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An ice auger is a must-have piece of ice fishing gear, because the very first thing every angler needs to do is drill a fishing hole. And that’s not always easy.

An ice auger is basically a massive drill bit that creates holes in the ice that enable you to drop a line down into the water, and are large enough to haul fish out. There are several different types of augers. Some are operated by hand; others are gas powered augers. Each type of auger has advantages in different ice fishing conditions.

Best Hand Auger: Strike Master Ice Augers Lazer Hand Auger

Best Gas Powered Auger: Eskimo Quantum Auger

Best Propane Ice Auger: Eskimo HC40Q8 High Compression 40cc

Best Electric Ice Auger: StrikeMaster Lithium 40V Ice Auger

Best Drill Powered Ice Auger: K-Drill Ice Auger

Best Cheap Ice Auger: StrikeMaster MD-8 Ice Fishing Mora Hand Auger

Features To Consider When Shopping for an Ice Auger

Ice thickness, the size of hole you need to drill, and the number of holes you need to drill all are considerations about ice augers. Regardless of what type of auger you get, make sure to get a high quality ice auger. There’s nothing worse than spending a long time trying to drill holes or repairing a broken auger—or being forced to go home if a repair isn’t possible—when you could be catching fish. And if you’re ice fishing in a remote area, a broken auger can mean the end of the trip.

Will You Be Drilling Through Ice Less than 12 Inches Thick?

If you’re just starting out, odds are you’re considering purchasing a hand auger. Compared to power augers, hand augers cost much less and are sleeker and lighter. You also won’t have to worry about fuel and advanced mechanical components.

The main consideration you should make when considering purchasing a hand auger is the thickness of the ice that you’re likely to encounter. For ice 12 inches thick or less, a hand powered auger will get the job done. If the ice you’re going to fish gets thicker than 16 inches, using a hand auger will be extremely time and labor intensive—even if you have one of the best hand augers on the market. At that point, you’re better off buying a gas powered auger. If the ice gets beyond two-feet deep, don’t even think about trying to use a hand auger.

Best Hand Auger: Strike Master Ice Augers Lazer Hand Auger

Simple Precision

The Strike Master Ice Augers Lazer Hand Auger is simple, customizable, and powerful. Strike Master

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The most important part of any hand auger is blade sharpness, and the Strike Master Ice Augers Lazer Hand Auger has razor-sharp chrome-alloy stainless steel blades that will drill into hard ice. Powder-coated paint helps reduce ice build-up and keeps the auger working like it should. An adjustable 48- to 57-inch handle ensures that the auger is easy to use regardless of how tall you are and how deep the ice is. Soft rubber grips allow you to really crank. The 7-inch width creates holes big enough to handle most trout and panfish, but isn’t too big to make drilling holes overly difficult.

Will You Be Ice Fishing Often, or Through Thick Ice?

Hand augers are slower and less powerful than gas and propane augers. And, of course, you have to put some good old-fashioned sweat into drilling a hole. So if you’re not willing to put in the time and effort to drill holes by hand, or if your ice is 12 inches or thicker, invest in a gas powered auger.

Gas powered augers can be pricey, and they require buying and toting fuel. They require maintenance to make sure that they start easily and run well. They’re also heavy. But if you ice fish often, are drilling through thick ice, or want to drill wide enough holes for big lake trout and pike, then a gas powered auger is a must.

The traditional gas powered auger uses a two-stroke engine. These augers are loud, and require a precise ratio of gas and oil, but they’re powerful. Today, you’ll also find a lot of four-stroke augers on the market. These augers are slightly quieter and don’t require premixing gas and oil, but they’re often expensive.

Best Gas Powered Auger: Eskimo Quantum Auger

Sheer Power

The Eskimo Quantum Auger is a dependable and powerful gas auger. Eskimo

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The Eskimo Quantum Auger is a strong and reliable two-stroke gas powered auger, and is available in both 8- and 10-inch models. The 33CC VIPER engine and sharp stainless steel blades chew through thick ice with ease. The fingertip throttle control allows you to control power with precision, and a stainless centering point keeps the auger stable on uneven ice and when redrilling old holes. The all-metal transmission is reliable, and the handles come with recoil protection. This is a relatively pricey auger, but you get what you pay for in terms of quality.

Will You Be Drilling Inside an Ice Shelter?

Propane augers are high powered and can drill through thick ice. They also have one big advantage over gas powered augers: Propane burns cleanly, allowing you to use a propane auger inside of an ice shelter. They are also generally quieter than their gas counterparts. And propane augers are known to be dependable. Even in the coldest conditions, a propane auger should start up without a hitch.

Another propane auger advantage: Many ice fishermen bring propane powered heaters to heat up their ice shelters. You can use the same propane to power a propane auger (as long as you have enough; you don’t want to be forced to end your day on the ice early because you ran out of juice. Pack several propane canisters.) Propane augers are bulky, as are gas augers. You’ll want to haul it out on the ice with your vehicle (if the ice is thick enough to do so safely), a snowmobile, or a sled.

