Just before the ice fishing season hits its time to start thinking about tackle. If you are planing on targeting lake trout from the ice then choosing the correct rod and reel is of the upmost importance.
Let’s face it smaller ultralight ice rods might be okay for shallow water ice fishing when you are targeting perch or smaller sized walleye but:
If hooking a big laker is your aim then you’ll need a rod that is up to the job.
Targeting smaller lakers only? Then a shorter medium powered rod is just fine. Throw on your ice fishing boots, load up the sled and get to it!
Length is probably the most argued about specification for ice rods. In the end everyone has their preference.
If you are in a small flip over ice shelter then a long rod is really not going to be practical. My advice for lake trout is to buy the longest rod that is usable in your shelter or cabin.
If you are fishing out on the exposed ice without any kind of cover then you can opt for a longer rod.
A 28″ rod should be the minimum. With 32″ being standard and if you can find the right rod and it suits you then 48″ ice rods work great for larger lakers.
A longer rod is especially useful if you are jigging at considerably deep depths anywhere up to 100 feet. The extra length allows for a lower jig action and it also acts as a better lever too.
Lake trout need a medium action rod at a minimum. If possible try to go for a medium/heavy or a heavy if you are really targeting big lakers deep down in the water column.
If you are only looking to target smaller lakers on smaller jigs or bait then a medium power ice rod is just fine.
But when things get serious and you are fishing in waters that have some serious monsters down in the deeper sections then a heavier power is the safest bet.
An ice rod for lake trout should have a fast action. A large portion of your time may well be spent jigging and jigging needs a sufficiently fast action.
A slower action will also reduce your hook-set success rate. Fast actions allow you to hit the strike and get as mush force and speed into the hook as possible.
1. Clam Dead Meat 36″ Medium
If you are targeting smaller lake trout and want a rod that can be used for other species too then the Dead Meat from Clam is a solid choice.
These rods are an updated version of the previous Jason Mitchell signature ice rod the Meat Stick also produced by Clam Outdoors.
They are built on really tough full fiberglass blanks which significantly reduces the chances of snapping them especially during transport.
Lightweight graphite rods are great for high end performance and sensitivity but they can’t take the same amount of beating that a fiberglass one can.
The line guides are deliberately oversized to help reduce line freeze in super cold conditions.
This is a 36″ model with a medium power rating. Despite being built from fiberglass(which is usually less sensitive) the tip loads really well and they are just as good as any graphite rod.
Fiberglas also makes them feel like they have a bit more backbone so in the event of a larger lake trout striking you still have a bit more power against them.
- Durable fiberglass rod blank
- Over-sized line guides
- Split handle, cork with EVA butt
2. Fenwick HMG 28″ Medium Heavy
The HMG ice fishing rod from Fenwick is available in from an ultralight up to a medium heavy and 23″ up to 28″.
For lakers we’d definitely opt for the 28″ medium/heavy rod. At 28″ it’s pretty usable in confined spaces but with the medium/heavy power rating it has a lot more backbone than most ice rods of that length.
The only reel drawback to the rods design would be the moderate action. It would be better suited to dead sticking rather than jigging for lake trout. That’s not to say that you can’t jig with it but if you are after a super sensitive and response ice rod then you really need to try a fast action.
Saying that it does use a very high modulus graphite material for the construction. The blank also has a significant taper built into it which can help to increase sensitivity through the rod tip.
- Medium/Heavy power with a moderate action
- Aluminum oxide guide inserts
- AAA grade cork handle
3. Clam The Mack 45″ Heavy
Unless you are able to get your hands on a custom built rod for large lake trout then there are not that many off the shelf offerings that really match up.
The Mack from Clam Outdoors however is purpose built with large lake trout and musky in mind.
At 45″ in length and with a heavy power rating it is a big step up in terms of power and backbone than the other rods featured above.
These rods are a great option of you cannot get access to a custom built rods. They have over sized line guides and the reel is set in such a position so that the rod remains balanced even though it is heavier than a normal ice rod.
They are available in both a spinning and a baitcasting model.
- Hyper modulus graphite blanks
- Split cork extra long handle
- Spiraled guide wrap
4. Abu Garcia Volatile Ice Casting
The Volatile is available in both a baitcasting and a spinning model.
The have a very ergonomic handle that is shaped to fit the contours of the hand. You can pair one of these with a good level wind reel that has been spooled up with 10 lb line.
They have a medium power rating and are suitable for fish up to about 12 pounds. If you are looking to target something heavier then try to opt for a heavy power rating.
- 24 tom graphite blank
- EVA handles
- Titanium oxide inserts
- Stainless steel guides
5. 13 Fishing Widow Maker 32″
The 32″ medium is the one to go for when looking at lake trout fishing.
13 fishing have a range of different models that have a variety of reel seats and handle types which is pretty unique to a retail brand.
The major selling point of these ice rods is the line guides. Water literally slides off of the double diamond coating which significantly reduces the chances of your line freezing to them.
The blanks are also a little stiffer than some others and in the medium power they have plenty of backbone.
- 36 ton Toray graphite
- Portuguese cork handle
- Evolve reel seat
- Double diamond coated line guides