Angling in the cold ice during the dead of winter is particularly challenging enough without having to worry about finding suitable fishing spots. Thanks to a nifty piece of equipment known as an ice auger, you can create your luck by drilling your way through frozen lakes and rivers to find fish in just the right locations that are comfortable and safe for you to fish in. Therefore, ice augers are an indispensable tool for ice fishing, and we’ve created a very comprehensive buying guide for you to choose the right ice auger for your needs.
An auger is a handheld drill used to make holes in the earth, and anglers use this machine to drill holes in frozen lakes and rivers to catch fish. Augers are constructed in such a way that they contain unique components known as cutting spurs, which are effective at cutting out perfect circles.
This makes it easier for you to gain access to the fish hidden under the icy winter surface, as augers can cut differently sized holes depending on your preferences. Augers can be manually operated, but some are driven by an electric-battery-powered, while still others contain an internal gasoline combustion engine that’s connected to a tractor that powers it.
Each of these augers comes with its own advantages and disadvantages to the angler, and using the right type of auger is incredibly vital to enjoying a peaceful and hassle-free ice angling expedition.
Below we have listed several things you will want to consider when you’re buying an auger for your ice fishing trip. This guide is helpful regardless of whether you’re buying an auger for the first time, or are an experienced ice angler that’s just refreshing their memory.
Manual augers are particularly lightweight when compared to their gas counterparts, which are often heavy and difficult to carry for long distances, while electric augers are available in both lightweight and heavier varieties depending on the size.
Regarding reliability, gas augers blow electric augers right out of the water. That’s because gas augers last much longer than electric ones, enabling you to drill through the ice for extended periods of time. Manual augers are the most reliable because you can count on them to work throughout the trip without requiring a gas fill-up or a charge like the other two.
Ice fishing augers are typically noisy regardless of what they’re powered with, and this can sometimes work against you and scare the fish away before you even start fishing. Of all your options, electric augers make less noise when used within a shanty, while gas augers are particularly noisy and unsafe to use inside an enclosed ice shack.
A gas auger is obviously not the best choice to use while you’re in a shanty, as it emits hazardous fumes that are unsafe to inhale indoors. On the other hand, manual and electric augers are safer options when inside a hut, and will work with great ease and success when the ice you’re cutting through is not so dense.
Gas and manual augers make light work of cutting deep holes, even when faced with really thick ice, and they work faster than electric augers in the same conditions.
Electronic augers are made up of some electronic components which are prone to breaking down and causing problems over time. This makes electronic augers a somewhat unreliable option in the long term, especially when compared with manual and gas augers that come with a simpler and more tough-wearing construction.
Electric augers are almost always lightweight and easy to carry around. Gas augers are the heaviest to carry, while manual ones are in the middle and a more bearable option for mobility.
Manual augers are an affordable option and are ideal for novice ice anglers because they’re easy to use as well. However, they don’t last long, and you most certainly do get what you pay for with most of them, but they work great for newbies. Gas augers are slightly more expensive, but you can get a 2-stroke gas auger for a lower price than a 4-stroke option.
As with any purchase, it’s always a good idea to check the warranty period offered by the manufacturer and for what specific part of the equipment. For example, some manufacturers will provide a warranty only for the motor and not the battery and so on. Plus, augers with a long warranty period are usually well-made and reliable, so be sure to look out for that when making your purchase.
Best Electric Powered Ice Auger - Our Top Pick
Constructed of polymer gear casting, two stainless steel Mora Laser blades and an 8-inch steel drill, this StrikeMaster Ice Fishing auger is electrically powered with a 50-volt lithium ION battery. The battery is easily removable through the auger’s thumb release mechanism and can recharge in just two hours, allowing you to stay on your game for longer.
This auger also features an easily identifiable LED on/off switch and a lightweight design that makes it portable while keeping you mobile. However, it does weigh 25 pounds, so you might struggle with carrying it around. Lastly, this auger has got tons of speed and torque and comes with a 3-year limited warranty on the motor, as well as a limited 1-year warranty on the battery.
Best Hand Powered Ice Auger - Our Top Pick
This fiery red ice fishing auger from Eskimo is hand operated, and available in 6-inch to 8-inch sizes, with the capacity to drill through thick ice with speed and precision. Cutting through ice is super convenient with this auger, thanks to its durable replaceable steel blades which also come with a guard to protect them as you’re traveling. It also features a cross bolt fastener system that makes it easy to grip and work on drilling the ice and you’ll find it remarkably easy to carry around because it weighs just 6 pounds. It’s also worth noting that this auger is very well made and resilient, hence it comes with an unlimited 1-year warranty.
Best Gas Ice Auger - Our Top Pick
This gas-powered auger comes equipped with serrated twin steel blades that can cut through 8 to 10 inches of thick ice as if it’s nothing, while the blade protector keeps the blades safe from wear and tear to prolong its lifespan. This auger also features a 2-stroke motor which is both powerful and quick, which means that it does all the work so that you can get to fishing. Overall, this is a great quality product that will last you for years to come, and it’s available at a reasonable price, which makes it an even more attractive option.
Weighing in at relatively hefty 21 pounds, this electric auger is constructed from steel and can drill up to 8-inch diameter holes, which makes it ideal when angling for the big game. The handlebars on it are perfectly spaced to allow for ease of handling and operation, and it comes in this bright and vibrant lime green color that’s easy to spot in the snow.
This auger is the ideal equipment to use when cutting through new ice or re-opening frozen holes, and it works great when you’re inside a shanty. It also comes with a Slush-Flushing Reverse feature which makes for a smooth cutting process, by automatically flushing away all the slush from your hole, and it’s surprisingly powerful and fast considering its weight.
However, you’ll want to keep in mind that this auger is powered by a lithium-ion battery which requires frequent charging, but on the upside, it comes with a cover to keep the blades safe while you’re traveling from one point to the next.
This auger is made of chrome alloy stainless steel blades that cut through ice like butter, and you can use it to drill through super dense ice that’s up to 8-inches thick with ease. The exterior of the auger is coated with powder to prevent snow ice build-up from covering it up. It’s also quite easy to handle with its rubber grips and ergonomic design handle, which you can even adjust it from 48" to 57" to accommodate your height or ice thickness.
This 2-stroke heavy duty gas auger lives up to its name with extreme performance and a whopping 1090w of output power. Luckily, it comes with an air-cooling function to keep it working efficiently and put in the hard work to drill as many holes as you like. On the other hand, it is quite heavy at 38 pounds and can be a hassle to carry around, and you have to be careful when handling it because it can easily slip out of your hands because of the weight. That said, this is a very powerful auger, and it does the job with an ability to cut through up to three feet of thick ice.
Whether you're on thin or thick ice, investing in a good quality ice auger is essential if you want to enjoy your ice fishing trip. Both serious and recreational anglers can attest to the fact that, with an auger, you're able to catch much more fish of your choice because you can drill multiple holes to find the ideal spot for your preferences.
Just don't forget to consider the auger's durability, strength, weight and the level of smoothness that it exhibits when cutting through ice. If you can get an auger that combines all of these components, like the ones we've listed above, then you'll enjoy a productive and fun ice fishing trip indeed!