While it might not be the flashiest tool in your ice fishing arsenal, the humble ice scoop or ice skimmer is one of the most helpful items to have with you on the ice. After drilling a fresh hole in the ice, slush will inevitably start filling the hole, impeding your fishing line, electronics, and visibility.
A good ice fishing scoop easily solves this problem. Simply lower your scoop into the ice, remove any large chunks, and – presto – you’ve got yourself a perfectly clear hole for catching fish!
These tools are also useful in conjunction with an ice chisel for cleaning up old holes, or for removing bait from your bait bucket without getting your hands soaking wet.
I’ll break down some of the best ice fishing scoops and skimmers on the market, plus how to pick the best one for your needs.
Quick Answer: 5 Best Ice Fishing Scoops & Skimmers
Top 5 Ice Fishing Scoops & Skimmers
When it comes to ice skimmers, cutting edge design isn’t generally the first thing that pops into most people’s heads. The Deep Freeze One Shot ice skimmer changes all that. It utilizes a plunger style base that allows you to completely clear a hole of slush and ice in two or three passes. Oftentimes, you can clear the entire hole in a single pass!
The skimmer is available in 3 different diameter bases: 6”, 8” and 10” – corresponding to the three most common ice auger diameters. The bottom piece is interchangeable, so you can swap between different hole sizes. Keep in mind that the true skimmer diameter will be slightly less than the stated number, as ice augers are often slightly narrower than their advertised size.
Made from a combination of rubber-coated steel, zinc plated steel and durable plastic, the skimmer is built to withstand the rigors of sub-zero fishing. It will work well up to about 20 inches of ice thickness, after that, it will require a bit more effort but still remains effective. The skimmer also folds up flat – allowing for convenient packing during transport and hole hopping.
- Clever plunger-style design cuts down on time and effort needed to clear holes.
- Can clear a fresh hole in two or three passes.
- Available in several diameters corresponding to common ice auger sizes.
- Folds flat for easy transport and storage.
Best Metal Ice Fishing Scoop
If you’re looking for a sturdy, well-built ice fishing scoop that can withstand the rough and tumble of the ice fishing environment, then look no further. This all-metal scoop is built like a tank, and could probably be used to clobber a bear if you really had to!
The scoop and handle are made from solid stainless steel, and a small but effective ice chisel is built into the butt end of the handle. This is a super handy feature, as it allows you to quickly shave ice build-up from holes without needing a full-sized ice chisel. The chisel also features a 15” ruler engraved into the handle, which is useful for measuring ice thickness as well as legal fish lengths.
One minor gripe is that no lanyard or wrist strap comes included, so be sure to pick one up – this bad boy won’t float! Additionally, the scoop measures 5 ¾” in diameter, so it may not work well with smaller 6” diameter holes.
- Rugged stainless steel construction can withstand heavy wear and tear.
- Compact ice chisel with rubber cover built into butt-end.
- 15” ruler engraved into the handle for measuring ice thickness and fish.
- Built-in lanyard hole for attaching a tether.
This collapsible skimmer is the perfect solution when you want a portable scoop that folds up into a compact package. It measures 21” when collapsed, and opens up to 3 feet when fully extended. This design enables you to clear a hole of slush without having to bend over, or even get out of your chair!
The scoop itself measures 4.5” in diameter, so it can easily be used in any diameter ice hole, including smaller 6” holes. The handle is made from rigid EVA rubber, and provides a perfect grip even with thick gloves on.
Its all-metal construction provides a tough and durable frame that won’t break down or crack no matter how frozen the conditions get. Keep in mind that because it’s all-metal, it doesn’t float, so be sure to tie a lanyard or wrist strap to the built-in lanyard hole.
- Collapsible scoop extends from 21” up to 3’.
- All-metal construction is tough and highly durable.
- Rigid EVA grip provides excellent hold.
- 5” diameter scoop will fit inside any sized hole.
Best Large Scoop
If you’re looking for an extra-large scoop for quickly clearing snow, ice, and slush from larger sized ice holes, then this is the one for you. It’s made for 8” sized holes and larger, and has a sturdy 3 foot long handle. It’s great for when you want to clear ice without bending over and straining your back.
Frabill is well-known for making some of the best ice fishing gear on the market, and this scoop is no exception. It’s beefy, tested to weather tough sub-zero conditions, and won’t freeze up no matter how cold it gets out there. The thick handle is easy to hold onto, even when you’ve got thick winter gloves on.