Best Propane Ice Auger: Eskimo HC40Q8 High Compression 40cc

Efficient Torque

Drill holes quickly with the Eskimo Propane Auger. Eskimo

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Eskimo’s Propane Auger is a phenomenal alternative to the company’s gas auger. The propane auger has many of the same features—stainless steel blades, an all-metal transmission, and a stainless centering point— and matches them with a 40CC high-compression, four-cycle engine that provides more than enough oomph to turn 8- or 10-inch blades through thick ice. The engine burns clean and doesn’t require any priming. A quick-release bottle-holder allows you to easily swap and use 1-pound propane canisters. This is a strong propane ice auger that should last a long time with minimal maintenance.

Is an Electric Ice Auger a Good Choice for You?

Electric ice augers are lightweight, dependable, and quiet. They’re also powerful, but they don’t generally provide as much torque as a high-quality gas or propane auger. If you’re not drilling through very thick ice, an electric auger should do just fine. Make sure to charge your electric auger’s battery before a long day on the ice. Like electric lawn equipment, an electric ice auger will begin to lose its power as it runs out of energy. Consider also packing a fully-charged replacement battery.

Best Electric Ice Auger: StrikeMaster Lithium 40V Ice Auger

Quiet Torque

The StrikeMaster Lithium 40V Ice Auger is the gold-standard of electric ice augers. StrikeMaster

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StrikeMaster’s quiet but powerful Lithium 40V Ice Auger comes in 8- or 10-inch sizes. The 8-inch model can rapidly drill 100 holes between charges, and the 10-inch version will cut 80 holes. It only weighs 24 to 27 pounds, depending on the model. A 2-amp rapid-charging base delivers a full recharge in only 2-1/2 hours. Impact absorbing handles and ergonomic controls make the auger easy to use—just press a button and drill.

Do You Own a High-Powered Handheld Electric Drill?

A drill powered ice auger is operated by a high-powered handheld electric drill, which you may already own. That makes them economical, because a drill powered ice auger generally is half the price of a gas or electric auger.

Drill augers are lightweight, though the listing you’ll see won’t include the weight of the drill itself, only the auger. They generally aren’t as powerful as gas, propane, or electric augers. You will want to stick to 6- to 8-inch blades, which are easier to use, and make sure that your drill has a full charge. Bring an extra battery to make sure you won’t run out of power.

Best Drill Powered Ice Auger: K-Drill Ice Auger

Lightweight Beast

The K-Drill Ice Auger weighs only 5 pounds. K-Drill

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The K-Drill is a versatile, ice-crushing machine. It’s only 5 pounds, and is made to fit any ½-inch high powered brushless handheld electric drill. The 7 ½-inch 3-blade system utilizes steel tipped blades that core through thick ice with ease. The blades are made out of aluminum, which reduces weight. A compact built-in foam float means you won’t lose the auger to the bottom of the lake if your drill chuck unexpectedly loosens.

Best Budget Ice Auger: What You Get for under $70

Generally speaking, the more you pay for an ice auger, the faster you’ll be able to drill holes and get fishing. But if you’re willing to put in some muscle and time, a budget ice auger will get the job done—as long as the ice isn’t several feet thick.

Best Cheap Ice Auger: StrikeMaster MD-8 Ice Fishing Mora Hand Auger

Cheap but Efficient

The handle on the Mora adjusts from 48 to 57 inches. StrikeMaster

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The Mora is a straightforward hand ice auger. It’ll cut an 8-inch hole, has soft rubber grips, and the handle adjusts from 48 to 57 inches so you can put it at just the right height for you.

FAQs

Q: What size ice auger should you buy?

The answer to this question depends largely on the species of fish you’re after. You don’t want to hook a trophy fish only to lose it at the last minute because you can’t pull it through a too-small hole. For trout and panfish, a 6-inch auger should be just fine. An 8-inch auger is good for larger trout and bass. A 10-inch auger is a must-have if you’re targeting big lakers, pike, and musky through the ice.

Q: Can you ice fish without an ice auger?

Yes, so long as you’re willing to use old holes that were drilled by other ice anglers, and only if they haven’t frozen over. If you plan on hitting the hard water regularly, you should get an ice auger.

Q: Can an ice auger be used for dirt?

Don’t do it. While a good ice auger will likely be able to drill through dirt, it will dull the blade very quickly. If you need an auger to drill post holes, get one made for that. Don’t waste the good money you spent on an ice fishing auger.

A Final Word On Shopping For Ice Augers

There are many different types of ice augers. Hand augers and drill augers are light and affordable augers but won’t stand up to thick ice or drill wide holes as well as gas, propane, and electric augers will. No matter which type of ice auger you choose, get one made by a reputable manufacturer so you won’t have to quit the ice because of a poor product.

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