Are you looking for the best ice fishing line?
Determining the best line for ice fishing can often be the difference between pulling a record-setting fish through the frozen surface of a lake, or forever wondering just how big that lunker actually was that got away.
When it comes to fishing on ice, you have the same choices available in fishing open water in monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braided lines. Each has advantages when used in the proper setting, but you’ll quickly discover why fluorocarbon is the most popular choice when fishing through the ice.
After testing 10 fishing lines from the top brands I found that Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Ice Fishing Line are the best ice fishing lines.
To find out why fluorocarbon is the best line for ice fishing and our complete reviews of the 5 best ice fishing lines, continue reading below.
Why is fluorocarbon the best ice fishing line?
The environment set during those long, frozen months of winter, drilling ice holes, and dropping bait through the ice present challenges you will never find in the open water fishing.
Ice is abrasive, the holes drilled through the ice can have jagged edges. Modern, gas-powered ice augurs create smoother holds, but they still have some sharp edges.
If you’re drilling through the ice with a hand augur or chipping away with an ice bar you’re going to create a lot of sharp ice edges that can catch, damage, or even sever the fishing lines.
Monofilament is especially susceptible to abrasion and cuts, braided line is sturdier in resistance to abrasion and ability to handle small cuts, but fluorocarbon is hard, resists abrasion, and cuts much better than its rivals. This makes it an ideal choice for the best ice fishing lines.
While abrasion resistance is an important consideration, fluorocarbon has two other qualities that make it the superior choice for ice fishing.
Fluorocarbon reflects sunlight, a quality that makes it nearly invisible. Braided line is easy to see by both humans and some species of fish. Open water anglers often tie fluorocarbon leaders to braided line to decrease visibility.
Monofilament is less visible than braided line, but can’t compete with fluorocarbon in reflectiveness and invisibility.
The final factor is the weight of the fishing line.
In open water fishing it’s often important to have a ice line that floats, that’s one of the reasons surface fishing bass anglers prefer braided lines. Braided line traps small air particles in the woven fibers, making it buoyant. This is great for surface water fishing in shallow water, among cattails and lily pads, but when you’re ice fishing all a floating line will do is coil around the ice hole.
Monofilament will absorb water and gradually sink, but it takes time for the water to get into the monofilament.
Fluorocarbon is heavier than water, it sinks right away when dropped into a lake.
A sinking, abrasive-resistant, nearly invisible fishing line is perfect for ice fishing. It is advantageous in daylight, and equally effective if you’re ice fishing through the night.
It is available in sizes two and three-pound test, with even weights from four to 10-pounds. These size ranges make this monofilament product a good choice for a variety of small to mid-size ice fishing uses.
Best Lines For Ice Fishing Reviewed
Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon Ice Fishing Line
Berkley is a leader in fishing lines, and their Trilene brand is among the top choices among anglers in all types of fishing applications.
For ice fishing, you won’t find a better product than their 100% Fluorocarbon Ice line.
Trilene Ice comes in 75-yard spools in two, three, four, five, and six-pound test varieties. The smaller-sized ice line is perfect for perch, crappie, trout, and ling through the ice.
Abrasion-resistant is at the top of the charts with this pure fluorocarbon fishing line. It comes in clear, light-reflective styles.
A low stretch formula creates greater sensitivity and a solid hook setting. It’s thinner than competing monofilament in the same test-pound size. The near invisibility and low memory of the ice fishing line make it perfect for dropping straight through the ice with worms or minnows, or for jigging with lures vertically through the frozen surface of a lake.
Celsius Tip Up Line
The name says it all with this product, “Tip Up Line.”
If you’re a serious ice fisherman, you’ve worked with many styles of tip up line. From basic X-pattern wood tip-ups that rotate when a fish strikes, to complicated, lever-action styles that can resemble a Rube Goldberg style mousetrap, tip-ups are the tools of the trade when it comes to angling through the ice.
Celsius developed this 15-pound test line in clear braided material. Not as transparent as the fluorocarbon fishing lines, this braided line variety is still light-reflective and has added weight, so it will sink in the water.
This tip up line is available in 15 or 20-pound test in lengths of 50 yards.
Designed not to kink, or freeze, this line is one of the top choices for ice fishing. It works well with a variety of tip-ups, can be wound by hand or on those small reels attached to most tip-ups and it has the versatility to use with short jigging rods as well.
