What’s The Best Test Weight And Diameter of Ice-Fishing Line?

For ice fishing, the author remains a steadfast believer in light-test, small-diameter line for most angling purposes.

A dominant query at my seminars is whether I stick with ultra-light line for winter bluegills. Answer: Without question!

This a major, major factor in my success. First, always match line to rod to weight of lures and also the mood of the fish. With hard-water bluegills under most weather conditions, you’ll find me using 1-pound-test. When in doubt with a tough bite, use small-diameter line.

Terry Tuma
Terry Tuma

Trying to downsize your line is not only important to the visibility factor, but it also affects your lure performance. Most people tend to use heavier line for all species, but with lighter line, small lures flutter down more naturally.

Another common-sensical rule: Heavier line will tire out your live bait. With bluegills, if your line is too heavy, they’ll sense that drag resistance and blow it out. This pertains to all species, but especially bluegills and crappies.

When fishing rocks and weeds for bigger fish such as walleyes, I’ll use 8-pound-test, but will always follow that first bit of advice: Match your lure and line size to the rod and mood of fish.

Another simple tip: Use a soft tipped rod with light line, and keep your drag loose. Guys sometimes think they’ll just tighten the drag when a fish is running. Good luck with that! I always set my drag so when I set the hook, it doesn’t slip. There’s a fine line between too loose and too tight.

Finally, fishing line has come a long way in 20 years. There are so many options for the line purchaser that it can become confusing. My advice is to purchase well-known brands, and you’re usually in pretty good shape.


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