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Carry cases for your ice rods are a sensible idea. Not only do they protect your valuable rod, but many also protect multiple rods and various kit essentials such as reels and tackle.
Of equal value is the level of convenience a good rod case provides. It’s so much easier to transport a case with straps and handles than it is several loose rods tied with Velcro.
All benefits considered; protection is still the primary reason for getting a durable rod case for your ice fishing gear.
Rods are usually damaged or destroyed en route, via car doors, a heavy ice boot, ramming into tight storage places, and many things we do in haste.
It’s been 40 years and I’ve only just learned the lesson. I’ve broken a handful of ice fishing rods, and most of these breakages would have been avoided if the rods had been in cases.
Let’s have a look at some of the best ice fishing rod cases. We’ll check out cases suitable for all budgets and all demands.
I will also demonstrate what to look for in a good rod case after reviewing a variety of products.
1. Eagle Claw Ice Rod/Accessory Case – Best Hardcase for the Money
If you travel a bit by plane, train, and automobile, including ATVs and snowmobiles, this rod case is hard to pass up. It’s highly affordable and offers excellent storage and protection.
While it’s not perfect, it still offers capacious storage for 6 rigged ice fishing combos with enough storage space at either end or center for a selection of critical tackle.
The foam inserts are adjustable and allow for tight packing.
This is critical for rough expeditions and transport such as planes, where baggage handlers couldn’t care less about your fishing gear.
Those who get about on snowmobiles and ATVs can strap it down tightly, and have confidence that hard tethering or the impacts of a bumpy ride won’t hurt the case or your gear.
The hardcover is strong and will stand up to some pretty serious punishment.
Padlocks can be fitted, and while not truly theft-proof, they offer a level of deterrent when you’re separated from your kit on public transport.
I expect a few critical eyes will question the strength of the hinges. At first glance, they appear to be a weakness.
However, feedback suggests they hold up well under some pretty strenuous abuse.
The only thing I feel is missing is foam padding on the lid. Foam padding would offer a little more protection from the frigid conditions and, more importantly, allow for better compression and gear holding when closed.
The four latches are secure, but I feel a better seal would be achieved if the rim was padded or sealed.
This is a good-quality ice fishing rod case. Excellent protection and capacity for such an accessible price.
2. StrikerICE Transporter – Editor’s Choice
I love this ice rod case, and while relatively expensive, it’s worth every penny. It will hold five 36” Ice rods in rigid 1.75” diameter tubes.
The gear compartment is top-loading, again providing easy access and a great view of contents without having to rummage around.
The zippered side pockets provide excellent storage for various kit and essential ice fishing tackle.
The built-in shoulder strap is only adequate for convenience, A clever head could modify this to work as a backpack.
The bag exterior fabric is Endura fabric. It’s very strong and offers great protection for bag contents.
At 39” L x 9” W x 9” H, you can fit all of your essential fishing gear, with the exception of augers, huts, or other such bulky items.
Once we’ve invented augers that can walk alongside us, this would be the only kit you need to take out on the ice for a session or two.
The StrikerICE is excellent for packing up and venturing out from basecamp. You can travel light, and conveniently with little fuss, leaving nothing behind.
As far as soft cases go, it’s strong. The internal hard tubes offer pretty significant protection for the traveler.
It’s a worthy choice for planes, trains, and automobiles, and will survive (as will the contents) pretty rugged treatment.
The zips are of excellent quality, opening and closing with ease. You’ll note the stitching is robust, promoting excellent durability.
It’s not foolproof, and driving over it in your Skidoo will wreak havoc. But it doesn’t proclaim to be bomb or catastrophe proof.
This is a fantastic ice fishing bag with excellent storage, reliability, convenience, and great protection for your valuable gear.
3. Rapala Soft-Sided 30 Rod Bag – Best convenience on a budget
This is an interesting bag to add to the mix, as when compared with the other bags listed, it doesn’t offer a huge level of protection.
