6 Best Walleye Ice Fishing Rods in 2022
I set out to find the best walleye ice fishing rod long ago. After testing many options, I found six that stand out the most with their durability, reliability, and overall performance quality.
However, the 13 Fishing Microtec Walleye Spinning Ice Fishing Rod seems to be the best for small and large walleye. It comes with all the right features and a quality reel.
Keep reading to learn about other options like the St.Croix Avid Ice Jigging Ice Fishing Rod and Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Combo.
Keep your needs and preferences in mind, and let’s go.
13 Fishing Microtec Walleye
Best For Beginners
St.Croix Avid Ice Jigging Ice Fishing Rod
Best by Budget
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2
1. 13 Fishing Microtec Walleye
This 13 Fishing rod comes with a 3BB reel, so you don’t have to buy one separately. The two work well together for ice fishing and probably other methods too.
The rod is made from fiberglass that’s strong enough to handle walleye of different sizes. You can choose between a 26” M and 28” M, but I’d definitely recommend the latter.
The combo feels good in the hand, giving a sense of confidence when it comes to ice fishing. Walleye won’t present any problem, and you can probably go for perch and northern pike just as well.
What’s best is that I didn’t notice any difference in performance with or without a jawjacker. I tested it in both ways and was equally pleased.
Its stainless steel guides are placed so that the line runs smoothly even when the blank bends. However, this doesn’t always work, but try several lines to find what fits the best.
Interestingly enough, the handle is made specifically for walleye fishing. And, it does make a difference in comfort and usability since it provides enough room to handle the rod.
The handle knob found on the reel is made from durable foam. It’s equally comfortable but not as soft as the one found on the rod. On the plus side, you can change it from left to right, depending on your dominant hand.
Although it feels like a well-made combo, there might be some quality issues concerning the eyelets. Nonetheless, it works well for most walleye ice fishing conditions, especially considering the price.
Generally speaking, it all depends on the size of your catch and how well you take care of the rod and reel. Try to handle it carefully in transport and make sure to rinse everything after use.
2. St.Croix Avid Ice Jigging Ice Fishing Rod
This St. Croix ice fishing rod works well for walleye, but you can also use it for other species. The first thing you might notice is that it’s stiffer than most ice fishing rods, but this shouldn’t be a problem.
It’s stiff throughout most of its length, but the tip remains flexible enough to allow smooth performance. This makes it worth your while, especially if you pair it with an adequately light jig.
You can pair it with heavier jigs as well if that’s what you prefer since it has enough backbone.
Another thing that stands out is the tape-on reel seat. It helps even more with flexibility and sensitivity when positioning the reel.
And, you can pair it with both a spinning reel and an inline ice reel, depending on what you like better. The solid carbon blank holds up quite well, offering maximum strength and action needed for ice fishing.
Still, it’s lightweight and won’t cause hand fatigue, typically common when ice fishing for hours. This is also thanks to its sensitive carbon handle, increasing control and comfort.
The EVA foam is slightly thicker when you first look at it. But, it doesn’t seem to take away any sensitivity, so don’t worry about missing any light bites.
The blank features a Kigan stripper and running guides perfect for jigging. These have a low-profile design, making them less likely to break.
Overall, it feels light and comfortable, although it lacks some of the flexibility you’d expect from an ice fishing rod. However, it has the control and power you need to handle walleye of all sizes without breaking.
3. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2
Shakespeare GX2 is one of the best options for beginners because it comes with a reel. It’s the size 20 spinning reel, so it’s perfect for ice wishing.
It features a ported aluminum spool I paired with a Berkley Trilene Micro Ice monofilament line. However, I see it working equally well with a braided line if that’s what you prefer.
It’s a lightweight reel that doesn’t add too much weight to the rod. This is partly because it has one ball bearing and an aluminum frame.
And, you can switch it from left to right, depending on what’s your dominant hand. But, again, this is fairly easy to do in a few minutes.
