Fishing in below-freezing temperatures often means ice build up on the rod guides and if you don’t know how to keep fishing rod guides from freezing it can become a big problem. I guide many days in freezing cold rivers that run into the great lakes and these are my guide tips to keep fishing rod guides from freezing.
The 2 best ways to keep fishing rod guides from freezing is to use Stanley’s Ice Off Paste which is designed to help keep fishing rod guides from freezing, or you can keep fishing rod guides from freezing by using the water you are fishing in, which can prevent ice build-up or can melt the ice.
Both of these methods have been proven to keep fishing rod guides from freezing when done right. There are some other remedies as well which will be discussed below.
Ice on the rod guides can be a problem when casting, or when the line comes out as your float drifts down the river, and it can even be a big problem when fighting the fish. Too much ice on the rod guides might even prevent the line from passing through rod guides completely.
As you reel in, any water on the line will collect on the rod guides and it will freeze when the air temperatures are below freezing.
The colder it is outside the faster your rod guides will freeze. Each cast creates another layer of ice on the rod guides and the ice will get thicker and thicker until it closes up the entire hole and starts to causes problems. Locked-up rod guides could even cause a break-off when fighting a fish.
It’s the top 2 or 3 rod guides that collect the most ice and since they are the smallest rod guides these are the ones that will freeze up solid first.
There are ways to keep fishing rod guides from freezing when fishing and when fighting a fish.
Before we get into all the guide tips on how to keep your rod guides from freezing I just wanted to let you know that I have a page on how to keep you, your feet, and your hands from freezing when fishing in the winter. Check out my page Fishing In The Winter – Stay Warm With These 10 Tips
Stanley’s Ice Off Paste
Loon’s Stanley’s Ice Off Paste is one of the best ways to keep fishing rod guides from freezing and it’s the only product that is meant for this purpose. This should mean that it is tested to work and that it is also proven safe for the environment and on your rods and all your fishing lines.
For best results, it should be applied to each rod guide at home before you go fishing and left to dry. It’s kind of like a sticky waxy paste. You can put a small amount onto a thin rag or use your finger and apply a thin layer to all the rod guides.
The paste coats the guides and prevents the water and ice from adhering to the rod guides.
Unfortunately, like all the remedies to keep fishing rod guides from freezing, Stanley’s Ice Off Paste doesn’t last all day. You may need to reapply it on the rod guides while on the river. I like it because it will often get me through the coldest part of the morning until the sun comes out and starts to warm up the rod and the air.
If you do need to re-apply, do it whenever you are going to take a break from fishing, like when you need to stop and eat, or when you are going to move to another spot.
When I’m ready to stop and take a break, I will dry off each rod guide with a dry cloth or paper towel and then re-apply a thin layer of Stanley’s Ice Off Paste and then let it dry for 5 minutes or more.
Putting the paste onto wet guides doesn’t seem to keep rod guides from freezing very well.
Stanley’s Ice Off Paste is not the perfect solution to keep fishing rod guides from freezing but it’s better than nothing and it’s better than most other remedies to keep fishing rod guides from freezing.
Stanley’s Ice Off Paste will work well to keep rod guides from freezing when using mono, fluorocarbon, and fly lines.
You can buy it at Amazon – HERE.
Use Water To Keep The Ice Off The Rod Guides
One of my best tricks that I give to my clients to keep fishing rod guides from freezing is to use the water that you are fishing in. The water is warmer than the air and is warmer than the ice on your rod guides, if it wasn’t the water would be frozen too.
On really cold days when the ice starts to form on the rods guides, I will simply dip my rod tip into the river or the lake as I reel in my line.
The longer I keep the rod tip in the water the more completely the ice melts off and the less ice accumulation occurs in the rod guides.
When I’ve reeled my line all the way in, I lift my rod out of the water and tap the bottom of the rod blank two or three times. I tap between the handle and first rod guide to shake the excess water off. 3 or 4 short fast taps work the best.
This method works great earlier in the fall when the water is much warmer or on spring creeks or tail-water sections that don’t get as cold.
Because rivers are flowing water, the ice will come off faster than in a lake where the water isn’t moving. In the lake, I will move my rod slowly from side to side to remove the ice faster.
There are 2 reasons this trick works to keep fishing rod guides from freezing.
The water freezes on the rod guides as it’s exposed to the freezing air, but if your rod is below the surface when you reel in, the rod guides are not exposed to the air and therefore they can’t freeze.
The water on the rod guides can still freeze after you lift the rod out of the water which is why I tap the excess water off. Taping the rod can also shake off excess water from the line.
There will still be a little bit of water on the part of the line that’s on the reel and as that line is being cast out it could cause a little bit of ice on the rod guides, however, if you dip the rod below the surface each time you reel in, it should melt any ice off again and prevent the ice from building up.
I will only dip my rod in the water as deep as I need to clear all the rod guides that I start seeing ice on. That often means only the top 3 or 4 rod guides will get dipped in regularly because these are the rod guides that are the biggest issue.
