Best Ice Fishing Reels for Walleye: Top Picks of 2023

813XmimvhSL PIC

Ice fishing is a popular winter activity many anglers love for its serene beauty and unique challenges. Walleye are a sought-after species among ice fishing enthusiasts due to their taste and the rewarding experience of catching them. The right ice fishing reel can make a significant difference in your success and enjoyment of the sport. In this article, we will discuss the best ice fishing reels for walleye and what to consider when choosing one.

Ice fishing reels are specially designed for the cold environment and the specific techniques used for ice fishing. A good reel will allow for smooth line release, offer excellent sensitivity to detect subtle bites, and provide easy line management when reeling in your catch. Additionally, a high-quality ice fishing reel should be durable and resist freezing, essential when dealing with harsh winter conditions.

When shopping for an ice fishing reel for walleye, it’s important to consider crucial features like gear ratio, spool size, and construction material. The gear ratio is essential because it determines how quickly the line is retrieved, while the spool size can influence the amount of fishing line you can hold. As for construction materials, choosing reels made of corrosion-resistant, sturdy materials will ensure a longer-lasting and higher-performing product.

Considering these factors, we spent many hours researching and testing several ice fishing reels for walleye to identify the ones that offer excellent performance, durability, and ease of use. Join us in exploring the best ice fishing reels for walleye today.

Best Ice Fishing Reels for Walleye

We’ve compiled a list of the best ice fishing reels for walleye to ensure your next adventure is successful and enjoyable. Check out these top picks below!

Ming Yang CL25 Ice Fishing Reel

Ming Yang CL25 Ice Fishing Reel

This wallet-friendly ice fishing reel has a few great features, but we’ve also noticed some areas for improvement.


  • Affordable
  • 2-bearing design (SS Ball Bearing)
  • Brass frame and aluminum spool


  • Not as smooth as higher-end reels
  • Inconsistent spool release mechanism
  • Subpar drag system

We recently took the Ming Yang CL25 ice fishing reel for a walleye fishing trip to test its capabilities. The reel is lightweight, weighing only 6 ounces, and has a compact size, measuring 2.5 inches wide and 2 inches in diameter. One feature we appreciated was the 3.8:1 gear ratio and star drag system, which made reeling in walleye relatively easy. The twin rubber handle knobs were also comfortable to hold and provided a good grip.

However, during our fishing trip, we encountered a few issues as well. As we were casting, we noticed that the reel wasn’t as smooth as some of the higher-end models we’ve used. We also observed that the button for the spool release mechanism didn’t always release the spool properly. This was frustrating, as we had to press the button multiple times to engage it fully.

Moreover, the drag system on this reel left us wanting more. It seemed to be either too tight or too loose, without much of a middle ground. This made it difficult to control the tension effectively when reeling in larger fish.

In conclusion, the Ming Yang CL25 Ice Fishing Reel is best suited for casual anglers who only fish occasionally. Despite its affordable price and some useful features, its shortcomings should be considered before purchasing. If you often ice fish for walleye and need a reliable, high-quality reel, it might be worth investing in a more established brand.

13 FISHING Thermo Ice Reel

13 FISHING Thermo Ice Reel

This reel is perfect for anglers seeking an affordable and efficient ice-fishing reel for walleye.


  • Lightweight graphite body and rotor
  • 2BB reel with instant anti-reverse
  • Soft touch handle knob


  • May feel tight while reeling in
  • Not ideal for extreme cold weather
  • The handle might seem fragile

We recently had the chance to try out the 13 FISHING Thermo Ice Reel and were quite impressed with its features. The lightweight graphite body and rotor make it easy to handle and transport, allowing us to fish for those elusive walleyes without feeling weighed down by our gear.

During our time on the ice, we appreciated the convenience of the 2BB reel with instant anti-reverse. The quick responsiveness enabled us to set the hook instantly and effectively. It’s worth mentioning that the soft touch handle knob provided a comfortable grip throughout our fishing sessions.

However, we did notice some areas where the reel could be improved. First, it felt tight while reeling in our catches, which could be a minor inconvenience for some users. Additionally, it might not perform at its best in extremely cold conditions. Lastly, the handle seemed a bit fragile, so be sure to handle it with care.

