How To Keep Fishing Line from Freezing: 12 Tips

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During the dead of winter, one of the best activities or sports you can take part in is ice fishing. Yeah, it’s cold and windy, but it can be a whole lot of fun too, not to mention that ice fishing produces some great catches too.

That said, it’s cold, so you might be dealing with freezing conditions. So, how do you keep your fishing line and guides from freezing? Well, some good solutions for both your line and guides include;

  • Having a good ice fishing shelter
  • Using a heater
  • Using cooking spray
  • Using lip balm
  • Having a towel on hand
  • Using the right kind of fishing line

winter fishing

Contents

Can You Use Normal Fishing Line For Ice?

This really depends on how successful you want to be. Generally speaking, you do want to use fishing line that is specially designed for ice fishing.

Ice fishing line is made out of certain materials that are very resistant to cold temperatures, thus allowing them to remain fairly flexible, soft, and unfrozen when ice fishing.

That said, you can try using normal fishing line, particularly monofilament and fluorocarbon lines. These types of fishing line are very smooth, and although ice may form on them, it won’t cling too badly.

However, what you definitely don’t want to use for ice fishing is braided line. That braided texture, every little gap and nook, is perfect for the formation of ice.

If you ice fish with braided line, you will end up with a long and icy rope that is rendered 100% useless.


12 Ways to Keep Your Fishing Line And Guides from Freezing

There are some really cool methods, pun totally intended, that you can use to keep your fishing line and your guides from freezing.

Let’s take a look at the 12 things that you can do to prevent this problem from occurring, and how to solve it in the event that it does.

winter-fishing-tips

1. Get Inside Of A Good Shelter

One of the best things that you can do to stop your fishing line, your guides, and yourself from freezing, is to get inside of a decent ice fishing shelter or hut.

Sure, you can choose to ice fish out in the open, but depending on where you are, that could mean being exposed to double digit negative temperatures, along with snow and ice rain, and some really cold wind too.

The wind is actually your number one opponent here, so having four walls and a roof to keep the wind out is vital.

Even if you are not using a heater in the ice fishing shelter, the lack of wind, as well as the body heat produced by everybody inside, can go a long way in preventing things from freezing up.

There are all sorts of ice fishing huts out there. A word of advice, the larger the hut, the harder it is to keep it at a decent temperature, so go for something that can fit you and your gear comfortably, but doesn’t have a ton of extra space.

2. Using Reel Magic

Something that also works really well to keep your fishing line and guides from freezing up is something known as Reel Magic, and no, here we aren’t talking about a David Blaine magic trick.

Reel Magic is a legit product, one designed specifically for this purpose, to prevent your fishing gear from being covered in ice.

All you have to do is spray a few squirts of Reel Magic on your line and gears. It is more or less a special eco-friendly type of anti-freeze that prevents water from freezing and sticking onto your line and guides.

If ice does form due to extreme cold, if you have applied Reel Magic, you can just flick or shake it off, not to mention that it doesn’t have an odor and doesn’t leave a greasy residue either.

3. Plug In A Heater

Going back to your ice fishing hut, one of the best things you can do to keep yourself and all of your fishing gear relatively warm is to use a heater.

Of course, in an ice fishing hut, you won’t have any access to electricity, so you will need to use some sort of propane or butane powered heater.

These heaters, while they may not bring your ice fishing hut up to room temperature, they will keep things warm enough to prevent your line from icing over, plus it can make it warm enough so you don’t even have to use gloves.

Just be weary when purchasing these kinds of heaters, particularly in terms of the BTUs and what size space the model in question is rated for, as well as the incorporated safety features.

4. Use Speciality Ice Fishing Line

Perhaps the number one thing that you can do to stop your line from icing up is to buy the right kind of ice fishing line in the first place.

Without getting too technical, ice fishing line is made out of special materials and has special coatings that can prevent water from freezing, and even if water does freeze due to extreme cold, thin layers of ice are very easy to remove from specialty ice fishing line.

Yes, a little bit of freezing may still happen, but not nearly as much as with normal fishing line.

