Last updated: 14.07.2017. Added images and improved readability.
- 1 Quick Note
- 2 Primary Considerations
- 3 Other Choosing Factors
- 4 Outdoor Empire Recommendations
- 5 Leading Brands
Every ice angler needs a high-quality auger along with their essential fishing equipment — whether they are fishing from the cozy confines of a plush cabin or just sitting on an upturned bucket exposed to the elements.
You can even consider a quality auger to be more important than your fishing rod. After all, there are other ways to fish but it doesn’t matter how you plan on catching one if you can’t access the water in the first place.
There are a variety of augers on the market, most of which are superior from those that your grandfather used.
Some are designed with an eye toward keeping the cost low, while others spare no expense in crafting a high-quality tool.
Some require you to supply all the effort, while others use electricity or fuel to turn the blade. Some feature small blades for cutting small holes, while others bear 8- or 10-inch blades that allow you to drill holes large enough to drag out giants.
As with any other fishing tool, augers work at their optimum when you select a model that suits your application. Accordingly, before making a final decision, it is important to consider the auger’s:
- power source
- size and weight
- before making a final decision
The four primary choices include manual, propane, gas or electricity. Each type of unit features its strengths and weaknesses, so consider your needs carefully.
The first thing that most shoppers notice is that manual augers are less expensive than gas, propane or electric powered units. While this factor alone causes many ice anglers to select a hand unit, there are some other benefits provided by this simple and reliable tool.
1. The quiet nature of hand augers is an often overlooked but helpful benefit that leads some ice anglers to prefer elbow grease to gas or propane.
2. Lighter than most powered units which lets you travel around the lake easily. In fact, many hand ice augers can be disassembled to two pieces for easier transport.
3. You don’t have to worry about starting it as long as the blade is sharp and the handle is attached securely.
By contrast, gas and propane powered augers can be difficult to start and electric augers require you to use a battery in less-than-ideal conditions (cold temperatures accelerate the rate at which a battery’s power drains).
Despite its advantages, they also present their share of challenges.
Obviously, you have to provide all of the energy when trying to cut through the ice. As long as you are in good physical condition, you should be able to cut one hole through the ice without much trouble.
But if you intend to cut multiple holes, you’ll surely wish you had a powered unit to help. Hand augers are also at a disadvantage during the late winter and early spring, when the ice is at its thickest.
Many gas powered augers feature longer bits than electric or hand powered augers do, which can be an important feature for those living in places with exceptionally thick ice. Additionally, longer bits are desirable for those who fish from elevated platforms.
1. Often more durable than electric models as they have fewer delicate, electronic parts that can fail.
2. They have well-made motors that work for years, if not decades, without problems.
One downside to gas powered units is the requirement that you deal with liquid fuel. Not only can this fuel get all over your gear, clothing and hands, but it can also damage the local environment.
While you won’t single handedly destroy an ecosystem by spilling a gallon of fuel, you may very well drive the fish and other aquatic creatures away from your freshly cut hole in the ice.
Gas powered augers are the loudest type of auger on the market, so they are not ideal for locations in which the fish are especially skittish.
Electric augers produce less torque than gas or propane powered models do; but they are typically less expensive than their fuel-driven counterparts, which is appreciated by many budget-minded anglers.
While gas powered units may be better for anglers that need to drill several holes in the ice, those who are only cutting one or two holes are better served by an electric unit.
This is partly because electric motors do not need time to reach their peak operating speed, while gas powered units do.
1. Unlike gas or propane powered ice augers, which may produce harmful fumes, electric augers can be used inside your ice fishing cabin. In fact, because they need to be kept slightly warmer than hand or gas powered models do, they are ideal to use in a fishing cabin or tent.
2. They do not require oil, which makes them easier to operate and lets you avoid carrying extra baggage to the lake.
Some anglers find that electric augers are less reliable than other types. But if you take care of the equipment, these problems can be kept to a minimum.
The batteries can run down over time, so you may want to consider adding a back-up battery to your arsenal – you don’t want it to die while your blade remains a few inches away from penetrating the ice.
Propane powered augers recently arrived on the ice auger scene. In some ways, they combine some of the best qualities of the various types of augers available.
1. They are typically lighter and easier to refuel than gas powered augers, and yet they are more powerful than hand augers. Plus, some propane augers burn cleanly enough to be used indoors.
2. Another nice characteristic is the ease of refueling. Unlike most gas powered augers, which require the user to mix precise proportions of oil and gasoline, propane augers work with prefilled propane tanks.
You can simply attach the tank to the motor and start drilling. Propane is also easier and safer to store than gasoline.
Compare & Contrast
Many ice anglers feel that propane powered augers are most directly comparable to electric augers. However, they have a number of benefits over their electric counterparts.