Overall, the 13 FISHING Thermo Ice Reel is a great option for those purchasing an ice fishing reel for walleye without breaking the bank. While it may have drawbacks, its functionality and affordability make it worth considering. Happy fishing!

KastKing Royale Legend II Ice Spinning Reel

KastKing Royale Legend II Ice Spinning Reel

The KastKing Royale Legend II Ice Spinning Reel is a solid and affordable option for ice fishing enthusiasts seeking a high-performing and lightweight reel.


  • Lightweight, durable, and non-rusting graphite body
  • Smooth operation with 5+1 shielded steel ball bearings
  • Extra long reel foot stem for comfortable use with gloves


  • The drag system may feel sticky or rough.
  • Some users report a small noise during retrieval.
  • Potentially weaker durability over time

We’ve recently tried out the KastKing Royale Legend II Ice Spinning Reel and found it a fantastic addition to our ice fishing gear. Its lightweight yet durable graphite body ensures that it can withstand harsh conditions during ice fishing expeditions.

The reel operates smoothly, thanks to its 5+1 shielded steel ball bearings, precision-cut zinc alloy main gears, and manganese brass pinion gears. The 5.1:1 gear ratio and ample CNC machined graphite handle make it easy to work with, even when wearing thick ice fishing gloves. Moreover, the extra long reel foot stem avoids contact between the reel seat and the rotor, giving us additional space to crank comfortably.

However, we did notice a few drawbacks to this reel. The first is that the drag system sometimes feels sticky or rough. It still operates functionally, but it doesn’t offer the silky smoothness that we expected. Additionally, a few users mentioned a small noise during retrieval, though for us, it wasn’t a significant issue. Lastly, while the reel appears well-built, time will tell how durable it is.

Overall, the KastKing Royale Legend II Ice Spinning Reel is an excellent choice for those seeking a lightweight and high-performing ice fishing reel at an affordable price. Despite minor drawbacks, its features make it a worthy addition to any ice angler’s arsenal.

Frabill Straight Line 371 Ice Fishing Reel

Frabill Straight Line 371 Ice Fishing Reel

The Frabill Straight Line 371 is an excellent choice for anglers seeking a reliable ice fishing reel for catching walleye in frigid temperatures.


  • Lightweight composite construction for strength and durability
  • 3.7:1 reel ratio with a super smooth drag and instant anti-reverse
  • Spool guarded to allow comfortable palm grip


  • Possible spooling issues when overfilled with line
  • Some units may arrive with minor defects
  • Free spool adjustment may not work as expected

When we used the Frabill Straight Line 371 for ice fishing, we were immediately impressed with its lightweight composite construction. It offered great durability without feeling cold to the touch, which is essential under freezing conditions. Given the 3.7:1 reel ratio, we experienced a super smooth drag and instant anti-reverse – perfect for ice fishing walleye.

The spool-guarded design allowed a comfortable palm grip, giving us complete control throughout our fishing session. However, we noticed that overfilling the reel with the line might lead to spooling issues. It is essential to be mindful of the amount of line you add to avoid these complications.

We also want to point out that some users might receive units with minor defects or problems with the free spool adjustment. While these issues were not a deal-breaker, we must know them. Our experience with the Frabill Straight Line 371 was overall positive, and we recommend it to any angler seeking a reliable ice fishing reel for walleye in frigid temperatures.

Pflueger Trion Inline Ice Fishing Reel

Pflueger Trion Inline Ice Fishing Reel

The Pflueger Trion Inline Ice Fishing Reel is a fantastic choice for anglers looking to catch walleye with its smooth performance and one-handed operation.


  • Smooth 3+1 bearing system
  • The free-spool trigger for one-handed use
  • Lightweight composite frame


  • There is no line control for drops.
  • May have loose parts upon arrival
  • Left-hand orientation only

Our experience with the Pflueger Trion Inline Ice Fishing Reel was mostly positive, thanks to its smooth 3+1 bearing system that ensured consistent performance even in extremely cold conditions. We appreciated the free-spool trigger system, which made one-handed operation a breeze while we focused on detecting bites from the elusive walleye.

The lightweight composite frame was a pleasant surprise, offering durability without adding unnecessary weight to our ice fishing setup. We found ourselves able to fish for longer periods without feeling fatigued.

However, we noticed some downsides to this reel. There was no way to control the bait drop apart from manually putting a finger on the spool. This may cause the spool to spin faster than the drop, resulting in a tangled line. Some users also reported receiving reels with loose parts on arrival.

