How to Keep Your Ice Fishing Line from Freezing

Many anglers who ice fish prefer to use a hand line. However, in freezing temperatures, the line will often freeze to the spool. This can be very frustrating, especially if you are trying to catch a big fish. Fortunately, there are a handful of tricks to prevent your line from freezing, such as applying lip balm or another lubricant to prevent the line from sticking.

If you’ve been struggling to keep your fishing lines defrosted this season, we’ve got all the information you need.

In this article, we’ll walk you through a few techniques to keep your fishing lines in top condition even on the coldest of winter days. Use what you learn and soon you’ll be reeling in bigger catches.

Use a Quality Monofilament Fishing Line

If you’ve been struggling with frozen fishing lines, the problem might not be the weather—it could be the type of lines you’re using. If you’re using braided or fluorocarbon lines, consider switching to a higher-quality monofilament line to prevent your spool from freezing up on colder days.

Compared to other types of fishing lines, monofilament is stronger, longer-lasting, and can stand up to cold weather conditions. It also has low memory, meaning that it doesn’t easily curl up or kink. This is a huge benefit in freezing temperatures as kinked lines offer more of a chance for your line to tangle and freeze together.

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The only downside to using a monofilament fishing line is that it’s naturally more buoyant. If you opt to switch your lines, be sure to add heftier weights to pull your lines down into the depths of the water.

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Wax or Lubricate Your Lines

If you’re already using high-quality monofilament fishing lines but your reel is still freezing, you may need to add wax or a lubricant to prevent the rig from sticking and freezing together. Lubrication prevents freezing by acting as a physical barrier between the surfaces of two objects. This barrier prevents water from reaching the freezing point and turning into ice.

There are dozens of products available online to help lubricate your lines but you can also make do with a simple household lubricant, such as lip balm, Vaseline, or WD-40. If you have a candle on hand, you can even rub some candle wax across your lines to help prevent freezing. The idea is to just create a barrier that won’t freeze at the same temperature as the water.

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Simply spray or rub the lubricant or wax into your spool and wipe away any excess. When you go out to fish, the line should easily unreel and cast into the ice.

Add a Heating Element to Your Shelter

If you’re not already fishing in a shelter, we recommend starting there. Fishing inside of a shelter will protect your lines from the worst of the weather and help them stay unthawed while you fish. However, if you are already fishing inside of a tent or shack, adding a heating element can keep your lines warm enough that they don’t freeze.

Electric and propane heaters can warm the air within your shelter while keeping the ice cold enough that it doesn’t melt.

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The warm air within your shelter will keep your lines in top condition while fish bite beneath the ice. However, take care when using a heater inside of a tent or shelter:

  • Overheating – If you’re using an electric heater, be sure to watch it carefully to prevent it from overheating and starting a fire.
  • Carbon monoxide – If you’re using a propane heater, be sure to properly vent your shelter. Burning propane produces carbon monoxide gas, which is toxic to humans.

If you don’t want to invest in a shelter or a heater, even a simple hand warmer can keep your lines warm enough that they won’t melt. Simply bring a pack and stack them around your rig.

See more tips for keeping your ice tent warm. 

Fish With a Friend

Last but not least, find a friend who can help keep your lines thawed out between fish strikes. By working together, you’ll be able to quickly catch freezing lines before it’s too late and unthaw your rigs before casting again.

Not only will fishing with a partner improve your odds of walking away with healthy fishing lines, but it also makes the experience more fun. Work together and enjoy the comradery of doing something you both enjoy!

Can You Salt Your Lines?

If you’re an old-school angler, you’ve likely heard tales of guys salting their lines to prevent freezing.

One common method involves spraying your lines with a highly saline mixture of saltwater and letting it soak into the line. The method comes from the same idea as salting the roads after a snowstorm. Salt helps lower the freezing point of water, making it harder for surfaces to freeze.

As with most old fishing tales, though, we recommend taking this one with a grain of salt (no pun intended).

Although salting your lines should work in theory, what will most likely happen is that water in the saline mixture will simply freeze, leaving solid salt crystals all over your frozen lines.


There’s nothing worse than trying to reel in a big catch only to find that your lines have frozen solid. Fortunately, switching to monofilament fishing lines, adding some simple lubrication, and fishing with a friend in a heated shelter can greatly improve the health of your lines. Stop wrestling with freezing temperatures and start landing bigger catches today.

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