Ice fishing rods are miniature versions of a regular-sized fishing rod, with the typical ice fishing rod being in the range of 28 inches long. Also called jigging rods, ice fishing rods are one of the favorite pieces of equipment of many ice anglers, who will drop lures and live bait down through holes in the ice and catch species such as walleye, bluegill, crappies and perch. The ice fishing rod features three main components---the blank, the handle and the rod guides.
The rod blank describes the length of the ice fishing rod from the point where it comes out of the handle to its tip. The rod blank for an ice fishing rod must have great sensitivity so that you will feel the slightest nibble in the water below you and have the ability to set the hook. Anglers use the terms fast, medium and slow action to describe their rod blanks. The fast-action rod blank bends mainly at the tip, the medium action bends mostly in the middle and a slow action rod bends near the handle. For ice fishing purposes, you want a rod blank with fast action or medium, but rarely one with slow action. Materials such as graphite and fiberglass compose most rod blanks, with some made out of composite blends. The graphite rod blank, according to the Bass Pro Shops website, is the more costly, but in return for your money, you receive a fast action blank that has more sensitivity and is lighter than fiberglass or composite rods. While fiberglass blanks will tend to bend more toward the middle of the rod, this type is sturdier than graphite and less expensive. If you fish for crappie and bluegill through the ice, a graphite rod will allow you to detect their delicate nibbles. When fishing for larger species like bass, walleye or pike, a fiberglass rod gives you added strength to battle the fish.
The rod guides attach to the ice fishing rod blank. The fishing lines thread through these round metal eyes along the length of the blank. While some ice fishing rods have as few as two rod guides, many have at least four and some have as many as six. The more rod guides you have on your ice fishing rod, the more equally the rod blank will absorb the shock of a fighting fish, helping the rod to function better. Rod guides are larger near the handle where the reel sits than they are at the very tip of the blank. Ice fishing rods with oversized guides allow line that has accumulated ice to pass through them with ease and prevent you from constantly having to clear them of caked up ice.
The handle of an ice fishing rod is an important component, usually made from foam, plastic, cork or graphite. The cork handle has the advantage of staying warm in your hand and it will allow you to feel the vibrations along the blank when a fish bites. Graphite handles are extremely sensitive, while foam and plastic handles lack sensitivity. Foam handles have a reputation as absorbing water, which can handicap you on cold days on the ice. The ice fishing rod's reel mounts to the rod on the handle. Some handles have a locking seat that holds the rod, while others have a pair of rings you adjust around the handle and then turn to hold it tight.