It is easier to find parts for propane powered augers than it is for electric ones, and they tend to drill more holes before running out of fuel than electric augers can hold a charge.
Deciding on Blade Size
You must consider a variety of factors when selecting the blade size. Most blades are available in 6-, 8- and 10-inch-diameter models; some hand models have 4-inch blades that can be useful when chasing small fish.
In general, larger blades are more expensive than smaller blades but the difference is relatively minor.
If you are targeting large species such as a northern pike, you need to go with an 8- or preferably a 10-inch blade so that you can easily bring the fish back up through the hole.
By contrast, you can probably get away with a 6-inch blade if you are targeting perch and other small species.
It’s also important to consider the type of auger that you are using when selecting a blade size.
You can get away with using a hand auger if you are only drilling 6-inch-wide holes, but you need to be in excellent shape if you intend to cut 10-inch-wide holes with a manual unit.
Similarly, because of their relative lack of torque, electric augers will often struggle more than gas or propane powered units when cutting holes with large diameters.
Do Not Overlook These!
1. One small factor to consider when selecting the blade size is your propensity to drop things down your fishing hole.
If you tend to drop things, a 6-inch hole will help save your stuff more often than a 10-inch hole, which will tend to swallow up anything that falls in the vicinity.
2. Similarly, it is important to keep children in mind when selecting a blade size.
A 10-inch hole is large enough for a small child to fall down the hole, an 8-inch-wide hole won’t let them get more than their feet through the hole.
In the modern ice fishing world, mobility has replaced patience as the vehicle for success.
Whereas your grandfather may have remained perched over a single hole in the ice or two for hours on end, most 21st Century ice anglers like to move around when faced with an unproductive hole.
Accordingly, many ice anglers prefer to have a light auger as they can get their hands on. While hand types are much lighter than powered models, and gasoline powered units are typically heavier than electric augers, there is great variation between models in each category.
Should you even consider weight?
If you don’t like to move around much while ice fishing or you spend your days fishing in the relative comfort of a fish house, weight ceases being an important consideration.
You can use the heaviest, most powerful auger you find; just make sure you have a sled to help drag it from your car and out onto the ice.
So after selecting your auger’s type and proper blade size, compare the weights of the various units. You may decide that you’d rather have something that weighs one or two pounds more.
The length of your auger is another crucial aspect that requires consideration. After all, it does you no good to drill a hole that doesn’t reach all the way through the ice.
And for that matter, lugging an exceptionally long auger around to cut through 10 inches of ice is an unnecessary burden.
Where do you plan to fish?
For the most part, your location and fishing habits will dictate the depth to which you need to drill. If you live in the Northeastern United States and only fish during the early winter, you may never need to drill through more than 1 foot of ice.
In such cases, any auger will do. However, if you are trying to fish in the late winter on a frozen Alaskan lake, you may be faced with ice that is 5 feet thick.
If you only need to drill through exceptionally thick ice once in a while, you can just purchase a modest-sized auger but add an extension that will let you get through the thick ice when it is necessary.
Other Choosing Factors
After narrowing down your selection according to the aforementioned criteria, you can focus even further by considering the following characteristics.
Reminder: Do not forget to check these ice fishing safety gear tips and practices. It’s always better to be prepared before heading out into the ice.
Aside from the auger’s power source, the quality (and sharpness) of its blades determine how easily it cuts through the ice.
Drilling through the ice requires blades that are both strong enough to withstand the wear and tear of cutting through ice all day, and capable of holding a sharp edge, which will make each turn of the bit more effective.
Generally speaking, higher quality augers feature higher quality blades.
However, there are exceptions and some manufacturers try to lower the price by using mass-produced, Asian-made blades (which are typically lacking in craftsmanship), instead of the superior European- and North American-made blades.
The blades are usually the easiest component of an ice auger to swap out. You can purchase after-market blades from a variety of outlets which allows you to easily improve the cutting power of any auger you purchase.
Accordingly, the blade quality is a secondary consideration.
Ice augers have their corresponding blade types. Such blades are manufacturer-specific, meaning you can’t swap out the blades from one model for a model made by another company.
Although there are often minor differences between the members of either group, blades fall into one of two categories: shaving blades and chipping blades.
Personal preference plays a large role in selecting one type of blade or another, but each performs better in different circumstances.
Shaving blades tend to have a smooth or mostly smooth cutting edge which is razor sharp. They only remove a fine layer of ice with each pass, but their incredibly sharp edge allows them to melt through the ice quickly.
Shavers are ideal for quickly cutting lots of fresh holes through very clean ice, but they are not ideal for re-opening old holes, and dirty ice will dull the blades rapidly. Once shaver blades become dull, they lose their efficacy.
