Ice fishing isn't anything like your typical fishing trip. Not only is the weather and environment completely different, but the gear and way you fish is very specific to ice fishing. The sub-zero temperatures require a particular type of fishing line which is designed to perform under such conditions.
Using the best ice fishing line will ensure that you are able to get more bites and be able to successfully reel those fish to the surface without any line breakages. Nothing is more frustrating than loading your line up with new lures or bait, waiting hours for a bite for it to only break your line. Whilst there is a few factors that might land you in this situation, choosing the best ice fishing line will help prevent it.
But what type of line should you choose? Fluoro, Mono, Braid or Tip-ups? We have reviewed our favourite ice fishing lines for each below.
Let's dive right in!
Quick Buy: Best Ice Fishing Line Top Picks
Best Ice Fishing Line Product Reviews:
Mono Ice Fishing Lines
One of the biggest problems with fishing lines with ice fishing is that they sometimes absorb water, which in turn leads to ice formation and breaking of the line. That isn't an issue with the Sufix® Ice Magic line. It is monofilament and therefore has been designed specifically for that not to happen.
This high-performance ice fishing monofilament is designed to stay manageable, even in freezing cold water. Special additives deter water absorption that would otherwise cause ice buildup.
- Designed specifically for cold-water/ice fishing
- Precision performance monofilament
- 300 yards per spool
- Choose from a variety of colors and weights
- Low memory & visibility
Another one of the best fishing lines for ice fishing is the Berkley Trilene. Trilene is a series of lines produced by Berkley and is trusted by millions of anglers all over the globe. The range includes various lines for smooth casting, high strength, and this particular version which is specifically for use in cold weather conditions.
Trilene cold weather is an extremely flexible fishing line so when it is dropped into icy water and stiffens up slightly, it will perform as a normal line would.
- For cold water flexibility
- The improved formula is the limpest, smoothest version Berkley has ever produced
- The low-memory design resists twisting and tangles
- Comes in electric blue, for low visibility in icy water
- Extremely durable and long-lasting
Fluorocarbon Ice Fishing Lines
It's hardly surprising that Berkley has created the highest rated/most popular fluoro line for ice fishing on the market - all of their lines are of the highest quality! The original Berkely Fluorocarbon line is loved because it is invisible in the water, this line is the exact same, however, it has additional additives to give it superior performance in freezing temperatures whilst ice fishing. If you are going after fish with excellent eye-sight, like trout, this fluorocarbon line will be perfect to get the job done.
- The low stretch formula has great sensitivity and solid hooksets
- Thinner diameter for better lure control and stronger knot strength
- Ultimate Invisibility; The invisible fluorocarbon; Similar refractive index as water so fish can't see it in all lighting conditions
- Excellent Manageability; Lower memory for superior handling (great for fishing with cold hands!)
This ice-fishing line is a copolymer with a silicon fluorocarbon coating. This makes it a strong line that repels ice, resists freezing, brittleness, and stays flexible in sub-zero weather. Its thin diameter makes it easier to handle and ties strong knots. Fluorocarbon coating means this line is invisible under the water and less likely to be spotted by the fish.
- Virtually Invisible
- Superior Knott Strength
- Won't Freeze or Become Brittle
- Low memory
- Easy manageability
Braided Ice Fishing Lines
The fireline is another great line from Berkely and is easily one of the best ice fishing lines on the market. Purpose made for ice anglers, it has low memory, low stretch, and the ability to act like a 'regular' line, even in sub-zero temperatures. If you like using a braided line but are worried that it will become brittle due to water getting between the fibers and freezing, then this will be a great line for you as the fibers are thermally fused to prevent water intake.
• Thermally-fused FireLine is smoother than ever
• Superb sensitivity for subtle cold-water bites
• Ultra-thin diameter for incredible lure presentation and action with low visibility
• Microfused Dyneema fibers are three to four times stronger than microfilament
Many anglers shy away from using braided line whilst ice fishing, as it's more likely that water will freeze between the braided fibres causing the line to become brittle and snap more easily. However, that is not the case with this Ice Fused line from Suffix. It has been specially created for ice fishing to withstand freezing temperatures.
