What Size Auger For Ice Fishing Is Best?

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Ice augers are used to drill holes through ice, such as for ice fishing. Sure, people used to use axes and other such manual tools, but using anything other than an auger is painstaking and dangerous. There are different sizes of ice augers. So, what size auger for ice fishing is best?

For ice fishing, augers will usually come in sizes ranging from 6 to 12 inches, with most people agreeing that either 8 or 10 inch holes are best. The most popular hole size for ice fishing is 8 inches. That said, the ideal ice fishing hole size and the right size of auger are going to depend on a variety of factors. Let’s take a look.


What is the Best Size Hole for Ice Fishing?

ice fishing hole size

This is really not a one size fits all kind of thing. There are a variety of factors which will determine what size of hole is best for ice fishing.

Generally, ice fishing holes are going to be between 6 and 12 inches in size. Most professionals would agree that the best size hole for ice fishing is 8 inches, but this depends.

Size of the Fish

An 8 inch hole is considered to be best because it should be large enough to drag most fish through it, while being small enough to easily drill with a compact ice auger.

Now, you do need to consider the size of fish you are going for. You may need a 10 or 12 inch hole if your are fishing for large specimen, or as small as 6 inches if you are going for smaller fish.

Type of Fish

Moreover, a small hole is not ideal for fighting fish. Fast and aggressive fish are going to zip around and fight you. If the hole is too small, your fishing line is going to rub against the sharp edges of the ice.

This may break your line. Therefore, a larger hole is better for fish that are going to fight you and potentially break the fishing line.

Thickness of the Ice

What you also need to consider here is the thickness of the ice. It’s going to be much harder to make a larger hole in thick ice.

Drilling a 10 or 12 inch hole through 2 feet of ice is going to be much harder than drilling a 6 or 8 inch hole through 2 feet of ice. We suppose that this also depends on the type and quality of ice auger you have.

Floor Space

The other factor to consider when determining the size of the hole and thus the size of the ice auger, is how much floor space you have. For instance, if you are fishing outdoors and have plenty of space, go for a 10 or 12 inch hole.

However, if you are fishing inside of a small ice fishing hut, space is a commodity, in which case you might want to go for a smaller hole. It’s all about how much space you have to spare.

How do you Measure an Ice Auger?

Measuring an ice auger is very simple. Make sure the ice auger is off and look at the blades. The blades here should of course look like a massive corkscrew.

After all, this is nothing more than a massive corkscrew designed to drill holes into ice. Just take a look at the blades and measure the diameter from one outer most edge to the other.

Simply put, just measure how wide that corkscrew is. This is how to measure an ice auger.

Keep in mind that when you buy an ice auger, the size of it (the diameter and depth capacities), will be labelled on the product description.

Do remember to not only pay attention to the diameter of the ice auger, but to the depth as well.

If you are going to drill a hole through 2 feet of ice, but the ice auger tops out at 20 inches, you’re not going to make it through the ice to the water. Yes, size does indeed matter here.

8 or 10 Inch Ice Auger: What do I Need?

As you can tell from above, the size of ice auger you need, whether 6, 8, 10, or 12 inches, depends on a variety of factors.

If you’re fishing inside of a hut, you’re going for small fish, and the ice is fairly thick, a smaller 8 inch ice auger will do, or even the smaller 6 inch model.

On the other hand, if you are going for big fish that will fight you, there is plenty of space, and the ice is not overly thick, you can go for a larger 10 inch or even a 12 inch auger.

Once again, keep all of the factors which we discussed above in mind. Those 4 factors are going to determine what size of ice auger you need. Every situation is a bit different. It’s not a one size fits all kind of thing.

Related: Ice fishing basics, tips and gear list: read it here.

Should I Get A Manual, Electric, or Gas Auger?

manual ice auger

One important distinction to make here is that there are different types of augers in terms of what they are powered by. There are manual ice augers, electric ones, and gas powered ice augers too.

So, which one is best for you? Let’s take a look at each kind of auger to see where they excel and what their downfalls are.


Your first option is a manual ice auger. Of course, you’ve got some trade offs to think about here. On one hand, a manual auger is going to be the cheapest and most affordable by far.

It’s manual, there’s no motor, and that means they don’t cost much. Moreover, because these things have no motor, because they’re purely manual, they’re also much smaller, lighter, and more compact than motorized augers, making them great for storage and transportation.

However, on the other hand, there is of course the fact that it’s manual, or in other words, you’ve got to use your arms. Sure, if you look like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, you may not have any issues manually drilling through ice.

However, if you are a normal size person trying to drill through thick ice, you’re going to need to use a lot of energy and effort to get through.

Simply put, it’s super hard work, and the thicker the ice, the harder it is. If the ice is very hard, you’ll also have trouble getting traction on the ice and digging into it in the first place. Manual augers are best for drilling smaller holes in relatively thin ice.


The next option you have at your disposal is the electric ice auger. Of course, an electric auger is going to be much easier to use. It has a motor, so you don’t have to use any manual power to make it through the ice.

If the ice is very thick, it’s very hard, or you just don’t have massive muscles, an electric ice auger is definitely going to make life easier.

Electric augers, as far as motorized versions go, are much more eco friendly and cost effective than gas augers. They don’t cost quite as much and they don’t release emissions either.

What you do need to keep in mind is that electric augers are not as powerful as gas augers, so they may have a bit of trouble making a large hole through extremely thick ice.

Electric models are best for ice of medium thickness and for making smaller holes, but they may have trouble drilling large diameter holes in deep ice.

What you also need to think about is that electric augers need a power source, which usually means needing an outlet and an extension cord. If you are fishing out in the middle of nowhere, finding these things can be hard.

In this case, you may need to use a small gas generator to power the electric auger. Realistically, if you need a generator to power the auger, you may as well opt for a gas powered model.


The other option at your disposal, what is usually considered best, what most people are going to go for, is the gas auger.

Now, gas augers are going to be bigger and heavier than other augers. They have a large motor and they need to have an onboard gas tank. Gas augers are not the best for transporting or storing in a small space.

There is also the fact that gas augers are going to be the most expensive to purchase out of all types of augers, which is true both for the initial purchase cost and the need for fuel, gas. Also, gas ice augers are very loud and they do release harmful emissions in to the environment.

However, the gas auger is going to be the most powerful by far. Gas motors are much stronger than electric augers and of course, unless you are superman, it’s going to outclass those biceps too.

If you need to make a large hole through thick ice and you want it to happen fast, the gas auger is the only real option. If you are planning on drilling lots of holes, especially in thick ice, you’ll want to get a gas auger.

Can You Use a Dirt Auger on Ice?

Ok, so technically speaking, it may work. You may be able to get away with using a dirt or earth auger for drilling a hole through ice, but it’s definitely not ideal. Dirt and ice augers do not have the same kind of blades.

Dirt augers are designed for drilling through compact yet fairly soft earth, whereas ice augers need to be much sharper so they can make than initial cut into rock hard ice.

So, while it may work, it is going to take a lot more effort and much longer to drill through ice with a dirt auger.

It is not recommended to try this. You may end up breaking your dirt auger if you try using it on ice. Those blades are not going to thank you.



As you can see, the best size hole for ice fishing does depend on a variety of factors. Therefore, the size of ice auger you need depends on how large that hole needs to be and what works best for you.

In terms of manual, electric, or gas, keep the above considerations in mind to select the best one for you.

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.