Ice Fishing Line vs. Regular Line: Know the Differences
In a nutshell, Ice Fishing line is stronger, thinner, and has significantly less line memory. It is also less detectable when compared to regular fishing line. It has to be! The conditions an ice fisherman faces is starkly different from that of an open water fisherman. From sharp icy edges to obstacles in the water that cannot be seen.
The rods used for ice fishing are generally shorter than open water fishing rods. This adds an extreme amount of additional pressure on the line, so it is imperative that the Ice water fishing line is stronger than the regular line.
Advances in technology have allowed ice fishing line manufacturers to solve the problem of line memory. This allowed regular line manufacturers to incorporate the same technology into their products. Possibly the biggest difference is ice fishing line typically has been Vinyl coated. This is done to prevent icing up, which is obviously extremely important when ice fishing.
There Are Three Main Types of Fishing Line
MonoFilament Fishing Line
The best overall line used around the world is Mono. You can use a monofilament fishing line for ice fishing and open water, and most other fishing types. It handles really well in the extreme cold, offers incredible strength per diameter, inherently low-vis, and ices up less than other lines. Mono also offers considerably less memory when compared to the fluoro line.
There is, however, a downside to Mono, being neutrally buoyant, it doesn’t sink or float. This could be important when fishing smaller ice jigs in deeper water.
Mono provides some shock when hooked up to a large fish because it can stretch up to 25% or more, but when fishing deeper water can make bite detection and hooksets more difficult. You should take all of these factors into account when loading up your ice fishing reel.
Fluorocarbon Fishing Line
Fluorocarbon fishing line virtually disappears underwater. This is one of the reasons most anglers keep a few spools in their tackle box. A must when targeting line-shy fish, and it also sinks, making it easier to get bait deeper, quicker.
Fluoro offers great abrasion resistance yet is also able to stretch. This offers increased sensitivity and more solid hooksets, particularly in deeper water.
On the downside, fluoro has more memory than other types of line. Therefore, a larger reel might be a good option. Its stiffness can affect lure action with small baits. So, where possible, fish the lightest fluoro.
Braided Line Fishing Line
A braided fishing line offers incredible sensitivity and excellent hooksets. But, it has virtually zero stretch. The diameter at lighter break-strengths is about half the size of fluoro, which offers an excellent response when fighting your catch.
Braided line is much more efficient at absorbing line twist, which results in reduced line memory, making it a good option when fishing light tackle.
Braid is more visible to fish and also ice up more than other line types. If visibility is a problem, adding a leader of four to five-foot is recommended, using back-to-back uni-knots.
Another negative of braided line is that it doesn’t sink, which reduces sink rates when fishing small jigs.
Top Selling Ice Fishing Lines at a Glance
The Berkley FireLine Micro Ice is one of the top-rated, best-selling ice fishing braids on the market.
Claimed to be the best Fire-line yet, it is thinner and stronger than monofilament. It is small enough to work the smallest micro-bait and flexible enough to handle the coldest weather. The fire-line micro ice is the smooth handling superline for ice fishing.
Ultra-Thin Diameter offers low visibility with incredible lure presentation and action.
Superb Sensitivity – Instant feel for subtle cold-water bites
The strongest, most abrasion-resistant superline in its class!
Incredible toughness and Strength with Microfused Dyneema® fibers that are 3 to 4 times stronger than monofilament
The strongest, most durable small diameter ice braid
This is a top-rated fluorocarbon line for ice fishing.
Trilene, 100% Fluorocarbon, is the “XT” of professional-grade fluorocarbons. It has been the choice of the pros’ for almost ten years. This line offers incredible abrasion resistance, shock and knot strength. With less “bow” in the water, it is also fast-sinking with greater line density for high sensitivity. All helpful for feeling the bite, setting the hook, and landing more fish!
Excellent Manageability – Lower memory for superior casting
Optimal impact strength – Proprietary 100% PVDF formula specially processed for optimal impact strength
Nearly Invisible and has a similar refractive index to water.
