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Updated Mar 8, 2023 10:36 AM
Every ice angler has their hot take when it comes to the debate over the best ice fishing lures. Whether you’re looking for the best ice fishing jig for walleye or the top lures for lake trout, you have plenty of great baits to choose from. But with so many jigs, spoons, soft-plastics, and lipless crankbaits out there, it’s no easy task deciding which lures will catch the most fish. In order to select the best ice fishing lures available, we consulted with some of the best ice anglers in the country and eventually narrowed it down to these 20 best ice fishing lures.
How We Made Our Picks
For the purposes of this round-up, we consulted with ice fish experts around the country to assist in narrowing down some of the picks. Others are based on personal experience using them on the ice in real-world conditions. We also considered things like durability, flash, range of colors available, and the cost of each selection. Perhaps most importantly, we considered vertical fishing action.
Best Ice Fishing Lures: Reviews & Recommendations
Best for Walleye: Salmo Chubby Darter
- Lengths: 1 3/8″, 1 3/4″, 1 1/2″
- Weights: 1/16, 1/8, and 3/16 ounce
- Hooks: VMC treble
- Slow sinking
- Realistic look
The Chubby Darter is an ice-fishing legend, and you won’t find a more effective vertical lure. Its slow sink rate and unique shape imparts a tantalizing swimming action that draws strikes. It has become a mainstay among ice anglers, and it is one of the best ice fishing lures for walleye. Although Salmo USA has produced some patterns that perform great with perch, bass, crappie, and pike too. The Chubby Darter is available in 1 3/8, 1 1/2, and 1 ¾-inch models in more than ten lifelike patterns that will help you match the local baitfish of your favorite lake or stream. Our one downside is that at $9 each, they are rather pricey.
Best Open Water Hard Bait: Rapala Jigging Rap
- Sizes: 1 ¼” – 3 ½”
- Weights: 1/8 – 7/8 ounces
- Hooks: Two single and one treble
- Great action
- Variety of sizes and colors
- Best for open water and not structure
Few lures are more well-known among ice fishermen than the Jigging Rap. The lure is one of the best ice fishing baits for vertical fishing with a horizontal line-tie and has a solid construction that sinks fast. The Jigging Rap has a circular swimming pattern created by its perfect balance and a single rear lip. The Jigging Rap’s allure comes in a wide selection of sizes and colors and is available in five lengths and more than two dozen patterns to cover just about every depth, water clarity, and species. Our only real con to this lure is that the extra hooks don’t make it the best option for structure because it is prone to snagging. However, for open water or suspended fish, the Jigging Rap is a hard lure to beat.
Most Versatile Ice Crank: Rapala Rippin’ Rap
- Length: 1 1/8” – 2 3/4″
- Weights: 1/16 – 7/8 ounces
- Hooks: VMC black nickel
- Realistic baitfish profile
- Versatile for off the ice
- Great fish-attracting noise
Lipless crankbaits are favored by ice angers because of their horizontal hook tie, smooth swimming motion when jigged, and the attention-grabbing vibration of their internal rattles. The Rapala Rippin’ Rap is one of a handful of lipless cranks that are mainstays for ice fishermen. It has an oversized profile that generates a ton of flash with sharp jerks of the rod tips and flutters like dying prey as it sinks. A distinctive BB rattle system gives off ample sound with the shortest jerks and pulls. We also just like the profile of this one. Rapala gives these cranks textured gills and scales that add just a touch of extra realism for more stubborn fish. The Rippin’ Rap is expensive, but there’s a little added value here because you can keep on using this lure once the ice melts. This lure casts and cranks as well as it jigs vertically.
Most Realistic Shiner Lure: Live Target Golden Shiner
- Lengths: 2” – 2 7/8”
- Weights: ¼ – ½ ounce
- Hooks: Daiichi
- The most realistic shiner lure
- Sinks quickly
- We wish there were smaller sizes
Live Target’s Golden Shiner has the most intricate, lifelike pattern you’ll find in a lipless crankbait. The horizontal hook-tie of the Golden Shiner makes it a perfect choice for jigging and open-water fishing. It is designed to have the profile and anatomical details of juvenile baitfish, matching the hatch. This lure sinks quickly in the water column, also providing anglers with incredible control of the jigging motion. It weighs ½ ounce, measures 2 7/8 inches, and is available in nine natural patterns. While they’re made to resemble shiners, these cranks do an excellent job resembling many forms of baitfish. Our only knock against them is that we wish they were available in some smaller sizes to cover more game fish species.
