Continual improvements in ice fishing gear, ice fishing shelters, and cold-weather clothing make it a lot easier to go out onto the ice and enjoy catching all kinds of fish. But without the best lures for ice fishing, you will struggle to catch fish.
In my area, there is a lake that some call the “ice fishing capital of the world,” and every winter, it looks like a city on the ice with all the huts, shelters, and anglers. After years of research and discussing the best lures for ice fishing for both catching fish and ensuring that I have the right lures in my fishing store for my customers, I’ve narrowed down the best ice fishing lures.
However, the lure you choose will depend on the species you are targeting
If you are ice fishing, these are must-have ice fishing lures.
- Salmo Chubby Darter – Best Walleye and Trout Ice Lure
- Rapala Jigging Rap – Best Multi-Species Ice Lure
- CLAM Dave Genz Drop-Kick – Best Ice Fishing Jig
- Swedish Pimple Spoon – Best Ice Fishing Spoon
Some Ice Lures Are Better Than Others
Once you have all of your ice fishing gear ready, you just need some of the best ice fishing lures to help you land fish and in my some lures simply work better than others.
Even if you use bait almost exclusively, you might still need ice-fishing lures to help attract fish. The ice might be covered in snow, which completely blocks out the light, but glow-in-the-dark lures can grab their attention, and so can ice-fishing lures that are designed to look active despite the relative confines of fishing through a hole in the ice.
Lots of research has gone into creating and identifying the most effective ice-fishing lures and in my opinion, there are many great ice fishing lures that are hard to beat. Here are some of the best ice-fishing lures that ice anglers should have in their tackle boxes and why.
Best Fish Body Ice Fishing Lures
These are lures that are shaped to look like baitfish and are very similar to crankbaits, except the hook eye is at the top so they swim more vertically when ice fishing. Use a good ice fishing rod for these and other lures to get a better action and to detect subtle bites.
Salmo Chubby Darter
— The Chubby Darter is bulbous in front and tapers back along a slight arc of its body. It has a treble hook in front and another on the tail end and creates a natural wobbling and walking action that attracts walleye, trout, panfish, steelhead, and other popular fish.
The Chubby Darter is brightly colored with many patterns available that are designed to make ice-fishing walleye and other aggressive fish confuse it with baitfish and strike. It measures an inch and three-eighths in length and is available in weights of 1/16th, 1/8th, and 3/16th ounces.
Lures that are similar and very effective for Walleye, Trout, and Steelhead, and some anglers even like them better are:
- Rapala Slab Rap – I have tested this myself, and at times, I can agree with the many anglers who say this is even better than the Salmon Chubby Darter – Check Price.
- Rapala Ultra Light Rippin’ Rap – Great for panfish and other species caught through the ice, but it also works for casting at any time of the year, and it gets good reviews from users. Check Price
Rapala Jigging Rap
Rapala is one of the most respected makers of fishing lures, and the Rapala Jigging Rap is likely one of the most popular and best lures for ice fishing for anglers looking to catch trout, steelhead, and walleye through the ice.
The Rapala Jigging Rap is shaped like a minnow and available in a variety of colorful variations that mimic the look of baitfish and make the ice fishing jigs more visible in cold and dark water beneath the ice.
The Jigging Rap has a single treble hook located directly beneath the centered eyelet on top and a single barb extending from the front and another from the rear. The ice fishing jig is great for catching fish throughout the year and is available in a variety of lengths from 1-1/4 inches to 3-1/2 inches and weights from 1/8th to 7/8th ounces.
Must-Have Panfish Lures and Jigs For Ice Fishing
CLAM Dave Genz Drop-Kick – Best Ice Fishing Jig
The Drop-Kick is another great ice fishing jig that makes it easier to catch fish through the ice. The Drop-Kick features a brightly colored jig head made from tungsten, which is heavier and stronger than lead. Ice anglers will love how it creates vibration when jigged to lure fish. A 90-degree hook is perfect for using larvae for the best ice-fishing results.
HT Enterprises Marmooska Jig – A bulbous body and bright colors with a single hook positioned on top make the Marmooska jig perfect for adding your favorite jig bodies or even live bait while jigging for panfish through the ice. The Marmooska ice fishing jig is very affordable and very effective at targeting panfish through the ice and at any other time of the year.
Other Ice Fishing Jigs to Watch Out For
Tungsten Jig with Soft Plastic – The Tungsten Jig has a bulbous head that glows in the dark and draws attention to the soft plastic that mimics a wax worm and larvae when placed on its single hook. The jig is intended for pan fish and does a great job of holding live bait as well as soft plastic. Check Price
Demon Jig with Live Bait – A two-tone high-gloss epoxy body that is available in multiple color combinations helps make the Demon Jig one of the best ice-fishing lures for panfish. A single hook that is your choice of size 8, 10, or 12 works great for holding live bait or soft plastics. Check Price
Goture Ice Fishing Jigs – Goture makes possibly the best ice-fishing jig with a bulbous head mounted at the top of a single hook that holds bait and other fish attractants. The heads are colorfully decorated and help encourage lightly biting fish to take an interest and strike. A pack of eight is relatively affordable and will help improve your ice fishing for panfish, perch, and walleye.