The rod features the original Ugly Stik blank with a clear tip design. This makes it fit for walleye of all sizes, although you can also use it for other species.
It features a twist-lock reel seat along with EVA handles. These are slightly smaller than what you’ll see on other rods, but I didn’t find that to be too much of an issue. However, this might just depend on the size of your hands.
But, the handles are soft and cushioned for maximum comfort even if you’re fishing for hours. And, they dry quickly, so you don’t have to wait for too long before storing the rod.
Another thing that helps with comfort is the overall quality of the combo.
It feels solid and reliable, so you won’t have any issues going for the big fish. And, it still has sufficient sensitivity so that you can use it for other fish with a softer bite.
You’ll notice it’s quite flexible, but it’s unlikely to snap even when you’re reeling heavier fish. This is because it’s a medium-heavy rod made to bend like that due to the nature of ice fishing.
4. St Croix Rods Mojo Ice Fishing Rod
St. Croix Mojo is a well-known piece among many anglers. It’s a quality rod with precision-taper carbon construction that provides excellent performance in ice fishing for walleye.
This is a medium rod with a custom reel seat for many different fishing styles. Plus, I’d say it would do well with other species.
But, going back to walleye fishing, you can expect it to land you many fish of different sizes. It has split-grip handles you might find a bit too small. But, they work well for ice fishing.
And, you can choose between EVA and cork grips, depending on what you find more comfortable. Both options work well and require minimal maintenance.
One thing to keep in mind is that the EVA handles will feel bulkier in hand. This is good for comfort but might not be so good for transferring the vibration from the tip to the handle.
Another thing that stands out is the placement of its guides. It comes with Sea Guide stainless steel guides spaced out to provide equal weight dissipation.
These are smooth and designed specifically for the monofilament line we typically use for walleye ice fishing. But, you can use any other just as well.
St. Croix Mojo feels light in hand, so you can use it for hours on end. It has the kind of flexibility you’d want from an ice fishing rod, although you can use it for other techniques as well.
However, it’s quite short because it’s meant primarily for ice fishing. So, figure out if its length will serve you in other conditions. As far as ice fishing for walleye goes, you can’t go wrong with this St. Croix, especially since it’s affordable and easy to carry around.
Although the blank will show some scratches fairly quickly, this doesn’t affect the durability of the pole itself.
5. Fenwick HMG Ice Fishing Spinning Rod
Fenwick HMG ice fishing rod has increased durability and sensitivity thanks to the carbon blanks. The 27’’ medium one-piece works best for walleye due to its flexibility and backbone.
The first thing that stands out is the ergonomic reel seat. I used my Shimano r1000s because it performs well in the winter and is reliable enough to use in these conditions.
I spooled it with a 6-pound Berkley Cold Weather line, this time wanting to try something other than the Micro line I mentioned earlier.
The line ran smoothly through the stainless steel guides, especially thanks to the aluminum oxide inserts. The combo reduces friction, so there’s less chance of the line snapping.
Overall, it feels reliable, but you’ll notice the heavy-duty backbone right off the bat. It’s also relatively sensitive, so you won’t have any issues feeling light bites.
Although I went for smaller fish, I see it performing just as well with larger fish. In addition, the premium cork handle is comfortable and non-slippery, so it helps with that general feel of reliability.
It’s thicker in the handle area, so that might take some time to get used to. But, I found it comfortable nonetheless, although a bit weird at first.
It’s 6’’ long, which is somewhat standard for handles on ice fishing rods.
However, it might wear out rather quickly, so I suggest you try to keep it as dry as possible. And, don’t forget to rinse everything after each use to prevent rust and deterioration.
Although it’s well-built and resistant, make sure to handle it carefully in transport and storage. Some people reported it showed scratches after only a few uses.
6. Vexan Ice Fishing Rod
Vexan is another industry-leading brand with excellent fishing rods we can use for ice fishing. A 28’’ medium-light rod is the best for walleye, and you can also use it for other fish and fishing techniques.
