Ice fishing can be as simple or as sophisticated as you want it to be, but the one thing that is mandatory is a means of getting through that ice. I still remember the days of using an axe to work my way through 18 inches of ice. The thought makes me want to take my Lazer auger out for a nice steak dinner. Choosing the right ice fishing auger is not rocket science, but here are some things to consider.
The size of the auger obviously depends on what type of fish you’ll be after. If you only plan on catching perch through the ice you could get away with using a 4 inch auger. The smaller the holes, the greater the ease of drilling them. This is appreciated when you’re roaming in search of fish. Don’t limit yourself by going too small though. You won’t be pulling a chunky whitefish or lake trout through a 4 inch hole, and for that matter I would suggest at least a 6 inch auger blade. I’ve been using an 8 inch Lazer auger for 3 years now and could not ask for anything more.
Another thing to look into before buying an auger is the price and availability of replacement auger blades. You will average a pair of blades per year, so make sure they won’t end up costing you as much as the auger itself. To ensure longevity of your blades, be sure to get a safety cover with your auger and USE IT. Even moving from one spot to another. All it takes is one ding on the blade to compromise your ice cutting prowess. Another practice that can wreak havoc on some blades is drilling out someone else’s pre-existing holes. If an old hole is frozen over enough that I can’t kick through it I will always drill a new one.
If space is an issue, consider folding or telescoping handles. Be to keep an eye on any connecting hardware for these handles. One missing wing bolt will render your tool useless and effectively ruin a day on the ice.
Gas powered augers are a common sight, primarily with anglers using ATVs or snow machines to transport them. I personally prefer manual augers and have had races against gas powered tools only to win the old fashioned way. As long as your blades are sharp, you should have no problems smoothly getting through ice up to two feet thick in less than 60 seconds.
The prices for hand augers are quite reasonable , ranging from 40 to 100 dollars. If you plan on hitting the ice even a handful of times this winter, an ice auger should be your first investment.