Chipper blades are also sharp, but they usually feature some wide-set teeth. This allows them to chew through ice very quickly but they’ll do so without the precision or speed of well-sharpened shaving blades.
Chippers are tough blades that can handle the wear and tear associated with cutting through ice that contains sand and dirt — this is especially important in areas with high winds.
However, chippers may leave rougher edges on the hole and they often take a little more time to cut through pristine ice than shaver blades do.
As an analogy, shaver blades are akin to a surgeon’s scalpel, while chipper blades are akin to a serrated knife.
Most augers that are equipped with shaver blades use two blades but some chipper-style augers feature only a single blade. Obviously, two blades cut more quickly. But single-bladed augers can save you a little money both in terms of the initial purchase and when you must buy replacement blades.
Most augers are designed to use one type of blade or the other, so your preferred blade style will influence your overall decision-making process.
Some manufacturers do not make units that use chipper blades – you’ll have to check other companies’ products if you are dead-set on chipper blades.
Direction of Spin
One important thing to keep in mind is that some augers are designed so that their blades spin in the opposite direction from those of other major manufacturers.
This makes it impossible to swap out parts from other augers. This may not make much difference to the average ice angler but if you have a few old augers lying around, you may want to select a model that spins in the same direction.
Cutting performance is not impacted by the direction in which the blade spins. Aside from the ability to swap out parts from other augers, spin direction is a minor consideration.
Outdoor Empire Recommendations
|Product|| || || ||
|Diameter||8 in||10 in||10 in||8 in|
|Length||48" - 57"||42"||42"||34"|
|Weight||8.5 lbs||34 lbs||34 lbs||22 lbs|
|Transmission||All Ball Bearing||All Ball Bearing||Planetary|
|Handle Design||Soft Rubber||Foam Grip||Foam Grip||Aluminum|
|Warranty||5-Year Limited||5-Year Limited||2-Year Limited|
Best Hand Powered
StrikeMaster Lazer Hand Auger
The StrikeMaster Lazer Hand Auger is available in sizes ranging from 4 to 8 inches. It is built with the finest craftsmanship and cuts through ice as quickly and easily that a manual auger possibly can.
- Chrome alloy, stainless steel blade which stays sharp longer than the blades of most similarly priced models do.
- Ergonomic handle design helps reduce fatigue and it transfers your effort directly to the blade, enabling you to cut through the ice without wearing yourself out.
- Handle that adjusts from 48 to 57 inches. In fact, many smaller anglers, including women, find this auger to work well for their stature.
Aside from its unparalleled performance, it is also noteworthy for its durability. It is built to last for years out on your favorite frozen lake.
The auger’s powder-coated paint finish helps keep snow or ice from accumulating on the tool, while the soft rubber grips are durable enough to survive rough use on the ice.
Though it takes considerably more effort to use a hand auger than a gasoline or electric powered one, most users find the Strike Master Lazer Hand Auger more effective and even fun to use because they do not have to mess around with a noisy motor.
Best Gas Powered
Eskimo 43cc 10-inch Mako Ice Auger – Full Review
In addition to its premium performance, the Eskimo 43cc Mako Ice Auger includes several simple yet invaluable features that make it a pleasure to use.
- See-through fuel tank that lets you know exactly how much gas is left in the engine.
- Ergonomically designed handles and controls can be used without requiring you to remove your mittens or gloves.
- Handle features a vibration dampening foam grip and a finger-operated throttle which surely provides satisfaction to every user.
Most users report that the engine works like a dream.
It starts up easily, thanks in part to the included primer, during very cold weather. Once running, it cuts through ice like warm butter, making it easy to drill some holes for those times when you have trouble finding the fish.
Additionally, many users are pleasantly surprised by the fuel-efficiency of the unit because they can cut numerous holes without the need to refuel.
Unfortunately, the Eskimo Mako Ice Auger features a 2-stroke engine, so you need to mix the fuel with oil before refilling the gas tank. However, this is a minor price to pay for such a high-performance auger.
Best Propane Powered
Eskimo 40cc 10-Inch Propane Ice Auger
Eskimo knocked another homerun with their 40cc 10-Inch Propane Ice Auger.
Designed to take advantage of propane’s higher octane rating than gasoline, this is one powerful tool that cuts through ice quickly and easily.
- Featuring a clean-burning, 4-stroke engine, it is a low-maintenance tool that performs well as most gas powered units do.
- The high-compression engine packs plenty of muscle for turning a 10-inch blade.
Most users have been impressed by how easy to start it. Unlike gas powered models, it does not require priming – simply flip the switch to “on,” pull the cord and start drilling.
