Ice fishing is an extreme angling pursuit to say the least. Frigid temperatures, slick terrain, incessant winds, and pounding precipitation make a day on the ice as much an endurance sport as it is an enjoyable pastime. As a result, ice anglers must come prepared with an assortment of specialized clothing to combat the challenging elements. From outerwear, to footwear, to extremity protection, and accessories, ice fishing requires anglers to outfit themselves with dedicated attire designed with extreme environments in mind. Outlined below is a complete ice fishing wardrobe that is sure to keep you warm, dry, and comfortable no matter how harsh the conditions.
Protecting your core body temperature is of paramount importance if you hope to enjoy a successful day ice fishing. Even in low winds without precipitation, freezing temperatures can leach away your body heat in a hurry. Listed below are some of the clothing staples every ice fisherman needs to be prepared for the harsh winter elements.
Waders are never a bad thing to have when fishing, even if the water you’re standing on is frozen. The Frogg Toggs Steelheader waders are an excellent choice for anglers in search of practical waders for dedicated ice fishing. These waders come in a few different versions including 1,200-gram Thinsulate Insulation cleated rubber boot or stockingfoot configurations. The 120-gram removable insulated liner, reinforced seat and knees, zippered storage pocket, and fleece-lined pockets help make the Steelheader waders a great entry level outer layer.
More refined ice anglers will steer toward bibs over waders. Bibs offer the same waterproof, windproof, and insulating properties as waders without being as restraining on movement. In particular, dedicated ice fishermen and women prefer the premier bibs from Ice Armor by Clam. Their bibs offer varying levels of insulation along with their Motion Float Technology, which keeps you buoyant in case of an ice break through.
Whether you go with waders or bibs, you’ll still need a proper coat to cover your chest, back, and arms. Again, Ice Armor by Clam shines through as the top-level manufacturer with a variety of specialized parkas. Ice Armor’s parkas incorporate a suite of high-tech features such as AquaGuard zippers, fleece lined hoods, 3M Scotchlite reflective elements, and their Rapid Drainage System to prevent water logging.
Footwear can be a make-or-break factor when on the ice – literally. Proper footwear can help your feet stay warm and dry while ensuring you maintain positive traction at all times. Inadequate footwear can lead to cold, wet feet and cause you to unexpectedly slip and fall, leading to a broken arm, bruised hip, or dislocated shoulder. As the saying goes, take care of your feet and they’ll take care of you. Nobody addresses this need better than Korkers.
Some ice anglers prefer to make do with the rubber or outdoors boots they already have and find success on a smaller budget. However, they might still want better traction than their rubber lugs provide, so they’ll need something more aggressive that can be added on without compromising the integrity of the boot. Fortunately, Korkers offers two great options. The CastTrax Cleated Overshoe is ideal for oversized rubber or hunting boots, and see our full ice cleat collection Apex Ice Cleat to find the perfect pair to strap onto standard size hiking boots.
Anglers who desire a dedicated pair of ice fishing footwear can look to Korkers’ extensive line of boots. In particular, Korkers’ OmniTrax 3.0 Interchangeable Sole System allows you to adapt your footwear to the terrain, so you’ll be able to go from the ice, to the truck, to the local diner without changing boots. The cleated sole will provide the traction you desire on the ice while the rubber sole will be more practical for picking up bait in the tackle shop.
Core body heat should be protected first and foremost, but cold extremities will often be what sends you scrambling back to the warm cabin. Cold digits are difficult to warm up, so it’s no surprise the most experienced ice anglers know to invest in proper winter gear to protect their extremities.
Most people understand a large portion of their body heat escapes through their heads. But for some reason, when we're layering to contain body our heat, we often venture out with only one layer on our heads. Fleece-lined options offer two layers in one and the fleece is often ultra-soft and warm. The ideal winter head gear will also protect your neck. Another helpful feature to look for is a quick-cinch pull string to ensure a reliable seal around your neck that cold air won't penetrate.
A great pair of boots won’t be enough to protect your feet in extremely cold temperatures. A great pair of socks is also a necessity if you hope to be comfortable enough to spend extended times at your auger hole. Merino wool blend socks are the perfect way to retain your heat in your feet and lower legs. Our selection includes 15” length, reaching up to your calves for extended coverage. The merino wool fabric wicks moisture while maintaining its insulating properties.
Gloves are an essential piece of ice fishing clothing. A poor pair of gloves will send you packing back to the truck in a hurry. Fingered versions provides full coverage while the fingerless version allows the tips of your fingers to be exposed for improved manipulation of small materials. Ice anglers in search of something thicker will appreciate the Ice Armor by Clam Delta gloves. These waterproof gloves feature 200-gram Thinsulate Insulation, articulated fingers, and an adjustable hook-and-loop closure wrist section for a sealed fit.
Creature comforts are rarely more highly prized than when on an ice fishing trip. The brutal elements take a toll on the mind and body after a long day, so it’s often the little things that can make the biggest difference in terms of comfort.
One of the most important accessories to consider is a good pair of sunglasses. Even on overcast days, the highly reflective snow and ice can make otherwise peaceful ambient light seem blinding after a few short hours. A good pair of polarized shades will go a long way toward reducing eye strain and damage. Wrap-around coverage will be appreciated when wind and precipitation start blowing in sideways. The sunglasses from Wiley X are proven performers on the ice, and there’s sure to be a pair that suit your style, fit your face, and offer the features you desire.
ADVICE FOR THE ICE
One thing will always be certain – ice fishing is an extreme endeavor. With that in mind, ice anglers should prepare themselves for a challenging environment that includes frigid temperatures, heat-sucking winds, numbing precipitation, and slippery surfaces. These elements combine to create one of the most difficult angling adventures imaginable. As a result, anglers should carefully clothe themselves with dedicated gear designed with those harsh conditions in mind. Proper outerwear, footwear, extremity protection, and accessories are worth their weight in gold to ensure you retain your body heat and stay dry. There’s no room for second guessing your wardrobe when it comes to ice fishing, so we recommend purchasing the best gear you can afford to maximize your time on the ice in warm, dry comfort.