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Winter is a fantastic time to go ice fishing for lake trout. To go ice fishing, you will need mobility and dedication. You may have to fish for quite a while to find active lake trout!

So what’s the best ice fishing reel for Lake Trout?

In this article, we’ll discuss some important considerations for Lake Trout ice fishing and highlight several products that may work well for your next ice fishing adventure.

What to know when ice fishing for lake trout

When you’re fishing for Lake Trout under the ice, it’s important to have a good knowledge of how to successfully fish, as well as the proper equipment necessary to get the job done.

Where is best to ice fish for lake trout?

The best areas to fish for lake trout in the winter are not the same as the summertime sweet spots!

Lakers orient themselves in specific areas, so they are easier to catch than other fish that constrain themselves to hard to reach spots in the lake. 

Lake trout like to hang out in main lake basins where they can feed on open water bait fish.

You should zero in on these areas which are the most likely to contain lake trout: basins, sunken reefs, shoals, or open water inside a bend or turn.  

They also enjoy spending time under boulders, in crevices, in necked down channels,  or hiding in caves. 

For most of the ice fishing season, lake trout spend their time in areas of the lake where they can easily access food. 

Lake trout like to trap bait fish.

Also, lake trout are very sensitive to the water temperature.

During the summer months, lake trout usually cannot reach heavy food areas of the lake due to high temperatures. 

Lakers thrive in 40-50℉, and the high food areas are warmer than this in the open fishing season. 

However, during ice fishing season, these areas are the honey holes for catching lake trout. 

Researchers have observed that lake trout have an extreme aversion to swimming up and over anything that may block their path. They strongly prefer to travel in deeper water, even if that means taking a much longer route around an obstacle. 

This will give you some clues as to where to look for lake trout in the winter!

Fishing Depth

Depth control is most critical when ice fishing. It is important in warmer months as well, but finding the proper depth could make or break your ice fishing trip.

When the ice fishing season is beginning early in the winter, you can catch lake trout at a variety of depths between 20 and 60 feet under. Sometimes, you can even find lake trout as deep as 100 ft as the ice is still thickening.

As the season continues, lake trout become much more sluggish and confine themselves to smaller areas of the lake. 

Typically around February, you will see a marked decline in trout activity. Don’t worry, the fish have not stopped feeding, they have merely moved to follow the food sources.

As the layers of ice and snow build over the winter, the amount of light that reaches the lowest levels of the lake is reduced, and the light will hit different areas.

The dampened sunlight does not reach the farthest reaches of the lake, so the food sources have to move.

Phytoplankton and zooplankton, small creatures that support the rest of the living organisms in the lake, rise higher in the water column as the light is darkened.

Phytoplankton and zooplankton are the major food source for bait fish, so the bait fish follow them as they ascend to waters closer to the surface. This process moves up the food chain, and the lake trout also follow the bait fish as the light diminishes in the lower levels of the lake.

Light penetration depends on several different influences: water clarity, level of plant growth, ice and snow thickness, and other factors. 

To find the right fishing depth, you will probably have to experiment with trial and error a few times before you get a bite. Using your sonar will be especially helpful for locating the fish during their migration.

Also, be sure to always check out open water that is near trout structure. 

You never know if trout may have broken off from the main group.


Lake trout flock to movement. That fact makes your job as an angler much easier.

You can use different types of jigs or spoons to catch large trout. 

Try to use sporadic movements that simulate the behavior of dying baitfish.

Small, jerky movements are likely to draw in trout. However, you must have a rhythm. When lake trout see dying perch or other fish in the wild, they will hone in from a great distance away, plan their kill, and attack.

They are used to being able to determine their path long before they make a move on their prey.

You want them to have the same experience with your lure!

If you throw in a curveball, the trout will not be expecting your movement and will probably miss your lure, leaving you without a catch.

The easier you can make it for the fish, the more lake trout you will catch.

How do trout travel?

Trout rarely travel alone. They typically move in groups of three or more. So, if you catch one, you can probably catch one or two more!

If you’re feeling generous, you can let one of your fishing buddies use your hole directly after a catch for increased success rates. 

If you are solo fishing, drop your line as fast as you can in the same hole after a catch!