What stands out the most is the special top built specifically to reduce ice buildup. It makes the rod so much easier to use in harsh winter conditions, especially if it snows when you’re fishing.
Although you might find it somewhat stiff, it works excellent for ice fishing. And, I’d say you can target all kinds of species regardless of the size.
The blank is strong and reliable, so it’s unlikely to break, although you’ll notice it flexes quite a lot. But, it’s meant to, so don’t worry.
One thing that stands out is the handle that’s much longer than on other rods. The butt could be a bit shorter, and it would still accommodate anglers with longer hands. And, you’ll notice the hook keeper is at 90 degrees, which is also unique for ice fishing rods.
I tried bending the keeper a bit to face down, which helped a little. However, be careful when doing this because it’s fragile and could easily break under pressure.
The reel seat is nice and will fit a 100 size reel without issues. I’d say you can use any reel you prefer, so try with what you already have for ice fishing. But, make sure it’s not too heavy, or it’ll throw the rod off balance.
Overall, it’s good for the price. It’s considered affordable, so you’ll get value for money, especially if you’re not regular on ice. It’s also easy to use for beginners.
Buying Guide for Walleye Ice Fishing Rods
Walleye is generally easy to land, but you need a specific rod since ice fishing is done in harsh conditions. Sadly, not every rod works for ice, and not every ice rod works for other methods.
For this reason, you should think about your needs and preferences. For example, are you only targeting walleye? If so, let’s dive deep into what you’re going to need.
Rod length you’ll go for depends on the fishing conditions and your personal preference. Long rods are more forgiving, but most people find them hard to use in closed quarters.
This is why most ice fishing rods are on a shorter side. These don’t absorb shock as well as longer ones, so you’ll feel more of it on your line, reel drag, and arms.
A 28’’ rod is somewhat of a golden middle for walleye ice fishing.
The first thing you should know is the difference between rod power and action. In short, power indicates the weight needed to make the rod flex. The action indicates where the rod flexes when you put that weight on it.
Medium power seems to work the best for walleye ice fishing. It supports many lure ratings from ¼ to ¾ ounces. In addition, it has that perfect balance of stiffness and flexibility to hook walleye of different sizes.
When it comes to action, it’s best to focus on fast-action models because they’ll allow you to feel the slightest nibble.
This is perfect for smaller fish, but these rods also have enough backbone you need for a larger catch. A fast-action rod bends at the tip, great for ice fishing in tight spaces.
Its sensitivity is precisely what makes it a good fit for jigging.
Ice fishing rods are typically made from graphite, fiberglass, or both. Although it’s a matter of preference, it’s often best to go for graphite when targeting walleye.
Graphite is more expensive, yes. However, it’s stronger and more durable than fiberglass. In addition, it bends quicker, which you’ll notice gives you more time to yank the hook.
A fast-action rod made from graphite has a sensitive tip combined with a robust blank. And, this is exactly what you want for walleye ice fishing.
Fiberglass is cheaper but also quite durable in cold weather. However, it’s not as sensitive, and you want to have as much sensitivity as possible.
Fishing Line to Use
Asking around, you’ll hear many people use many different fishing lines for walleye. I tested several options with the rods I had a chance to play with.
In the end, I’d say 2-pound Micro Ice monofilament works best. It can handle a lot and helps with the confidence you’ll need for reeling bigger fish. In addition, it has a low stretch rating, which is perfect for heavier walleye.
Final Thoughts on the Best Walleye Ice Fishing Rod
What’s your favorite walleye ice fishing rod? I still think the 13 Fishing Microtec Walleye is the most efficient out of all six, but it’s up to you to choose. It’s comfortable and easy to use for hours on end, thanks to its pinpoint strength and flexibility.
However, think about the specific conditions you’re in and the size of walleye you’d like to land. The rods we talked about are versatile, but some are more size-specific. Additionally, you want to make sure you that you go through a checklist for ice fishing gear, as ice fishing rods aren’t the only thing you’ll need when catching walleye.