On a side note, they do also make braided ice fishing line, which does still have some problems, but does perform better than normal braided line.

5. Monofilament OR Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

If you don’t want to use ice fishing line for whatever reason, you can try using normal monofilament or fluorocarbon fishing line.

Now, you definitely don’t want to use braided line, because that rough texture makes it far too easy for water to cling on and freeze.

This type of line, both mono and fluorocarbon, although water can freeze on them, the ice tends to be easy to remove, plus the line generally retains a good deal of flexibility when it is cold.

It’s definitely not your best bet, especially when compared to real ice fishing line, but you can make it work if all else fails.

6. Lip Balm Can Work

Sure, lip balm is great for those dry and cracked lips, but when it comes to ice fishing, it can do more than just keep your lips lubricated.

Lip balm is actually one of the best things out there for preventing your fishing line and guides for freezing.

The reason for this is because lip balm is oily and it repels water. If water cannot stick or cling to your fishing line, then it won’t get a chance to freeze before it drips off.

Now, this is really only ideal for applying to the guides, as you won’t be able to apply this stuff to a full length of fishing line, but the lip balm you put on the guides will rub off onto the line.

This method is best for preventing your guides from freezing. Keep in mind that you will need to reapply the lip balm regularly, as line movement will rub it off.

7. Cooking Spray

Very similar to lip balm, cooking spray such as PAM is another easy solution to the problem of rod guides icing over.

The upside to using cooking spray is that it is very easy to apply. Just give your guides a quick spray, and you can even give the spool a quick spray too.

It works wonders at preventing ice from forming on the guides and the lines.

The downside here is that cooking spray will leave a greasy residue behind and it is not easy to clean off. In other words, a little bit goes a long way.

8. Keep Your Fishing Hole Ice-Free

Another great trick that you can take advantage to prevent both your fishing line and the guides on your rod from icing over is to keep your ice fishing hole free of ice at all times.

Those little ice crystals that form on the surface of the water as it freezes over can attach themselves to your fishing line.

These little ice crystals are like seeds that will jump start the icing of your fishing line.

If you can use something like a skimmer to keep your ice fishing hole from forming those beginner ice crystals, it will go a long way in stopping your fishing line from suffering the effects. 

9. Using A Dry Towel

Yet another thing that you can do to help prevent ice from forming on your fishing line and the rod guides is to keep a dry towel on hand.

This way, whenever you see that your line or the guides are starting to freeze over, you can wipe away all of the moisture before it forms a solid layer of ice.

A good practice is to dry everything off every time you reel in the line.

10. Have A Spare Spool On Hand

Just in case your line and rod have frozen to the point where cleaning the ice off is no longer a realistic solution, a good idea is to have a spare spool on hand, so you have some fresh and unfrozen fishing line ready to go whenever needed.

You could even take this one step further and bring along a secondary rod, just in case those guides freeze solid.

11. Try Using A Tip-Up

A tip-up is a really cool thing to use when ice fishing regardless of this icing issue. Tip-ups allow you to keep your lure in the water without having to hold onto the rod.

These devices feature special triggers which activate a flag or some other kind of signalling mechanism when a fish is on the line, and then you can grab the tip-up rod and start reeling in the line.

The reason why these are so useful when it comes to the issue of ice formation is because the spool and all of the line is underwater, as opposed to being above the water (when using a normal ice fishing rod).

If the spool, the line, and the guides are all submerged, they are very unlikely to freeze. It’s when the moist line hits the cold air that most of the freezing occurs.

12. Pay Attention To The Weather

The other thing you might want to do is to avoid the very coldest days.

Sure, ice fishing is all about being in the cold, but if there is a severe cold front heading your way, you should probably make a judgment call.

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Conclusion

Folks, what you need to know here is that if you go ice fishing on extremely cold days, no matter what you do, at one point or another, you will probably have to deal with this issue.

However, if you follow all of the tips as laid out here today, you should be able to avoid your fishing line and guides from icing up, for the most part anyway.

Jason Downs

I created Fishtackly to share my 30 years of fishing experience and knowledge with others with the aim to help, and hopefully get more people involved and educated in this fantastic hobby that I love.