Despite these drawbacks, the Pflueger Trion Inline Ice Fishing Reel is a solid choice for those anglers seeking a reliable and user-friendly reel for ice fishing walleye. It offers a comfortable and efficient experience on the ice, making it a go-to for many ice fishing enthusiasts.

Buying Guide

When it comes to ice fishing for walleye, choosing the right reel is essential. In this guide, we’ll walk you through some key features to consider when selecting the best ice fishing reel for your needs.

Gear Ratio: One of the first things to look at is the gear ratio of the reel. A higher gear ratio means the reel retrieves line faster, which can be useful when you need to reel in a fish quickly. A lower gear ratio will give you more power, making it easier to pull in larger fish. For walleye ice fishing, we recommend a gear ratio between 5:1 and 6:1.

Ball Bearings: The number of ball bearings in a reel will impact its smoothness and performance. More ball bearings generally mean a smoother and more efficient reel. While it’s not necessary to have the highest ball bearing count possible, we suggest looking for a reel with at least 5 to 7 ball bearings.

Line Capacity: Considering the line capacity of the reel is important because it determines how much fishing line the reel can hold. Be sure to choose a reel that comfortably accommodates the line weight and length you typically use for ice fishing.

Drag System: A quality drag system is crucial for fighting and landing walleye through the ice. Look for a reel with a smooth, adjustable drag system that allows you to maintain control of the fish during the entire process.

Material and Construction: The reel’s material and construction should be durable and withstand the harsh ice fishing conditions. High-quality materials, such as aluminum or graphite, will ensure your reel can handle the cold temperatures and potential water exposure.

Ease of Use: Lastly, consider how user-friendly the reel is. An easy-to-use reel will make your ice fishing experience much more enjoyable. Some features include a comfortable grip, an anti-reverse switch, and an easily accessible spool release.

In summary, when choosing the best ice fishing reel for walleye, consider factors like gear ratio, ball bearings, line capacity, drag system, material, and ease of use. By paying attention to these features, you can select a reel that meets your needs and enhances your ice fishing experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some top-rated ice fishing reels for walleye?

Some highly rated ice fishing reels for walleye include the Shimano Stradic CI4+ FB, Abu Garcia Revo S, and the Daiwa Exist LT. These reels offer excellent performance, reliability, and durability, essential for successful walleye ice fishing.

Which reel size is recommended for walleye ice fishing?

For walleye ice fishing, we usually recommend a reel size of 1000 to 2500, as this range offers a good balance of line capacity, weight, and control. Reels with this size will comfortably handle the line weights and lure sizes typically used for walleye.

What should I look for in a spinning reel for walleye?

When selecting a spinning reel for walleye, consider the following features: a smooth and strong drag system, quality ball bearings, corrosion-resistant materials, and a reliable bail mechanism. These factors will ensure a consistent reel performance and a better overall experience on the ice.

How important is gear ratio when choosing a walleye reel?

Gear ratio is important when choosing a walleye reel, as it determines how quickly the line is retrieved per handle turn. For ice fishing, we recommend a gear ratio between 5.0:1 and 6.0:1, as this range provides an optimal balance of power and speed for handling walleye lures and techniques.

Are there any ice fishing reel brands known for their walleye performance?

Some ice fishing reel brands known for their walleye performance include Shimano, Abu Garcia, and Daiwa. These brands are reputable for producing high-quality reels with features that cater to the specific needs of walleye ice anglers.

What essential gear should I have for a successful walleye ice fishing trip?

In addition to a good reel, make sure you have the following gear for a successful walleye ice fishing trip: a medium action rod, appropriate line (typically 6 to 10 lb test), a selection of lures (jigging spoons, swimbaits, etc.), proper clothing for cold weather, an ice auger, a bucket or portable sled for gear, and a reliable electronics setup for locating fish.


Hi, I’m Kurt and I’m the author of walleyemania. I’ve been fishing for Walleye since I was a kid and I love sharing my tips, tricks, and stories with other anglers. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you’ll find something useful and entertaining on my site. I cover everything from the best gear, baits, and techniques to the best spots, seasons, and recipes for Walleye fishing. Join me on my journey to catch more and bigger Walleye!

Recent Posts