November 22, 2013
By Dan Johnson
Line is a key component in the ice angler's arsenal. While it may not garner the media attention or public appreciation of hot new lures and presentations, having suitable string for the situation at hand can make the difference between a great day on the ice, and one you'd rather forget.
For example, ice fishing lines that display excessive memory in cold conditions hangs in spring-like coils, rather than straightening when deployed. Net result? Dampened jig-strokes and a failure to transmit bites to the rodtip — which translate into fewer fish on your side of the ice.
Thankfully, manufacturers continually improve their offerings. As in the open-water market, the ice scene is awash in options, including nylon monofilaments, copolymers, braids, and fluorocarbons. To help you weigh the options before spooling up, we've assembled an all-star cast with the perfect lineage to ensure a secure connection between you and the fish this winter.
Berkley Trilene 100 Percent Fluorocarbon Ice
Another top option in Berkley's winter lineup, Fluorocarbon Ice behaves itself in cold weather, so you can spool entirely with fluoro, without fear of memory, stiffness, or enduring hellacious tangles of Slinky-like coils. Low visibility is a huge benefit in the clear waters so common in winter. But, this line's low stretch and thin diameter are welcome bonuses as well. Available in 75-yard spools of 1- to 6-pound test. Click Here to View Product!
Northland Tackle Bionic Ice Fluorosilk
Northland wrapped a fluorocarbon shell around a nylon copolymer core to deliver key benefits of both types of line. The fluoro coating sheds water; resists freezing; is virtually invisible underwater; and offers faster sink rates than straight mono. Plus, the nylon inside boosts manageability, knot strength, and abrasion resistance, and won't become brittle in sub-zero conditions. Available in 100-yard spools of 1- through 7-pound-test, in clear and Ice Grey colors. Click Here to View Product!
There's no denying it, line freeze-up is a drag. To banish this bane of the ice, PowerPro gurus coated their new braid with Polytetrefluoroethylene — PTFE for short. The hydrophobic compound keeps water from attaching to the line, thereby eliminating ice from forming on your line and rod guides. ICE-Tec also features the company's Enhanced Body Technology (EBT) that creates a rounder, stronger braid. Available in 50-yard spools of 5-, 8-, 10-, and 15-pound test. Click Here to View Product!
Silver Thread Trout Line
When our friends at Silver Thread designed this thin-diameter, low-stretch line for the rigors of stream trout fishing, they unwittingly created a fine ice as well. Benefits include an admirable strength-to-diameter ratio and excellent handling properties, plus the ability to present tiny baits and detect bites in deep water. Though few ice anglers talk about Silver Thread, a number of top guides and tournament competitors quietly spool up with it for hardwater duty. Available in 165-yard 'double ' spools — which reduce line twist — in 1-pound increments from 2- through 6-pound test. Click Here to View Product!
Sufix 832 Performance Ice Braid
Sufix offers a family of icy good options. In fact, I landed the unofficial catch-and-release ice fishing world record muskie — a whopping 50-incher — on 4-pound Sufix Siege a few seasons ago on Lake of the Woods while on an In-Fisherman photo shoot. The 832 Performance Ice Braid is notable for its exceptional ability to shed water and remain ice-free. Plus, the digital Y6 Braiding process yields great strength and flexibility. Available in 4- through 30-pound breakstrengths, in shades of Neon Fire and Glacier Blue. sufix.com
Sufix Invisiline Castable Fluorocarbon
Geared to open water, this fast-sinking, spoolable fluorocarbon is also great on ice. The 3- through 10-pound breakstrengths are well-suited to tightlining panfish and walleyes, thanks to the line's near-invisibility, strength, and sensitivity. It's also abrasion resistant — which is a huge plus when big fish saw the line against the ice. You can either fill the spool with Castable Fluoro, or use it as leader material with braided mainline. Click Here to View Product!
Vicious Panfish ICE
Vicious designed this low-stretch copolymer after ice fans from North Dakota to Michigan expressed their desire for line with a winning combination of durability and feel. Thanks to the minimal stretch, it's extremely sensitive, capable of telegraphing the slightest of bites. Other benefits include low memory and high abrasion resistance. Available in 1- to 10-pound tests, in HiVis Yellow and LoVis Clear. Click Here to View Product!
Berkley FireLine Micro Ice Fused Original
Berkley offers a fistful of fine ice lines, such as Trilene Cold Weather and Trilene Micro Ice, along with open-water options that perform well in winter as well. Of the ice-specific choices, FireLine Micro Ice ranks high on our list for its thin diameter and crazy sensitivity. The svelte diameter lets you milk the most action out of dainty lures, and is harder for fish to spot. That being said, a fluoro leader is a great idea when using any braided product, to ratchet up the invisibility factor. On the sensitivity front, FireLine Micro Ice lets you feel what the lure is doing, and detect light bites, even in deep water. Available in 4- through 10-pound-test options, all with smoke coloration. Click Here to View Product!