Available in Green Tint, which reduces sparkle and flash
Sufix Performance V-Coat Tip-Up Line is made with HTP, a high tenacity polyester braid. This braid provides durability, low stretch, exceptional abrasion resistance, and diameter-to-strength ratios.
The Hydro Fusion Process offers vinyl coating for extreme anti-freezing and waterproofing. Other characteristics include exceptional cold-weather handling, low memory, and a fast sinking speed.
Designed to stay manageable in frigid water, Sufix Ice Magic is a high-performance ice fishing monofilament. It has special additives to deter water absorption that causes ice build-up.
The line has high tensile and knot strength but offers a soft and supple feeling with low memory.
Best Fish to Target When Ice Fishing
There are numerous species to target when ice fishing:
How Often Should You Replace Your Fishing Line?
Many anglers recommend changing Monofilament lines after every fishing trip but should be changed at least once a year. Moderate fishermen should only change line every four to six months.
Heavy fishermen should change their Mono every three to four months. Their durability depends on how much you use them.
You should also learn how to properly care for your ice fishing rod and reel.
Although they can last much longer than Mono, You may change fluorocarbon lines at least once a year.
Weekend fishermen can change every twelve months.
Moderate fishermen should change every six to twelve months. Heavy fishermen should change it up to 3 times a year.
Heavy fishermen should change every four months.
Fluoro has a shelf life of approximately eight to ten years, so best to discard them if you haven’t used them at all during this time.
Braided fishing line can last for several years, but there are a few who believe they can last a lifetime.
Weekend fishermen can change every twelve months.
Moderate fishermen can change every twelve months.
Heavy fishermen can change every six to twelve months.
You should discard the braided line after 10 years of disuse.
What Time of Day is Best for Ice Fishing?
Most anglers will agree that the first few hours after sunrise and the last couple before sunset is the best time to go fishing. Although this may be true, fish with unique eating habits could offer bites throughout the day.
Which is Better for Ice Fishing: Sunrise or Sunset?
The first hour after sunrise can produce some of the best catches of the day. And it is apparent why it has earned the nickname of “the golden hour.” It is recommended that anglers arrive at their fishing spot an hour before sunrise.
This will allow time to set up, drill a fishing hole and be ready and quiet when the trophy fish head to the feeding grounds. Anglers often miss this opportunity because they only arrive on the ice at sunrise. And once they are done punching holes and setting up their gear, they have missed this golden window, when most trophy fish are caught.
Drilling and walking on the ice can spook wary fish so try to do this before the sun comes up.
The morning bite is generally shorter than the evening bite, so advanced planning and strategic hole placement is imperative to maximize the bite.
While the morning bite is a great time to ice fish, the evening hours before and after sunset are the general favorite. Surprisingly, most anglers head home before the sun sets and skip the magic of twilight.
Grab your headlamp, pack a snack, and don’t make the same mistake. Around this time, there are fish to be caught.
For several popular species of fish like crappie, walleye, and trout, the night bite can carry on for a while. Get out there a couple of hours before sunset to punch your holes and set your gear.
Much like fishing the morning session, preparation is key. Take time to locate potential hotspots and keep noise and movement to a minimum.
Safety on the Ice
One of the most important ice fishing basics is to follow the thickness guidelines that have been set out by the Department of Natural Resources. It is extremely dangerous to venture out on thin ice, and, to be honest, it’s just not worth it. Be sure to have a proper ice fishing suit and a cordless drill for drilling the ice before you head out.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, if you encounter ice:
- Two inches or less, it is strongly advised that you stay off.
- Four inches – At 4 inches, the ice should be safe for activities on foot, which includes fishing.
- Five inches – The ice is now safe for the use of ATV’s and snowmobiles.
- Eight to twelve inches – The ice is now safe for the use of a car and small pick-ups.
- Twelve to fifteen inches – The ice is now safe for the use of a medium truck