Best Blade Bait: Fish Sense Lures Binsky
- Length: 2” – 2 ½”
- Weights: ¼ – ¾ ounces
- Hooks: Treble
- Thin profile
- Good variety of colors available
- More regional and hard to find offline
In the wide world of blade baits, the Binsky’s reputation has spread like wildfire. Originally kept under wraps by a small group of anglers in New Jersey where the lure was born, the Binsky is now one of the best ice fishing lures for bass, as well as walleye, lake trout, and northern pike all over the country. It stands out from other blade baits on the market with a super-thin design. With the addition of a weighted head, the Binsky produces pounding vibrations and a bright, full flash. This lure can sometimes be a bit tricky to find in tackle stores because it was such a regional phenomenon to start.
Best Creature Bait: The Maki Plastic Craigi
- Soft creature body
- Eight different colors
- Realistic action
- Perfect for jigging
- Can be hard to find in stores sometimes
Many ice anglers may be unfamiliar with this lure, but the Craigi is one of the best ice fishing lures for trout. Born in the Black Hills of South Dakota, ice legend Craig Oyler designed the Craigi to capitalize on trout that feed heavily on Mysis shrimp. The Craigi imitates the shrimp with a tail kick that’s a perfect replication of the bait’s natural swimming motion. This soft plastic has duped countless trophy lake trout, and works just as well on other trout species, perch, sunfish, and largemouth and smallmouth bass.
Best Spoon Lures for Ice Fishing
It’s difficult to conceive an idea for a lure that’s simpler than the spoon—but in this case, simplicity is the secret weapon, because few lures flutter, flash, and wobble better than a spoon. And there are even fewer lures that trigger strikes more reliably.
Best Action Spoon: CLAM Leech Flutter Spoon
- Weights: 1/16, 1/8, ¼-ounce sizes
- 18 color options
- Dressed treble hook
- We wish there were more size options
The highly reflective finishes of the Leech Flutter Spoon flicker light to give the image of fish scales. Coupled with a distinctive flutter that tumbles back-and-forth on the drop, the lure is a master at triggering fish with its irritating and enticing flare. We like that the Leech Flutter Spoon is made from a zinc alloy that is lighter than metals used in other spoons. This also makes it a little more environmentally friendly. Best of all, the lightweight design slows the sink rate, keeping the Leech Flutter Spoon in the strike zone longer.
Best Spoon for Finicky Fish: VMC Rattle Spoon
- Weights: ¼, 1/8, 1/16, 3/8-ounce sizes
- Brass rattles
- Glow-in-the-dark colors
- Variety of sizes and colors
- Great noise for finicky fish
The VMC Rattle Spoon has a sound chamber made from brass that contains multiple beads. It gives off a sharp, loud resonance that is unique compared to other rattle spoons, and produces strikes when other lures won’t. With four sizes, the Rattle Spoon can be used to target a variety of species. Finishes range from natural to UV and glow patterns. The UV patterns reflect more light and are more visible, and glow models keep their charge for up to 15 minutes.
Best Size Options: Northland Tackle Buckshot Rattle Spoon
- Weights: 1/16, 1/8, ¼, 3/8, ½, ¾ ounces
- Holographic finish
- Extremely noisy
- Great for tipping with live bait
- Could use slightly nicer hooks
The Buckshot Rattle Spoon is one of the most popular ice fishing spoons for imitating minnows and other small forage. Its highly reflective, Baitfish-Image body and sharp brass rattle are incredibly effective at calling attention to itself over a wide area. The Buckshot Rattle Spoon can be used in any type of water clarity for any species with its wide selection of sizes and colors. We love the variety of weights and the affordable price point of these spoons. We do wish the stock hooks were a little nicer, but they are easy enough to swap out before your first fishing trip.
Best Simple Spoon: Lindy Quiver Spoon
- Weights: 1/8, ¼, and 1/16
- Simple, tin design
- Extremely flashy
- Great for live bait
- We wish there were more color options
The Lindy Quiver Spoon has a curved body that generates an alluring swimming action. Its shape and tin-alloy construction causes the spoon to tremble as it glides on the fall, enticing fish to strike. All Quiver Spoons have one painted side and one chrome side that offer a tempting flash with sharp snaps and quick drops. The Lindy Quiver Spoon is one of the best ice fishing lures for walleye, crappie, trout, and pike. Quiver spoons are available in 1/16-ounce, 1/8-ounce, and ¼-ounce sizes in eight different patterns.
Most Versatile Rattle Spoon: Wolverine Silver Streak Rattle Streak
- Weights: ¼, 3/8, ½, ¾-ounce sizes
- Noisy rattle chamber
- Excellent noise and vibration
- Great for casting too
- Might be too much for heavily pressured fish
The Rattle Streak is designed with a flat body that holds an integrated rattle chamber. The innovative configuration emits a wide range of sounds from ripples to sharp rattles as it flutters through the water column. In ice fishing circles, the Rattle Streak has quickly become known as highly effective walleye ice fishing lures, but it will serve you well for bass, northern pike, and lake trout. It’s available in four sizes from ¼-ounce to ¾-ounce, and in 21 colors. The only downside is that it might be a bit too noisy for skittery fish on heavily-pressured lakes.
