Choosing the best ice fishing line is all about understanding how the ice impacts it. You need a low visibility line with good abrasion resistance and maximum sensitivity. I’ve probably used over 50 different lines and I’ll tell you what, the differences are minimal.
That said, I do have dedicated ice fishing line, the Sufix Ice Magic.
However, the only way to find out which line is right for you is to read the reviews and put them into practice.
Let’s take a look at the three different types of fishing lines. You have monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braided.
We will be looking at three of my favorite options from each category and what I recommend for those who love the hard water.
- 1. Monofilament Line
- 2. Fluorocarbon Ice Fishing Line
- 3. Braided Ice Fishing Line
- Understanding the Three Types of Line
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
1. Monofilament Line
Generally speaking, the monofilament line is the most popular option for ice fishing mainly because it’s the most available. It’s made with a single strand of plastic fiber and it’s most familiar to anglers of all ages and skill levels.
If you’re just starting out, there’s no reason to get too fancy with your ice fishing line. You could choose monofilament, use it the rest of your life, and be perfectly fine. Mono offers low memory, is lightweight, and has better buoyancy than the other lines. Here are three of my favorites:
Sufix Ice Magic
If you’re looking for the best ice fishing line for perch, panfish, and other species that aren’t too finicky, this is a good choice. It offers great features that make it a good choice for ice fishing but it’s not overly complicated for those just learning how to ice fish.
The line itself is super thin, barely visible, and comes in a wide variety of weights to appeal to anglers chasing different species. In the case of perch or panfish, I’d suggest going with a 3-6lb test.
Sufix also threw in a cool feature that you won’t find on a lot of lines. It comes with a special additive that makes the water bead off of it. This is important for ice fishing because the ice can quickly cake up on the line causing it to get stiff which results in a lot of memory and kinks on the spool.
It’s easily one of the best lines for ice fishing and a great choice for anglers who are dipping their toes in the water with ice fishing.
Berkley Trilene Micro Ice
You’ll find that a lot of the best fishing line, in general, comes from Berkley so expect to see that name popping up a lot in this guide. The Berkley ice fishing line is one of the best options because it offers all the features you’d be looking for in an ice fishing line.
First, it comes with the moisture-wicking properties we’re looking for. This will help prevent water from turning to ice on your line which prevents memory from occurring. It also has a micro-line design meaning it’s a lot thinner while still maintaining the same strength. This is to help prevent the fish from seeing it in clear water due to inactivity during the winter months.
You can choose between a few different pounds ranging from 2-6 and it comes with 110 yards of total line which is ideal. For an ice fishing monofilament line, I’d say this is your “middle-of-the-road option.” It’s not the best but it’s certainly a popular option and one that has been around for a long time.
Berkley Trilene Sensation
Let’s take a look at the first non-ice fishing-specific line. This is the Berkley Sensation. It’s still a Trilene monofilament line with low memory and great strength for a thin line. It’s great for tying knots and it’s a neutrally buoyant line so it’ll dive when you want it to and float when you want it to.
These factors make it a great choice for jigging for crappie and bluegill.
The main feature that makes this line different from the rest is its enhanced sensitivity. It’s designed with a little less flex than some of the other options so you can feel each nibble quicker. This factor is important for a few key reasons.
First, most fish are timider when it’s cold so they won’t strike with such intensity. This will require you to be more attentive.
Second, the fish are also a bit slower and more sluggish this time of year. It will result in less of a struggle getting them out of the hole so you won’t need to rely on having as much flex because you’re less likely to snap the line if you overload it.
I think the added sensitivity definitely makes this the best ice fishing line for trout and bass that are highly impacted due to the colder temperatures.
2. Fluorocarbon Ice Fishing Line
Fluorocarbon is considered a step up from monofilament. At one time, no one used this as a primary line so it was used for leaders only due to its low visibility. Anymore, technology has improved in a way that allows us to spool our entire ice fishing reel with a fluorocarbon mainline without having to worry about it getting stiff and locking up.