The braided design of this tip up line handles rough ice edges well, and is UV resistant, making it a good alternative to those anglers who prefer something besides fluorocarbon fishing line on the ice.
Berkley Trilene Cold Weather Monofilament Ice Fishing Line
The name might be a bit redundant since if you’re ice fishing you’re obviously in at least a bit of cold weather. We reviewed this line as a top example of monofilament ice fishing line, a style that is preferred by some anglers.
It is available in sizes two and three-pound test, with even weights from four to 10-pounds. These size ranges make this monofilament line a good choice for a variety of small to mid-size ice fishing uses.
The lighter two, three, and four-pound test sizes offer good bait presentation for smaller species like perch and smaller trout. Moving up the scale you’ll find a good choice for mid-sized ice fishing species like lake trout, walleye, and ling.
The line comes in a reflective electric blue color that blends well with the light flowing through shallow ice. Moreover, it also blends in well with the darker water associated with thick mid-winter ice on northern lakes that can exceed three feet in depth.
Available in 110-yard spools, there is more than enough line to fill several tip-ups and have plenty left over to spool a jigging rod with a few dozen yards of line.
This line is more buoyant than the competing fluorocarbon line and requires more weight to present it at depth properly.
Seaguar Blue Label 50 Yard Fluorocarbon Leader
Marketed as a leader for braided line or monofilament lines, this high-quality product has more uses than being tied onto the end of a different style of fishing line.
The sturdy, no stretch, no memory fluorocarbon line provides all the features an ice fishing angler could look for.
The product is produced in a staggering array of sizes from single-pound test all the way to 80-pound test, a heavy-duty line that can horse just about any fish you’ll encounter.
Ice fishermen prefer the four to 10-pound test varieties for the thinness of the product, ease of use, and almost transparent visibility.
Blue Label is packaged in 50-yard spools and is a bit pricier than competing brands, but you pay for the quality you’ll get with this product.
Made of high-quality, double structure fluorocarbon, it is the top-ranked leader on the market, with the least stretch you’ll find in fluorocarbon fishing lines.
Though it’s a great leader, it’s a fabulous ice fishing line as well.
Trout Magnet S.O.S. Fishing Line
Not a true fluorocarbon line, but a composite of fluorocarbon and other materials, this product is a favorite of guides, and commercial anglers.
Available in two, four, and six-pound test varieties, this ice fishing line is packed into 350-yard spools.
It’s a great choice for heavy-duty uses, professional guides, and serious ice anglers who work the ice heavily with the maximum number of pop-ups, holes, and jigging rods allowed on the lake.
Stretch and abrasion-resistant, this line is a high-end choice for light fishing. Perfect invisibility for trout, perch, and sunfish, the green tint to these ice fishing lines make it difficult for fish to spot in the water.
As a copolymer, it sinks easily, holds a knot well, and competes with other much more expensive brands of ice fishing line.
If you’re a heavy user, this is the best ice fishing line to buy. You can equip dozens of tip-ups, ice fishing rods, and full-sized rod and reel combos with this line for a very reasonable price.
How is ice fishing line used differently than open water line?
The difference is in the cast, there isn’t a cast with ice angling. You just bait the hook, or tie on a lure and drop it to a specific depth through the ice hole.
Regulations vary from state to state, but there are no regulations on the pattern you can create in the ice. Some ice fishing anglers line up holes in a single line, others use a circular pattern to minimize distances between the holes, and still, others have an erratic pattern that follows an underwater fish-holding structure.
Ice fishing line has a shorter length between angler and fish. Tip-ups usually set the hook automatically, requiring a minimum of stretch in the line to set the hook properly.
The stiff, no memory feature of these ice fishing lines ensures it will flow straight through the water to the level you’re fishing without coiling or wrapping against the sides of the hole in the ice.
The abrasion resistance is important in preserving the ice fishing lines after bringing in a hard fighting fish that pulls the line against, and around, the often sharp edges of the ice hole.
Ice fishing is a great way to spend those long winter nights. Bundled up on the frozen surface or enjoying a campfire on the ice, the joys of ice fishing are often underrated.
The catches you get through the ice can often exceed the fishing action during warmer months in the same areas with open water.
Selecting the right ice fishing line is important. Considerations for resistance to cuts, nicks, and abrasion, stiffness of the line when setting the hook, and no memory in the line so it spools out straight and evenly to both shallow and deeper depths are essential considerations.
Select the right ice fishing line, and improve your chances through the ice.
For more guides on choosing the best fishing lines, check out the pages below-