5 Best Walleye Ice Fishing Rods: Reviewed, Rated & Compared

by Andrew

5 Best Walleye Ice Fishing Rods: Reviewed, Rated & Compared

by Andrew

by Andrew

Snow season may be just around the corner, or you have a trip set up to enjoy some ice fishing. Either way, there's no shortage of stuff to help you catch walleye through the ice. Selecting the right rod for your fishing adventures is a great start.

There's plenty of jigging, spinning, or deadsticks available that are technique or species-specific, and many are advertised as walleye models. We’ve reviewed some of these, and more of the best rods on the market, and at a range of price points.

Preview

Product

Rod Length

Line Weight

Primary Material

Check Price

St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Rod (28', Medium)

St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod

28 Inches

2-6 Lbs.

Solid Carbon Blank

Abu Garcia Veritas 3.0 Ice Fishing Spinning...

Abu Garcia Veritas 3.0

29 Inches

1-6 Lbs.

24-Ton Graphite

fenwick ETICE28MH Elite Tech Ice Spinning Rod

Fenwick Elite Tech

28 inches

6-10 Lbs.

Hi-Modulus Graphite

Tailored Tackle Ice Fishing Rod Reel Combo 28...

Tailored Tackle

28 inches

3-6 Lbs.

Carbon Fiber

13 Fishing Tickle Stick 23' Light Hardwater...

13 FISHING Tickle Stick

27 inches

2-6 Lbs.

PC2 Blank


Why Ice Fishing for Walleye Requires a Quality Rod

Hardcore ice anglers understand the harsh conditions they may undergo, and that’s before setting up your rod and reel. Finding a spot, carving your fishing hole, and setting up for hours will be for nothing if your rod can’t endure the environment and conditions. Fishing for walleye requires slow movements from slow jigging baits, so choosing a rod and reel that has some sensitivity is perfect.

Having a rod too stiff or long won’t help you in feeling each flicker to the bait, and results in you not landing many walleye fish. We’ve listed some need-to-know qualities and factors about ice fishing rod and accessories before you look at models and brands.


Choosing A Quality Walleye Ice Fishing Rod

Rod Type

There’s a range of ice fishing rods in several sizes, types, and species-specific powers and ranges. These specs will differ from rod type, and the two most common rod types are spinning and jigging rods.

  • Walleye Spinning Rods
    You can use a spinning rod and reel when ice fishing for walleye. They're actually quite easy to use, so novice ice anglers will enjoy their length and application. They tend to be around 24-32 inches in length. They also tend to be faster in action than other rod types, that’s why they’re considered easier as you feel more along the blank.
  • Walleye Jigging Rods
    Jigging rods tend to be between 28-32 inches long. If you’re looking for a great all-rounder, then stick with a rod that has a medium or medium-heavy power, fast action rating. What’s great about jigging rods is that many baits can be used perfectly with this rod, which means more fishing applications.

Rod Material

The rods’ material is the primary source as to whether or not it’s sturdy and stable, or stiff and nimble. Most ice fishing rods will be composed of one of the following.

  • Graphite
    Sturdy material and usually makes for a more powerful blank.
  • Fiberglass
    Very lightweight and can have an incredible bend without worrying about snapping.
  • Carbon Fiber
    This is a form of graphite where the cells are closer together, offering the toughness of graphite and the lightness of fiberglass.

Many brands have used these materials and created blends for blanks for more durability or more flexibility in different rod models.

Line Weight & Guides

Line weights are represented to us as a rating in pounds. It’s given to us by the manufacturers to suggest the normal breaking strength of the line. This rating needs to match the line you buy and on the rods’ reel. With ice fishing, the most common line weight is 6-pound, with some finesse rods that are heavier in power, specialize in line weights in 10-20 lbs for targeting large fish. Be sure your line weight will match your environment, target species, and line.

Guides on an ice fishing rod stop your line from twisting and creating ‘bird’s nest’ in the reel, or along the blank. They’re typically made of different metals or ceramic, like stainless steel, to increase durability and reduce friction. Cheaper rods will experience higher wear and tear to the guides and may bend after your first trip. We recommend paying close attention to these features when choosing your new ice fishing rod.