Where there is one trout, there are usually more.

Do lake trout scope out your lure?

Yes! Before lake trout bite, they usually brush against their food to see if it is real or fake. They will conduct this test with your lure as well!

If you feel a trout brushing your lure, this is not the time to pull it out of the water! If you do, you can count on missing a bite and potential catch.

If you feel a slight bump on the line, it is most likely a trout testing the waters. Wait it out. If you’ve played your cards right, you will soon have a bite!

Also, lake trout have been known to be attracted to sounds. If you want to spice up your standard lure, you can add a glass rattle inside of tube jigs or other baits.

What to look for in an ice fishing reel for lake trout

The right reel for Lake Trout ice fishing needs to be lightweight to match the weight of your ice fishing rod. Light rod and reels are essential to carry your hand movements effectively to the water- and to the trout.

Your reel also needs to reduce line twists. The fewer the twists in your line, the fewer lure spins you will endure, and the smoother your movements will be.

Best ice fishing reel for lake trout

If you’re looking for the best reel for ice fishing Lake Trout, there are a number of reel options that can work when Lake Trout ice fishing. It’s important to take your time to consider your options and needs to make sure you find a product that will work well for you.

Goture Spinning Fishing Reel Metal Spool 6bb for Freshwater Saltwater 500 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 Series

The Goture Spinning Fishing Reel is designed for all of your ice fishing needs. The reel has a rugged graphite frame and motor; it is tough enough to withstand shaking and rattling that you are sure to experience in the water. 

Based on extensive research and fishing expertise, this highly refined product offers some of the best precision on the market.

After you use this nontraditional reel, your expectations for your fishing gear will forever be raised.

If you are looking for an ultra-smooth, high precision unit, look no further.

It features a double-anodized aluminum spool that is lightweight, so you can be very mobile.

This reel has a multi-disk drag system complete with Japanese oiled drag washers.

It uses 6 ball bearings and one anti-reverse roller bearing for a very smooth cast. With the sealed ball bearings, you will notice a difference; this reel has extremely smooth operation. 

The smoothness is in part attributed to the super smooth oil-soaked felt washers.

Goture only uses the highest quality of materials to build their products, and the Goture Spinning Fishing Reel is no exception. It is made of corrosion resistant materials, so your reel will last for many years ahead.

If you find that this reel is not exactly what you are looking for, you can easily return it through Goture’s 100% no questions asked guarantee.

View at Amazon to learn more about how this product may work for use with your ice fishing needs.

Highlights of this reel:

  • Very smooth product backed by more than 10 years of research
  • Highly precise unit
  • Double-anodized, lightweight aluminum spool
  • Multi-disk drag system with Japanese oiled drag washers
  • Smooth cast due to 6 ball bearings and an anti-reverse roller bearing
  • Smooth oil-soaked felt washers
  • High quality, corrosion resistant materials
  • 100% no questions asked guarantee

Sougayilang Spinning Fishing Reel – Ultra Smooth 13+1 Shielded Bearings, Light Weight Powerful Anti-Corrosion Alloy Construction Body, Non-Slip EVA Knob for Saltwater Freshwater Bass Fishing

The Sougayilang Spinning Fishing reel uses cutting edge technological advancements to give you the best ice fishing experience possible. It is a super light, smooth, strong reel that can handle all of your ice fishing needs.

With two color and four size options, you can customize the reel to your individual preferences and needs for a more unique experience.

This reel features a 5.2:1/5.1:1 gear ratio.

The machine cut metal collapsible handle is left/right interchangeable, so all of your fishing buddies can use the reel.

Sougayilang reels have completely adjustable cast control with a sound S-curve oscillation system for excellent winding.

The aluminum spool is made with high-tensile gear, so you are getting a very sturdy, durable product with a streamlined body style.

You can easily use this reel in multiple locations. It’s great for ocean boat fishing, ocean rock fishing, ocean beach fishing, lakes, river, ponds, streams, and, of course, ice fishing!

If you do not love this reel, you can return it in 30 days for a full refund, guaranteed.

View at Amazon for more information on how this product may work for use when Lake Trout ice fishing.

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