While it might seem like a new trend among ice anglers, spearing northern pike and other fish through the ice dates back hundreds of years, pre-dating Europeans arriving in North America.
The practice is about as primitive as it gets – all that’s needed is a hole, a decoy, and a sharp spear. It’s much more up close and personal than typical rod and reel fishing, closer to primitive hunting than anything else.
This means you’ll be much closer to the action than with regular fishing. You can only throw a spear around 8 feet deep or so while remaining accurate and effective. This makes spearing up-close-and-personal and an incredibly exciting way to catch fish.
If you want to succeed with spearing fish through the ice, then you’ll need a shelter, a sharp spear, a good decoy, and a saw to cut a hole through the ice. I’ll break down the best spears on the market, how to pick the ideal one for your needs, as well as review several decoys for attracting fish.
Quick Answer: Best Ice Fishing Spears
- Best Overall: Nim’s 7-Tine Weighted Spear
- Runner Up: AA Manufacturing Plasma Cut Ice Fishing Spear
- Best Perch Spear: Nim’s 7-Tine Perch Spear
- Also Consider: Lakco Spear 58″ 7 Tine
Best Ice Fishing Decoys
Top 4 Ice Fishing Spears
If you’re familiar with ice fishing gear and manufacturers, then you’ve probably heard of the Nims brand. They manufacture some of the best spud bars and spears on the market, and this bad boy is no exception.
The all heat-treated steel spear features 7 round tines with razor-sharp barbs and spear tips. The tines are arranged in an inverted triangle pattern with the shortest ones in the center, which works well for larger fish like pike, muskie, and carp. They range from 8” in the center to 9.5” long on the edges.
Measuring 8” wide, the spearhead falls in the middle of the pack, making it both accurate and easy to use.
The spear weighs in at approximately 5 pounds, making it slightly heavier than most unweighted spears. This added heft helps gets the spear deeper in the water, which is great for fishing in deeper water.
- Measurements: Shaft length 58”, Spearhead width 8”
- Razor-sharp tips and barbs.
- Tines measure 8” to 9.5” long.
- All heat-treated steel construction.
- Made in the USA.
Well-balanced, precise, and solidly constructed, this ice fishing spear is the ideal all-round spear for general use. Its CNC cut spearhead is approximately 9 ½” wide and 11” long, while the overall spear shaft measures 48” with a 12” ash wooden handle.
The entire spear is made from powder-coated carbon steel, making it durable and tough enough for heavy use. The ash wood handle is unfinished, so you can easily customize it with your name or any other design you like. A small hole comes pre-drilled in the handle end, allowing to thread a rope through it.
Weighing in at 6 pounds, it’s got enough mass to get deep in the water and penetrate through scaly fish. The barbs have a nice size to them, ensuring pike and other fish can’t slip off your spear.
Overall, it’s a capable, high-quality spear especially considering its reasonable price.
- Measurements: Shaft length 48” with 12” handle, Spearhead width 9 ½”
- CNC cut spearhead with large barbs.
- Well-balanced spear flies straight.
- Tough and durable powder-coated carbon steel construction.
- Made in the USA.
Best Perch Spear
If you’re looking for a more compact spear for targeting perch and other smaller species, then this is the spear for you. It’s similar to the larger 7-tine Nim’s spear, but with smaller tines and barbs.
The spear measures 4 1/2 inches wide and features 4 3/4 inch long tines. This makes it ideal for perch, as traditional pike spears have tines that are too thick and long for perch. The tines are also spaced closer together than spears for larger species, so you’ll have more chances to pin the fish in place.
The narrow width also ensures the spear moves faster through the water. This is a major plus when targeting perch, smelt, and other small fish, as they can dart away from a bulkier, slower spear.
The heat-treated steel tines come razor-sharp from the factory and are durable enough to withstand hitting rocks in shallow water.
- Measurements: Shaft length 53”, Spearhead width 4 ½”
- Compact 4 3/4″ wide spearhead is fast and deadly.
- Designed for spearing perch, smelt, and other smaller species.
- Heat-treated steel tines are tough and razor sharp.
- Made in the USA.
This well-made spear from the ice fishing pros at Lakco features everything you need to start spearing effectively. Its solid metal construction makes it highly durable, while the green-colored finish makes it one of the best-looking spears on the market.
Weighing approximately 6.5 pounds, it’s one of the heavier spears out there, which makes it great for targeting larger fish in deeper water. The overall shaft length measures 59”, which is fairly long as well.
The handle provides a solid grip, while a built in hole at the handle top let you attach a retrieval rope. A convenient metal spearhead guard also comes included, which is great for keeping the barbed points sharp and protected from accidental damage.
7 razor-sharp barbed points rest at the end of the spearhead, making it accurate and deadly effective. The three center-most points feature multiple barbs, so you’ll have no issues with fish wriggling free!