The lower rod guides closer to the handle might only need to be dipped once every 5 minutes or as soon as I see a small amount of ice.
Don’t let the ice build up to much or it will take forever for it to melt in the colder water, it’s best to dip your rod every 1 to 3 casts.
In the middle of January and February when the water is much colder and closer to the freezing point, dipping the rod tip in the water each time you reel in is best.
This method isn’t perfect either but I have gone all day without picking or breaking off ice of my rod guides while other anglers are struggling with constant ice build-up.
How To Remove Ice Off The Rod Guides When It’s Thick
Be careful how you remove thick ice that has built up on your rod guides.
There will be times when it’s so cold that Stanley’s Ice Off Paste and the water trick won’t be able to keep the ice off your rod guides for long. When the ice has built up so thick that it needs to be removed this is what I do.
If the ice is so thick in and around the rod guides that it won’t break off easily by hand, I will use my hot breath to melt the ice off either completely or just enough that I can pick it off by hand. One big breath inward and then a long slow breath released directly on the iced-up area will usually melt it enough.
If the ice is not too bad, I will carefully break the ice off the rod guides with my fingers. Breaking ice off with your fingers works most of the time for me, but sometimes it’s so thick in the small rod guides that it just won’t break. You want to be careful breaking the ice off your rod guides with your hands because you might break the rod guide, pop out the ceramic insert, or even break the rod.
If the ice is really tough to remove I will sometimes even carefully bite the ice off or melt it with my mouth, don’t swallow, it’s river water. I say carefully because I don’t want to damage the rod or the line with my teeth. Biting the ice off is the last resort but I have done it before and it works.
Once that thick ice is off, you can try to reapply Stanley’s Ice Off Paste or use the water trick again to help prevent a fast build-up of ice.
Other Methods To Keep The Ice Off The Rod Guides
I have heard of many other methods to keep the ice off the guides but many of these use oil-based products that may cause problems with the rod or the line. It is not clear if the oils will deteriorate the lines over time so do these at your own risk.
Some of these products may also gum up the guides and become sticky preventing the line from flowing freely through the rod guides.
ChapStick And Lip Balm for Keeping Ice Off Rod Guides
This a home remedy and that some anglers like but it’s uncertain how well this actually works and it’s uncertain if anything in the Chapstick will cause problems with the line or rod components or rod finish.
Anglers I talk to tend to like the Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Moisturizing Lip Balm. You can get it at Amazon – HERE
To use this method, simply smudge some lip balm onto your fingers or a rag and apply a thin layer to each rod guide, run off any excess or clumps with a rag. Using Chapstick might cause build-up and sticky lines when casting. If it doesn’t work for you that’s Ok because you can use it on your lips.
Pam Cooking Spray To Keep Rod Guides From Freezing
This is another one of the more common home remedies that anglers have claimed works for keeping the ice off the rod guides. You simply spray it on the rod guides at home and let it dry, wipe off the excess and go fish.
There are no studies to determine if this works at all or not or if this product is safe for your lines and rod so use this at your own risk.
Olive Oil To Keep The Rod Guides From Freezing
I have heard of olive oil and other cooking oils being used to keep the rod guides from freezing. These are more natural and are thin oils but like most products, they can be a temporary solution that may only prolong the amount of time the rod guides stay ice-free.
Anglers will apply a small amount using a q-tip or paper towel or a rag. Like many other home remedies, some anglers say this works as a temporary way to slow the build-up of ice but you may need to reapply often.
The oil may cause problems with the lines and rod guides so use at your own risk.
Vaseline To Keep Fishing Rod Guides From Freezing
Some anglers will coat their rod guides with a thin layer of Vaseline to keep rod guides from freezing and apparently it works.
Since Vaseline is a sticky oil-based product the idea is that oil and water don’t mix and it will prevent the water and ice from being able to stick to the rod guides.
This may be true but it’s unsure if the Vaseline is safe to use on the line and the rod. Because of the uncertainty if Vaseline will damage the line or the rod this would be my last choice to keep rod guides from freezing. Use with caution.
Rain X To Keep Rod Guides From Freezing
I have heard of anglers using the product called Rain X to help keep rod guides from freezing.
The concept sounds good since this product is supposed to repel water so it can’t stick to a surface and if it can’t stick it won’t freeze there.
Unfortunately, I haven’t tried this yet to see if it actually works and I’m not sure if this product is safe for the environment or your rod and lines.
You can get Rain-X from Amazon -HERE and if it doesn’t work for your rod guides you can always use it for your car windshield.
Summary: How To Keep Rod Guides From Freezing
All of these methods can work to some degree or another to keep rod guides from freezing. The key is to always apply whatever solution it is that you want to try only to dry rod guides. I would suggest trying a couple of these remedies to see what works best for you.
Got A Question Or Tip About How To Keep The Ice Off The Rod Guides
These are methods that work for me but I love hearing other methods so if you have another tip for me and the readers or you have a question about how to keep the ice off the rod guides let me know in the comment section below.