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10 Best Inline Ice Fishing Reels in 2024

Ice fishing is fun, but to really enjoy the sport, you must have the right equipment.

I’m not only talking about wearing warm and waterproof clothes and having ice tools or sonars, but also the rod, reel, and line you’ll use to catch a fish.

Most ice anglers switch between inline and spinning reels depending on the size of fish they’re trying to catch.

In my experience, thawing a spinning reel like the Shimano Stradic XL or Daiwa BG takes much longer than thawing any inline ice fishing reel I’ve ever used.

I think an inline fishing reel is ideal for extreme weather conditions because it’s less likely to seize up than a spinning reel.

I’ve shortlisted some of the best inline ice fishing reels, most of which I tested, to help you pick a reliable model capable of withstanding years of harsh weather conditions.

Bottom Line Up Front

Getting the right gear is the first step you must take to start ice fishing.

The equipment you’ll need will depend on several factors, including the fish species you’re targeting and the line weight you want to use.

I recommend getting the Clam Gravity Ice Inline Combo for your first ice fishing trip.

However, if you’re an experienced ice angler searching for a durable inline reel that won’t twist the line, models like the Pfluger Trion, Clam Gravity Elite Inline Hybrid Reel or 13 Fishing Black Betty FreeFall Carbon Inline Fishing Reel might be a perfect choice for you.

My Top Picks at a Glance

Model  Ball Bearing System  Reel Weight  Price 
Pfluger Trion 3+1 5.2oz $$
Eagle Claw 4+1 6.4oz $
13 Fishing Black Betty FreeFall Carbon Inline Fishing Reel 3+1 6.6oz $$$
Clam Gravity Elite Inline Hybrid Reel 3+1 8oz $$$
Clam Gravity Ice Inline Combo 3+1 n/a $$
13 Fishing FreeFall Ghost Inline Reel 3+1 6.6oz $$
ICI Ice Fishing Reel 3+1 6.52oz $$
Piscifun ICX Carbon Ice Fishing Inline Reel 8+1 5.8oz $$
Eagle Claw CRYO Inline Trigger Ice Reel 4+1 6.4oz $$
Goture Inline Ice Fishing Reel 3+1 9.7oz $$

Deciding Which Reel to Use for Ice Fishing

A spinning reel and a spinning rod could be everything you need for your first ice fishing experience.

This setup can be particularly useful if you’re trying to catch a fish weighing over 10 lb. in waters deeper than 25 ft. A spinning reel enables you to use heavier lines, testing between 15 lb. and 80 lb. depending on the size of the fish species you want to catch.

Faster retrieve is another reason I sometimes use a spinning reel when ice fishing because it allows me to reel in a fish quicker and save energy on cranking the reel’s handle. Also, in my experience, hook setting in freezing weather conditions is much easier with a spinning reel.

On the other hand, inline reels are a reliable option for targeting panfish in relatively shallow waters because they enable you to use a light line.

The position of the spool on an inline reel is lateral and in line with the rod, which allows the line to leave the spool in a straight path. The upright spool position on a spinning reel creates a more complex path for the reel, which can cause lighter lines to twist.

The best part is that you can pair an inline reel with any conventional spinning rod, like, for example, the Shakespeare Ugly Stick GX2, so you won’t have to get additional ice fishing equipment if you already have a good spinning rod.

The Advantages of Using Inline Reels for Ice Fishing

The biggest downside of using a spinning reel for ice fishing is that they aren’t designed for freezing temperatures. These reels are likely to freeze if they get wet, preventing you from releasing or retrieving the line.

Consequently, you’ll have to thaw the spinning reel you’re using to continue angling. An inline reel is less likely to seize when it gets wet, but you might still have to thaw it if you leave it exposed to below-freezing temperatures for too long.

Let’s go through more of the advantages of using inline reels for ice fishing:

  • Sturdy and lightweight construction: Frequently, fishing on the ice takes its toll on the equipment. Inline reels are designed for challenging conditions and to withstand wear and tear. Most models weigh under 10 oz. so they won’t add much weight to the rod.
  • No line twisting: Light lines can easily tangle and jam a spinning reel, which is why most ice anglers prefer inline reels that ensure the line leaves the spool smoothly, allowing the angler to present the bait naturally.
  • No slack during lure dropping: Inline reels have free spool systems that eliminate slack and allow you to react promptly if a fish bites while you’re dropping the jig or bait.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing an Inline Ice Fishing Reel

Some of my favorite fishing gear manufacturers, like Shimano or Penn, don’t offer inline reels. That’s why I often use models produced by Pfluger, 13 Fishing and other reputable brands.

