Lake Trout Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

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You don’t have to stop fishing for trout in winter. If you have the right lake trout ice fishing rod and reel combo, there can be many big fish to catch under the icy surface. Anglers who prefer to fish in other seasons are in for a big surprise if they go to the lake to catch trout in the cold.

Lake Trout Ice Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

Angling is a fun sport because it requires you to upgrade your strategies and adjust to the weather conditions. When you have your eyes on the trout, you must know how to care for everything else around you to make the catch possible.

An image a group of individuals doing lake trout ice fishing

Trout fishing was not permitted in winter some years ago. However, winter angling has become a common thing. Trout fisheries and lakes are now open for winter fishing, and if you have a suitable rod and reel combo, you can catch a lot of fish.

The Fishing Rig

The type of fishing rod you use must be according to the line and the lure you use. In winters, trout behavior will allow you to decide which lure will work best and what kind of line will not raise suspicion among the fish. While ice-covered lakes are not too cold for trout to go too deep in the water, anglers still need to reach greater depth to catch trout.

In winters, trout move to the bottom of the lake to avoid the cold surface and will be at least tens of feet below the ice. Moreover, the bait fish that trout feed on either dies or moves lower in the water, so this fish species swims around the deeper spots to find bait and sustain themselves through the cold season.

To attract trout during winters, anglers must use an artificial lure that can sink deep in the water and looks like real fish. Trout fish and all other water creatures try to store their energy and will not move to bite on any lure unless it mimics real bait fish and looks real.

The Fishing Rod

The fishing rod is the most crucial part of the rig, and if you have the right one, it will help in catching big lake fish. Ice fishing can be tricky, especially if the lake is deep and you need to drop a bait to a greater depth.

The best fishing rod for winter trout fishing is a medium-action or lightweight composite rod that is used for bait casting. While anglers love to spin or fly fish for trout, bait casting will be the most fruitful technique during winters because of the icy lake top and the depth of the trout.

The lightweight fishing rods are a better option, and the action of these rods will help entry-level anglers differentiate between a bite and a simple tug. A light rod will allow you to patiently lower the bait and wait for this species of fish to contemplate biting into it.

A person doing ice fishing using a rod and reel combo

Advantages of Lightweight Rods

The lightweight rod will allow you to feel the fish bite as it vibrates. Imagine if you use a heavy rod, it will not vibrate when the trout bites into the bait. If you do not begin retrieving the line in time, the fish can simply bite the lure and free itself from the hook to swim away.

Moreover, the bendy fishing rods allow this fish to pull and resist and move about without getting hurt due to sudden jerks. Anglers can retrieve the line without exerting too much force, and the fish will remain hooked as you pull it out of the hole in the ice.

The Best Length for Ice Fishing Rods

Every lake has varying sizes of trout fish. If you are headed to a lake where the fish are larger, you can work with a 36 to 42-inch rod. This length will give you a flexible movement, and the medium action will not be too heavy for anglers to handle.

Normally, anglers prefer a six-foot rod for trout. However, ice fishing changes the game significantly, and you do not need a long pole to cast the bait away from where you are. Similarly, you do not need an ultra-lightweight pole like the ones used for fly fishing.

The Reel and Line

Lake trout anglers can work with a walleye reel, which is not too thin and can provide a nice drag and line capacity. If you have to lower the bait several feet beneath the icy lake surface, you will need more line capacity and a sturdy reel to pull it up fast.

You can use a twenty-pound braided line, and this lake fish will not get suspicious. However, the techniques of ice fishing also count because whichever line or rod you use, if you do not know when to pull and make the lure move naturally, trout will not come out of the spot!

The Best Reel Setup According to the Depth

Lake trout are big fish that can live in deeper water, and when you go ice fishing, you fish for these active fish through a hole in the ice covering on the lake. At the same time, this fish swims at a depth of up to 160 feet so you will need a reel that provides greater line capacity and a smoother drag to ensure safe retrieval.

You can use a spinning setup if the fish is less than 100 feet away from the surface. However, the bait casting setup will be more useful if the fish swims deeper than 100 feet. To avoid any kind of hiccup due to the use of grease, ensure that the line is washed clean of any reel grease.

A rod and reel combo used in a lake trout ice fishing

In winters, the reel grease solidifies, making it hard for the angler to pull it smoothly. Sub-zero temperature can be a challenge, however, if you oil only the spool, it will be a smooth drag, and this will ensure that your catch will remain free from harm.

Best Reel Suggestions

While the line is a personal choice and varies with individuals, ice fishing unites many anglers in selecting copolymers, monofilament, superlines, and fluorocarbon lines. These lines can combat freeze-up and are a good way to make retrieval easier. Fluorocarbon is more preferred than the other line types.

A Superline can be a good choice for deeper lakes, and the fluorocarbon has a slow sink rate. Braided lines will not collect a lot of water, while the monofilament is a good choice for lowering the lure slowly so that the fish gets enough time to notice it and come in for a bite.

The Lures

By now, you know that the fishing rod and reel depend on the lure you use. If the fish is at a greater depth, then you would need a sinker or a heavier lure that will attract lake trout. You can use one-ounce plastic crayfish or jigs that are shaped like dead fish or injured fish, which entice this species. Some other useful lures can be:

  • Lipless crankbaits
  • Spinners
  • Spoons
  • Beetles
  • Swimbait
  • Laser Minnows
  • Bucktail jigs

These lures imitate real fish and even have a strong smell that is convincing for lake trout. This fish species is intrigued by the movement, and if anglers use the right tips for winter fishing when the ice covers the lake, they can catch some big lake trout.


If anglers have the right lake trout ice fishing rod and reel combo, they can make their winter trips to the frozen lakes an adventure to remember. The rod, reel, and lures play the most crucial role in catching big lake trout.