How do you decide how long of an ice fishing outfit you should get? Two of the biggest considerations is what size of fish you are planning on catching & how you plan on fishing it. Do you have limited room in a smaller compact portable hut? Do you fish from a larger hut or “cube” that has lots of room? Or are you an angler that likes to fish on nicer day out in the open. Are you targeting large fish like trophy Walleye & Lake Trout, or smaller panfish.
Personally, on nicer days (where winds are low and temperatures not too cold), I like to have less gear with me, I prefer to walk to my spots and just use a pull-sled that holds my ice-sonar, a collapsible seat, my auger, small assortment of tackle, my bait and a few rods. On those days if I’m targeting larger game fish I use longer rods in the 28” length which allows me to stand back from the hole and move quickly from spot to spot and gives me lot’s of leverage when fighting a larger fish.
On colder days where wind is blowing, and temps are -10 or more I use a portable fish hut and either walk to my spot or use one of my friends ATV or sled to get out miles onto the ice. That’s when I pack shorter rods that I can easily use even fishing with a buddy in a 2-man portable hut. Those rods are usually under 24” and can vary from a medium-action to a fast-action depending on the fish we are targeting.
There are times when I like to use a short rod for panfish. They can be as short as 14” with a very flexible tip to detect the lightest hits. Sometimes I even add a more sensitive “strike-indicator” to the already sensitive tip. Believe it or not, sometimes panfish can hit so light it’s hard to detect them using the longer and heavier ice rods I use for larger fish and deeper water.
Using the right length ice outfit can really add to your enjoyment whether you target larger fish or smaller fish even in compact portable huts.