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To someone who grew up using a 7’ baitcaster, a 28” ice fishing rod might look a little bit silly. But really, they are critical tools needed in order to ice fish. These little rods are strong enough to haul in massive pike, but can also be delicate enough to feel the tiniest bite from a crappie. There are all different kinds on the market made for different types of fish. That being said, why are ice fishing rods so small?
It’s short it’s because you don’t need the casting power that a longer rod has. You’ll be dropping your bait or lure through a hole in the ice where you’ll be either jigging it up and down or waiting patiently. You’ll also want to be sitting right near the hole, so that when you do hook a fish, you’re not 6-7 feet away, but instead right there to grab the fish.
Below we’re going to talk more in depth about what kind of rod you need to get in order to have a successful day out on the ice.
Do You Really Need a Small Rod For Ice Fishing
To put it briefly, yes. Because the rod is so short it allows you to get a good hook set on the fish when you’re over top of the hole you drilled. It also allows you to give a better fight if your directly over where you hooked them. and if you’re fishing from a hut or a shelter there’s a good chance you’ll be backed up against the wall, or you just wont fit.
Finally, many of the longer rods are not sensitive enough to detect a winter time fish bite. Since fish are much more dormant in the winter, you’ll find that the bite is soft and subtle and you need that sensitivity to detect it. So now when someone asks why are ice fishing rods so small, you’ll be able to shoot back an answer.
Best Length for An Ice Fishing Rod
The most common sizes for an ice fishing rod are 24”-30” long. If you want to target smaller fish like panfish, perch, or crappie, stick on the smaller end of that spectrum. But if you want to catch larger fish such as pike, walleye, trout, and even bass then go higher.
The reason you want a smaller rod for smaller fish is because the lightweight feel is sensitive and will detect bites much better. If you want to target larger fish you need the longer rod because it is stronger and will give you a better chance to fight the fish. It will also help prevent your line from breaking. If looking for an overall solid length stick in the 28” range. This will allow you to catch both large and small fish.
You also need to think about how large of a lure you plan on throwing. If you want to throw micro jigs or wax worms then a smaller rod will work the best. Again, this is because it is more sensitive. Same goes with heavier jigs. Throw a heavy lure use a heavy rod.
Can Small Ice Rods Handle Big Fish
It is possible, but you need to keep into consideration that if you catch a large pike on a lightweight set up you run the risk of exhausting the fish and potentially killing it. You can go lightweight and be able to catch larger species, but keep in mind you’ll need to be able to upgrade the test of your line as well as your rod and reel size. Something with a medium action could be do able and you would be able to spare the fish by doing so.
Tips for Choosing an Ice Fishing Rod
The catch all ice fishing rod is a 28” medium action jigging rod. This can be used for just about any type of ice fishing, but if you want to customize your rod to the where your fishing, what you’re fishing with and what species you’re targeting then you can customize it.
When picking out a rod it all comes down to what species of fish are you going to target. Take into account the power of the rod, ultra-light, light, medium, and heavy. Ultra-light is good for panfish, light for perch, light to medium for walleye, and heavy rods for lake trout and pike. One thing you need to take into consideration is that you should always feel the vibration or weight of your lure in the water. If you can’t feel it, you either upgrade your lure, or downgrade your rod.
If you want to have more than one rod with you on the water then each one should have a different action that will allow to use different lures and catch different fish. Bring along one rigged for perch, one for walleye, and one for pike.
There are also two primary materials that ice fishing rods are made out of. Graphite, and fiberglass. Graphite and is more expensive but it is also lighter and more sensitive. The sensitive is needed to help detect light bites and to properly work smaller lures.
While fiberglass is not as good in some cases, the more expensive versions can hold up. They offer a strong backbone that can be used to muscle up big fish and give strong hooksets. Fiberglass is also more durable and can hold up better if fishing in freezing temperatures.
An overlooked aspect of choosing your rod is the handle. Some rods will have foam handles on them which will absorb water and that can be an issue when fishing in extreme cold. Stick to cork, as you can feel vibration better and warms easier when it is held.
If fishing from a shanty then rod length plays a large role. You’ll want something small so you can rest your arm on your leg and jig and work your jig up and down. This also lets you sight fish and you’ll be able to see the hole much easier. If you want to check out a good ice rod then head on over to Amazon and take a look at the 13 Fishing Tickle Stick.
Why are ice fishing rods so small? Because they need to be. To non-ice fisherman it may look silly to see someone out there with a two-foot rod, but these pieces of equipment are no joke. They’re created to do a job and do it well. Whether you’re fishing for small panfish, walleye, or large pike there is an ice fishing rod that can handle exactly what you need.