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
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.