- Measurements: Shaft length 62”, Spearhead width 8”
- Heavy-duty spear design is perfect for targeting large fish in deeper water.
- 12-foot nylon rope and oak spearhead guard included.
- Solid steel shaft with golden finish is tough and good looking.
Best Pike Decoy
One of the most popular pike decoys on the market, this 6-inch florescent green decoy works well to attract northerns and other predator fish. It features tough molded fins and a curved tail for a realistic look and action.
Because pike are highly territorial (and cannibalistic), they’re attracted to other pike in their immediate surroundings. Bright colors generally work well to attract pike, so if you’re only getting one decoy, go with one that will rile them up.
- 6-inch pike spearing decoy.
- Realistic look proven to attract pike.
- Curved tail for realistic action.
- Durable finish and tough molded fins are built to last.
This realistic 8-inch perch decoy from Lakco is an excellent option for attracting pike, muskie, and other large predators. It’s painted with a realistic green, yellow, and orange colored perch pattern that sure to attract nearby fish.
The plastic decoy is designed to look and swim like a real perch. Water fills the decoy’s body, causing it to sink in the water. To operate the decoy, simply tug on the line and the perch will swim naturally.
- 8-inch perch spearing decoy.
- Realistic green, yellow and orange perch colored pattern.
- Designed to swim and look like a real perch.
What makes a good ice fishing spear?
If you’re new to ice spearing, then picking out a spear can seem like a confusing task. With so many different designs, sizes, and construction materials, choosing the best spear for your needs can be tough. Let’s dive into the most important factors to help you make the right choice.
Weight is one of the most important considerations when picking out an ice spear. Most spears vary between 5 and 10 pounds, with 5 to 8 pounds being the most common.
A spear’s weight directly affects its penetrating power. The heavier the spear, the more penetrating power it has. This means a heavier spear is better for targeting larger species like carp, northern pike, and muskie.
There are also spears with extra weight added to the spearhead. These spears are easy to guide in the water and tend to fly true.
A heavier spear is also preferable when spearing in deeper water. The added weight helps the spear get deeper down into the water column.
Most spears have an overall shaft length between 5 and 6 feet long. Generally speaking, the longer the shaft length, the better the spear will perform in the water. The added length helps the spear fly better through the water which translates into less time out of your hand on deeper shots.
If you’re spearing in shallow water, then you can get away with a shorter spear than when you’re spearing in deeper water. Also, if your shelter is more compact, then you may be constrained as far as height goes, and will need a more compact spear.
Tines are the sharp points at the end of the spearhead. Spear designs will feature various numbers of tines arranged in different lengths, depending on the spear’s use intended use case.
Most general use spears will have 7 to 9 tines, although there are plenty of spears out there with many more or less. Generally, circle cut tines are more durable than squared-off tines, although there are some well-made squared off tines out there.
The ideal number of tines comes down to personal preference. Generally, more tines equal more opportunities to spear the fish, kind of like a shotgun shell with more pellets.
Barbs are made using a variety of different techniques, including welding, soldering and cutting/notching the metal with grinders. There are also spears with single-sided barbs and others with double-sided barbs.
The bottom line when it comes to barbs is bigger is better. Larger barbs will hold a fish on the end of your spear while you retrieve it more effectively than smaller barbs. They’re also more durable than smaller cut barbs, which can get damaged and break off under stress.
If portability is an issue for you, then going with a two-piece breakdown spear makes sense. Spears like the two-piece plasma cut spear above are designed to fit inside a standard 5-gallon bucket, making them perfect for packing up with your other gear on an ice sled.
How to successfully spear pike and other fish?
Spearing fish through the ice can look like a daunting task at first, but it’s not all that complicated.
The first thing you need to do is cut a decent-sized hole through the ice. One method is using a hand auger or an electric auger to cut several holes in the ice and then connecting them with a chisel or spud bar. Alternatively, you can use a chainsaw or a folding ice saw like the SURSUN 82” Ice Saw to open up a large hole.
Next, you’ll want to ensure you’re surroundings are sufficiently dark. Too much light will make it difficult to see underwater and can scare off fish. There are various types of darkhouses and pop-up shelters out there, but whatever you use, make sure all cracks are sealed to prevent light from entering.
Get your decoy and spear out, and start working your decoy around the water to attract nearby predators. Try different motions or different colored decoys if you’re not having any luck. Oftentimes, you’ll have to be patient before a good target gets presents itself.
Once your target fish is in range, position your spear above its head – if possible with the fish facing away from you – and release the spear (don’t throw it!). Then reel in your catch, and start thinking about how you plan to cook that bad boy!
Check out this video for an in-depth look at darkhouse spearing:
Featured image source.
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.