Straight Line Ice Fishing Reels

Straight Line Ice Fishing Reels

Straight Line Ice Fishing Reels

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There is no question that straight line reels have taken over the ice fishing market the past two years. Straight line reels offer many advantages for a lot of anglers but are they for everyone? What reel is best for you? How do I know what reel would best suit my needs as a hard water angler?

Regardless of what straight line reel you chose to try first, its important to realize the advantages you will gain when using a straight line reel vs. a typical spinning reel. First and foremost you will realize there isn’t any line twist. This is probably the biggest advantage. When ice fishing, “especially pan-fish” anglers go with line sometimes as low at 2lb test. When using a spinning reel your line is always twisted as you reel in. When you twist two pound test line, the integrity of your line is compromised to actually hold up less then the pound test recommendation. When fishing with two pound test or any pound test for that matter on a straight line reel,  you know you are getting the most out of that line because it is no longer being twisted upon retrieve!  Another advantage to straight line reels is that you line will never be spinning around in circles. This makes your presentation look more natural and let you present you bait in front of the fish how it was intended and designed to do.

With no line twist, a better bait presentation, and truly getting the most out of you line strength, but is that all? Did I mention that straight line reels are flat out fun? That’s right, having you line come straight on to the spool and allows you to feel everything creating a more sensitive setup to get the most out of your Ice rods.

Now with a all the straight line reel on the market, how do you choose the right one? Lets first take a look at the reel that started the revolution itself. 13 Fishing’s Black Betty is a 1:1 gear ration reel that might be one of the most robust and solidly constructed ice reels on the market.  With no gear ratio, this reel is ideal for depths up to 20 feet deep. Now to say that you can’t use it for deeper water but with no bail to free your spool, this reel is really designed for shallow water. A solid aluminum frame and spool, a spool tensioner on the side of the reel to adjust how freely you spool can move, and a comfortable foam EVA handle really make this reel bulletproof out on the water and an excellent choice for someone starting to test out their first straight ice fishing line reel.


The Black Betty is an ideal ice reel for shallow water fishing. It has all the features you need without over-complicating things.

Secondly, you have the Black Betty 6061. This reel has a wider spool for higher line capacity, two handle grip with foam EVA handles but above all, its has a gear ratio. That’s right, over 17 inches of line being every turn of the handle. This along with the reels free spool feature, allows anglers to fish deeper water quicker. As a personal impute, this is my basin crappie reel. The free spool is so smooth it allows me to fish with small spoons at light as 64th oz and still free spool down the water column.  If I need to move spots or go check out a different hole, I can reel up quick and therefore me more efficient on the ice. This reel also has a five star drag system, which really opens up the doors for fishing bigger fish, like walleyes or pike.


Shown here is the 6061 with optional ice reel fender. The 6061 is ideal for deeper jigging.

The third reel in the TearDrop. The TearDrop is a reel that caused a lot of attention when it was released because of its unique shape and style.  It’s a Baitcasting style reel but positioned under the rod like a spinning rod due to its revolutionary design.  This does a few things for the angler. First off it gives you the heavy-duty aspects of a casting reel, but for ice fishing. Everything from the gears, to the handles and the magnetic breaking system are built to last and to hold up to the biggest fish under the ice.  You now have the confidence that when you set into your personable best walleye, pike, or trout, you reel is actually going to handle its taking those heart stopping runs under the ice. Instant anti-reverse, oversize line window to reduce ice build up, and a ridiculously smooth carbon drag system are all featured in this inline zero line twist design.  Like to catch big fish under the ice, and want a reel with the line capacity and the heavy-duty design to handle it? Then the TearDrop Is your reel.

If you haven’t ever experimented with straight line reels, I encourage you to at least attempt it next time you hit the hard water. Make sure you get a reel that best suits your needs and one that will be able to handle the fish you are trying to peruse. I personally haven’t used a spinning reel in over two years for ice fishing and I have a feeling that when you start using a straight line reel, you wont want to go back to your spinning reel either.

Samuel Moore – Live Long, Fish Much

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