- 100% HMPE Dyneema
- Reduces line freezing
- Virtually zero stretch
- Superior tensile and knot strength
- Thermally Fused Ice Line
Tip-up Ice Fishing Lines
This tip-up line might look like a braid on the surface - and it kind of is. However, it is produced from much thinner and smoother fibres than a typical braided line, this allows it to sink much faster and not get as kinked or tangled as easily. It is specially made from high-tenacity polyester braid known as HTP.
- HTP provides exceptional abrasion resistance, durability, low stretch, and diameter-to-strength ratios
- Hydro Fusion Process ensures that the line sinks fast and has exceptional cold-weather handling
- Low Memory
- Abrasion Resistant, High Durability and Low Stretch
This tip-up line produced by Celsius is made up of braided nylon fibers, which are typically more smooth than your usual braided fishing line, so it doesn't coil or kink and is resistant to freezing and brittleness. This is a 15lb test strength 50 yards long line.
- Manageable in cold weather
- Will not kink or freeze
- Low memory
- High abrasion resistance
- High knot strength
How To Choose The Best Ice Fishing Line - Buying Guide
Ice fishing really puts you and your gear to the test against the elements and harsh conditions. Sub-zero temperatures require a particular type of fishing line for it to perform as expected. Use a normal line and it will quickly freeze and become brittle; snapping on bite impact or near impossible to tie knots with. In the following buyers guide we are going to cover the main features of the best ice fishing line, so you can make a well informed purchase and grab yourself a line that's not only going to survive, but also increase your chances of landing that trophy fish!
When temperatures drop, fish move less in the water to help conserve their energy. This gives them more time to analyse your bait, lure and line. That extra second of thought may seem insignificant, but it's not. If the fish notice your line they can be put off instantly, this is especially true for fish with excellent eyesight e.g. trout and northern pike.
To reduce your line visibility in the water, opt for a clear or translucent line which will let line pass through it. If you are using braided line, try to get something which is a similar colour to the water you are fishing in.
The best option for a low visibility line is to use a Fluorocarbon ice fishing line. Fluoro line has a refractive index similar to water, which means it's practically invisible under water and very rarely spooks the fish away.
The strength of your fishing line is going to be largely related to the species and size of fish you are going after. However, whilst ice fishing, more stress is placed upon the fishing line due to the vertical nature in which you pull the fish out of the water.
Choosing a fishing line which has been purposely produced for ice fishing will ensure that it is strong enough for this kind of fishing and maintain its strength, even at very low temperatures.
Ice fishing lines also have great abrasion resistance as they are often rubbing against the surface of the ice whilst fishing.
Freezing temperatures make fibres and polymers extremely brittle unless they are designed to prevent it. If you use regular fishing line on the ice, it will soon freeze up, break often and become impossible to tie knots with (not ideal!). Make sure that you choose a fishing line which has a water-repellent coating which prevents water getting absorbed into the line.
Many people opt away from braided line for ice fishing because they worry that the water will seep between the fibres and freeze. The braided lines on our list of the best fishing lines for ice fishing all use fusing technology to fuse the fibres together and prevent that from happening.
Sensitivity can simply be summed up as how easily you can feel the bite on the end of the line. High sensitivity allows you to feel the bite instantly. As previously mentioned, fish are less active in winter and therefore the bites on the line aren't as powerful and not as easily felt by the angler.
Whilst ice fishing your line must be highly sensitive and have low memory so you can instantly feel even the smallest of bites. Braided fishing line is regarded as the most sensitive followed by fluorocarbon.
The best ice fishing line will have virtually no memory. This essentially means that the line will remain straight, even after being spooled onto your reel. It will also allow your bait and lures to look natural in the water.
Memory is closely related to sensitivity. Low line memory will allow you to notice even the smallest of bites as soon as they happen - important whilst ice fishing. A high memory line will create a lot of slack between the rod tip and the lure. For the lowest line memory, opt for braided, followed by mono ice fishing line and then fluoro.
It's not hard to imagine how much stress is placed upon the line as it is rubbed up against the edge of the ice you have cut again and again. Especially when you are fighting a fish. The last thing you want to happen is that you get a good hook on a fish, only for your line to snag or snap on the edge of the ice.
The best ice fishing line is produced with high abrasion resistance to prevent this scenario from happening. It will also allow you to use your lines for much longer without having to worry about them reducing too much in diameter or fraying.