Made from polypropylene and reinforced nylon, the scoop won’t break down like some cheaper plastic models sometimes do. The handle features a built-in ruler, enabling you to quickly measure ice thickness as well as your catch. Keep in mind the extra-large design won’t fit completely inside a 5-gallon bucket, so if you’re looking for a more compact scoop, take a look at a collapsible model.
- Extra-large scoop is perfect for quickly clearly larger holes.
- Sturdy 3 foot long handle.
- Built-in ruler for measuring ice thickness and fish.
- Won’t freeze over like cheaper plastic models.
This extendable skimmer from Rapala is built to remove the maximum amount of slush per scoop. It’s perfect when you want to clear a hole quickly without bending over and straining your back. The handle extends from 15” up to 34” when fully extended – and the scoop also folds flat, so it works well when you have limited room inside your gear bag or sled.
It’s designed to be featherlight and is an excellent option when you want to cut down on excess weight – like when you’re hole hopping. A built-in adjustable wrist lanyard allows you to safely tether the scoop – preventing accidental loss down an ice hole!
While is slightly more expensive than several other models, its lightweight and compact design more than makes up for it.
- Extendable skimmer opens from 15” to 34”.
- Fold in scoop makes it great for transport and travel.
- Lightweight construction is ideal for hole hopping.
- Built-in adjustable wrist lanyard.
How to pick the best ice fishing scoop or skimmer?
While they’re not all that complex, there are several features to be aware of when picking out ice fishing scoops or skimmers. Let’s break them down in detail.
Most ice fishing scoops are made from either a durable metal like stainless steel or heavy-duty polyethylene plastic.
Stainless steel models are tough, durable, and able to handle pretty much anything you can throw at them. Unlike plastic, they’ll never crack or break no matter how cold or frozen the conditions get on the ice. They are significantly heavier than lighter plastic models though.
Plastic scoops are light, easy to pack, and are generally pretty cheap. However, cheaper plastics tend to crack and break when they freeze over completely. Because they’re so cheap, you can always get several of them in the event one breaks.
Many models utilize a combination of plastic, metal, and rubber or foam grips. These are ideal for when you want the durability of metal, and the portability and lightness of plastic.
Portability is an important consideration whenever you’re picking out ice fishing gear. If you’ve already got a sled packed with an electric auger, bait buckets, an ice fishing camera plus other gear, then cutting down on excess bulk is a must.
Most ice fishing scoops are fairly compact and light, but some have extra features that make them particularly suited to packing light.
Scoops with collapsible handles allow you to extend or retract the handles as needed. These are great when you want the convenience of a 3-foot scoop that can fold up small enough to stash inside a 5-gallon bucket.
Some models also feature fold in scoops. These enable you to pack the scoop flat inside a gear bag or sled.
The scoops size is another important consideration. A longer handle is useful as it allows you to clear a deep hole of slush without bending over and straining your back. If you’re used to fishing multiple holes simultaneously, then you know how tedious this task can get. Look for a scoop with a longer 30-inch+ handle if this sounds like you.
Another thing to consider is the diameter of the scoop itself. If the scoop is too wide, you won’t be able to fit it inside smaller 6” or 7” diameter holes. Typical ice auger sizes are 6”, 7”, 8” and 10” in diameter, so if you’re using one of the smaller sizes, you’ll want to ensure the scoop will fit comfortably.
Several extra features can enhance the functionality and usefulness of your skimmer.
Small chisels built into the handle are super handy for a wide variety of tasks. These are great for opening partially frozen over holes, flaring out the bottoms of existing holes, and chipping ice build-up from tip ups or fishing electronics. They’re typically located on the butt of heavy-duty metal scoops and come with some type of rubber cover to protect you from the sharp edge.
Built-in rulers are always handy and can be used for checking ice thickness or measuring your catch to ensure it’s legal. This feature id handier than you might think, as it means you’ll always have a ruler in arm’s length, and won’t need to bring a separate one along with you.
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I’ve loved being in the outdoors for as long as I can remember. I grew up fishing, canoeing, and camping throughout the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. It’s what lead me to start this site and share my passions for fishing, diving, kayaking and more. Nowadays you can find me writing about my passions or (preferably!) preparing for my next outdoor adventure.