Most Unique Sound: CLAM Time Bomb Spoon
- Weights: 1/8, ¼ ounces
- Six colors
- “Clicking” sound
- Subtle profile
- Great clicking sounds
- Great for pressured fish
- Limited color selection
Probably the most intricately engineered ice fishing lure you’ll find, the Time Bomb Spoon’s layered construction radiates a seductive call that fish are naturally attracted to. Its clicks and ticks closely match the sounds of prey moving along the bottom. With a highly visible body, Swarovski gem eye, brass disc, and glowing epoxy treble hook, the Time Bomb Spoon has an array of attractions you simply cannot get from another spoon. It’s available in 1/8- and ¼-ounce sizes and in six glow patterns. That’s one of the few downsides. We wish there were more colors available, and the $11.99 price tag does seem a bit steep when compared to similar lures.
Most Affordable: Custom Jigs & Spins Slender Spoon
- Weights: 1/16, 1/8, ¼, 5/16 ounces
- Already fitted with a snap
- Colored accents
- Excellent flash
- Realistic baitfish flutter action
- Stock hooks could be better
The Slender Spoon may look a little funky. Mostly because it is a bent, ultra-light piece of metal. But don’t let that fool you, the design produces a ton of action as it falls. The curved body creates a crazy flutter, which, combined with a reflective sticker, generates a ton of flash a well. It is a classic lure that has been catching fish for years. The Slender Spoon is available in four sizes, from 1/16- to 5/16-ounce, with either silver, gold, nickel, or copper finishes and holographic prism accents.
Best Ice Fishing Jigs and Jigging Lures
If there’s one lure that is synonymous with ice fishing, it is the jig. In our picks below for the top ice fishing jigs, we’ve including jigging lures and spoons alongside some classic jig patterns. Whichever one you decide to rig on the ice, you’ll likely soon be on your way to landing a limit.
Best for Live Bait: Nils Master Hali Sukkula
- Weights: 3/16, 5/16, 7/16 ounces
- Sizes: 25, 33, 50mm sizes
- Chain hook
- Great for live bait
- Lots of color options
The Hali Sukkula jig was one of the original ‘chain” jigging spoons that gained a reputation as one of the best ice fishing jigs. It has a slim minnow profile and is available in 35 high-visibility patterns. A No. 10 chain extends from the bottom of the jig and is attached to a single, small hook that is easily baited with a minnow or grub, presenting the bait naturally. The effect of the bait hanging under the spoon gets fish to eat and increases hook-up percentages, because the fish usually take the whole offering. We do think this one is a little on the pricey side for what it is, but it’s a great lure that will produce for you time and again.
Best for Panfish: HT Enterprises Marmooska Jig
- Hook sizes: 6 – 16
- Dozens of color combinations
- Subtle presentation specifically for panfish
- Offset design is perfect for panfish
- Great for live trailers
With the insane number of panfish jigs available, it can be difficult to pick the best ice fishing jig—but the Marmooska from HT Enterprises is certainly one of them. This offset-head design has been around for over 30 years, and fishes heavier than other jigs, giving anglers incredible control of the tiny lead head. The Marmooska will actually pivot its light-wire hook, neatly presenting its trailer to light-biting fish and increasing hook-ups. For bluegills, sunfish, and yellow perch, this is a hard one to beat. The jig is available in seven sizes and many colors. We didn’t have any downsides on this one until we saw the most recent prices. Much like anything else, we suspect the cost of production has gone up, as has the price of these highly effective jigs.
Best Spoon for Panfish: Northland Tackle Bro Bug
- Weights: 1/72, 1/64/ 1/32-ounce sizes
- Large 3D eyes
- Sinks quickly
- Profile helps with hookups on nibbling fish
- Sold in multi-spoon packs
- Mainly a panfish-only lure
Designed by famed hard-water angler and panfish specialist Brian “Bro” Brosdahl, Northland Tackle’s Bro Bug is one of the best ice fishing jigs/spoons for bluegill. It works well on crappie too. We’ve heard of some anglers having success on smaller walleyes too, but this is primarily a panfish lure. The downsized jig is available in 1/72, 1/64, and 1/32-ounce sizes, which is plenty small for tiny mouths of panfish. That profile is one of the reasons we like this one for shy fish that are reluctant to take a whole meal. The Bro Bug is designed to look and swim identically to hatching larvae from muddy bottoms, which sunfish and other panfish feed heavily on during the winter. Oversized eyes on the lure also help it show up on your flasher or other electronics a little easier. That just makes it a breeze to monitor your presentation.
