Landing pike through the ice is not the easiest of tasks, which is why it is important to use a strong and reliable fishing line. In order to help you choose the right tackle, I wrote this helpful guide on the best ice fishing line for northern pike.
When ice fishing for northern pike, braid is your best choice. Braid has low memory, lets you feel every little movement the fish makes and has high abrasion resistance. For tip-ups, a 30lb coated ice braid is optimal, while a conventional 20lb test ice braid is the perfect fit for your jigging rod.
If you want to read about all the advantages of using braid for ice fishing and which braided line is the best to use, all you have to do is continue reading.
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What Type of Line Should You Use for Ice Fishing Pike?
I have ice fished with both monofilament and braided mainline and can tell you with absolute confidence that braid is a much better choice for hard water! Here is why:
To most anglers, the braided line’s abrasion resistance is the most important aspect when it comes to ice fishing lines.
As you are fishing through an ice hole with extremely sharp edges, you have to use a line that can handle that constant friction, especially if you are battling with a really big and strong pike.
Braid will give you that security when fighting that big ice pike, making line breaks practically nonexistent!
Another great advantage of using braid over mono is that it basically has no stretch at all.
Compared to monofilament, which will always stretch a great deal, braid will let you feel the fish so much better and allows you to set the hook more accurately, as you will sense the fish’s movements and shakes.
Simply put, it allows you to time your strike perfectly, resulting in more landed fish.
Braided line is much stronger than mono, which means that you can use a smaller diameter without having to sacrifice line strength.
Generally, a 25-30lb braid line will have a diameter of 0.23-0.28mm. In comparison, the same pound test for monofilament fishing line would translate into a diameter of about 0.40-0.50mm.
So, thanks to the braid’s great strength, you’ll always be able to be in full control when fighting a fish. As a bonus, the smaller diameter will make your line less visible underwater.
Yes, braid does absorb some water and can freeze up when fishing outside of a shelter in really cold weather, which can be an annoyance and actually cost you fish. On the other hand, so does mono.
And while some braided lines freeze up more than others, they still do not get as brittle and stiff as mono in sub-zero temperatures. This is another reason why you should definitely choose braid over mono on the ice!
Pro Tip: Keep in mind that all lines will freeze to a certain extent if temperatures are too low! So, if you are on the ice on a really cold day, make sure to fish inside your shanty, where the temperature will be somewhat higher.
Luckily, there are braided ice lines that do not freeze up all that much and that will give you a superb ice fishing experience.
Keep reading to find out what fishing lines I am talking about!
Best Ice Fishing Lines for Pike
By far, the Sufix Performance V-Coat and the Sufix Ice Braid are the best braided line alternatives for ice fishing. I have tested several brands myself and have always gone back to Sufix.
Let’s take a closer look at these awesome ice fishing lines!
Best Ice Fishing Line for Tip-Ups
For tip-ups, I recommend using the Sufix Performance V-Coat. It’s without a doubt one of the best ice braids out there, and many anglers in North America swear by it.
It’s got a super smart design that is perfect for fishing tip-ups in cold weather conditions. The Sufix Performance V-Coat is a vinyl-coated braided polyester ice lien that is waterproof and does not freeze.
I especially like the black coating, as it blends in nicely with the dark water under the ice (I like to keep my tackle as stealthy as possible).
At the same time, the soft coating keeps the line smooth and flexible, which is essential when pulling in a big pike with your hands.
Sufix really did an awesome job with this one, and I’d say it would be very hard to find a tip-up line that matches the performance of the V-Coat!
Best Ice Fishing Line for Jigging Rods
The Sufix 832 Ice Braid is a superb choice for your ice jigging rod! This is a really high-quality braid that was made specifically for ice fishing.
The Sufix is extremely sensitive and lets you feel even the most careful of bites and tugs.
I am using 20lb test for my jigging rod, and I have found that this strength is optimal when jigging for pike through the ice.
It both handles really well, gives you a lot of line feel, and, for its mere 20lb test, the Sufix is extremely robust and abrasion-resistant, which is another great plus, as you’ll be able to use it for at least 2 ice seasons!
Pro Tip: As the Sufix braid resists ice building quite effectively, you can fish this line outside of your shanty or ice house even in really cold conditions. It’s a really great all-round ice line!
A somewhat smaller diameter than for tip-ups is totally fine, as you have much more control over the fish, thanks to the rod and reel you are using.
The rod will also be able to buffer the fish’s violent head shakes and runoffs, which is why a 20lb test is sufficient.
I really like to keep it as light and sensitive as possible when jigging, as you will just detect so many more bites, or potential bites, using a more sensitive tackle.
How to Handle Line on Tip-Ups
Handling lines on tip-ups can be quite the task in cold weather conditions and as you have to retrieve your line using your hands, your fingers will get cold and wet fairly quickly.
But there are a couple of really useful hacks in order to prevent that.
Keeping your hands dry and warm will not only make your ice fishing trip so much more comfortable, but it’ll also help you to better handle your gear and tackle, which, in turn, can land you more fish.
Waterproof neoprene gloves will protect your hands from the cold, the water, and possible line cuts while fighting a big fish.
Next-gen neoprene gloves are rather thin, flexible, and will adjust themselves to the size and shape of your hands, which makes them the perfect ice fishing glove.
In between bites, your hands will stay nice and warm, which is extremely important when spending the day on the ice. Head over to Amazon and check out this pair of high-quality warm and waterproof neoprene gloves.
Pro Tip: Thanks to their flexibility and thin layers, you can actually keep them on while jigging and won’t have a problem detecting tugs or bites on your rod!
When it comes to baiting and handling your tip-up, it can often be a good idea to take off your gloves, simply to be able to get a better grip on and more control over your line and the fish on the other end of it.
But handling a wet line and a potentially big fish on the ice can get your hands really cold in no time at all. This will lead to discomfort and stiff fingers, which makes it super difficult to take care of your catch.
So, a trick here is to wear surgical gloves underneath your thermal gloves. These won’t protect you from the cold for long, but at least they will keep your hands perfectly dry.
You can easily exchange them for a new pair after you’ve landed and taken care of a fish, and after your trip, you can just take them home and throw them in the trash.
No matter if you’re fishing with or without gloves, always make sure to have a couple of hand towels with you. With these, you can dry and clean your hands in no time at all.
It’s just a tiny detail, but trust me, it can make all the difference!
Related Articles on Pike and Ice Fishing
- The Best Way to Ice Fish for Northern Pike
- Best Gear and Tackle for Northern Pike
- Can You Catch Pike with Hot Dogs? (Interesting Fishing Facts)
Featured image courtesy of Justin Bue