Choosing an Ice Auger

November 13, 2017

An ice auger is an obvious must for ice fishing. How serious you take ice fishing, how you fish and what latitude you live at will have a lot to do with your choice.

Beginners, casual ice fishermen or those living at a latitude where there are short seasons, or frequently no seasons, can get by comfortably with an affordable Eskimo Standard Hand Ice Auger or a StrikeMaster Mora Hand Ice Auger. Both augers feature stainless steel blades that are easy to replace or sharpen. These augers break down easily into two pieces for transport and storage. Blade guards are standard on both.

John Scherrer Power Ice Auger

Serious ice fishermen living further north with reliably cold winters should consider a higher quality hand auger. Eskimo offers the Silvertip Curved Hand Auger. The CNC ground curved blades cut quickly through ice.

The StrikeMaster Lazer is one of the best sellers with great reviews at FishUSA. The cutting blades have a unique shape and grind that makes drilling through refrozen holes as easy as new holes. The Laser is a very good value.

Perhaps the top-of-the-line model in hand augers is the Nils USA Hand Auger, another great seller at FishUSA. The operation and blade design are remarkably different with many benefits. Some even prefer this to power augers! The cutting head is constructed of high chromium steel with curved blades. It is more durable and stays sharper longer than other cutting styles. It takes very little downward pressure to cut through the ice! The offset handle design brings the drilling hand out farther away from the centerline of the auger, increasing the torque going to the cutting head. So instead of one hand turning the handle and the other hand pushing down on the top like other models, both hands turn the shaft pushing and pulling and cutting through ice like a hot knife through butter. The Nils is extremely popular with serious ice fishermen and enhances mobility with its ease of cutting through the thickest ice.

Finally, we come to power augers. If you live or travel to large lakes with long seasons, you will get your money’s worth from a power auger. I fish the southern shore of Lake Erie and the inland lakes of northwestern Pennsylvania and I rarely use my power auger in my home waters. But I do make several trips to Canada each winter and it wouldn’t be as enjoyable or productive without my power auger.

There are many choices of power augers at FishUSA. The first decision to make is what type of fuel will power your auger. There are electric, propane and gas-powered augers to choose from, each with advantages and disadvantages. How you fish is an important factor in your choice. Do you “run and gun” staying very mobile? Or are you a “stay at home” ice fisherman forting up in a large, heated hut?

John Scherrer Power Ice Auger in Process

If you cut holes in the confines of a large hut, electric or propane are good choices. Propane generates less exhaust and electric none at all. They run quietly and require no priming or choking and you won’t flood your engine.

When it comes to power and day-long, day-after-day cutting of many holes through the thickest ice, gas-powered augers win out every time. I have been very satisfied with my Strikemaster Lazer Pro Power Ice Auger. I use premium pre-mixed fuel and the start-ups are reliable. It cuts with authority through the thick Canadian ice. You’ll really appreciate a power auger when the fishing slows and you need to move frequently to find the fish. Even in my younger days, my arms would turn to rubber after cutting many holes in very thick ice with a hand auger.

Choosing a cutting diameter for any type auger will correspond with what you fish for most of the time. Smaller diameter augers, whether manual or power, cut quicker than larger diameter holes. If you take your time, you will be surprised at what size fish you can squeeze through a small diameter hole.

And be careful with the cutting head. Always put the cover back on when finished cutting. It takes very little to cut a hole in the fabric of your hut, vehicle upholstery, clothing or worse.

Your ice auger will be the first tool you use on each ice fishing trip season after season. Choose one that meets your needs and enjoy your window to the fascinating winter underwater world.

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