Best Cadence for Panfish: CLAM Dave Genz Drop-Kick
- Weights: 1/32, 3/64, 1/16-ounce
- Sizes: 4mm, 5mm, 6mm
- Six UV colors
- Excellent action
- Quality hooks
- More color options would be nice
Designed by Dave Genz himself, the Clam Swirl Drop-Kick was designed to have the most tantalizing cadence possible to dupe panfish. It has a 90-degree XL hook with an enlarged eye for easier rigging and is made from heavy wire with a wide gap. This configuration of the Drop-Kick translates into a higher hook-up percentage. The Drop-Kick gets name from a distinctive kick it displays when jigged correctly. This lure was also created with a flat top that can be more easily seen on a sonar unit.
Best Descending Lure: Rapala Jigging Shad Rap
- Weights: 1/8, 3/16, 5/16, 5/8, 7/8
- Lengths: 1 ¼” – 3 ½”
- Built for suspended fish
- Weighted specifically for ice fishing
- Variety of sizes and colors
We know you might be thinking this was already on this list, but the Jigging Shad Rap has a slightly different design from the original Jigging Rap mentioned earlier. The Shad Rap offers a more pronounced movement and a seductive, slow spiral on its descent. By snapping the rod upward, the action can be altered to create a faster circling motion. The beefier profile of the Jigging Shad Rap is pronounced in the water, making it highly visible to nearby fish. It comes in a bevy of sizes, which means you can fish for a little bit of everything with this lure. Rapala offers the Shad Rap in 14 patterns, including UV and glow colors.
Best Simple Spoon Design: Bay De Noc Lure Co. Do-Jigger
- Weights: 1/6, 1/3, ½-ounce
- Length: 1 ¾” – 2 7/8”
- Extra “flipper” blade
- Excellent action
- Multi-species lure
- Might be too simplistic for some anglers
Bay De Noc Lure Co. has put out a few famous fishing lures, and the Do-Jigger is one of them. The Do-Jigger has a distinct and unique shimmering effect, and it is one of the best ice fishing pike lures, and works on walleye, big trout, and bass, too. Three sizes are available, and all are offered in seven color patterns. This is a lure for any angler who likes to keep things simple. There’s not a whole lot that’s terribly exciting about it, to the point we know some anglers find it a bit dull. However, there is no denying that it catches fish in droves.
Loudest Jig: Acme Tackle Company Kastmaster Rattle Master
- Weights: 1/32 – 3 ounce
- Hook Sizes 14 – 2/0
- Seven colors
- Extremely loud
- Great action
With one of the loudest rattle chambers you’ll find in a jigging lure, the Acme Kastmaster Rattle Master is another favorite among the ice crowd. The Rattle Master is a well-balanced spoon that produces a wild action on both the rise and fall. The combination of a loud rattle and frantic action is something you won’t find in other jigging spoons.
Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Ice Fishing Lures
There is a bevy of cheap lures on the market these days that simply do not perform the same way as the ones on this list. Like most things in life, you usually get what you pay for with fishing lures.
One important and often overlooked aspect of ice fishing lures is the hooks. Don’t be afraid to swap the treble hooks out for something sharper and of higher quality. This is the most common modification many of the world’s best ice fishing anglers make. It’s an added cost, but you’ll be thankful when you’re landing more fish and your buddies are missing bites because they’re using the stock hooks.
When it comes to deciding on colors to buy, go for lures that will resemble natural forage in your favorite lake. However, don’t be afraid to stock up on some more unusual colors too, especially on heavily pressured waters. Sometimes all it takes to coax more bites is to simply work a color no one else is utilizing. And fish can be quite finicky in the winter sometimes, so it can take a little experimentation to find what’s working.
Best Ice Fishing Lures: Final Thoughts
Ice fishing lure technology hasn’t changed much in the last 50 years other than the quality of hooks and the finish on the lures. Some of these designs have been producing fish for decades now. Anglers don’t need to get too fancy with their lures while fishing hard water.
You just need to simulate baitfish, crayfish, or insect larvae. From there, it’s just a matter of finding the right pattern at the right time to stimulate a bite. In many cases, you never know what you’re going to catch while ice fishing, which is why we recommend having a good supply and variety of lures in as many colors as possible to fit with the constantly shifting conditions of fishing during the winter.
It’s not a bad idea to have a good mix of flashy and painted lures at your disposal. Do not forget to have something that’s going to produce noise and vibration that will stimulate a predatory fish’s lateral line and bring them to you. A good lure will help you maximize your time at each hole rather than spending the whole afternoon constantly drilling holes trying to find a hot spot.
Why Trust Us
For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.