Although brand reputation plays a significant role in my selection process, it’s not the only factor I consider when selecting a new inline reel. I’ll walk you through the critical factors I rely on to pick a reliable inline reel.

  • Body material and reel weight: I prefer lightweight inline reels with carbon or graphite frames that weigh less than 10oz.
  • Drag and Drop systems: The best inline reels I tested had easily adjustable drag systems and made it easy to hook a fish on the drop.
  • Gear ratio and the ball bearing system: Inline ice reels don’t have high gear ratios, which is why their retrieve is much slower than the retrieve on spinning reels. Still, getting an inline reel model with a 3.6:1 gear ratio should enable you to retrieve a line relatively quickly.
  • Maximum line capacity: Almost all inline reel models I used in my long ice fishing career were designed for 6 lb. or lower test lines. Remember that these reels usually don’t have enough line capacity for large fish species.

Selection Criteria

Despite having years of ice fishing experience, shortlisting the best inline ice fishing reels was a demanding task for me. I know how difficult adjusting to an inline reel can be, so my goal was to find the models that would allow you to look like a pro on the ice the first time you try the sport.

Let’s go through the criteria I used to select the best inline ice fishing reels:

  • The model’s features: The inline reels you’ll find in this article have all the features you’ll need to drop the bait smoothly and hook a fish.
  • Angler’s skill level: It took me an entire season to get comfortable with my first inline reel. Almost all models I included in this article make it easy to drop and retrieve a line, which is why they’re suitable for inexperienced and seasoned anglers.
  • The reel’s price: My final selection of inline reels includes models for all budgets.

Top 10 Inline Ice Fishing Reels

Pfluger Trion

Pflueger Trion Inline Ice Fishing Reel
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After using a Pfluger Trion inline ice fishing reel for several years, I’m impressed by its durability because frequent exposure to low temperatures, water, and salt hasn’t affected any of its internal components.

This inline reel has an aluminum body and a composite frame, which is why it weighs only 5.2oz. You can use it with mono test lines ranging from 3 lb. to 6 lb. but you can also spool braided lines to this reel with a maximum capacity of 8 lb.

The cold gear lube prevents the reel from seizing up in below-freezing temperatures and ensures smooth retrieval after every cast.

Pros

  • The reel has an ergonomic handle with a Soft Touch knob
  • This Pfluger’s model has an oil-felt drag system
  • The reel’s free-spool trigger system can be operated with one hand
  • Pfluger Trion has a higher gear ratio than most inline ice reels

Cons

  • The reel’s maximum drag is 3.5lbs
  • The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty for this model

Eagle Claw

Eagle Claw Inline Ice Reel

The Eagle Claw Inline Ice Reel combines simplicity, power, value, and reduced line twist. Featuring a durable nylon spool and body with an aluminum handle, it ensures toughness and reliability.

The smooth drag system adjusts effortlessly, and a freespool release button adds convenience to your fishing experience.

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Even though its feature list isn’t extensive, the Eagle Claw is one of the best entry-level inline ice reels I’ve tested.

The aluminum reel has an ergonomic handle you can easily crank with your gloves on, but its recovery rate is just 16.5 inches per turn.

Opting for the version of this reel with a 3.1:1 gear ratio will enable you to retrieve the line almost twice as fast because its recovery rate is 28 inches per turn.

The model’s maximum line capacity is just 4 lb. so you can only use the Eagle Claw inline reel to catch panfish. However, its spool tension adjustment mechanism and freespool release button make it easy to drop a lure to the desired depth.

Pros

  • Anglers can choose between versions of this reel with 2.6:1 and 3.1:1 gear ratios
  • The reel minimizes line twists
  • It makes vertical jigging easy
  • Impressive price-performance ratio

Cons

  • Reel’s drag system wears out quickly
  • Regular exposure to freezing temperatures can cause the reel to seize up

13 Fishing Black Betty FreeFall Carbon Inline Fishing Reel

13 Fishing Black Betty FreeFall Carbon Inline Ice Fishing Reel

Sync up with your sonar display for ultimate fishing success with the 13 Fishing® Black Betty FreeFall Carbon Inline Ice Fishing Reel.

Its advanced FreeFall technology ensures precise, real-time fishing, while the FreeFall trigger, coupled with 13 Fishing's line guide window and micro-adjustable magnetic drop system, allows for effortless bait dropping, quick re-engagement, and instant hooksets.

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I’m proud to say that the 13 Fishing Black Betty FreeFall Carbon Inline Fishing Reel has been a standard part of my ice fishing equipment for years.

