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What Are The Best Ice Fishing Rods for Lake Trout?

What Are The Best Ice Fishing Rods for Lake Trout?

Many US states have long and harsh winters and while some species are active this time of year, others will increase their activity significantly.

Lake trout specifically is a great species to target through the ice. Due to the size and fight, this fish can be super fun to catch and harvest if that is what you are into. But what type of rod should you be using to target this species?

The best ice fishing rods for lake trout are somewhat longer, have a strong backbone, and provide excellent action for different presentations. They will give you enough force for a strong hookset and can even be used as a dead stick. 

This article breaks down a few key aspects of finding the perfect lake trout rod and some recommendations for buying. 

Let’s get right to it!

PRO TIP: In a hurry to get out on the ice? No problem! Check out the best ice rods and reels for lakers right here.

They’re very cost-effective, durable, and will get the job done every time!

What Ice Rod Should You Use for Jigging Lake Trout?

an ice angler holding a nice lake trout that he has caught on a jig
Courtesy of Nick Ramsey

Lake Trout are some of the larger predators to be targeted through the ice. Due to their size, picking out an ice rod specifically for the species is very important. Jigging for lake trout is one of the most popular and fruitful tactics to get hooked up. 

This effective and fun method provides great action and can target trout all along the water column. Three main attributes make a good ice fishing rod for the job: 

  • Sensitivity
  • Strength
  • Length 

Sensitivity

Rod sensitivity refers to how well you can feel a bite or the movement and vibration of your lure through your rod. 

When jigging, the sensitivity should be quite light to fish out the more subtle bites. However, you do not have to go for the most sensitive because you still need a sturdy rod for those big hooksets. 

Strength 

The weight of the rod correlates with how strong it is. There is a range of designations ranging from ultralight to heavy. Ultralight rods have tons of bend and are for smaller fish, and vice versa for the heavyweights. 

The best rod strength for lake trout is the medium-heavy range. This gives you enough strength to get those strong hooksets in and keep them there. 

Length

When fishing for lake trout, you also want a little bit more length to your ice rod. This is because you need some leverage to fight bigger and heavier fish. A solid rod length for lakers is somewhere between 34 and 42 inches. 

Many rods for smaller species will be far shorter, so lengthening the rod can put you in a much better spot for landing that trout. 

Remember, these are big and very strong fish that don’t give up easily!

Best Ice Rod for Jigging Lake Trout

The Omen ice fishing rod is an excellent choice for lakers. It’s got the perfect length, strength, and action for jigging, and successfully landing big lake trout.

You can choose between the following rod lengths and actions:

  • 36” Medium
  • 36” Medium-Heavy
  • 42” Medium-Heavy

So, depending on your preferences, you can choose a little shorter or longer rod model that will suit your ice fishing style perfectly. 

But no matter which one you end up choosing, all of these rods have great sensitivity and an ultra-strong backbone. It’s an excellent rod that’s just perfect for jigging lakers through the ice!

Check out the Omen Ice Rod’s features and current price on Amazon here

Best Ice Reel for Jigging Lake Trout

When it comes to reels, you should opt for a smaller spinning reel, as this type of reel gives you more flexibility to move your jig around in the water column. 

Spinning reels are also reasonably light, which is a definite advantage when fishing actively with the rod in your hand for many hours. 

A classic and popular Pflueger President, size 20 or 25, is the perfect pick to target larger fish through the ice. 

You can check out Pfleuger’s awesome President reels on Amazon here

What Ice Rod Should You Use for Dead Sticking Lake Trout? 

a happy fisher holding a big lake trout that he has caught dead sticking a live minnow
Courtesy of Butch Shapiro

When it comes to other presentations like dead sticking, the same three variables still apply. Sensitivity, strength, and length remain the most critical factors in picking the best rod for the job. 

Dead sticking is the opposite of jigging as you put down the bait or lure and let it sit. When the water is cold, fish are more lethargic. So, when the bait is not moving, you can get those finicky lake trout to commit.

Dead sticking is hence a great way of catching fish on those no-strike days with the jigging rod!  

Sensitivity

More so than with jigging, sensitivity is incredibly important when dead sticking. For one thing, the live baitfish (if you’re using one) requires a soft tip so that it can swim around and pull the rod tip freely.

For another thing, a soft and sensitive dead stick will buffer the lake trout’s bite and pull and help keep the hook in place.

Often, when dead sticking, you’re not right next to your rod, and so it’ll have to do most of the initial job itself! 

Strength 

You should go with a medium rather than a medium-heavy rod when dead sticking for lakers. This keeps that sensitivity in mind and provides enough for a good hookset while allowing the trout to take your bait without much resistance.  

Length

A slightly shorter ice rod in the range of 26-34” is your best pick when dead sticking through the ice.

You don’t need the same length as when you’re jigging, but you don’t want to use a rod that’s too short either because you still want to have some of that leverage when fighting the fish.   

Best Ice Rod for Dead Sticking Lake Trout

Although most rods can be used for dead sticking, the Widow Maker Deadstick Ice Rod is a solid choice for lake trout through the ice. 

The 28-inch medium action model is fantastic for this kind of fishing because it is ultra-sensitive and can pick up on those subtle bites. 

It’s is also a very affordable ice rod that simultaneously offers top-quality and durability. Many top rods will fetch over $100, but this one brings a similar value without that high price tag.

Take a closer look at the Widow Maker Deadstick on Amazon here

Best Ice Reel for Dead Sticking Lake Trout

You can definitely stick to the Pflueger President spinning reel model for dead sticking lakers as well! After all, you only have to use the reel to actually fight and bring in the fish.

The only thing you should consider here is reel size! It will depend entirely on the size of your live or dead baitfish.

If you’re using your regular small minnows, a size 20 reel will do just fine.

But if you’re targeting those really big lakers, using bigger deepwater dwelling baitfish such as suckers, ciscoes, or smelt, you might want to go with a slightly bigger reel size of 30 or even 40.

It’ll make your life so much easier when fighting a giant lake trout! Also because it’ll hold more line.

Here is another link to Amazon if you want to pick up a slightly larger reel size!

Now that you know what gear to use to target those big and beautiful hard water lakers, all that’s left to say is tight lines!

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Featured image courtesy of Tawney Clum

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