The line weight which is often quoted in lbs. Isn't how heavy your line is, but how much weight the line can handle before breaking. It's closely related to the line stre ngth and therefore ultimately depends upon the type of fish you intend to land on your ice fishing trip.
The bigger the catch, the higher the line weight needs to be. Remember to always take into consideration the weight of your tackle and lures on the line! If you have a 12lbs line weight, but manage to catch a 12lbs fish with 1lbs of weights and lures on your line, your fishing line might snap!
The best ice fishing line is often Braided, Monofilament or Fluorocarbon. Many anglers have their preferences over which one they decide to use on the ice. Each has their own pros and cons and it largely comes down to your own personal preference or the type of fish you are going after. In the following section we will cover each type of line for ice fishing.
Monofilament is regarded as the most popular fishing line amongst anglers, it's likely the first fishing line anyone will use - It's a great 'all-rounder'. It's strong, durable and easier to manage and tie knots with in cold conditions. It absorbs no water and therefore rarely becomes brittle (If it's made for ice fishing). It has better line memory than fluorocarbon, so it gets tangled up less however it has a low sensitivity and therefore can sometimes be slow at relaying you information on the surface from a bite.
It's an inexpensive alternative when compared to the other two, but will require it to be changed more frequently.
Braided fishing line has a very small diameter which allows it to tie very strong knots and makes it easy to handle. It also has very high strength and and zero stretch/memory which makes it highly sensitive. You'll know instantly when you have a fish on your line with a braided line. Standard braided lines readily absorb water which makes them prone to freezing and snapping. If you opt for a braided line for ice fishing, check out the ones on our list as they are purposely designed for fishing in freezing temperatures.
What makes fluorocarbon an excellent choice for almost any form of fishing is it's low visibility in the water and high abrasion resistance. Fluoro line also sinks fast which makes it great if you are sending your lures deep. The biggest downside to using a fluoro line is that it tends to have a high memory which can cause coils and tangles if you are inexperienced. The last thing you want is to have to take of your ice fishing gloves and tend to a birds nest of line on the ice!
Tip-up line is essentially braided fishing line, however it is produced using different fibres to create a much smoother line. This helps to prevent kinks in the line and a much smoother casting action.
Bright and neon lines are often favoured whilst ice fishing. Whilst ice fishing it is hard to detect a bite on your line due to the fish moving so slow. A bright colored line, will allow you to monitor the line movement more easily and see when you have a bite.
To prevent the bright line from spooking the fish, use a fluorocarbon leader attached to the main line.
Best Ice Fishing Line FAQs
What is ice fishing?
Why can't I use a normal fishing line for ice fishing?
Whilst ice fishing the temperatures are much lower and the environment is much harder, on you and your fishing tackle.
Regular fishing lines will freeze and become brittle causing them to snap quickly when placed under any kind of stress. You will also have to deal with stiff knots, frozen reels and lines with poor abrasion resistance. There is some great all-round lines on the market that can be used in cold and hot weather, however we would always recommend using a dedicated ice fishing line whilst on the ice.
Why do I need an 'Ice fishing specific' line?
- Cold Temperatures – Fishing line can freeze, get stiff and become brittle at freezing temperatures, and that is why manufacturers use slightly different formulations to create their cold water fishing lines - so they can handle the lower temperatures. Ice fishing line is also easier to handle in cold temperatures, we don't just mean easier to fish with, but also easier to tie knots and load up your spool.
- Abrasive Environment – The edges of an ice hole can be very sharp and abrasive, which will soon fray and snap a regular fishing line. The best ice fishing line has good abrasion resistance to combat the roughness of the ice.
- Light Bite Sensitivity – Fish are less active in the winter, and that leads to ultra-light bites. Braided fishing line has the highest sensitivity, followed by fluoro then mono.
Ice Fishing Line - Conclusion
Choosing the best ice fishing line can be a tricky task with the sheer amount of different variations on the market. One can quickly get overwhelmed if they do not know what they are looking for. And choosing the wrong option can be detrimental to your fishing trip. You don't want to lose your bite and your lures!
Ice fishing is an extreme sport which requires a particular tackle box full of specialist gear to perform at your peak. We truly hope that this article has helped you understand the different requirements that go into choosing the best line for ice fishing. Any of the choices on our list will serve you well next time you are on the ice! Good luck!