The FreeFall technology is the reason I like this inline reel so much, as it allows me to drop a line to any depth and hookset a fish instantly.

The reel’s micro-adjustable drop system and line guide window also contribute to its casting accuracy, making it one of the premier ice reels on the market.

The best part is that its spool cap has a tangle-free design that keeps line twists at the minimum and ensures you won’t have to untangle the line in freezing temperatures.

Pros

  • Smooth operation even at extreme temperatures
  • Sturdy Airfoil Carbon frame
  • Simple line tension control
  • The reel has an instant anti-reverse system

Cons

  • Slow line recovery rate
  • The model is pricy

Clam Genz Spooler Elite

CLAM 9648 Genz Ice Spooler Elite Reel
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A straight-drop inline reel like the Clam Genz Spooler Elite is among the best options for novice ice anglers. The reel eliminates line coiling, enabling you to present the bait naturally and avoid line twisting.

Its elongated foot enables anglers to maintain a firm grip on the reel even while wearing thick gloves. You can use a 2 lb. or 4 lb. test line with this reel, but don’t forget that its spool can only hold 60 yards of 4 lb. mono test line.

Still, you can detect even the gentlest of bites while using this reel.

Pros

  • Anglers can adjust the reel’s drag by turning a knob
  • Suitable for right-handed and left-handed ice fishermen
  • A powerful one-way clutch
  • Mounting the reel onto a rod requires minimum effort

Cons

  • The reel has only three ball bearings
  • The spool cannot hold more than 85 yards of 4 lb. monoline

Clam Gravity Ice Inline Combo

Clam Gravity Ice Inline Combo - 28'' - Light

The Clam® Gravity Ice Inline Combo offers affordability, lightweight construction, and superb sensitivity, perfect for finesse fishing during midwinter. Crafted with a lightweight graphite composite, its ergonomic design ensures comfort.

The adjustable drag system allows for efficient fishing, while the super-smooth main drag and sensitive anti-drag trigger provide seamless freespool tension adjustment for a smooth descent with any lure.

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Finding the perfect ice reel-rod pairing is difficult if you’re new to ice fishing. That’s why I suggest considering the Clam Gravity Ice Inline Combo if you’re planning your first ice fishing trip.

The combo features a highly sensitive fast-action rod that enables you to detect a bite instantly and the Clam Gravity inline reel. The graphite reel has a 3+1 ball bearing system and a 3.6:1 gear ratio, which indicates that you can retrieve the line and recast relatively quickly.

Still, the reel’s line capacity is limited to 6 lb. so you can only use it to catch smaller fish.

Pros

  • The combo is ideal for first-time ice anglers
  • The reel’s body is graphite
  • No coiling during the bait descent
  • A powerful and adjustable drag system

Cons

  • No right-hand retrieve
  • The reel doesn’t perform well in extreme cold

13 Fishing FreeFall Ghost Inline Reel

13 Fishing FreeFall Ghost Inline Ice Fishing Reel

The FreeFall Ghost Inline Reel combines lightweight construction with crisp performance. Featuring a graphite composite frame, aluminum handle, and Soft Touch knobs, it offers comfort and control.

With a 3+1 bearing system, smooth drag, and easy one-hand operation, it's ideal for depths down to 50'. Available in left- or right-hand retrieve.

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Like the Black Betty reel, the 13 Fishing FreeFall Ghost Inline Reel has the FreeFall trigger system that enables you to release or engage a line with a push of a button.

In addition, its magnetic drop speed adjuster lets you control how quickly you want the bait to descend, while the FreeFall Windows Performance technology prevents you from releasing too much line off the spool.

The model also features an instant anti-reverse and a graphite star drag, so you can quickly adjust the line tension. The reel’s maximum line capacity is 6/100 lb./yd.

Pros

  • Left and right retrieve are available for the inline reel model
  • It offers a high degree of lure control
  • All of the reel’s components are made of high-quality materials
  • The inline reel’s maximum drag is 6.6 lb.

Cons

  • Learning to use this inline ice reel takes practice

Anatono ICI Ice Fishing Reel

ANATONO ICI Ice Fishing Reel
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I think the Anatono ICI Ice Fishing Reel is among your best options if you’re searching for an affordable inline reel equipped with advanced features.

The Antono’s model has the FreeFall trigger system that lets you control how deep you want to drop the lure and hook a fish in a fraction of a second.

This ice fishing reel also has a magnetic drop system containing N-40 magnets that ensure the line runs smoothly during a drop.