Fueling up your ice auger has never been this easy. You don’t need to worry about mixing fuel and oil in the proper proportions, or trying to pour the mix into a small tank while you’re shivering from the cold.
Instead, just attach a pre-filled, 1-pound propane tank and start drilling. When it’s time to switch fuel tanks, which you won’t have to do very often thanks to the efficiency of the Eskimo motor, just remove and safely discard the old tank and hook up a new one.
Best Electric Powered
ION 8-Inch Electric Ice Auger With Reverse
There aren’t very many electric powered ice augers on the market, which makes it easier for the ION Electric Ice Auger to rise above its competitors.
It provides everything you could want in a premium product, while still bearing a reasonable price tag.
- Despite of being constructed primarily with steel, it is incredibly light – this is often the first thing users notice.
- Weighing 22 pounds, it’s really easy to carry all over the lake as you seek out for fish lurking below.
But the true value of the ION ice auger becomes apparent when you turn it on. Gone are the days of trying to coax your rickety old gas powered auger into turning over. From now on, you’ll fire up your auger by simply flipping a rocker-style switch.
Once running, the ION 40V Electric Ice Auger shows that it is more than capable of serving the needs of the average ice angler.
It may not be the perfect tool for cutting dozens of holes through thick ice, but it excels in most other applications. The blade reaches full cutting speed quickly. It also features wide-set handlebar-style grips that reduce user fatigue.
It has a reverse function!
- Helps you clean the slush out of your freshly cut hole for problem-free fishing.
- Prevents sharp edges inside the hole which can snap your line at the last (and most heart-breaking) moment.
Although neither the fish nor the ice care of your auger’s color, many anglers appreciate the bright green paint job that adorns all ION products. This makes it easier to find your auger while you are working in dim light, plus it just looks great.
Reviewed Ice Auger
Familiarize yourself with some of the tendencies of the leading ice auger manufacturers. This can help you narrow down your selection and go with a product that will suit your needs.
Jiffy ice augers are manufactured by Feldmann Engineering and Manufacturing Co. Inc. — a company based in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin.
Launched in 1947, Feldmann Engineering and Manufacturing Co. Inc. started out producing snowmobiles, rotary garden tillers and similar tools. Then in 1948, they began trying to create the world’s first powered ice drill, and the rest is history.
The Jiffy ice drill has changed in a number of minor ways since their early days, but the basic concept of the tool has remained constant. Now, they offer a variety of ice augers to suit all of your ice-fishing needs.
Although they do not make electric or hand powered augers, they make both 2-stroke and 4-stroke gas models so you can avoid the need to mix fuels if you like. They produce propane powered augers for those who prefer a lower emission, cleaner burning motor.
Jiffy drills feature one of the best guarantees in the industry, including a limited 5-year warranty.
In business since 1960, Eskimo has repeatedly pushed boundaries, and they produced the original high-speed, power auger in 1994.
They produce a wide selection of augers, including hand, gas and propane powered models. Users often rave about the quality and continued stellar performance – many have been using their Eskimo auger for 10 years or more.
Their customer service draws praise from just about everyone who contacts them, which should make shoppers more comfortable making the purchase, confident that the company stands behind their products and has a great reputation in the industry.
Eskimo products also have a number of helpful features, including see-through gas tanks on gas powered units.
Plus, all their gas or propane powered models feature a unique centering ring which makes it easier to re-open holes in the ice and avoid making angled cuts through the ice.
ION is a specialty auger manufacturer that only produces electric drills.
They produce three different models: a 6-inch and 8-inch standard model, and their premium auger — the ION X 8-inch.
All of them have similar features, with the primary difference with the blade size (6-inch blades versus 8-inch blades) and the improved battery capacity of the ION X.
Many owners of ION augers appreciate the light weight of the tools, as well as their minimal maintenance needs. In fact, because of the simplicity of the unit’s electric motor, ION augers require very little (if any) maintenance.
The only thing you must do is recharge the battery after use and keep the blades sharp.
ION augers are slightly shorter than those produced by most other manufacturers. This allows easier storage and transport of the tool. Though they come with a 12-inch extension, this shorter length does not limit your ability to cut through thick ice.
StrikeMaster is one of the leading ice auger manufacturers, and their product line includes manual, electric and gas powered models.
One of the things that they pride themselves with is the use of high-quality components.
They use German-made, Solo motors on their 2-stroke engines, and their 4-stroke augers use Honda engines. They also use U.S.-made, heat-treated gears for optimal performance and reliability.
Strikemaster ice augers are usually reported to be fuel efficient, which allows you to drill more holes before you need to stop and refuel the tool. One other great thing about them is their tendency to weigh less than comparable units made by other manufacturers.