What Is The Top Ice Fishing Rod For Perch In 2021?

UPDATED 29 JANUARY 2021

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by Bill Laney

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If you’re like me and love catching jumbo perch during the winter, it’s essential to have the right rod for the job. The most common mistake I see novice perch ice anglers make is using a rod that’s far too heavy for this kind of fishing.

A light ice fishing rod allows you to use finesse techniques on perch, which you really can’t do with a heavy rod. It also helps you detect subtle bites when fish aren’t feeding aggressively, and you can also use a light rod for panfish as well.

We’ve tested the most popular ice rods to find the ones that are light enough and have the best action for perch ice angling. Below is our review of the best ice fishing rods for perch, as well as our recommendation for the best size to choose. 

 

The top ice fishing rod for perch in 2021 reviewed

Here are the 6 best ice fishing rods for perch, as well as our recommendation for the best size to choose:

BrandImagePriceRecommended sizeVerdict
St. Croix Legend Black Ice24″ Light (for open ice) or 17″ Light (for fishing inside shelter)Best overall performance
Fenwick Elite Tech23″ Ultra Light (for open ice) or 16″ Light (for fishing inside shelter)Best option for fishing inside ice shelter
St. Croix Mojo24″ Medium LightBest value buy
Fenwick Techna25″ Ultra Light (for open ice) or 21″ Light (for fishing inside shelter)Best option for perch combined with walleye
13 Fishing Tickle Stick23″ LightBest option for perch combined with panfish
Abu Garcia Veritas25″ Ultra LightBest budget option

 

Now let’s take a closer look at these models, to get an idea of their strengths and weaknesses.

1. St. Croix Legend Black ice fishing rod

Photo of St Croix Legend Black

This is an excellent ice fishing rod from St. Croix, a brand name that has become synonymous for high quality ice fishing rods over the years.

One of the impressive features of this model is that it comes with a very sensitive strike indicator mechanism, in the form of a spring bobber attached to the tip of the rod with a red bulb at its tip. 

The spring bobber strike indicator is highly sensitive, and helps to notice the subtlest of bites, or even when fish are just nudging the bait. This is especially useful when you’re fishing with light lures, and also comes in handy if you want to  use it as a second rod for deadsticking.

The strike indicator can be removed, if you want to fish without it, and you can also exchange it with other models with varying sensitivity, depending on your application.

The rod is solid carbon, and ideal for light jigging and finesse applications. For perch, we recommend you get the 24” Light or 24” Ultra Light size for open ice, or 17” Light for fishing inside a shelter.

Features:

  • Secure lock reel handle with EVA trim
  • Spring bobber strike indicator
  • 100% Carbon

Recommended size:

  • On open ice: 24” Light (LB124 L)  or 24” Ultra Light (LB124 UL)
  • Inside shelter: 17” Light (LB117 L)

 

2. Fenwick Elite Tech ice fishing rod

Photo of Fenwick Elite Tech

This is a great fast action ice fishing rod that comes in a wide range of sizes covering almost all ice fishing applications. 

When it comes to perch, we recommend choosing the 23” or 25” Ultra Light size for open ice, or the 16” Light size for fishing inside a shelter. A long rod is really hard to use inside the small space of an ice shelter, and hence it’s better to choose the shorter version for that.

The Fenwick Elite Tech combines a sensitive tip with a strong backbone, which is a great combination for jigging with small lures, or live bait fishing with minnows. The sensitive tip allows you to move the lure with very subtle movements, and also registers every bite as a quiver of the tip, even if you can’t feel it on the rod handle.

The Elite Tech sports an ergonomic lightweight cork handle and 3 to 5 rod eyes, depending on the size you buy. The eyes have Zirconium oxide inserts, which are great to prevent line freezing and abrasion. The best part is that it’s sensitive enough to feel perch bites even in deep water of 30 feet or more.

Features:

  • Fast action rod with sensitive tip
  • Ergonomic & lightweight cork handle
  • 100% Graphite
  • Stainless steel guides with zirconium inserts

Recommended size:

  • On open ice: 23” or 26” Ultra Light 
  • Inside shelter: 16” Light

 

3. St. Croix Mojo ice fishing rod

Photo of St croix mojo

This is a great all round ice rod by St. Croix, since it allows you to target a wide range of species on the same model, from panfish to decent sized walleye. On the down side, it doesn’t have a version that’s short enough to use comfortably in an ice shelter.

I really like this rod because it works well for a wide range of applications. The tip is sensitive enough for light panfish and perch action, while the backbone is strong enough to handle fairly big fish without problems. A friend of mine managed to land a 20 pound northern pike with the 24” Medium Light size (though I wouldn’t recommend this size for pike fishing).

So when I’m not quite sure what species I’ll be catching (especially on a new lake), the St. Croix Mojo is a good choice to get me started. But if I’m fairly certain I’ll only catch perch or panfish, I prefer a lighter rod with more sensitivity.

For perch, we recommend you get the 24” Ultra Light or 24” Medium Light  size for open ice. There are no smaller sizes suitable for an ice shanty.

