To find the best ice fishing rods for walleye there are essential factors you need to consider to succeed in this popular winter activity. Walleye are known for their elusive nature and can be challenging to catch so your rod along with a sensitive tip must have the required strength to target walleye.
But with so many options available in the market it is challenging to select the best. To help you find the right one we have shortlisted the best rods for landing that trophy walleye to take your walleye ice fishing experience to the next level.
Top 3 Picks for the best ice fishing rods for Walleye
- Fiberglass rod
- 2.5 Gear Ratio Reel
- 26, 28 and 36 inches length
- Medium to Medium heavy power
- Composite rod construction
- 20 size reel
- 26, 28, and 30 inches length options
- Light to Medium-Heavy Power
- Carbon fiber rod
- 26, 27, and 28 inches length options available
- Medium to medium Heavy Power
- 1 piece rod
Best Ice Fishing rods for Walleye Reviewed in Detail
1- 13 Fishing Microtec Walleye Spinning Ice Combo
best ice fishing rod and reel combo for walleye
13 Fishing brand is good at producing technique-specific rods and its Microtec Walleye combo is the perfect example of it. This combo is specifically designed for targeting walleye through the ice, and it delivers on all fronts.
It’s a versatile rod as it works equally well with jigs, spoons, or live bait, and can be used in a wide range of ice fishing conditions. Whether I’m fishing in a shallow, weedy bay or a deep, rocky basin, the 13 Fishing Microtec Walleye Spinning Ice Fishing Combo never fails to impress.
It’s a fiberglass rod that makes it sturdy enough to handle subtle catches and land trophy walleyes. Moreover, the standout feature of this product is that it’s a combo. So you are free from finding the best pairing reel.
The reel attached is an aluminum material that is strong and smooth enough with a great drag system that keeps those feisty walleye from pulling too hard and getting away.
This 28 inches medium power rod features guides which are perfect to cast with any of the fishing lines. These stainless steel guides are sturdy enough to handle braided line abuse.
Overall, you might miss the graphite sensitivity in this rod but I would highly recommend this combo to any serious ice fisherman looking to up their game and catch more walleye with a small investment. It’s simply the best budget ice fishing rod for walleye on the market today.
- It is a durable and flexible rod
- Affordable ice fishing combo
- Smooth reel
- Perfect for live baits too
- Cork handles offer a firm grip even wearing gloves
- VNot ideally sensitive as its a pure fiberglass rod
2- Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing Combo
best budget ice fishing combo for walleye
Ugly Stik GX2 is one the versatile rod series that is part of almost every type of fishing rod collection, either its best spinning rod, rod for trout, bass, ice fishing, saltwater, or any else. Shakespeare’s Ugly Stik never misses a chance to impress its users.
This GX2 ice fishing setup is the perfect package of sensitivity to detect walleye’s slightest bites on lures, and the strength and backbone to land that trophy giant because not all time the ice walleye is of few pounds. Your rod must be durable enough to land the suddenly bigger fish.
Its features the signature Ugly Stik blank construction i.e. composite with prominent graphite ratio. This lets the rod make a perfect bend when required.
This ice combo is perfect for walleye jigging as sensitivity is the top requirement for this technique. Moreover, your ice jigging rod should also be lightweight and powerful, and the GX2 combo best suits these requirements.
The 20-size reel attached is an aluminum reel and features 1 ball bearing. Although it is less than the recommended count for bearings it is acceptable for an ice-fishing setup.
It is a versatile combo available in multiple lengths i.e. 26, 28, and 30 inches. I recommend sticking with 28 inches length of medium power as it covers most of the walleye fishing techniques and situations.
To catch most of the fish on the ice, Shakespeare’s Ugly Stik is a reliable choice. Its Eva foam handles are also secure to place in the ice fishing holder. It is one of the best ice fishing combos for beginners as it is good to start with budget-friendly and quality gear.
- Sensitive tip to feel everything through the ice
- Composite construction gives the rod strength, flexibility, and lightweight structure all at the same time
- Only 1 ball-bearing reel
Fenwick HMG ice spinning rod is good at handling a wide range of line and lure sizes making it a go-to reel for most of the anglers. Moreover, one thing that sets this rod apart from others is its ability to excel at dead sticking.
Dead sticking is a technique where you rig up your bait and let it sit motionless on the bottom. It’s a great way to entice finicky fish like walleye who may not be in the mood to chase after a moving lure. The HMG Ice Fishing Spinning Rod is perfect for this technique because of its exceptional sensitivity and fast action.
It is a carbon fiber rod an enhanced form of graphite. These rods are more sensitive and feature better flexibility and backbone than graphite rods.