So, why fluoro for ice fishing? It’s strong, abrasion-resistant, waterproof, and invisible. Makes sense right? Here are my top choices:
Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon
Berkleys back, back, back; back again… sorry for that.
Anyway, this Trilene fluorocarbon is easily the most popular option for ice fishing this type of line. It comes in 6lb test, it’s totally clear and has low memory which is great for ice fishing.
The thing that impresses most about this line is its sensitivity. Another great thing about the fluorocarbon fishing line is that it doesn’t have as much flex as mono so it’s easier to feel smaller nibbles.
Another big advantage you get is the abrasion resistance. When you’re running the line along a jagged ice hole, it’s likely that it’ll lose some of its strength which can result in lost ice fishing lures and also fish.
With a trusted brand like Berkley and all the qualities you look for, it’s easily one of the best options for ice fishing.
Berkley Vanish Fluorocarbon
Moving onto another Berkley line, but this one is not a dedicated ice fishing line. It boasts some nice features that I highly recommend for anyone trying out ice fishing.
First of all, it comes with 250 yards of 4, 8, 10, 12, 14, or 17-pound tests. I’d suggest this line for larger fish. It’s easily one of the best ice fishing lines for walleye, pike, or muskie.
The interesting thing is that the line is a bright gold color until it’s put into the water. Once it enters the cold water it actually changes colors and becomes clear. This makes it super easy to see when it’s out of the water but impossible for the ice to see under the ice.
It’s a great choice for older individuals and anyone else who struggles to see some of these nearly invisible fluoro lines.
I’m a big fan of this brand and the Invisiline does exactly what you would expect it to do. It’s a hydrophobic line that sinks quickly and offers exceptional abrasion resistance. All of these factors combined make it one of the best ice fishing lines on the market right now.
The only downside of this one is that it only comes with 33 yards so it’s intended to be used as a leader. That said, you can load up the full 33 yards on your ice fishing rod and just use a backing of something else. In most cases, you won’t reach the backing depending on whether or not you’re fishing deep water.
I wouldn’t recommend this one for anglers with no experience on the ice because fluorocarbon does take some getting used to and you’ll want to know how to tie some pretty advanced knots to ensure that the two lines stay together.
3. Braided Ice Fishing Line
We are onto the granddaddy of them all, braided line. Choosing the best ice fishing braid is like buying cereal. There are so many options, some of them are similar, others are completely different.
The main reason people choose braided line for ice fishing is that it’s incredibly strong and sensitive. But, it does come with some downsides. It’s not that resistant to abrasion because it’s essentially woven pieces of fabric.
Once you drill your hole with your ice fishing auger, you’ll be running the line up against it over and over which can wear it down. It’s also highly visible in the water.
Regardless of the pros and cons, a lot of people use braided lines for ice fishing. Here are some of my favorites:
The most popular braided ice fishing line you’ll hear about is the Berkley Fireline superline. This stuff is great because it doesn’t absorb water like a lot of other braids. The result is a line that doesn’t freeze and won’t cake ice onto your eyelets and spool.
The Fireline is also highly sensitive which is great for feeling all the small nibbles from passing fish. It’s certainly not the cheapest fishing line on the market but you pay for a premium line. This is the best-braided fishing line for ice fishing, hands down.
Sufix Ice Braid
Here we have another ice fishing braid with a lot of the same features as the Fireline. It’s designed not to absorb water so it won’t freeze up and become a problem. I actually prefer the color of this line over the Fireline though. This has a more natural light blue color and it’s ultra-fine so it’s a lot less visible in the water.
Since you’re dealing with a thin diameter, you won’t get as much strength as you would in a lot of other braided lines but that could also result in improved sensitivity as well. Overall, another solid option for ice fishing braid.
Sufix Coated Tip Up Braid
Last but certainly not least, we’ve got another braided line from Sufix. This one is a bit unique though. It’s made with a Hydro Fusion process designed to make the line sink faster, prevent memory, and handle better in cold temperatures. These features combined make it the best tip-up line.