If your looking for serious impact resistants, and protection from shoving, squeezing, and jamming, this probably isn’t the bag for you.
- Made of highest quality material
- Manufacturer: Rapala
- Rapala soft-sided 30 rod bag
Last update on 2024-02-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
What it does offer, however, is a measure of protection and the convenience of being able to carry 6 rigged rod & reel combos with comfort and ease.
This bag is about lightweight storage, easy access, convenience, and organization at a rock bottom price.
Protection from scrapes and bruises is a given, but just don’t throw it about with reckless abandon.
It’s a genuine soft case with no hard reinforcement or rigidity.
The internal dividers offer more than enough separation for keeping rigged outfits organized and free of tangles and internal impact.
It’s an easy-carry bag with sturdy handles and a durable, easy-to-use zipper. While great for transporting your rigged rods, it’s also a great storage bag for keeping all your rods in one place, rigged ready to go the moment the mood takes you.
The bag is made by Rapala, a trusted brand in fishing for decades – reputation is your guarantee, you can always assume quality.
If you only pack two or 3 combos, you’ll have a fair bit of room left over for other tackle essentials.
4. Vexan ICE Fishing Rod & Tackle Bag – Best Soft Case
This is a beautifully made bag and the ideal choice for the angler who wants to take all of their rods and reels.
While relatively compact, the Vexan will hold eight fully rigged 36” combos. While I question the need for 8 rods, who am I to judge?
In many cases, I have taken the full arsenal only to use a few rods but was still glad I had the options on hand.
The beauty of the Vexan is that you can take plenty of combo options without it being a hassle to carry.
The carry strap is comfortable and convenient and the handles are soft, yet durable.
There are 7 compartments with generous external side pockets able to fit gloves, tip-ups, lures, and a host of other ice fishing essentials.
The internal tie-downs are Velcro, which offers excellent gear separation and tangle mitigation.
The padding provides adequate protection without making the bag too bulky. The external denier fabric is lightweight, very strong, and is water-resistant.
I wouldn’t leave it sitting in an ice slurry for long, but it does offer relatively good protection from the wet stuff.
This is a great-looking ice fishing bag and is just as useful as routine storage as it is a transporter.
Storing your gear (when clean) in the Vexan ensures the elements won’t degrade your gear before their time.
For those who care about aesthetics, this is one of the better-looking ice fishing cases available. Its black with blue accents is understated yet stylish.
Remember, it’s a soft pack. Excessive shoving and hard packing with heavy hard items may compromise the contents.
The Vexan offers outstanding gear protection within reason.
5. Frabill Rod Case – Best Protection for Rods
Frabill is known for making great kit. The Frabill ice fishing rod case is a good example, but it does have its limitations relative to the other cases listed here.
I like the Frabill because it’s a hard case and once your rods or combos are inside, they won’t move thanks to the foam padding.
- Frabill | Trusted By Anglers Since 1938
- For the angler who can't decide which combo to take, Frabill makes it easy to take them all
- Extremely durable blow-molded hard case holds up to 8 combo rod and reels
- Foam padding keeps combos protected and in place
Last update on 2024-02-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The case will fit 8 rods, but 8 rods only. I suggest the best you will get in the case comfortably fully rigged is 4, to 6 depending on the reel type.
With most reels, you will have to remove or fold the handle to fit the combo. Only certain types of inline reels will fit.
Ultimately, the case is a touch too short and a touch too narrow. And inch expansion, either way, would make this a heck of a lot more convenient.
Another issue is that it doesn’t have all of the convenient compartments to store your essential tackle.
However, if you only place four rigged outfits in the case, there will be good room for leader spools, hooks, spoons, and other essential tackle items that sit flat.
The best feature of this rod case is that with four rigged rod spin combos, you’ll get outstanding protection from the toughest of impacts and knocks.
You can be a little less cautious about jamming it into your already overloaded car, and squeeze it where it fits.
When the case is closed, you’ll find the combos inside simply don’t move. Your rods won’t impact each other, slop around, and rigged rods won’t end up in tangles.