When dead sticking, you need to be able to detect the slightest movements in your bait. The HMG Ice Fishing Spinning Rod being unmatched in its sensitivity feature, allows you to feel even the slightest nibble from a fish. And when it’s time to set the hook, the fast action of the rod allows for a quick and firm hookset.
In summary, if you’re a walleye angler who loves to dead stick, the Fenwick HMG Ice Fishing Spinning Rod is the rod for you. For these extended periods of waiting for a walleye bite, this lightweight design rod is a perfect choice.
As a seasoned ice fishing angler, I can confidently say that you won’t feel fatigued even after hours of dead sticking. So better give it a try.
- Ideally lightweight rods
- Sensitive tip
- Features the required flex and backbone
- Expensive rod
For tight and shallow water conditions you will need a smaller length rod and HT polar light jig Stik is the perfect choice.
This medium power rod is fully graphite so ideally sensitive. They are lightweight rods but were a bit stiffer in my jigging experience. I don’t think that it breaks the deal as this level of stiffness is fair in graphite rods.
It covers the jigging technique decently however if you are searching for a dead stick rod, it might not be the best performer as dead sticking requires the rods to bend easily on bite detection.
Overall, these lighter rods are perfect for your light lures and line setup to target smaller walleye. A 6 lb. braided line with a lightweight spoon or jig results in the perfect setup.
- Specially designed rod for walleye jigging
- Sensitive tip
- Best for smaller-sized fish
- Perfect rod length for shallow water conditions
- Stiff rods
To take your ice fishing experience to the next level, pick St. Croix Legend black ice fishing rod for fishing with bobbers and bite detectors. Here you need to make a slightly bigger investment as compared to other rods mentioned above but trust it’s a worth buying product.
One of the key features that make this rod so great for walleye fishing with strike indicators is its exceptional sensitivity. The Legend Black Ice Fishing Rod is designed to pick up on even the slightest movements in your bait, allowing you to detect even the most finicky bites. And when it’s time to set the hook, the fast action of the rod ensures a quick and effective hookset.
These rods are great options for deep-sea fishing especially when you can see your target.
The St. Croix Legend black is also a top performer in dead sticking when you want to present your bait in a stationary position, this rod’s sensitivity allows you to detect the most subtle nibble from a fish.
The standout feature of this rod is its top-quality components’ construction. First of all, it is a carbon fiber rod. So better than simple graphite rods. Moreover, it features stainless steel guides that can withstand the rigors of ice fishing. Additionally, the cork handle provides a comfortable grip that won’t slip even when wet or cold.
It is an advanced rod for serious ice anglers. Stick with 1/8 to ¼ oz. lures for a perfect experience. Overall, it is the perfect gift for ice-fishing enthusiasts.
- It features a strike indicator to detect the slightest bites so it is the highly sensitive rod
- Lightweight rod construction
- Flexible yet durable and sturdy rod
- The rod may be too stiff for some anglers if they are fiberglass rod users
Yes, again it’s a 13-fishing ice rod. This one is a bit more expensive than the previous 13 fishing Microtec walleye and it’s a single rod.
If you are searching for a reliable rod for open water conditions, I would recommend this Omen series. This rod is perfect for longer and deeper casts.
The standout feature of this rod is that it isn’t stiff at all. Its Japanese 36 Ton Toray graphite construction makes these rods super durable yet sensitive even though I was expecting this a stiff rod prone to breakage.
It’s a versatile rod series available from 24 to 42 inches in length. I would recommend picking a 30 or 36 inches rod. This medium to medium-heavy rods will serve for most of your panfish to walleye fishing situations.
These rods are designed to provide the sensitivity and strength needed to tackle even the toughest fish, while also being incredibly lightweight and easy to handle.
These are pretty tough rods. But what impresses me more is the attention to detail in its designs. From the sleek, stylish look to the comfortable cork handle, every aspect of these rods has been carefully crafted to provide the best possible fishing experience. Even the smallest details, such as the hook keeper and the line guides, are perfectly designed to make your fishing trip as enjoyable as possible.
Overall, it’s a recommended rod for professional anglers who are looking to take their ice fishing game to the next level. However, if you are a beginner it is better to swipe to the 13 Fishing Microtec walleye combo.
- Perfect durable rod for bigger catches
- Sensitive rod
- Features the right bigger-sized line guides
- It’s not fully lightweight
With it comes to St. Croix rods all that comes to mind is something strong, sturdy, and lasts longer. Although these brand rods are a bit budget disturbing especially in ice fishing scenarios because you wouldn’t be doing this activity throughout the year.
But this time, it’s a budget-friendly option from this brand featuring an ice rod and reel under $100. You can pick its 28 inches longer medium power version for walleye fishing conditions.