Dynamic Lures HD Ice Fishing Lure – Another great sinking lure, the HD Ice Fishing Lure is 2 inches long, has treble hooks near the front and on the tail, and creates a walking motion when jigged up and down. A variety of color combinations, including some that glow, help make it more effective below the snow-covered ice and when jigging at night.
Top Picks for Open Water:
Rapala Rippin’ Rap – The Rapala Rippin’ Rap is another of the best ice-fishing jigs that also works great in open water. The Rippin’ Rap catches fish year-round with a treble hook centered beneath the eyelet and another mounted to the rear of the Rippin’ Rap. A BB rattle system creates sound and vibration that attract fish to the tall but skinny ice-fishing that weigh 5/16ths of an ounce and are 2 inches long.
LiveTarget Golden Shiner – The Golden Shiner is a gold and black swim bait measuring 5.5 inches in length and weighing 1.75 ounces that is designed to catch big bass. A single barb protrudes from the middle of its back, but you can add a second hook to an eyelet located underneath the Golden Shiner.
Best Spoons For Ice Fishing
Swedish Pimple: Best Spoon For Ice Fishing
When the Bay de Noc Swedish Pimple came out, anglers drove me crazy coming into my fishing store looking for this spoon. I had a hard time keeping this in stock and getting the colors the guys wanted. Today, it is one of the most popular ice-fishing spoons available, and is a must-have in multiple colors.
It’s a great lure for hard or soft water fishing for multiple species. When ice fishing I will often tip it with a minnow or small bait like waxies or Berkely Powerbait and Gulp. I like the hammered, with silver being my most effective color.
It works well for panfish and larger fish, and I have even heard anglers casting it around the great lakes for steelhead and salmon. It is one of the 50 best lures of all time, according to Field and Stream magazine.
CLAM Leech Flutter Spoon – The Flutter Spoon is similar to other spoons but flutters as you raise and lower it while ice fishing. It has a single spoon with a treble hook at the bottom and might include a skirt or a small flutter placed next to the treble hook.
Flutter spoons are available in a variety of colors and designs to help you match the hatch throughout the year and while fishing through the ice.
VMC Rattle Spoon – A resonance chamber made from brass and containing small beads makes the VMC Rattle Spoon create sounds and vibrations to attract fish. The Rattle Spoon has an eyelet on one end and a treble hook at the other and looks like a common minnow in its many available colors.
Unique Sound Creations:
CLAM Time Bomb Spoon -The Time Bomb Spoon does not resemble a traditional spoon and instead is made from several combined pieces that work together to create clicking and ticking sounds that mimic crayfish and other natural food sources.
The Time Bomb Spoon has a three-piece body and a treble hook with an epoxy-coated center that helps create more color and movement to lure fish.
Other Versatile Options:
Northland Tackle Buckshot Rattle Spoon – The Buckshot Rattle Spoon is a great complement to the popular Northland Forage Minnow and helps you land perch, walleye, lake trout, bass, and pike through the ice. The body includes a brass rattle that attracts fish and a highly visible UV coating that catches their eye.
A single treble hook can hold bait to make the presentation irresistible.
Custom Jigs & Spins Slender Spoon – Custom Jigs & Spins’ Slender Spoon is appropriately named due to it being much wider at the top than it is at the bottom. The Slender Spoon tapers to a narrow point to which the treble hook is affixed at the bottom. Colorful markings help create an attention-grabbing flash of color while jigging the spoon through the ice.
Special Mentions For Best Lures For Ice Fishing
Sebile Vibrato Baits – The Vibrato Baits by Sebile are among the best ice-fishing jigs that attract fish with vibration and flashes of color. The lure is 1.75 inches long, weighs a quarter ounce, and has treble hooks attached to the very front and at the end of the tail.
The lure is perfectly balanced at the upper eyelet and creates fish-attracting vibration when jigged and made to flutter upon descent.
Acme Side-Winder Spoon – The Side-Winder is a great all-season spoon that works great for casting, trolling, or jigging through the ice. It is smooth on one side and textured to resemble a fish on the other side. The spoon is bowed slightly to make it flutter while jigging, retrieving a cast, or trolling.
It’s available in many color combinations and is great for targeting walleye, lake trout, and pike.
Bay de Noc Swedish Pimple – The Swedish Pimple is one of the best ice-fishing spoons, and the Bay de Noc version is virtually the same as the classic Swedish Pimple but with more options for color combinations.
Bay De Noc Lure Co. Do-Jigger – The Do-Jigger shares the same basic components as the Swedish Pimple but has a diamond-shaped spoon instead of a traditional teardrop shape. Everything else is the same, including the red flasher affixed to the treble hook. The jigging spoon is available in many weights and color combinations.
Northland Whistler Jig – Possibly the best ice-fishing jig and certainly one of the most unique, the Northland Whistler Jig entices light-biting fish and trophy fish alike with a colorful head and short body with a small propeller situated between the head and the single hook extending from the tail.
You can use it as a jig with live bait or soft bait attached to the hook. It’s a great all-around jig that you can use throughout the year.