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: AA Manufacturing Plasma Cut Ice Fishing Spear
- Best Weighted Spear: Nim’s 9-tine Weighted Spear
- Two-Piece Spear: Two-Piece CNC Plasma Cut Ice Fishing Spear
- Also Consider: Ice Armor 7-Point Spear
Best Ice Fishing Decoys
Top 4 Ice Fishing Spears
Top 2 Ice Spearing Decoys
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.