Rod Handles

Get a grip and choose the right handle for your walleye ice fishing rod. The three most common handles for ice fishing rods are:

  • Split-grip Handle
    These are 3 piece handles consisting of the foregrip, rear grip, and the butt end, also known as the fighting butt.
  • Pistol-grip Handle
    Many anglers replace uncomfortable or damaged handles with pistol grips. The hard rubber makes it very easy to hold onto, so it’s great for anglers with hand or arm issues.
  • Full handle
    We love full handles when ice fishing. They're longer and are usually constructed with cork or EVA foam. 

Price

Walleye ice fishing rods can range in price from budget-friendly price points to higher, more expensive models. Either way, There’s bound to be a fishing rod that will suit all of your walleye fishing needs on our list so you can get out to the waterways in no time at all. Be sure to have a budget, know what you want in a rod, and buy accordingly.

Warranty

It’s rare to see rods without a warranty of some sort these days. Manufacturers have warranties on many of their rods, and they also state exactly what it’s covered for. It could be a replacement or refund if there is a demonstrable defect created during the product's construction. Some warranties will cover any issues that arise when you've ownership of the rod for the warranty period. Your new walleye ice fishing rod could be covered for 1 year or a lifetime, so check on our list before you buy.


5 Best Walleye Ice Fishing Rods Reviewed

1. St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod

best walleye ice fishing rod

Rod Length

28 Inches

Line Weight

2-6 Lbs.

Primary Material

Solid Carbon Blank

Power/Action

Medium

Handle

Split-grip, Cok/EVA Foam

St. Croix is one of the most reputable brands for having high-quality products that fit in many anglers’ budget. The Mojo Ice Series is suited for various fishing styles and techniques, from panfish, trout, walleye, pike, and lake trout, there’s a size and style to suit all when fishing under the ice. The model we loved for walleye was the 28 inch, medium ice fishing rod.

The blank is constructed of a precision-tapered, solid carbon with a lot of movement in the top-third, yet has enough backbone in the lower two thirds to tackle any walleye fish. The maroon-colored blank is paired with a premium split-grip cork/EVA handle, which we found extremely comfortable to hold, even while wearing gloves. It also features St. Croix’s proprietary custom reel seat and Sea Guide lightweight stainless steel guides. 

From 24-inch ultra-light rods to 34-inch heavy power rods, each rod is carefully designed for a ton of fish species for under ice. They’re lightweight, perfectly balanced, and can withstand harsh weather conditions. If you're more interested in owning a new jigging rod, rather than a spinner, check out our top pick for the best ice fishing jigging rod for walleyes, the St. Croix Avid.

Pros
  • Lightweight - perfect for traveling long distances
  • High-quality carbon blank
  • Feature a ton of St. Croix’s new research
  • Stainless steel guides designed to prevent freeze-up
Cons
  • Complaints of bent and unaligned eyelets upon delivery - check before you use

2. Abu Garcia Veritas 3.0

best walleye ice fishing rod for beginners

Rod Length

29 Inches

Line Weight

1-6 Lbs.

Primary Material

24-Ton Graphite

Power/Action

Ultra-light

Handle

Split-Grips EVA

If you want to easily pick up bites with a strong and lightweight ice fishing rod, then the Veritas 3.0 may be your rod of choice. Abu Garcia has upgraded its Veritas 2.0 model and made this new series more sensitive and more technique-specific. We’ve chosen the 29 inches, ultra-light model for beginner ice anglers. This 24-ton graphite rod won’t break the bank either as it’s in the lower to mid-price point. It’s a perfect match for beginner anglers seeking out walleyes under the ice.

The Veritas 3.0  features smoked stainless guide frames with aluminum oxide inserts. This helps the line run smoothly and enhances the durability and efficiency of the rod. Its split grip high-density EVA handle design feels very comfortable in your hand. And it also transfers everything to your glove with this ultra-light ice fishing rod. We found it to be extremely sensitive so that novice anglers won’t miss a bite.