When you open the case after a tough and rugged journey to the ice, your rods will be in exactly the same position as when you packed them.
There’s a lot to be said for this feature and it appeals to many anglers.
I like it as a rods-only store and transport case. There’s no better protection for up to 8 rods, and you can be assured they’ll arrive at your destination damage-free.
You can also rest assured every time you pack it away, your rods will be in great order when you pull it out again when fall turns to winter.
How to Choose the Best Ice Fishing Rod Case
How Much Can You Expect to Spend on an Ice Fishing Rod Case?
Like everything else in fishing, there’s a wide range of price points. Entry-level, basic rod cases can start at around $30 depending on when you purchase.
Anything less than this price is probably not worth it.
There are plenty of non-ice-specific rod cases that punch through 200 dollars mark, but good quality ice cases are less than this.
For example, the StrikerICE costs $170 or more depending on where you purchase, but this is top of the shelf kit for the average ice angler.
When you’re considering the price, the only option you have is to research. When possible, I always try to feel what I’m buying before I purchase.
Price is not always an indication of quality, durability, or suitability.
For the online shopper, check out the product in-store first, then make your order online if that’s at all possible.
In addition to price, reviews are a good indicator of quality. However, not everyone has the same concept of value as you do.
The best advice is to research then purchase based on your application without blowing a predetermined upper price limit.
Hard Case or Soft Case?
For protection, nothing beats a top-quality hard case. They can handle particularly nasty impacts and falls without bothering the contents.
The compromise is that they are heavier, often less convenient to carry, and they don’t have all of the convenient storage options like the soft cases have.
If you’re traversing rugged locations on an ATV or snowmobile, the hard case is a great option. It’s also the best option for those traveling by bus, rail, or air.
The soft case delivers the least impact protection. And unless it’s waterproof, the least protection from the elements.
I recommend soft cases with rigid inserts, spines, and walls.
This increases impact resistance without compromising on all the great carry convenience and storage associated with great soft cases.
Some soft cases, such as the Rapala above, are no more than carrying convenience and offer little impact protection.
Others, such as the StrikerICE and the Vexan offer good impact and weather protection, but also have outstanding storage options.
It comes back to you and your application. It also depends on whether, like me, you’re particularly hard on your gear or careless.
Essentially, it’s subjective, and you must way up the compromise. For my money, I prefer to compromise a little on impact protection and go for StrikerICE.
The StrikerICE is the perfect combination of impact resistance, carry capacity, impact and weather resistance, and carry convenience.
What is Denier? Durability Factor
Denier measures the thickness of fabric fibers. You’ll often see it listed on ice fishing tents. The lower the number the less strength it is.
For example, A 150 denier fabric is less strong and not waterproof, whereas 600 denier is very strong and is 100% waterproof.
If getting a soft, fabric bag, check for a high denier number for best durability and protection from the weather.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Protect My Ice Fishing Rod?
The simple answer is to take care when handling it. Short of that, most rod damage is done during transport, storage, and rigging.
Store and transport your ice rods in protective durable cases as listed here, and you virtually eliminate the majority of the reasons we break our fishing rods.
How Do I Organize My Ice Fishing Rod?
Plenty of ice anglers have systems that work for them that they’ve developed over the years.
It is best to avoid clutter in bags whenever possible, secure lines on ready-rigged rods using Velcro or elastic, and keep them organized for easy identification.
Color coding with a dab of nail polish or a wrap of electrical tape is a great idea, particularly when all of your rods look similar.
How Do You Store Ice Fishing Spoons?
Keeping them clean and dry is the first step. Hard boxes are great, but there are plenty of great sleeve cases available that keep spoons tidy, accessible, and readily identifiable for quick changes.
What you’re looking to avoid is having to rummage deep in your tackle bag where you can’t quite see. This is a great recipe for a set of trebles in your fingers.
Keep them organized. Use tackle boxes or sleeves, and never let them lay around in the bottom of your bag.
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