The reel that comes with this combo isn’t a high performer. I would suggest replacing it with a Kast King Size 500 reel for the best experience. But if you are a beginner you can go with the attached reel. The good part about this reel is it’s a lightweight reel, making it easy to handle and reducing fatigue during long days of fishing.
These are carbon fiber rods and a good alternative option to replace St. Croix Legend black with a cost-effective ice combo.
- Rod and reel combo
- Lightweight set up
- The attached reel isn’t sturdy and ideally smooth
How to choose the best ice fishing rod for walleye
The length of the ice fishing rod is an essential factor to consider when selecting a rod for walleye. Typically, ice fishing rods come in 24 to 36 inches length. A shorter 24 to 30 inches rod is easier to maneuver in tight spaces especially when you are fishing in ice shacks and also for shallow water conditions.
While a longer 30 to 36 inches rod provides more leverage and can cast a longer distance. Long ice fishing rods are recommended for deep water and when fishing outside any ice shanty.
At midwinter, when walleyes often live deep up to 30 ft. it is better to cast with a longer ice fishing rod.
The power of the rod refers to its ability to bend or resist bending under pressure. Ice fishing rods for walleye come in three main power options: light, medium, and heavy. Light rods are suitable for small walleye and provide more sensitivity to feel the bite. Medium rods are the most versatile and suitable for most walleye fishing situations. Heavy rods are suitable for larger fish or when fishing in thick ice.
However, light power rods are a bit too flexy while heavy power rods are stiffer of all. For the best experience, a medium power rod is the best choice for ice-fishing walleye.
Learn more about the fishing rod power in our guide to “Fishing rod power and action“.
The selection of the fishing rod materials decides whether you will get a sensitive rod or you will get a durable rod.
Graphite rods are known for their sensitivity and lightweight, but they can be more brittle and prone to breakage. Fiberglass rods are more durable and flexible but may sacrifice sensitivity. It’s essential to find a balance between sensitivity and durability when choosing a rod and composite rods (a combination of both graphite and fiberglass) are good at this balance.
Jigging is a popular technique to target walleye and a lightweight rod with a sensitive tip for quick reactions best suits this technique.
The action of the rod refers to the degree of bend from the tip to the handle when pressure is applied. Rods come in three main action types: slow, medium, and fast.
Slow-action rods bend throughout the rod’s length. Fast-action rods bend closer to the tip, providing more power and sensitivity. Medium action rods provide a balance of both power and sensitivity and are suitable for most walleye fishing situations.
Learn more about the fishing rod action in our guide to “Fishing rod power and action“.
The handle of the fishing rod leads to comfort while casting. Fishing rod handles come in two types: Cork and EVA foam handles.
Most ice fishing anglers prefer cork handles as they are good at absorbing shock and are best suited for cold water conditions as it has a natural insulation property, which helps keep your hands warm in cold temperatures.
EVA foam handles are good when you are using any rod holders as these types of handles are good with durability and last longer. However, the shape of the cork handles will be disturbed when placed in a rod holder.
The small loops on the fishing rod are the rod guides. These guides help distribute the tension and weight of the line along the length of the rod to prevent line and rod breaking.
The number and placement of the guides can vary depending on the type and length of the rod. For the walleye ice fishing setup, focus more on the size of the guide. Prefer to go with double-footed larger guides rather than small and narrow ones. As narrow guides are more prone to freezing while the bigger ones make the line passing smooth.
Monofilament and Fluorocarbon fishing lines are mostly used by ice anglers ranging from 4 to 10-pound tests for walleye. However, the specific pound test rating will depend on factors like if you’re fishing in shallow water and using small jigs or lures, a lighter line of 4-6 lb. is best. On the other hand, if you’re fishing in deeper water and using larger baits or lures, you may want to use the heavier line of 8 pounds to help you detect bites and set the hook. In case using a braided line, 15 lb. is a solid choice of line rating for an ice walleye setup.
For winter walleye fishing, a good starting point is typically between 1/8 and 1/4 ounce lure rating. In general, smaller lures are the best recommendations for winter walleye fishing, as they can mimic the smaller baitfish more closely that walleye often feed on during the colder months. Some of the popular lures for walleye fishing in ice are: Jigging spoons, jig heads tipped with soft plastics or live bait, and small vertical jigs are all popular options.
Frequently Asked Questions
When you select the right rod for walleye ice fishing, you’ll have greater sensitivity to detect the slightest bites, the perfect power to land any size walleye, and accuracy to catch more fish and make the most of your time on the ice.
All the rods listed above are shortlisted keeping in view all skill levels and budgets to suit everyone’s needs. We hope this guide will be helpful in your search for the perfect ice fishing rod. We wish you the best of luck on your next walleye fishing adventure!