Your reel will fit nicely and will stay secure with its micro click reel hood. If you decide to buy this as a novice angler, then stick with a 6-pound micro ice line and an in-line reel. You’ll have a nice setup when you go out on the ice.

Pros
  • High-quality aluminum oxide inserts
  • Lightweight graphite blank
  • Extremely sensitive
  • 1-Year Warranty
Cons
  • Not suitable for heavy walleye or gamefish

3. Fenwick Elite Tech

Best value for money

Rod Length

28 inches

Line Weight

6-10 Lbs.

Primary Material

Hi-Modulus Graphite

Power/Action

Medium-heavy

Handle

Full Cork

One of the biggest benefits of having big-name brands creating low priced rods is that they use their expertise and knowledge into every product they create, at all price points. The Fenwick Elite Tech ice rod proves to anglers that low priced rods aren’t poorly made, or just for novice anglers. It’s a serious rod for serious ice anglers who know great value for money when they see it. 

For starters, beautiful smoked stainless steel guides are running down this 28-inch graphite blank. Fenwick used their high-modulus blend of graphite, so it’s as light as possible. Its Ergonomically-shaped full cork handle is a dream to hold and has Fenwick’s TAC (Technically Advanced Construction)  to increase grip and durability. It'll be hard for you ever to lose your grip with this full handle in hail, sleet, or snow.

There are six rod types available ranging from light to heavy, but the model we loved for walleye fishing was the 28-inch medium-heavy spinning rod. Its down locking reel seat fits our reel on securely, and set up was a breeze. It’s hard to beat Fenwick for their ice fishing rods, so find out what all the hype is about with the Elite Tech ice fishing rod.

Pros
  • Classic design- beautiful ice rod
  • Reel seat has a very secure fit
  • TAC cork handle
  • Limited lifetime warranty
Cons
  • May be too stiff for novice anglers

4. Tailored Tackle

best walleye ice fishing rod & reel combo

Rod Length

28 inches

Line Weight

3-6 Lbs.

Primary Material

Carbon Fiber

Power/Action

Medium-light/Fast

Handle

Split Grip, Cork

If you want a rod and reel that's not only perfect for walleye fishing but for perch, trout, crappie, and sunfish, too, then the Tailored Tackle Combo is the rod for you. This versatile 28-inch rod has a line rating of 3-6 pounds and with medium power rating. So, it’s a great all-rounder in terms of ice fishing.

The combo features a 20-sized reel, which is powerful enough to reel in a gamefish. It's also equipped with 5 ball bearings to enhance its performance and durability. The reel has a gear ratio of 5.2:1, perfect for handling both light and heavyweight fishes. We found that the drag system wasn’t great in all fishing applications, but overall, it works pretty well alongside the rod. 

The rod, on the other hand, is well crafted and is constructed of carbon fiber. It’s lightweight and comfortable to hold without fatiguing your hand or arm. Each bite will be felt through its ergonomically designed cork handle, which helps you keep your grip all day, night long. There's also a 14 page booklet accompanying your combo with chapters on how to use and maintain your ice fishing pole, and more specifically, how to catch walleye using the Tailored Tackle Rod and Reel Combo.

Pros
  • Great for various fishing styles and techniques.
  • Durable rod
  • Comes with a reel and fishing booklet
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
Cons
  • Backbone could be improved

5. 13 FISHING Tickle Stick

best spinning rod for ice fishing walleye

Rod Length

27 Inches

Line Weight

2-6 Lbs.

Primary Material

PC2 Blank

Power/Action

Light

Handle

3A Portuguese Cork

With tons of spinning rods on the market, it’s hard to narrow down such a long list to the best. The 13 fishing Tackle Stick walleye ice rod features all you need and more into this beautifully crafted spinning rod. Its unique PC2 (Parallel Composite Construction) has linear fibers that create a flat tip at the top. This tip drastically increases the angler’s ability to detect any strikes from walleye. Your hooksets will never be the same again with this rigid blank as you won’t experience any rolling over.

