Ice fishing line is a different breed than your summer angling line. You need durability; 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 coated with freezing water and ice.
Just like with everything from your fishing flasher to your ice auger, choosing your fishing line mostly comes down to preference — what you are used to, the kind of fishing you do, and what works best with your reel. You know what features you like most in lines; you may already have a favorite manufacturer. But it’s important to keep in mind that ice fishing requires different tools — and that covers your lines. We highlight a few of our favorites below.
Best Ice Fishing Line
Berkley Trilene Micro Ice Fishing Line
This is a premium monofilament line made by Berkley. It has an outstanding amount of tensile strength, meaning you’re unlikely to see your line break easily. You can rest assured that your hook will be set in the fish’s mouth more often, because this line does not have a lot of stretch and give to it.
Trilene Micro lin allows you to have better control over artificial lures like jigs, because the line is stout, firm, and does not give or sway. It is strong relative to other brands we have fished with, and has very little “memory” meaning that the last rig you had on the line won’t ruin the action if you put a completely new rig on.
It is available in steel or solar colors, they are easy to see on top of the ice or a few feet down in the hole.
Sufix Ice Magic Fishing Line (Clear)
The Sufix Ice Magic fishing line is completely clear, which means its difficult to see on the ice but also almost impossible for the fish to see it under the water! 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. It remains pliable and manageable even when the temperatures are below freezing, and is capable of repelling the water. As a result, it maintains its strength. And, as a bonus, the Sufix Ice Magic fishing line 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 makes it easier to thread through the eyes of some jigs and artificial lures and nearly invisible to fish, but it also means the line is harder to see on the ice by the fisher.
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 — it has as much strength as a line 3x as thick as it is made from microfused Dyneema fibers and flurocarbon coated. As a bonus, the line isn’t going to freeze or become brittle due to exposure.
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, doesn’t turn brittle in the cold, and is visible to you but not the fish. These are major factors that set ice fishing lines apart from regular lines.
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 buy. Each reel is rated for specific line test and diameters, so be sure to check this info before you purchase!
The strength of your line determines whether or not you can bring that big fish up to the surface. You need a line that won’t snap if the fish jerks its head or that will fray on the side of the ice hole.
Ice Fishing Line FAQ
Is ice fishing line different than regular fishing line?
Yes. One of the biggest differences between ice fishing and regular fishing lines 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. The monofilament is more abrasion resistant, and it usually has more knot strength than most of other fluorocarbon lines.
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 douse 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. It is also much less visible to the fish, and it is easier to attached the lure to the line.