluorocarbon Leader
- DSF - Double Structure Fluorocarbon
- Best Knot Strength
- Incredible Abrasion Resistance
Last update on 2024-02-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Seaguar’s AbrazX Ice is a premium fluorocarbon choice. It provides remarkable knot strength and low visibility.
It has impressive abrasion resistance, yet its sensitivity allows you to detect the lightest nibbles.
It’s an excellent option for a more natural presentation when chasing a larger fish class with a lighter line class.
5. PowerPro Ice-Tec – Reliable Braided Line
PowerPro Ice-Tec is a strong and reliable braided line designed for ice fishing. Its high strength-to-diameter ratio allows for better presentation and sensitivity.
I’m not big on braid for ice fishing. However, if you’re chasing serious trophy fish, it’s often your best insurance.
6. Berkley Trilene Cold Weather Line – Best Ice Line in Extreme Cold
Designed specifically for high performance in the bitter cold, this Trilene is coated to resist freezing.
It remains surprisingly supple even in extreme cold, maintaining excellent sensitivity and reliable strength.
This is a line for the anglers who don’t mind fishing the temperatures that frighten the life out of the average angler.
7. Stren Original Monofilament – Best Value Standard Line for Ice Fishing
Stren’s Original Monofilament is a clear line that offers versatility and reliable performance for ice fishing.
It’s proven in the broadest range of conditions for the widest range of applications. It’s a popular fishing line wherever you live or fish.
It has excellent low-vis properties, making it a great choice for fishing heavy traffic, where fish tend to be far more cautious and reluctant to bite.
By and large, Stren is a good choice for the average beginner angler and the occasional ice angler. It’s value for money and endures harsh conditions and lengthy storage periods.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Difference Between An Ice Fishing Line And A Regular Line?
The key difference between an ice fishing line and a regular fishing line is that ice lines have been designed for extreme cold.
They have been engineered to maintain the core desirable features of fishing lines, even when the temperature dips.
Is Mono Or Fluoro Better For Ice Fishing?
This is a personal preference for many anglers. One is not better than the other. However, one might be better suited to specific conditions.
I like mono as a go-to. I’d choose Fluoro when I want low stretch, such as when using lures.
Fluoro is also a good option if you’re fishing an exceptionally light line class and concerned about damage from abrasion.
What Color Line Is Best For Ice Fishing?
Experienced locals might have experimented with color, identifying a better color line for their area and application.
Line color is way down the list of considerations unless I’m using a braid. You can’t go wrong if you stick with clear, invisible, opaque ice fishing lines.
Is Mono Or Braid Better For Ice Fishing?
First and foremost, choosing braid over mono is often about personal preference. Most anglers use the lines they’re comfortable with.
I strongly recommend this approach. Using gear and a fishing line you are most familiar with is a wise option.
I use mono predominantly. Mono is my go-to as it is for ice anglers from all walks of life. It’s easy, familiar, and performs exceptionally well, predictably and reliably.
Braid is unbeatable in the strength-to-diameter ratio and can be an excellent choice for chasing ice-dwelling monsters.
A braid rig may need to be more complex, as it floats, is highly visible in most cases, and requires a good mono or fluoro leader.
In many respects, I’m still more confident using mono or fluoro when serious contact with sharp ice is likely while under significant load.