Features:

  • Ergonomic split grip cork handle with EVA trim
  • Spring bobber strike indicator
  • 100% Carbon

Recommended size:

  • On open ice: 24” Medium Light (MIR24ML)  or 24” Ultra Light (MIR24 UL)

 

4. Fenwick Techna ice fishing spinning rod

Photo of Fenwick Techna

This is a light ice fishing rod with extra fast action made by Fenwick. It is ideal for perch jigging on ice, since the extra fast action means the rod backbone is stiff enough to allow you to control movement of light lures down to the smallest nudge. 

It combines a sensitive tip with a strong solid carbon backbone, and the rod is even strong enough to handle a walleye or two, if you happen to run into one of those while ice fishing for perch.

The cork handle contributes to the lightweight design, and feels great to hold in your hand. The stainless steel guides have micro fly guides, which help to avoid icing up.

The best sizes for perch are the 21” Light for fishing inside a shelter, and 25” Ultra Light for open ice.

Features:

  • Extra fast action rod with sensitive tip
  • Ergonomic & lightweight cork handle
  • 100% Carbon
  • Stainless steel guides with micro fly guides

Recommended size:

  • On open ice: 25” Ultra Light (TICE25UL)
  • Inside shelter: 21” Light (TICE21L)

 

5. 13 Fishing Tickle Stick ice fishing rod

Photo of 13 Fishing Tickle Stick

This innovative ice rod has a completely flat tip, which is extremely useful for detecting subtle bites, as you can easily see when the tip moves up or down just a tiny bit. This tip design also makes it quite rigid, which helps to set the hook when you detect a bite.

I would say this is a great combination rod for perch plus panfish. For some of my buddies, this is their favorite panfish rod. So, if you’re expecting to catch both of these species on the same hole, then the Tickle Stick is an excellent choice. 

The biggest strength of the Tickle Stick undoubtedly lies in the flat tip, which is great for detecting upward bites. These bites happen when a fish takes your bait in its mouth and lifts it slightly upwards while doing so. Upward bites are really hard to detect on most rods, but not on the Tickle Stick. 

The only downside is that there is no extra short version that you can use inside a shelter. For perch, we recommend you get the 23” Ultra Light or 23” Light  size for open ice fishing. There are no smaller sizes suitable for an ice shanty.

Features:

  • Ergonomic split cork grip handle with white reel seat
  • Flat rod tip functions as an efficient strike indicator
  • 100% Carbon
  • Thin wire guides accumulate less ice than conventional guides

Recommended size:

  • On open ice: 23” Light (TS2-23L)  or 23” Ultra Light (TS2-23UL)

 

6. Abu Garcia Veritas ice fishing rod

Photo of Abu Garica Veritas

The Abu Garcia Veritas is a great budget choice for fishing on open ice. It’s also an ideal option if you prefer EVA to cork handles.

Personally, I prefer lighter rods than the Veritas for perch fishing, but on some lakes it’s quite common to run into walleye regularly when you’re fishing for perch. In cases like that, the Veritas is an excellent choice, as it’s actually one of the rods we recommend for walleye fishing (for more details on that, check out our review on the best ice fishing rod and reel combo for walleye).

The Veritas also comes with the downside that there are no extra short versions of it that you can comfortably use inside a shelter. So overall, I would recommend it for open ice when you’re expecting to catch plenty of walleye as well as perch.

For perch, we recommend you get the 25” Ultra Light or 27” Medium Light  size for open ice.

Features:

  • Ergonomic split cork grip handle with white reel seat
  • Flat rod tip functions as an efficient strike indicator
  • 100% Carbon
  • Thin wire guides that accumulate less ice than conventional guides

Recommended size:

  • On open ice: 25” Ultra Light (AVRT2ICE25UL)  or 27” Medium Light (AVRT2ICE27ML)

 

Best fishing reel to use with a perch ice fishing rod

Once you’ve decided on which rod to use, you also need to pick the best fishing reel for perch ice fishing.

While you can use a regular warm season spinning reel for for this, it’s better to get a reel that’s specifically designed for this job, since the gear lube on regular reels tends to solidify at low temperatures, resulting in stiff and jerky action.

Unfortunately it’s quite common to see ice anglers using inferior spinning reels, which I think is a big mistake, since crappy reel quality can result in jerky action at low temperatures, or even a stuck drag system resulting in the loss of a big fish.

Abu Garcia Ice Max ice spinning reel

Photo of Abu Garcia Ice Max Spinning Reel

The Ice Max was specifically designed for subzero temperatures, and comes with cold weather gear lube to ensure smooth performance under these conditions. It also has an extended reel foot which is ideal for ice fishing. 

The lightweight graphite body is great for a light perch rod, and the 3 plus 1 ball bearings guarantee smooth action at all temperatures. 

 

Conclusion

Ideally, this review will have convinced you to use a light rod for perch ice angling, instead of the overpowered rods that I often see people using for this purpose. Yes, perch can sometimes grow to be 3 or 4 pounds big, but these giants are very rare. On average they weigh 1 pound or less, so you should be using light or ultralight gear to catch them.

If you’re going to be fishing on open ice, all 6 rods can deliver excellent performance, but if you’re going to be inside a shelter, I recommend the St. Croix Legend Black, or the Fenwick Elite Tech, since they both come in extra short variants.

And finally, I hope this list has helped you find the best ice fishing rod for perch to cover your purposes – tight lines, and see you on the ice!

Hungry to learn more? Take a look at our detailed ice fishing for beginners guide.

 

Additional resources:

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