When you’re using ice fishing tip-ups, you want to make sure that you have a line that won’t absorb a lot of water and has low stretch because you need maximum sensitivity to trigger the tip-up. You’ll get all of that in this coated line. Just keep in mind that you can’t really use it on a reel because it’s too stiff and the waxy coating might not be good for the reel.
Understanding the Three Types of Line
I touched on this a little throughout but I wanted to dedicate an entire section of this guide to the three types of line. You need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each to best understand how to choose one over the other.
Remember that in ice fishing, little things like fishing hooks, lines, and even your boots can make a big difference in how your fishing experience goes. Let’s discuss the different types of lines and how they can impact your ice fishing.
Mono is the most common and popular line for a reason. It’s easy to use, great for casting, has low visibility, and is relatively sensitive. You’ll find tons of this line anywhere you go whether it’s online or in the store.
This type of line is very stretchy which has some pros and cons. When a line is stretchy it means that it’ll be able to take more stress if you push it past the weight it’s rated for. But, the extra flexibility means that you won’t feel as many nibbles and it can make hook setting harder.
Monofilament isn’t known for being the most sensitive but it’s a solid middle ground type of line that you can use in a variety of situations.
There was a time when fluorocarbon was reserved entirely for leaders because it was too stiff. Nowadays, manufacturing has improved and fluorocarbon is flexible enough to spool an entire reel with.
The main reason people turn to fluorocarbon when it comes to ice fishing is that it is low visibility. When you’re ice fishing, especially in the middle of the season, water clarity is very high. There isn’t any rain or mud getting into the water and nothing is really stirring it up.
As a result, fish can see everything. Add that to the fact that they’re a bit timider because of the cold weather and you’ve got yourself a tough fishing situation.
Basically what I’m saying is that it’s a lot easier to spook the fish right now so you need to take all the necessary steps you can to ensure you don’t scare them. Having a line that they can’t see will make your lure more enticing and increase the chances of getting a strike.
Braided line is considered the strongest and most “premium” line out there. It has its place in ice fishing because it’s incredibly sensitive and durable. Since braided line has zero stretch, it means that you’ll get better bite detection in cold conditions.
On the other hand, braided line isn’t the best for abrasion resistance because it’s made by weaving a bunch of fiber strands together. As you’re running that line up against the edge of your hole over and over, the strands will begin to break up making the line weak.
Another downside to the braided line is the visibility factor. This line generally has a wider diameter and color that makes it more visible in the water.
Overall, braided isn’t my favorite choice for ice fishing but some of the recommendations above like the Fireline have features that make it a better choice than your “run of the mill” braided line.
Frequently Asked Questions
What pound test for ice fishing?
I’d suggest going with a 3-6 pound test in most cases. If you’re fishing for muskie or pike you will want to go much higher to around 15-20 because they’ll bite through it.
Is monofilament better than fluorocarbon for ice fishing?
I wouldn’t say that one is better than the other because it depends on too many factors. Monofilament is best for beginners but it really depends on what specific line you buy.
What color of line is best for ice fishing?
Blue is the best color for ice fishing. It’s not as difficult to work with as clear and it still offers low visibility in the water.
Should I use a leader when ice fishing?
My belief is that you should only use a fluorocarbon leader if you’re fishing for pike and muskie. These fish have a habit of biting through the line. I’d actually suggest a wire leader specifically for pike because their teeth will chew through a lot of monofilament and fluorocarbon.
I hope you got a lot out of this fishing line review and you can now choose the best ice fishing line for your needs. If you’re just starting out, you don’t need to think too hard about it, it’s just a line. Go with the Berkley Trilene Micro Ice and call it a day.
If you want to step up your game a little and try something different, you could use the Berkley Fireline.
I’d suggest picking up a few different options and trying them. Get a mono, fluoro, and braided option. None of them are that expensive and it’ll allow you to feel the difference for yourself.
Good luck out there!