Ice fishing line is a different breed than your summer angling line. You need durability, because the line will be rubbing against jagged ice and ice shelter hole edges. You also need line that will not freeze stiff, but will remain soft and flexible even when coating with freezing water and ice.
Choosing your fishing line is a preference related thing. You know what features you like most in lines, and you likely already have a favorite fishing line manufacturer. That is okay. You can use any line you want to, but consider the following lines, and consider what you need your ice fishing line to do that your normal fishing line does not have to do. Then you will be informed and capable of making a decision about the line you want to put on your reels.
Best Ice Fishing Line for 2019-2020
Berkley Trilene Micro Ice Fishing Line
This is a premium monofilament line made by Berkley. We all know a product that Berkley makes, and the majority of people know that Berkley has been in the business of fishing equipment for a long time, and they have learned what anglers want, and what anglers need.
This line has an outstanding amount of tensile strength. You will not likely see your line break easily when using this. You can rest assured that your hook will be set in the fish mouth more often, because this line does not have a lot of stretch and give to it.
It allows you to have better control over artificial lures like kigs, because the line is stout and firm and does not give or sway, You can get the line in a steel color or what the company calls a solar color. The solar color is a shade of green that is almost invisible underwater, but is easy to see on top of the ice.
Sufix Ice Magic Fishing Line (Clear)
The Suffix Ice magic fishing line is completely clear. It is rather hard to see when it is lying across the ice. It is also almost impossible for the fish to see it under the water so it is not going to spook away your fish. We have used both the 2 pound and 3 pound test, and it performs very well.
This line has been carefully crafted so that it can tolerate the freezing and below freezing temperatures associated with ice fishing. This line remains pliable and manageable even when the temperatures are below freezing, and the line has been soaking in freezing waters.
This line actually repels the water so it is not damaged by, or influenced by long periods in cold waters. It maintains its strength, and has less of a tendency to kink or snarl than some other brands of fishing line do.
Sufix also makes one of the better braided lines on the market, the Performance Ice Braid.
Berkley Fireline Micro Ice Fishing Line
The Berkley Fireline has been a go-to line with ice anglers for years. It is a slender with the thinnest possible diameter. This thin diameter makes it easier to thread through the eyes of some jigs and artificial lures. The thin diameter makes it harder to see the line so it helps the line to become invisible to the fish.
You might worry that a line this slender would not have the strength you are going to need to land the big walleye, or the lake trout, or that hard fighting pike. You do not need to worry. This line is thin, but it has the strength of line that is more than three times as thick as it is.
It is made from microfused Dyneem fibers. These fibers are as much as four times as strong as microfilament, and they withstand the rubbing against the ice better. These strong fibers are fluorocarbon coated to make them even stronger and more durable.
This line is not going to freeze, it will not become brittle from exposure to the cold, and it is almost completely invisible.
What to look for in your Ice Fishing Line
Performs well in cold weather – You need an ice fishing line that does not easily freeze. The line needs to not become brittle when it is gotten really cold. It also needs to be invisible to the fish, but visible to you. You want a line that you can see when it is lying against the ice. There is nothing worse than a line that gets stiff and inflexible right when you need to be able to feel a walleye trying to play with your ice fishing lure.
Works well with your reel – Different lines work well with different reels. This should be one of the main considerations for your ice fishing line, and any other fishing line that you use is that it can be used on the reel that you have. Each reel is rated for specific line test and diameters. You must be certain that the line you are buying can be used with your reels and will allow the reel to function properly. Braided line can be great in the winter, but it does not work well with all reels.
Strong – The strength of your line determines whether or not you can bring that big fish up to the surface. If the line is not strong enough then the fish will just jerk their head and snap the line. If the line is not strong enough the ice on the side of the hole will cause the line to become frayed and broken. Buy the strongest test line that you can for the reel that you have, and make sure it lines up well with the type of fish you plan to catch.
Ice Fishing Line FAQ
Is ice fishing line different than regular fishing line?
Yes. One of the biggest differences between ice fishing line and regular fishing line is the line memory. The line has been coiled around your reel and when you cast it out in warm weather the line is soft and it stretches so the line forgets the coils it has been in, and is easily sunk to the water depth you choose. Ice fishing line has to be specially crafted to have very little memory, because the cold weather does not allow it to relax and stretch like other fishing line. Using a regularly fishing line in the winter is a certain recipe for a line that is difficult to work with and freezes up right when you need it to perform.
What ice fishing line should I use for an old-fashioned ice fishing stick?
If you are a purist and simply use an old vintage-style wood ice fishing stick, braided line might be the best bet. Otherwise, a light monofilament line should serve you well with an old fashioned fishing stick. The monofilament is more abrasion resistant, and it usually has more knot strength than most of the fluorocarbon lines have.
Is braided ice fishing line good?
The braided ice fishing line is good and time-tested, but most ice anglers prefer monofilament these days. It is suggested that if you do wish to use the braided line that you attach it using a short piece of monofilament line so you retain the action that the monofilament can give you. The monofilament line is also much less visible to the fish, and it is easier to attached the lure to the line than with a braided line.