The inline reel’s one-piece body is made of lightweight composite material, while its spool is made of CNC aluminum alloy.

Pros

  • The reel has 3+1 stainless steel ball bearings
  • No line twists
  • The reel is equipped with EX handle knobs
  • A powerful CNC aluminum star drag

Cons

  • It’s not suitable for ice fishing in waters deeper than 15 ft
  • The reel doesn’t have the drop clutch

Piscifun ICX Carbon Ice Fishing Inline Reel

Piscifun ICX Carbon Ice Fishing Reel
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Integrated line guides, a star drag system, and the easily accessible Freespool trigger are some of my Piscifun ICX Carbon Ice Fishing Inline Reel‘s favorite features.

Its durable structure is impressive, as extensive exposure to difficult conditions on the ice is unlikely to damage it. Moreover, the carbon fiber reel has a magnetic drop system featuring seven neodymium magnets that let you micro-adjust the line’s drop rate.

This Piscifun’s model has 8+1 stainless steel ball bearings and a 3.2:1 gear ratio, which ensures that you can retrieve 21 inches of the line with a single crank of its handle.

Pros

  • The reel’s maximum drag is 11lbs
  • Anglers can choose between left and right retrieval
  • Two-directional freespool lever
  • The reel’s spool is CNC machined

Cons

  • The reel’s maximum mono capacity is 4 lb.

Eagle Claw CRYO Inline Trigger Ice Reel

Eagle Claw CRYO Inline Trigger Ice Reel


The Eagle Claw® CRYO™ Inline Trigger Ice Reel is built for cold weather performance, featuring a responsive trigger release system for precise bait placement. Constructed with a tough graphite body, aluminum spool, and comfortable rubber handle grips, it ensures reliability.

The smooth 5-bearing system offers immediate hooksets, pre-lubed with white lithium grease to prevent freeze-up

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If you’re tired of searching for a new inline reel every season, I advise getting a model like the Eagle Claw CRYO Inline Trigger Ice Reel.

The Eagle Claw’s model has a graphite body and rubber handle grips that perform well at sub-zero temperatures. The trigger system lets you release the line effortlessly and stop it instantly whenever a fish takes the bait.

The reel is pre-lubed with lithium grease, which protects it from freezing after exposure to water. Still, you can only use 4 lb. test monolines with this reel.

Pros

  • A functional and stylish design
  • The reel’s graphite body is lightweight
  • A relatively fast retrieve due to a 3.1:1 gear ratio
  • An attractive price

Cons

  • Ball bearings aren’t durable

Goture Inline Ice Fishing Reel

Goture Inline Ice Fishing Reel, Ultra Powerful Ice Reel with Carbon Fiber Drag System
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Despite its affordable price, the Goture Inline Ice Fishing Reel is stacked with amazing features designed to enhance your ice fishing experience.

The reel’s graphite body is tough and durable, while its CNC-machined aluminum spool is corrosion-resistant. Moreover, the spool’s design eliminates line twisting and ensures a smooth lure drop.

The reel has an instant anti-reverse, so you can easily control how much line you release during each cast. You can also use the reel’s drop speed adjustment dial to increase or decrease the lure’s descent speed.

Pros

  • The reel has a carbon drag system
  • It eliminates line-twisting
  • This Goture’s model has an EVA handle
  • Using this reel is easy, even when with gloves are on

Cons

  • The warranty period is short

Frequently Asked Questions About Inline Ice Fishing Reels

Do Inline Fishing Reels Require Regular Maintenance?

Cleaning your inline reel after every ice fishing trip will extend its lifespan. It’s also advisable to lubricate it at least once during the winter fishing season.

Do All Inline Reels Have Corrosion-Resistant Spools?

Although most inline reels have aluminum spools, only a handful of models come with corrosion-resistant spools.

Can an Inline Reel Freeze?

Inline reels aren’t immune to freezing but are much less likely to freeze than spinning reels.

The Verdict: Which Inline Ice Fishing Reel Should You Get?

I fell in love with ice fishing the first time I tried the sport, but I soon realized that I needed the right equipment to be good at it.

Even though it is often more convenient, I don’t recommend using a spinning reel for ice fishing because you’ll have to deal with twisted lines and occasionally waste time thawing the reel.

Switching to an inline reel like the 13 Fishing Black Betty FreeFall Carbon Inline Fishing Reel or Pfluger Trion can make ice fishing more entertaining and help you catch more fish.

In case you’re new to ice fishing, opting for the Clam Gravity Ice Inline Combo can save you time on matching a reel and a rod.