This lightweight ice spinning rod incorporates 13 Fishing's innovative ALPS thin wire guides. These guides accumulate less ice than conventional guides, so fishing in snow won’t be a problem. The custom Evolve reel seat holds the reel perfectly in place, and its' 3A Portuguese cork handle is perfect for holding in cold weather. 

What we loved the most is its high sensitivity. The Tickle Stick spinning rod has a light power rating, so light bites will be felt, but heavy fishes won’t be ideal for this ice rod. Overall, this is one of the most innovative ice rods on our list so if you’re a serious walleye angler looking for a high-quality spinning rod, then be sure to take a closer look at this model.

Pros
  • You’ll feel every strike to your line
  • Flat tip allows for perfect hook-sets
  • Light and easy on the hands and arms
  • 1-Year Warranty
Cons
  • Higher price point

Tips for Walleye Ice Fishing Rod Setup

Once you’ve picked your perfect ice fishing rod and reel, it’s time to get it ready for catching walleye. Other than your rod and reel, you’ll need some of the following:

  • Small, sharp hooks (typically in size 6 for walleye)
  • A weighted bobber
  • Lures (like minnows, rattle baits, or spoons, for example)
  • Line with a 6-8 pound test
  • Fluorocarbon leader

Once you’ve spooled your line onto your reel, then you can add your hooks, baits, and bobber onto your line. We recommend a fluorocarbon line as it offers a little more stretch and forgiveness than braid while minimizing line visibility. But if you want to deep water fish under the water, then braided all the way!


Other Essential Gear for Walleye Ice Fishing

Finding the best ice fishing tackle will help you land walleye, but there are some other essentials you’ll need to consider to make your trip go by smooth sailing. As we mentioned, a good quality rod case and reel will be needed,  but so will a landing net, bucket, auger, and ice scoop will seriously help you keep your walleye fresh and secure while you keep on fishing. An ice fishing fish finder could come in useful, too.

There’s nothing worse than cutting your hole to fish and realizing your ice scooper is at home, forcing you to scoop the slush out with your hand. Be prepared and pack all you need so you’ll have a successful trip in all areas.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

How deep will walleye go in the winter?

Walleyes love to stick near the bottom of many waterways once the temperature starts to drop. Expect to find fishes, including walleye between 20 to 50 feet deep, or lower if your environment is deep enough. This is why bobbers are so important in your set up. It helps get your bait where it needs to go so you can catch more fish.

What line should I use for walleyes?

Fluorocarbon line is a great all-rounder for walleye fishing, especially in freezing conditions. It’s nearly invisible to see, helps maintain sensitivity from the rod through the line, and can be used in various fishing techniques. If you’re hoping to hit the water bottom, and you’re expecting 30 feet plus, then a braided line is a lot stronger and can handle a tug of war match with a hefty walleye fish with ease.

What’s the best bait to use for walleye ice fishing?

Many anglers love using minnows for walleye fishing. They work wonders when jigging or for deepwater applications. Leeches and nightcrawlers are good choices, too. We loved spoons with some of the rods that we’ve reviewed. Be sure to check which bait is recommended for the rod and reel you choose.

Are there regulations for walleye ice fishing?

You’ll need a fishing license in almost every state if you're fishing under the ice. Luckily for you, it’s not a separate license, so if you have a standard fishing license, you're all set to go. If you need to get your fishing license, check out with your local authorities to make the process easier.

What are the best brands for walleye ice fishing rods?

Some of the best and most recognized brands in ice fishing are St Croix, Abu Garcia, 13 Fishing, and Fenwick. These brands continue to elevate great models of ice rods and bring them to a new level of excellence. Of course, there are other brands that create unique walleye ice rods, but many anglers go-to manufacturers are listed above.


Conclusion

As you can see, there’s a lot to know when it comes to ice fishing. And having your perfect rod is just one step. If you decide to go for our top pick, the St. Croix Mojo Series Ice Fishing Rod, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a solid rod at a competitive price and could have you catching walleyes for your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

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